Friday, September 30, 2011


It's a migraine day.  I'm definitely using the chicken in my freezer tonight.

Please understand that sometimes I'm going to make recipes from the Madhouse cookbook, so the recipe won't appear here on the blog.  I don't want anyone thinking they wasted their money by those recipes appearing here.  Some of those recipes were posts before the cookbook came to be, so when I make one of those, I will link to it.

For tonight, I'm turning to my mom.  If you have the book, you'll find it on page 20--the bottom recipe (Chicken and Rice Casserole).  That's it.  Simple, straightforward, and to the point.  Enjoy!

Today's after school snack is this.  I have a son who has a hard time getting his homework turned in.  We're trying to create a new habit, so on Fridays, if he's turned all of his work in on time, I take cookies up to the school with me when I go pick him up.  We go out on the playground, the kids play for about 15 minutes, and we eat the cookies.  Just working on celebrating the little victories.

Madhouse Munchings: Share All Bread Bowls

I DID it!  I made the bread bowls I wrote about yesterday.  They turned out wonderfully.  The only thing I will do differently is to let them bake a little bit longer.  I ran a quick errand while they were in the oven, so I had one of the kids pull them out.  They were fine just not brown enough.

I got permission from my friend Melissa to share this recipe with you.  Oh, I'll also tell you the reason I've never attempted to make these before was because I didn't have a Kitchenaid.  Now that I do, the fear is gone.  The first time we had these, Melissa and her family came over to our house for the Sunday General Conference sessions.  Between sessions, we had lunch, and these were part of the lunch.  Melissa went so far as to bring her Kitchenaid with her to make these.  But, that's how easy they are; they can be made and eaten within that two hour break between Conference sessions.

Here you go....

Melissa Smith's Share All Bread Bowls


1 Tbsp. yeast (or one package)
2 Tbsp. oil
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 C. warm water
5 C. flour  +/-


Mix the wet ingredients with the yeast.  Add the other ingredients and mix together until they form a smooth ball.  Form into balls, place on a cookie sheet (I greased mine; although, it's not mentioned on the recipe from Melissa), and let rise until double in size.  Bake at 350^ for 15-20 minutes (like I said, I'd probably bake them for about 17 minutes). 

We were able to make 8 moderate size bowls.  You can also make this dough into rolls.  If you're going to use them as bread bowls, slice a bit from the top, and use your fingers to hollow out the center.  Be careful not to make holes in it. 

Make any kind of creamy soup to go inside them.  Last night's soup was fab.  When we originally had these, we had a potato soup with ham and cheese in it.  Anyway, give it a try.  I'd love to hear how they turn out.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Madhouse Munchings: Pineapple Orange Smoothie

Here's a little something extra for you.....

Today was really warm.  With spending a good part of it in the car, I wanted something cold, so this was part of the after-school snack this afternoon.


  • 1/4-ish can frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1/3-ish can crushed pineapple (although you could use any pineapple, I'm sure)
  • 10-ish ice cubes
  • 1 1/2-ish C. milk


Sorry about all the "-ish"es.  I just kind of threw in whatever I felt like.  I liked that I didn't have to add any sugar.  Place all ingredients in a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Serve.

Madhouse Munchings: Meatless Chili

Today's going to be a very busy day.  I'll be delivering cookbooks.  #7's going with me.

If you didn't get a cookbook and want one, message me.  I'm out for now, but I have a very small stash that I'll open up to any takers in a couple weeks.  I'll let you know when that is when the time comes. 

For tonight's dinner, I'm going to throw something in the crockpot.  Something SUPER easy that you just throw a bunch of cans in and voila.  Because of today craziness, it's got to be something that can either simmer on low all day or be put in the crockpot and cook up fairly quickly.  For today, it'll be the second. 

I'm going to go vegetarian for tonight.  Truth be known, we went through that Costco ground beef WAY faster than I would have liked, and I don't want to do chicken again, so I'm thinking a good soup with beans in it'll have to be dinner for tonight.  If you don't want to go meatless, just brown some ground beef and throw it in with the rest.


  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 cans of beans (pretty much any kind--I wouldn't use green beans), rinsed and drained.  I'm using great northern and garbanzo beans.  I wanted to use red beans, but I can't find them, and I'm not a big fan of kidney beans, so that one's out too.  I seem to have a scad of great northerns, so in they go.
  • 1 can baked beans.  I'm using Bush's original
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3Tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste (I usually go light on salt in the crockpot.  It's one flavor that seems to grow as it simmers)
 Cook on low for about four hours.

I'm actually going to throw everything into the crock, cover it and set it in my fridge.  When I get home, I'll get it cooking.  I'm also going to get my bread machine going when I get back, so we can have some rolls with this.  A friend gave me a recipe for bread bowls, but I haven't used it EVER.  She says it's super easy, but I'm intimidated.  I'm going to work on psyching myself up to that today.  Maybe we'll serve this chili in bread bowls.  If I do it and if it's successful and if I can get my friend's permission, I'll share that recipe later on.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Madhouse Munchings: Chicken Nachos

Okay, here's the scoop for tonight....


  • tortilla chips
  • chicken, cooked and shredded (if you are my friend on facebook, and you did what I did, use the chicken you cooked in the crockpot the other day.  If you're not my friend on facebook, put a whole chicken in the crockpot with a cup of water, put the lid on, and turn it on high.  It's done when the limbs pull away from the body easily.  Let it cool and pull the meat off.)
  • 1/2 jar salsa or 1 taco seasoning packet and water
  • 1 can refried beans
  • green onions
  • chopped olives
  • cheddar cheese, grated
  • salsa
  • sour cream

Layer the tortilla chips on a cookie sheet or pizza pan.  Sometimes, I do them on regular kitchen plates because it says the plates can handle a certain amount of heat.
I'm all about choices, so the next part has a choice involved.  You can either do it my way or layer the chips with the beans and then layer the seasoned chicken on top. 
Here's how I do it:
In a large skillet, put shredded chicken and the salsa (or if you use the seasoning mix:  after you sprinkle it over the chicken, refill the little package with water and pour that over).  Simmer until most (if not all) of the liquid has evaporated.  Pour in the refried bean and mix with the chicken.
Blob the chicken mixture over the chips as evenly as you can, and yes, "blob" is as scientific a term as I could conjure up for what you're going to do with this.  Attempt to spread the stuff around, but good luck.  You might want to do very small blobs all around the chips for best results.
Top with the green onions and olives and pretty much anything else you like on nachos.
Sprinkle with cheese and place in a 350^ oven until the cheese is melted.
Serve with sour cream and salsa.

