Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Today we here are CrazyLife are thankful for our family and friends.  We are thankful for our health and our wealth (such as they both are) and for all the blessings in our lives, big and small.  We are celebrating Thanksgiving amongst Mr. CrazyLife's family and it's nice to have everyone together, enjoying good food, good games, good conversation and just enjoying life.

We hope all our friends here on the blog are enjoying their Thanksgivings as well and counting each and every one of your own blessings!

Have a blessed day!!
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Monday, November 22, 2010

Meal Plan Monday

And what a crazy food/meal plan week it will be!!  Between kids being in and out of school, the holiday, travelling and more it's just a crazy food week!  But being that it is what it is the CrazyLife meal plan for this week:

Rice Crispies
Bagels w/laughing cow cheese
scrambled eggs
coffee cake

Bologna Sandwiches w/ chips
Chicken Nuggets w/tator tots
PB & J w/cut veggies
Tuna Sandwiches w/apple slices

School Lunches
Hot lunch for Thing #2
Bologna, cheese sticks, chips, oranges for Thing #1
Yogurt, cottage cheese w/sunflower seeds, crackers, tuna on rice cakes for Momma CrazyLife

Monday:  Chicken Nuggets w/tator tots/Ravoli
Beef Fried Rice (my easy recipe)

Tuesday: Just Momma 'cause Kids are at Auntie's house and Daddy is at school conferences
Bagel w/veggie cream cheese from Einstein Bagels

Wednesday: PB & J sandwiches w/cut veggies and chips on the road

Thursday: Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings

Friday: Either another Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings OR do-agains

Saturday: Do-agains OR hamburger/cheeseburger OR dinner at IL's hour

Sunday: Ranch Pork Chops w/ranch rice (didn't use last week)

Apple slices w/caramel dip
cut up veggies w/PB dip
chex mix
cheese sticks

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

This is......

My 100th Post!!!!

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Preschool at Home

This year we've been doing a homeschool preschool program for Things #3 and #4.  Now, mind you, both Mr. CrazyLife and myself are public school teachers, so we are in no way against public school.  Or are we pro-homeschool.  We just feel that any education either at home or at school is important and that we should do all we can to keep our children on the right path and give them a headstart into life and education.

Since Auntie CrazyLife has been staying with the wee ones during the day, we decided it was easier to let her homeschool the preschool rather than find a new place for them and add extra running and expense into our day.  She's been trained in early childhood education, so it's a great choice for us.

So far this year, the kids have worked on their letters and numbers, both recognition by sight and sound.  I cut a vinyl alphabet with my Cricut and we hung it on our kitchen wall.  It looks quite nice, if I do say so myself.  =)  Thing #3 can now write his full name and Thing #4 can recognize and say all the letters in her full name.

They have also done units on "All about Me," "Halloween," "Apples," and "Fall."  Our kitchen/dining room is decorated so nicely with all the artwork they've done.  We've added to it with artwork the older children bring home from school.  It's a lovely way to decorate the house!

The children and Auntie also work on the weather and calendar every day.  It's so cute to hear Thing #4 singing the days of the week song all the time!

This past week, the kids and Auntie have been working on shapes and colors.  It's so funny to hear my wee two year old pointing out all the shapes she sees as we drive around town!  She can even draw her own circles and squares!

Next week the topic is Thanksgiving. 

Today we went to the library to find a book on the first Thanksgiving and about the history of Thanksgiving.  The kids will read that and do some answer comprehension questions orally and then draw a picture of what the first Thanksgiving looked like.  We also have some Pilgrim head crafts to make from  HERE.  I also found a printable book there about symbols of Thanksgiving and one about counting.

I also have used my QuickCutz cutter to make some Thanksgiving shapes (Boy Pilgrim, Girl Pilgrim, Boy Indian, Girl Indian, Turkey, Corn, Leaf) which will be used for a couple different things.  The kids will use them for making patterns, counting, color identity, shape identity and of course, storytelling.

So far, this homeschool preschool thing is working quite well.  With Auntie CrazyLife doing the main lesson during the day and Momma and Daddy CrazyLife filling in during the evening and weekend, I really see a lot of progess with the kids. 

Plus, it's been fun putting together units and making all the materials and planning curriculum.  I'm probably kind of a nerd in that way, but I love curriculum!  Look for more homeschool preschool ideas in the future!
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Someday My Prince Will Come

It just won't be this prince!

