Thursday, June 27, 2013

Small Big Happy Things and Summer Goal Number Two

BB planting lantana and another pretty, drought/heat tolerant flowering plant whose name escapes me. We were both so happy to put some color in the front yard!

Life is a funny mixture of feelings and events, isn't it?

Sometimes the learning and the growing and the changing feel heavy and overwhelming. But then there's the small big happy things that help lighten my heart...

Like yesterday, I went out front and noticed that our newly bedded lantana plants looked very, umm, dead: limp, dry leaves and such. Groan. I was really, really sad. We put them in on Saturday. I told the Lord how sad it made me that they were dead and asked Him to revive them if it was His will. I watered them moderately three times throughout the day. When last I checked, all of them were very much alive. Thanks be to God.

I'm also really happy to be learning ideas and attitudes that help me to better relate with the kids, most especially the teenage ones (wink!). I see God at work and am so encouraged, and at the same time just a wee bit wiped out by the mental labor it takes to operate differently than comes natural to me. It's exercise, right? Exercise is tiring and builds strength. It's all good in the end!

Another thing that's making me smile? The fact that Baby H likes tuna salad. I offered him some the other day on his tray. He grabbed little handfuls (yeah, gross on that part) and gobbled up quite the hearty serving! Ha!

I also love the way he lays his little head down on my shoulder sometimes. Sweet, sweet. He also rests his head in the most endearing way on the couches as he cruises along them.

CJ came home from church on Father's Day with this cup of dirt and no explanation. What a cute little homemade chia-thing!

Last night it made me smile to watch my girls having a good time with two friends (sisters) from school who came to sleepover. They were loud and silly and what a different summer this is!

Yet another happy thing (when I'm able to keep proper perspective and appreciate growing pains), is the massive mental and emotional changes I'm experiencing. Some of this is my finally starting to become aware of myself (yep, have lived most of my life rather oblivious to my own...self); another part of the big change is rewiring - learning completely new ways of thinking, relating, and processing life. It feels rather like being born, if you want to know the truth. Hard work, exciting, draining, necessary, and good. God-work. God working.

On a much lighter note, I'm very pleased to be making one little shift in my kitchen: reducing the quantity of paper towels we use! This is not primarily because I'm feelin' green. It's mostly cheapness. I've not done a study, but I am pretty sure that the number of paper towels the 9 of us have been using daily is just plain sinful. And expensive.

I think my friend Margo would be pleased along with me, as it was she who gave me the idea to use good old fashioned rags as paper towel replacements. And since we are in the process of purging, I've found lots of worn out and unloved fabric to use for my rag-stash: mostly old shirts. It's been kind of fun to cut them up and quite rewarding to cut down significantly on paper towel use/dependence. The kids are even catching on!

I realized after my River post that there were no photos of BB's sweet sister. Here she is, along with Gramma, my 6 girls and R's two littles. This was the morning they left for home, so Baby H was not yet awake to join the photo.

Summer Goals
Part 2: Kitchen Help

Before school let out, it occurred to me that while my girls are excellent sous chefs, very skilled at various elements of food preparation, that none of them really had the knowledge or experience to prepare an entire meal/recipe. Lightbulb moment!

Let's do a little summer Home Economics! I looked over the calendar and chose 4 weeks that appeared fairly free of extra busy-ness, and assigned each of the four oldest girls to be in charge of meal preparation for one week.

Here's what our Home Ec course includes:

-inventory our refrigerator, freezer, and pantry to see what can be used in the week's meals, and also to take note of things that are running low, need replacing.

-sit down with the family calendar to figure out what the week holds: are there nights that necessitate a super-quick supper? Is there a meal during which the Head Chef won't be present? Which meals are best to double up so that we eat it for two night? How does one handle Sunday, when we really need an easy, fast meal, but aren't here to prep it?

-each girl is responsible for creating a menu that covers breakfast, lunch, and supper for one week.

-sit down together to come up with a grocery list, which entails reviewing the suggested menu, comparing it with our inventory, then adding things to the little grocery list app on my phone. Sometimes it means pulling out a recipe or two, just to make sure we know what we need.

-kid-of-the-week goes shopping with me (and sometimes Baby H accompanies :-), then helps put the groceries away.

-as the week progresses, Kitchen Helper is expected to prepare all the meals with little or no help. Of course, questions are welcome. This step means learning to anticipate food preparation needs and keeping an eye on the menu and one's available work time. Two big things to be aware of are pulling meat from the freezer to thaw and allowing time for soaking/cooking dried beans.

We are in the middle of our second go around with this goal. MK did the first turn. EG is halfway through hers.

Observations - It's fun to work with each of them one on one, and see how they think and handle things. EG and MK have done things very differently.

I think the "let's look at the calendar" element irritated MK. But it's totally necessary. She was raring to go on the food, food, food part!

I enjoyed having them at the store with me for three reasons: 1) one on one time, 2) they can run here and there and grab things, which saves time, and 3) they got to hear the reasoning behind certain purchases or decisions not to purchase, and the thinking behind different quantity and brand choices.

One of the coolest things was getting all that food home and having an ally in the kitchen and food prep world who also knew what we have on hand and why. Yes, there is a very good reason you call can't tear into those blueberries! They are for this meal and that meal. Hands off! Haha!

It's been good to see the gaps in their knowledge and confidence in the kitchen and begin to fill those holes.

It is fun to see what they chose to make in their week. MK did lots of variety and EG planned lots of Mexican. She also oversaw two meals while their friends were here and did a great job of choosing things that were fun, easy, and appealing to guests.

This has been a rewarding and interesting endeavor!

Thinking Ahead:
Two more kids to go! I think once the school year is underway, I'll assign one girl to a meal or two each week, one child per week, to keep them in practice and lighten my kitchen load a bit.

CJ is learning to help, too! We sat down together to work on chopping. She first cleaned the mushrooms, then broke off the stems, and then chopped the 'shrooms. I worked on celery and carrots across from her. Kept her very happily occupied for a long time and helped me for real. She was insistent on finishing it all and was quite methodical.

1 comment:

  1. I find this so energizing! And I'm feeling blue (just the ol' hormones), so it's so sweet to read of your success and trailblazing! I think your program for your girls is ambitious. I'm taking notes and thinking through how to accomplish this.

    Of course, you are right, I LOVE being inspiration for using rags instead of paper towels! Hope it works well for you.