Again, a special thanks to the Warden for the green onions.  What is it about veggies straight from the garden that makes them so much more flavorful?


Our Three Dogs

I know you probably think I'm absolutely insane to take on more, but I just couldn't turn down these sweet faces.  They actually make my life much easier when they show up and hang around for awhile.  They each have a mat in the front hallway, and that's okay, right?  I mean, when people show up to visit, they're not going to mind finding my dogs napping there, right?

Pixie's about 20 pounds.  Butch is about double that.  I'm not sure about Skippy but probably somewhere between the other two.

Their food is under the kitchen table, and it's okay because they only eat when the kids are at school.  I do have to move the chairs for them.

Here's some photos of them.  Don't you think they're cute?  I bet you'd like one too.

The dogs at nap time (from top to bottom): Skippy, Butch and Pixie

Pixie eating her dog food (Cheerios)

Butch eating his dog food
They're really good dogs!

Did you really think I'd take on three more dogs?!  I may be mad, but I'm not stupid.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Potato Skins without the Skins

Use whatever you have on hand.
Yesterday, I bought some frozen potatoes at Fred Meyer.  They were "Roasted Redskin Potatoes with Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper" (sounds kind of fancy, doesn't it), but you can use hashbrowns or whatever potatoes you might have.  Fred Meyer has their frozen potatoes on sale this week, but when I got these to the checkouts these were not included in the sale.  I bought them anyway.  I also bought some bacon.

My plan is to cook the potatoes in the oven; fry and crumble the bacon; cut up some green onions (from our garden); grate some cheese; sprinkle the bacon, onions and cheese on the potatoes and put them in the oven until the cheese is melted.  We'll serve it with sour cream.

I have some yellow squash from our garden that I'll saute in olive oil to serve as the veggie.

There, that's it.

I would like to note that the yellow squash and green onions were only made possible this year because I had NOTHING to do with the garden.  I think I went out and looked at it up close once.  I have the opposite of a green thumb.  I wouldn't say it's brown.  I might say it's black.  I'm very thankful my children aren't plants.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The End of the Cookbook Saga

This cookbook project has been a blast!  I have loved it--every minute of it.

I'm now done addressing envelopes--all but two that I don't have addresses for, but I'm hoping to have those very soon.

I had hoped to have them sent out today.  I have a very full bin of manilla envelopes that I plan to drag to the local grocery store that has a post office in it.  The thing that's held me back from sending today was that I didn't have return address labels, and the Warden made me promise that I wouldn't hand write each of those.  I told him I wouldn't.

Each year, our insurance agent sends us return address labels, and today, I looked them over.  They had gingerbread men, snowmen and Christmas trees on them.  Sorry folks, but nope, not happening.

I will have normal labels tonight, and they'll be in the mail tomorrow.  And...the joy of licking and sticking will belong to my children.  That's a joy I'm not keeping all to myself.  I'm excited to see a bunch of completely ready envelopes in the bin.  YAY!!!

The trickier part will be getting all of the books delivered around here.  I've had some people just drop by today, which I love.  We'll be taking them (the books, not the people that drop by) with us everywhere we go for awhile, I think.  I also get to take a drive down to Monmouth within the next week or so, which I'm really looking forward to.

I'm just so happy that everything has worked out so beautifully.

At this point, I think I have 15 books left.  If you're interested in purchasing one, let me know...soon.  Thanks!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Update on Much

My friend Joanna asked about how this recipe turned out.  It was FABULOUS!

When I wrote the post, it was still in my mind, but now that I've made it, let me turn back the clock a bit and run you through the steps exactly as I did them.

  • 1 baguette (or, if you live in a madhouse like mine, 2)
  • butter or margarine (enough to butter the bread)
  • cooked chicken breast, shredded
  • deli sliced ham, or it might be yummier to have some ham left over from dinner that you shred like the chicken, shred or slice it
  • cheese, I used cheddar (I always have that on hand), but Swiss might be more true to the recipe
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 C sour cream (or enough to make the sauce a pouring consistency)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. lemon juice (I love the flavor that it gives the sauce, so I just pour some in

Cut the bread right down the middle, so you look like you have an enormous hot dog bun.  I guess if you wnat to make smaller sandwiches you could slice it like a normal loaf of bread.  Butter the inside.  Place chicken on top of the butter and ham on top of the chicken on one side of the bread.  Layer with slices of cheese.  Place under the broiler and let the bread toast and the cheese melt.  While this is going on, make the sauce.
For the sauce, put soup, sour cream and lemon juice into a sauce pan and cook and stir until warm and well blended.  Should be smooth and creamy.  Ahh.  Really, is there anything better than smooth and creamy?
When the bread is all toasted and the cheese all melted, remove them from the oven and drizzle the sauce over the meat and cheese.  Place the naked half of the bread on top of the other.
Slice the sandwich into sections and serve.

I hope you get to make it and that you love it.  If you do, please leave me a comment.  I'd love to know if you switched it up at all and just how it turned out.  Oh yah, and as with the bread, if you live in a madhouse, or even a mellow house with a lot of people in it (is this possible?--if so, please comment, I want to read your blog), you're going to want to double everything but maybe not the sauce.