Okay, so it's a bit silly.  I mean, he's a lot younger than me.  He lives a long long way away from where I do.  We come from totally different worlds.  Oh, not to mention that I'm already married and all that jazz.

But it could have happened, right?

This week Buckingham Palace announced the engagement of Prince William to his long-time girlfriend, Kate Middleton.  I couldn't be more excited!  It may be weird, but  have this strange fascination with all things royal.  I think it comes from my mother and grandmother because they both do as well.  Perhaps because my Gram looks strangely exactly like Queen Elizabeth II?  Or because when doing genology, my mother traced one of our family lines back to a royal line 100s of years ago?  Whatever the reason, I love the royals!

And Wills gave her his mother's ring.  That is an amazing ring!!

 I remember watching Diana and Charles's wedding as a child and the beauty and pagentry of it is still stuck in my mind.  Diana was such a beautiful bride.  As will Kate be.  The carriage ride, the big poufy AMAZING dress, the flowers, the music.  Everything.

And of course, being second in line to the throne pretty much garentees a wedding just as big and elaborate and beautiful.  I can't wait to see it all.  I'm very happy for them both.  They seem quite content and happy with their decision. 

I do hope that their mariage is more successful than his parents and other relatives have been.  I really think that both Diana and Sarah really didn't know what they were getting into.  They were both so young and their courtships were so short.  And since Kate has been around for the long haul, hopefully she has an idea of what exactly she is getting into. 

I think they make a beautiful couple, yes?

I do wish them a very happy and healthy marriage, with wonderful years to follow!

And after all......there's another prince to keep in mind....who would forget Handsome, Hottie Prince Harry?

It's possible.......
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Monday, November 15, 2010

Meal Plan Monday

Rice Crispie Cereal
Cheerios Cereal
Eggs w/toast

Fish Sticks w/chips, cheese sticks, carrots
Mac N' cheese w/ apples
Raman Noodles w/mixed fruit
PB&J w/tator tots
Bologna, crackers, cheese pieces, carrot/celery sticks w/PB

School Lunches
BBQ potato chips
apple slices

Red Beans and Rice
Ranch-style Pork Chops w/ranch rice
Hot dogs/chili dogs w/chips and veggies
Homemade pizza
Leftovers (or do-agains)
Grilled Cheese sandwich w/tomato soup

Cheese sticks and raisins
Animal Crackers
Shortbread cookies
Graham Crackers w/PB
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**Happy Deer Day**

Happy Opening Day!!
(or as we call it at work - the Deer Day Holiday!!)

Today is the opening day of rifle deer hunting season in Michigan.  And to celebrate, Momma Crazylife did not have to go to school today.  Woo Hoo!!

Since so many of our kids and techers take off to go hunting, we almost always have the day off.  Otherwise, who knows if we'd have enough kids to count the day?

And even more exciting - Things #1 & #2 and Mr. Crazylife all had to go to school today.  So I get to be at home with the two little ones.  We've been having fun shopping and doing our preschool work.

I love days off!!!
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Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Laundry Limbo

Raise your hand if you *hate* laundry!!!

I do!!  I do!! I do!!!

Actually, that's not true.  I don't hate doing laundry.  I don't mind it. 
 What I hate is folding laundry and sorting all those socks!!

Anyhoo....I kinda sorta had a system set up.  I thought it would work. It worked all summer long.
And then school started back up.  And I was stressed.  And I didn't have enough time for anything.
And we were running constantly.  And and and and and.

So it's not working.

Ideally, I would like to dedicate one day each week to doing someone's laundry and one day for towels and sheets.  If we combine the girls' laundry and the boys' laundry, that means four days for clothing and one day for the other, leaving me exactly two days with NOTHING to wash except emergencies.

It's not working.  I'm doing at least two loads a day and not following any kind of schedule.  I start one in the morning before  leave for work.  Clean laundry ends up sitting in a basket outside the dryer for days before getting folded.  Folded laundry sits on a chair in the living for days before I get fed up waiting for someone else to put it away and do it myself.


So I need a new plan.
My mind is thinking.....

I'm just not sure.  It seems like right now I end up doing most of the laundry in one day on the weekend, which is okay because it all gets washed, folded, and put away right away.  (except the sock....I HATE sorting socks!).  But it takes up the ENTIRE day.

What do do?

It all leaves me feeling a bit like the photo above.