I had extra sauce, so I made it into a cheese sauce by adding cheese and milk to it and served it over broccoli the next night.  You might also want to serve it in the Chicken and Broccoli recipe on page 20 of my cookbook.  That would be YUMMY.  The lemon juice gives it just enough of a tang to make it a bit different than the norm.  And, of course, there's nothing wrong with being different from the norm--tends to give life some variety, right?

Speaking of which, I had an interesting experience yesterday.  I was involved with a conversation with two women.  They were full-time working moms who each had only one child.  I started out in the conversation but quickly decided that it was fascinating and I just sat and listened.  Wow!  What would that life be like?  I decided that I don't want to know.  I like love mine just the way it is--monstrously beastish van and everything.

Okay, so another update but with no solution....Remember this post?  This has become a pretty common occurrence.  This morning, it was just a really quick tipping of my head down and the sensation started.  I have no idea what's causing it, but I think I've come to the realization that it is getting worse, so it's probably time to go see a doctor.

Why do I hate seeing doctors so much?  I don't mind it once I'm there, but it's all the getting there, I think, that turns me off.  Anyway, it can't be avoided.

If this has ever happened to you, and particularly, if you know what causes it and how to solve, it, please comment, I'd love to know what it is and how to deal with it.  Thanks!

One last update....minimalism.  Oh my goodness.  I have learned one huge thing.  You HAVE to be completely together to do this and not let it make you crazy.  I'm hanging in, but I couldn't find a full set of pajamas last night.

A week ago, I pulled a shirt out of the box for a cross country meet because the coach asked us to wear a blue shirt to match our team.  I happened to have one, so life was good.  Since then, I've inherited another from volunteering at yesterday's cross country meet (#1 came in 11th, by the way--yeah!).

So, I'm learning I HAVE to do laundry everyday.  I have to have the dishes done every night, and I have to make sure the dishes are all present and accounted for.  That's where it becomes a bit frustrating.  I also have to keep a certain big guy in my home from getting into the box of dishes and getting more dishes out.

Oh yah, and I finally pulled two more pairs of underwear from the box too.  Not only do you have to have the laundry done everyday, you have to fold it and have it put away in order to find what you've taken the time to wash.  While I'm confessing...I also pulled a more practical pair of shoes out for a meeting I went to the other day.  It was at someone's home, and I knew I would be taking my shoes off.  My sandals are going into the garbage very soon.  I will miss them greatly.  They've served me well.

As you can see, I sometimes let life run me instead of me running it. With seven kids, that's what happens.  Frequently, their needs take precedence over things like folding laundry, and before you know it, the day is over, you're pooped and that's all she wrote for the day.  All you have energy for is washing your face, brushing your teeth, and climbing into bed in half a pair of pajamas--the other half working on some good wrinkleage in a basket somewhere.

Okay, I told you that was the last, but I lied....

I'm absolutely swimming in cookbooks.  They're almost done.  I refused to print the labels available through PayPal.  This was much too personal a project than that, so I've been hand-addressing them.  I hope, if you ordered one, you know how much it meant to me that you placed your trust in me on such a gamble.  Honestly, I knew I could have backed out at any time or something could have gone wrong and made the trip impossible, but it never did, and I'm, at this point, left with a heart full to brimming with gratitude.  Thank you!  Monday is the big day to ship these out of my house.  I hope you love them.

Well, the little girl is awake.  I was just greeted with the words, "Momma...poop," so I guess I'm off to let life run me a little bit....See what I mean?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Anger Management

#6 doesn't cry.  When he gets mad, he gets mad; it just escalates.  I can't tell you how many times I've said, "You're just making it worse."

Today, I told him he could have some cookie dough after he finished cleaning up the dress-ups he'd been playing with.  He didn't do it, so I didn't give him any.

As we walked out the door to get #5 from school, I gave a bit to #7 and ate some myself.  Well, needless to say, he got mad.  I reminded him that as soon as the dress-ups were put away, he could have some.  He stormed away, running up the street.

I wondered what he'd do when he got to the place where he'd have to cross the street.  As I continued, there he was waiting, sitting on the corner with his head in his hands.  I loved that he waited and didn't cross the street without me.  Even though he was mad, he wasn't willing to go that far.  Phew!

As soon as I caught up with him, we crossed the street, and he took off again appearing to be just as mad as he'd been before, so I held my tongue and waited for him to cool down.

I caught up with him again.  We crossed the next street.  I said, "As soon as you want to make this better, let me know.  We'll talk."  He scowled up at me but continued to walk next to me.  He opened his mouth to say something, and I expected something super ugly to come out, but he said, "Won't you at least hold my hand?"

Woah!  That was so not expected.  I said, "Of course.  I'd LOVE to hold your hand."  #7 came up on the other side, saying ,"Me too?"

It was a sweet little mom moment.  From then on it was smooth sailing.  #7 picked up leaves as we walked.  This is her new thing.  She graduated on from pine cones to leaves.  She doesn't pick up the beautiful ones.  She tends to go for the dead, half-eaten by a caterpillar, brown, crunchy ones.  She gets quite a handful and then drops them up on the school grounds.  Today she fell on our way up to the school, her knee was bleeding, but she didn't make a big deal of it at all.  I think she whimpered a bit but that was about it.  I took her into the nurses office and got her a band aid.  She left her leaves right in the middle of the nurse's office floor.

So there you go.  That was the afternoon.  I've found another magic mom's have--kissing owies, drying tears, and now...holding hands.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Elmo? Who's That?

Took #7 in for a check-up at the doctor's office this afternoon.

She did wonderfully.  While there, the doctor gave her a sticker with a picture of Elmo on it.  You know, Elmo from Sesame Street?  The doctor asked, "Does she know who Elmo is?" 

I thought about it for a second, realizing that we don't have a T.V., but then I remembered, we have an Elmo costume from a few Halloweens ago that sits in our dress up box in the toy closet.  I said, "Oh yah.  We have an Elmo costume."

The doctor was shocked (in a good way) that #7 only knew Elmo from a costume.  As she handed the sticker to #7, and she said, "Oh, Elmio."

As we walked out of the clinic, #7 kept sticking up her arm and saying, "Arm."  Then she'd pat her head and say, "Head."  It was like she was trying to explain to me all that had happened during her visit.

I love this age and the language development that happens.

Oh, just a couple more discoveries, language-wise....
Any guy riding a motorcycle is "dude."
Socks are known as "pretties."  As of yesterday she knows how to put them on by herself.  Yay!

Tonight before I put her to bed, #6 came running in and said, "Wait.  I want to sing my best song to her."  He proceeded with "I had a tiny turtle.  His name was Tiny Tim, and I put him in the bathtub, and I seed if he could swim...."

It's been a good mom day.  You know, I really think that pretty much everyday is a good mom day.  That's what occurred to me yesterday when I was feeling down.  My kids think I'm pretty okay, as does my husband, so life's good.  Who cares what anyone else thinks?  Right?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It's Just a Phase...Right?

Does anyone else out there ever feel like everybody else out there really dislikes you?

Well, I'm going through a phase like that.  To be honest, I go through this phase sometimes, but it's been awhile.  I didn't miss it, so I'm not all that eager to welcome it back.  But alas, thus it is.

I decided to go out of my way on Sunday and talk to the woman in the ward who dislikes me the most.  This is not just an "I think she doesn't like me" thing.  She TRULY doesn't like me.  Truly.  It's been no secret.  She's told others how much and why.

I guess Sunday I decided to turn the other cheek and do good to those who hate me.  She was sitting alone, looking miserable.  I try to at least say hi every time I see her so that she knows there are not similar feelings on my part

Funny, but ever since then, I've felt yucky.  I feel like I should be out eating worms or something.  She didn't even really say anything.  She didn't have to.

Then, this morning, I opened my email and found this from my friend Grace:

Today someone asked me if I liked you.
I laughed, and I said,
"Ha!That's funny!! I freakin' LOVEthat girl!!  She's funny, caring, crazy as heck, sweet, beautiful, she's reading this email right now & I love her!!"

I know this is one of those chain emails, but I needed it this morning.

Thank you Grace!!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Chicken Cordon Bleu on a Baguette--The Evolution of Dinner

Fred Meyer has baguettes and chicken on sale this week.  I put the chicken in the crockpot when I got home.  The baguettes were warm when I bought them and smelled so good.  The boys had cheese and ham for snack after school.  So, there you go, that's how this dinner idea evolved.

I'm going to reheat the baguettes in the oven before I serve them, but I'm going to cut them into pieces large enough for a sandwich for each family member. 

When the chicken is done, I'm going to remove the meat from the bones and coarsely chop it to go on the bread.  I'm also going to chop up the ham and put it on top of the chicken.  I will then layer cheese on the top.  I don't have Swiss, but I'm sure that would be a little more cordon bleu-ish.  I'm then going to drizzle some of the usual cordon bleu sauce over the top and put the top on the sandwich.

Here's the sauce I'm going to use:

2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 C. sour cream
1 or 2 tsp. lemon juice

Warm it together in the pan and it should be good to go.

So, this may turn out really nasty, or it could be really good.  I guess we'll see.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

FYI: Envelope System

I'm kind of cracking up that everything financial eventually becomes Dave Ramsey's. Believe me, this came out WAY before Dave Ramsey got his hands on it, but it's nice that this popular guy has resurrected it.

Here's a link I found on the envelope system.


A few weeks ago, when I first mentioned the whole minimalizing thing, I also brought up the idea that we were going to start doing the envelope system for our finances.

I have a few friends who do this, and I've been so intrigued by it.  It's been mentioned in my personal finance class, but it doesn't really give any good tips on how to do it.  So, I'm wondering....Do any of you who read this blog do the envelope system?  Do you have any pointers for us?  Are there some good websites that you've found that might lead the way?

Payday is Tuesday, so I have a few days to prepare.  I'd love to know what's worked for you and what hasn't, so I don't screw up royally from the moment out of the gate.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Minimalizing Update

Oh my goodness!  Can I just start like that?

Never have I had such a hard time finding things.  What is going on?!  I have fewer things, right?  Well, now I can't find them when I need them.

It started with my shoes.  I have always been the kind of person who predominantly wears one pair of shoes.  Right now I'm into wearing my sandals.  I really love them.  They are completely worn out, and I really should replace them, and I have to admit that I kind of pray that I don't wear them into someone's house because I am a take-off-your-shoes-at-the-door kind of person--even if it's at someone's house where they don't have that rule.  I just can't wear shoes in a house.  I can't.

I have also been a person who puts my shoes in one place.  Usually, they're by the front door, and at night, they go in my closet on my shelf, but for some reason, when I cut myself down on so many other things, the shoes would turn up missing ALL the time.  It was CRAZY!

Since that time, I have been in the sorry state of no underwear, no bra and tonight, no jammies.

If I'm going to do this, and be successful at it, I'm going to have to be more organized.  That's all there is to it.

The dishes thing started out beautifully.  I still LOVE the concept.  I have one child who takes dishes to the bedroom frequently.  Eating in the dining room has been a rule FOREVER, but for some reason those dishes just kind of find their way to the bedroom.  StRaNgE!  With limited dishes, that doesn't happen any more.  But, I have learned that in order to be truly successful with this, everyone has to be completely on board.

When I separated out the dishes, I didn't stow them away right away.  I put a few in the hutch and left the rest on a table.  Those dishes kept sneaking in with the ones we've chosen to use.

So, here's what I think.  Put everything away right away.  Lay down the ground rules.  Each dish is marked with an initial.  We've found that Sharpie doesn't do very well in the dishwasher for the long haul, so I think I'll probably resort to fingernail polish initials on the bottoms of dishes.  For us, the rule is the dishes come out first thing in the morning for breakfast.  After breakfast and lunch each person hand washes their own dishes and puts them away.  After dinner, they are put in the dishwasher and run at night.

It should be simple, and hopefully will teach the kids that we don't "need" everything we think we do.  I also hope it will teach them to take care of their own things.

The bad thing is that there is one person in the family that doesn't care whose stuff he's using.  He just uses whoevers is handy.   This bugs me.  It kind of defeats the whole purpose.

So, other than those things--not being able to find things I need and interchanging dishes, I'm pretty happy with this.  I really love that my clothes are limited.  Really.  I love that that's not even an issue in the morning.  I've gotten so I put a load of laundry in in the evening and put it in the dryer in the morning.  It works well.

I haven't been narrowing down anything else.  I'm still trying to get into the swing of school starting and getting up to date with my own studies, but I think we're going to attack the towels next.  I think two towels should be sufficient for each of us.

Another thought I've had is that when the kids' birthdays come around, I take them shopping and let them pick out their own pattern of dish, bowl, cup, etc. and their own towels.  That way, they have their own special thing and they don't have to have them marked with anything.  I'm thinking we only have to do it once and it shouldn't be that expensive to do.

Now if I could just find some pajamas....

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Do Unto Others

You know how they say (whoever "they" is) that we do for others what we want done for ourselves.  For example, I throw my husband a surprise party because it's what I'd want him to do for me?

Well, this morning, the Warden and I were having a chat.  A lot of the circumstances of this summer have made me see that when I add to my experience and work toward accomplishing goals for myself as an individual, I'm enriching my relationship with him and the richness of my family.  We were discussing goals that we, as ourselves, want to accomplish.

For years, on Mother's Day and on my birthday, the Warden has given me various electronic devices.  Palm Pilots (remember those), cell phones, etc.  Each item had a camera attached to it.  I would laugh that he thought I must be some kind of photographer (which was really not the case--I had no desire toward it at all).  I think, at one point, I must have had four or five different devices that all had cameras.

As we spoke this morning, it all became clear....He was throwing me a "surprise party."  He expressed his desire to be a photographer.

Wow!  I never knew that.  I never got him a camera.  I always just threw him surprise parties.

Well...let me tell you.  Things are going to change around here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Fluff

Monday, September 12, 2011

New Project--Just Keep 'Em Coming

Two weeks ago, we were sitting writing to the missionaries--something we do every two weeks--when our own ward's missionaries came by.  They're great guys!  While we were sitting talking, we mentioned what we were doing and started laughing about some of #6's letters.  One of our elders, the one who's been out longer, commented that he would love to receive letters like that and that he rarely hears from his family.  We were so sad to hear him say that.  He's a great missionary.  He works so hard.

I was fortunate to receive letters each week on my mission.  Neither of my parents ever missed a week.  I can't imagine what it must be like to go for two years without a letter of support from home.

When we started writing missionaries on a regular basis a number of years ago, we had just enough missionaries out from our own ward for each member of our family to write one.  As time went on, they started returning home, and we started running short on missionaries to write to, so we have gone different routes to find new missionaries.

Yesterday, we chose a random mission to contact to find out if they had some missionaries that weren't receiving much mail.  A sister from the mission contacted me this morning via phone.  She asked for my email address and said she'd send me some names.  I told her I needed two.  She sent me six.

After sending the email, the sister called me again.  She said, "I know you asked for two, but we had six.  We just hope you know someone else who might want to write.  The holidays are coming up and it's such an important time for the missionaries to feel love and support."

Thus, the beginning of a new project.  Child #3 is working on achieving her Young Womanhood Recognition Award.  She has a few 10-hour projects yet to accomplish.  This has become one of them.  We are calling it the "Adopt a Missionary" project.

She is searching for individuals or families who would be interested in writing to a missionary twice a month.  We have tips and tricks that make it SUPER easy.  We are happy to share those ideas with anyone who would like to take on a missionary.  We figure right now we have four Elders that need letters, but we have it in the works to get more.  If you're interested in committing to write to a missionary or two or three on a regular basis, let me know.  We'll set you up.


Lit Final

Just got back from taking my final for adolescent literature.  It was a three question essay test.  I wrote eight pages.  I always leave that testing center with a big ol' sigh of relief.  So happy to be done!

I am TERRIBLE at taking multiple choice tests.  You know, those fill-in-the-bubble-with-a-#2-pencil kinds of tests?  Honestly, it's probably the simplest kind of test to take, but I bomb them over and over again.  I justify every answer and frequently pick the wrong one.  Why is this so difficult?

But an essay test?  Now that's right up my alley.  Being able to write my justifications and share my thinking behind my answers....that's where it's at!

So, I think I did okay on this one.  Unfortunately, it's one of only two essay tests I've had during my time with this degree.  Sad, huh?  I wonder how much better my grades would have been had they only given me essay tests.

So, I figure by Monday or Tuesday I'll be signing up for my last class.  If I can get through this personal finance class, we'll be home free.  It's a LOT of work.  The last class is a careers class.  I'm figuring it'll be fun, or at least I hope it will be.

Can't believe this is the final stretch.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Timing of Things

Today was our smoothest day of Primary since I've been in this calling.  It was wonderful.  For anyone who might not know, Primary is the children's class (ages 3 to 12) in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  In the church, people hold "callings;" a "job" of sorts that we do on a voluntary basis.  A year ago this past April, I was called as the Primary President in my ward (a congregation divided by geographical area).  I work with two counselors and a secretary.

We got in today and got everything set up in plenty of time before the kids came in.  I even got to play the piano for a few moments before the pianist arrived.  It felt good to be relaxed as the kids walked in.  We have around 70 kids in our Primary.

Primary is split into three parts--sharing time, singing time and class time.  On Sunday's, we, as a presidency, oversee the singing and sharing time parts of the meeting.  One of the presidency conducts the meeting, one teaches sharing time, and one visits the classes each week.  Singing time is carried out by a pianist and chorister.

I feel blessed to work with the women I do.  We "gel" well together.  Each person's strengths complement the others'.  It's been amazing to see from the first week we worked together.  Prayer is answered, and I feel strongly that I was directed that these women were the ones that were to be my counselors and secretary.  Each time I'm with them is wonderful.

Today, though, I was particularly impressed with something.  Our chorister is a woman who goes above and beyond each and every week.  It's clear that she loves those kids.  Each week we wait to see what she's going to do.  Always so creative.

I had the chorister calling a number of years ago.  I LOVED it!  But, I didn't do it like she does.  Today I saw why she is the current chorister.

In our youngest class that sits on the very front row, there is a little boy who struggles with verbal language.  He seemed so happy to be there today.  Some days it doesn't seem that way.  Today I watched him.  Today, he was completely engrossed in singing time.  His mouth was moving, and he was attempting to sing the songs that our chorister led, but more than that, he was doing the exact hand motions she was doing.  That's one thing she does with nearly every song--she sings with her hands.  I was struck with the idea that her calling at THIS particular time is vital.  That little boy needs HER and her way of doing things.  I was so touched that this little boy was "singing" the best he could, and it was because this woman cares enough to sing things "his way."

What a blessing to be able to serve with such inspiring people and in such inspirational circumstances!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

This Could Save Your Life

Japan has left some indelible marks on me.  This photo alone haunts me

I don't EVER want to be in this situation. 

To be honest, I don't want to be a doomsayer.  I don't want to be one of those who lives for disaster, knowing it's just around the corner, but these are the last days and terrible things have been prophesied.  We can sit around and think, "Well, okay, yah, I get it, but nothing's going to happen to me.  Nothing's going to happen here."  Aren't we all learning from some very harrowing experiences that things are happening, and they're happening where they are least expected.  Let's face it.  No one is safe.

Yes, we shouldn't live our lives in fear, but the only way to do that is to face the fear, prepare ourselves for eventualities and live our lives to the fullest always aware of signs and warnings.

I can't help but think that the drivers of these cars

Might have had a better chance for survival if there had been some kind of practice, but really, how were they to know how severe this would be?

I write these things, not to freak anyone out, but the truth of the matter is, no one is exempt.  The other truth is that "If ye are prepared ye shall not fear" (D&C 38:30). 

We need to be more educated on how to handle disasters.  Because it's so prevalent right now with the 10th anniversary tomorrow, I, too, have been reliving the 9/11 catastrophe through news articles and videos.  The images of people just standing, staring, watching the buildings collapse are intriguing to me.  Why?  What makes them just stand there?  Do they really think they're out of harm's way?  Two planes just crash into two HUGE buildings, and they just stand there gazing in unbelief?

Human nature is an amazing thing.  Sometimes for our good and sometimes for our demise.  Regardless, when we're not prepared, our brains are not ready to face what's right in front of our faces.  We don't know what our choices are because we haven't prepared our brains for the unimaginable or anything like it.

This morning, I was drawn to this man.  From there, I was led to this article.  It's a fairly long article, but SO worth reading.  I hope you'll take a minute to do so.  Honestly, just being aware could save your life.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Financial Types

I think I've finally come across what, to me, is the most fascinating part of this personal finance course so far.  I thought I'd share it here for anyone else who might find it interesting.

The current section is on families and finances.  It's funny that this is in the middle (actually kind of near the end) instead of at the very beginning of the class.  I've just run across different financial methodologies that people may bring with them into a marriage.  You can find the information here.  See where you fit.  I think I may know at least one person who is each type.  Fascinating!

"The Miser
The miser usually pays cash for everything.  They pay the bills and keep the books.  Money is power, and so the miser is in control.  The family never talks about money, and there is no financial planning as a family.  The family also never knows where they are financially--only the miser knows.
The Spender
The spender’s motto is shop ’til you drop.  The spender always feels that things will work out, so there is no need to plan.  There is no budgeting or planning for major purchases, and no planning for the future.  The spender joked that if he/she can’t take it with them when they die, then they are not going! 
The Unequally Yoked
The unequally yoked use money for control.  They only give the spouse a little money each week—the spouse has to ask whenever they want anything else.  Among unequally yoked couples the purse is power.  They are not equal partners and there is no planning for the future—there is no planning at all.  If planning does occur, it is most likely contentious.
The Selfish Provider
The selfish provider says that because they earned the money, it is their privilege to decide where the money went.  The spouse has to ask whenever they need money.  There are no goals, no budget, and or plan for large purchases or future retirement or education.  The selfish provider will provide.  They are not equal partners and there is no planning for the future.
The Sleeper
The sleeper always feels that disasters and crisis happen to others, not us.  “We pay tithing--it’s like guaranteed insurance. . .”.  Wrong.  .  Throughout history, many of the great and noble ones have suffered many hardships.  Paying tithing does not insulate us from challenges and hardships, because that’s where our character is developed.  The sleeper does not need to plan, because things always work out.  There is no planning and no communication of goals and objectives because of a belief that goals and objectives aren’t needed.
The Wise Steward
The wise steward always pays the Lord first, and themselves second.  They save a part of everything they earn.  They share basic financial information with their family, including with their children as their children become of age.  They keep depreciating assets for a long time, such as cars.  They plan for the future, they save in the present, and they teach their children to do the same."

To learn more, the course materials are offered online for free through BYU.  Here is the link.

Could We Be onto Something?

I've been a bit stressed about how to keep a very active four-year-old busy while I study.  Thank goodness for little pushes in the directions we need to go.

Today, he asked if he could play on the old computer.  I was hesitant but then realized that if I set him up right next to me, we'd be set.  I hate having the kids with screens in front of their faces too much, so I really am a stickler about when they can use them.  I definitely don't want them using them without supervision.

So, right now he's on the floor next to me with the laptop.  I've set links on the toolbar for just the right places he can go.  He doesn't need to type in addresses, and they're set to the exact pages.  For example, he wanted Netflix, so I set it so that he ends up on the page with movies for 2-4 year olds.

The links I set for him are Sesame Street, PBS kids, Nick Jr., Starfall, ABC Mouse, Funbrain, Poptropica and Netflix.

So far so good.  He's enjoying his down time, and I'm getting some quality study time in. 

The agreement is that when I'm done, he's done, and hopefully we'll both lay down and take a bit of a snooze.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Dishes

I'm figuring this can go one way or the other...

When you're one of many, it seems that nothing is EVER truly your own.  It's kind of like communal living against your will.  I think part of the reason why the kids liked the idea of cutting down on dishes is because they will each have their very own.  They don't have to share them.

So, here's where this could really go awry....

Everything either needs to be equal, or they need to choose for themselves.  If not, things could turn really ugly around here.  I can hear it now..."How come he got that one?  I wanted that one.  He always gets the best."  You know how it goes, right?  I'm not the only one, am I?

I pulled out all the matching plates, forks, spoons, knives, and glasses.  When I pulled out the mugs, there weren't enough that matched, so I figure that's where they'll get to choose.  Just crossing my fingers that there won't be two kids that choose the same mug.  Thank goodness for a grandmother who sent everyone Valentine cups with candy in them a couple years ago.  They're each very possessive of his/her gift--see, the something that's truly theirs is super important to them.
Yah, okay, so not quite.

Still running smoothly so far.  Everything's marked with an initial.


I'm loving that the weather is still good here.  Once the rain starts, it's rare that it lets up for very long.  I'm not complaining.  I'm a born and raised Oregonian, so it's all good.  I'm used to it.  I figure it's the sacrifice we make for all the green we enjoy for the rest of the year.  The one drawback is having little ones inside all day.

I once got that attitude that I didn't care what weather it was, we were going to be outside.  I learned within the month, when my children started getting sick, that this probably wasn't the best attitude to have, so we have to get creative with indoor activities.  Even after seven kids and seventeen years of motherhood, I'm not great at this, but maybe it's something worth exploring more of as I'm currently mother to the most active of the seven and preschool's not going to be four days a week, like it was last year, but two.

Since school started, after we've dropped off the middle schoolers, we've taken a little drive around the neighborhood to find a park to play in.  Our favorite, Rivendale Park was reserved, so we didn't get to go there, so we proceeded on to find another.  We ran across a park with a creek that runs right through it.  I don't  know the name of it, but it's in the Cross Creek neighborhood.

It had an old wooden play structure with a tire swing, a slide and two steering wheels (a fave with my kids), and there was a swingset.  We have a park just across the street from our home.  We don't love it because it has little to play on, but it has a picnic table and a huge field for running around in.  The Cross Creek park was about the same.  Nothing to write home about, but it was different than our usual park, so for the kids it was an adventure.  #6 wanted to go back there this morning.

Here's the bad thing....As we left, I saw that there was a small sign stating that it was a private park and you had to be a resident of the neighborhood or a guest to use the park.  Oops.  Ah well, no one else was around, and we had a good time while it lasted.

This morning, I didn't even try Rivendale.  It's reserved too much of the time, but it IS a great park.  We proceeded on up the mountain and ended up at the Cooper Mountain Nature Park.  Before this, I thought it was just a bunch of hiking trails, but it now has a play structure too.  Maybe that's been there forever, and I'm just unobservant, but we had a great time even though the play structure seems a bit mature for my four-year-old and two-year-old.

There's a covered wagon to climb on, which #6 made into an airplane in his imagination.  We all took turns jumping off pretending we had parachutes.  There's a slide--the good plastic kind that makes #7's hair stand on end--and a sandbox.  Does anyone else get freaked out by such things--thinking of cats, etc.?

I'm learning that any park is great.  We stayed for an hour.  #6 found some bubbles from the glove compartment in the van and started blowing them.

I'm not sure I loved this park for my little ones, but I'm hoping as the quest continues I'll find the ideal place.  I'm just impressed with how many parks there are in this little part of the world.  Now, if the sun'll just stay long enough so we can explore them all.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dishes? In Control

Sat at breakfast this morning and chatted with the family about the minimizing of things.  We discussed the idea that everyone have their own dishes.  We pack the others away in the hutch for when we have company, but for everyday use, we each use our own.  After each meal, we hand wash our own and then at night throw them in the dishwasher to be washed overnight.  There was plenty of room for discussion, but everyone was on board.  I think part of that was the fact that every seven weeks, you find yourself doing the dishes, which up until now  has been the WORST job as far as the kids are concerned.  With the dishes down to only what is needed, dishes will be a breeze.

So, tonight, I thinned the dishes down to what we need.  We have a completely empty shelf in the cupboard and a completely empty drawer.  You know when you get a haircut and go from long hair to short?  Well, that's how this feels.  I feel lighter.  Ahhh.  So lovely.

This is still just an experiment.  I don't know how it's going to go, but I will tell you, the only problem I've run into so far is that I have lost my sandals twice.  They've been in the house, but I haven't put them in the right place.  In the past, I would have just grabbed another pair, but I don't have another pair, and I don't want to wear my heels or my tennis shoes, so it's kind of caused a bit of a scramble.  That'll teach me to put my shoes in front of the sliding back door, won't it?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Minimalizing - Where to Next?

I've been working furiously on laundry all day today.  It will be done in one more load.  I found that I was only waiting for two items to come out of it; those and the clothes I wore yesterday.  The rest all got folded and put away in the crates.

Today I wore my khakis, a white blouse, and my sandals.  Simple.  No fuss.  No frustration.

Everybody got haircuts today.  I used the clean garage for the salon.  It worked out great!  While I waited for the next "client" to walk in, I went through a crate of papers that's been sitting in the garage.  I HATE paper.  I almost think I have a phobia of it.  I let it get the better of me more than anything else.  It's ridiculous!

Here's my big hang up.  We've purchased shredders in the past--three to be exact.  Each one has died a very wimpy death.  FRUSTRATING!  I refuse to buy another shredder, but when I come across documents with personal data on them, I don't want to throw them in my recycling bin.  So, what's a girl to do?

My next hang up...recycling only comes once every two weeks.  We usually take that two weeks to fill up our can, but with summer and the kids around all day all week, we fill it up faster.  So, for now, the recycling bin is full and waiting for next Monday--yes, an entire week.  So, I guess the pile begins; I mean, re-begins, but guaranteed, it will be a smaller pile.

I've read two different things.  One is this.  The other is that you should have a list of tasks (areas that need to be minimized) and work on them a little at a time.  I also read that you should start with something small so you could see success from the beginning.  So, yah, I can see the wisdom in that, and yah, I probably should do that, but nah.  I need to get on top of the garage--not literally, of course; although, at one point, I probably could have climbed the crates up to the top if it had it been required.  So, I'll finish my bedroom and bathroom and get that garage under control--better yet, I'll get it minimized.

Oh, by the way, the Warden just left for work.  We have a tradition of standing at the door and waving good-bye to him.  I walked out because it was taking him a long time, so I thought he'd pulled out and gone the opposite direction from what I had expected, but no, he was busy pulling his car out of the GARAGE!  YAY!!!

One other great benefit.  I was dressed in no time flat this morning.  I saw that my bedroom mirror was dirty, so I walked in, got the Windex and cleaned it right then.  On typical mornings, I'm so stressed about what to wear that that's what I spend a good part of my time doing.  Time to clean a mirror?  No way.  I usually put that off until later.

Nice to have life simplified a bit.  So far, I'm loving the benefits.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Breath of Fresh Air, Coach

Just got an email from a coach that says this:

"Hi Guy's,

[#4] will be missed this Sunday, but I know that Sunday's don't work for you.


Such a relief after #5's summer fiasco.  Nice to have an understanding coach.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Minimizing the Closet

Well, I couldn't wait to clean out my closet.  I just streamlined it a couple weeks ago, but I attacked it with a vengeance today.  I have to say it felt SO GOOD!

I got ready for church and chose from the two skirts I left for myself.  After reading Miss Minimalist, I followed some of her advice.  I chose a color theme.  Well, that was easy.  I'm a black and white kind of person, but to be honest, I kept only one white thing--a white t-shirt.  So, I guess you could say I chose black and pink.

I kept two pairs of pajamas, three pairs of underwear, two bras, one slip, one robe, two skirts, one pair of jeans, one pair of khakis, some exercise clothes, a pair of heels, a pair of sandals, a pair of boots (although I may end up with those in the bag as well), and two shirts.  I also kept my pink jacket, my pink cardigan, and my leather jacket.  I'm keeping a pair of work clothes as well.  Needless to say, I kept a bit more than Miss Minimalist.  I probably could get down to ten items, but I figure this is pretty minimal for me for now, and as I figure out how it all works with the laundry and seven kids, I'll pare back more as I can.

I packed up two huge crates of clothing.  They're still sitting in my bedroom, but they'll depart tomorrow.  I have to wait for the laundry to be done tomorrow, so I can get the rest of my clothes out.

I'm looking forward to doing less laundry.  I'm actually looking forward to not debating over what to wear.  Since this is all self-inflicted, I can't see myself griping about not having this or that.

I have never been a fashion queen.  I've never been a trendy girl.  I'm just a simple person when it comes right down to it, so I guess you could say everything's been in place for this kind of move for a long time.

I started decluttering way back pre-children, but it didn't last.  Now, with nine of us under this roof, the clutter is amazing.  I feel like I have to take this bold move in order to truly get a grip on it.  I'm so excited to see how this all pans out.  For now, I'm LOVING my closet.

I figure society lies to us in a couple different ways.  First, that we have to keep everything and we have to have more of everything in order to happy.  Also that we need to keep everything to ourselves.  We need to be selfish about everything we have.

It seems that the opposite of both of these is true.

We don't have to have more to be happy.  We actually need to have what we need and find satisfaction and gratitude in it, and we need to share everything that we have.  These are the things that will make us happy.  Stuff doesn't bring happiness.  At least that's the premise I'm going off of here.  I'm looking forward to proving it right.

The Birthday's Begin

Before child #6 came along, this is how birthdays were laid out in our house.  We had one child born in each September, October, November, December and January.  The Warden is March, and I am April.  We had two girls and three boys, so we thought it would be amazing to have a girl born in February, but it didn't work out that way.  We had a boy in October, and were pleased as could be.  #7, a girl, was born in June, so not everything in life is clockwork, but it was really fun to have things the way we did.

September 4th is the beginning of the birthdays.  We now have two in October and little Miss #7 all by herself in the summer, but I guess that's not completely true.  #4, whose birthday is three days after Christmas has decided to celebrate his in the summer too, and we're great with that, so we have two summertime celebrations.  We thought we'd do his birthday on his half birthday, but when #7 came along on that day, it kind of blew that idea out of the water.

Today is this girl's 14th birthday:

Here are fourteen things I LOVE about this girl....

  1. Her compassion.
  2. Her zest for life.
  3. Her thoughtfulness.
  4. She marches by her own drummer.
  5. She's a leader.
  6. She doesn't follow the crowd.
  7. She gets excited about things.
  8. She claps when she gets excited.
  9. Her beautiful smile.
  10. When she plays school with her younger siblings.
  11. That's she's super creative.
  12. That she likes to read.
  13. That's she's so much like her grandmother (my mother-by-marriage).
  14. That she still likes having me around.

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