So I'm devising a new plan.  Each of the children's rooms will get a hamper.  All dirty clothing will go into that hamper.  If it's on the floor, I'm not picking it up.  In our master bathroom there will be another hamper and one in the laundry room a well.  We also have one at the bottom of the stairs leading to the master bedroom, as Mr. Crazylife has a habit of changing his clothes immediately as he comes in the house and dropping his clothes wherever (early in our marriage, I had a laundry hamper in the KITCHEN just for him!)

Then I am going to set up a laundry board and hang it in the laundry room.  On this board will be a dry erase section for each day of the week.  Each person's name will go on one day and one day will be chosen for towels/sheets.  I'm hoping that this will help keep me accountable.  I'm also going to try to fold the laundry in the laundry room and set it on the counter there.  Ideally, I'd like a shelf of some sort with a basket for each person's clean clothes in there, but I'm not sure how to set that up yet.

Each person is going to have to be responsible for putting away folded laundry.  No more laundry will be done for a person if their clothes are not put away.  No more room means no more laundry.

And we'll ALL sort socks together!!!

What is your laundry routine?  Any suggestions or ideas for me that might help make it an easier task?
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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Elf Magic

It's that time of year again.....
it's almost time for Holly, Mistletoe, Ginger and Pepper
to come back for their yearly visit!! 
The kids can't wait and frankly, neither can I!!

Every year for the past three years, our magic elves have joined us at Christmastime.  They are fun to have around as they are always up to mischief in the middle of the night (kinda sounds like four other little munchkins I know!) 

They always arrive on December 1st, bringing us an Advent wreath and calendar.  Sometimes they do crazy things in the middle of the night like taking a bath in the kitchen sink full of marshmallows or making flour "snow" angels on the kitchen table while baking us cookies.  One time they decided the house wasn't decorated enough, so they made paper snowflakes and hung them all over the house - and then they left all the little cut up pieces of paper out for us to clean up!  Our favorite event was when they staged a "snow"ball fight under the Christmas tree with cotton balls.  Crazy elves!!

But they also do things that remind us of the real reason for the season.  After all, Santa is just part of the picture and he wants us to remember what Christmas is really about too.  So he has taught all his elves the Christmas story and they help remind us and share it with us.

Our elves have dressed up as Saint Lucia and her entourage, bringing us sweet buns and a bible story.  They have gone to church to help out with the Christmas pagent.  And every year, on Christmas morning, we find them kneeling at the manger of our creche.

We love our elves (you can find some of their North Pole friends here) and look forward to them coming every year.
We can't wait to see what crazy things they do this year!!!
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The Cold and Flu Season

Cold and flu season is in full force with us.  And we always seem to get hit hard in the fall.  Thing #4 has already had pnemonia this fall and Thing #3 had croup.  We've had the nebulizer out and going since the middle of October and it will stay in active duty until about mid-March.

I try to prevent colds as naturally as possible.  We up our doses of Vitamin C and Vitamin D during the colder months.  We also run the humidfiers all the time.  I personally up my Vitamin B12 dose as well. 

Something new I'm trying this year  is Oregeno oil.  It was suggested to me by our local heath food store.  I looked up online and found these things out about it:

What are the Benefits of Oil of Oregano?

The ancient Greeks were one of the first people to recognize oregano oil for its health benefits and medicinal qualities. It is known to be a potent antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiparasitic oil that can reduce pain and inflammation and effectively fight off infections.

Some of the specific benefits of Oil of Oregano are:

•Destroying organisms that contribute to skin infections and digestive problems.

•Strengthening the immune system.

•Increasing joint and muscle flexibility.

•Improving respiratory health.

Uses of Oil of Oregano

Skin Infections

Oil of Oregano can be applied directly onto the skin to treat itches, skin infections, and irritated gums, but only if it has been diluted. Always follow the instructions on your particular bottle before applying topically onto the skin, since highly concentrated oils may first need to be mixed with Olive Oil or Coconut Oil before application (usually one teaspoon of Olive Oil or Coconut Oil per one drop of Oil of Oregano).

Digestive Problems

The high concentrations of thymol and carvacrol in Oil of Oregano have been shown to calm upset stomachs and aid digestion. Therefore, a quick home remedy for mild indigestion is to drink a glass of milk or juice that is mixed with 2 or 3 drops of the oil.

Sinus Congestion

Oil of Oregano is a wonderful natural remedy for sinus congestion. A common solution is to add 3 drops of the oil into a glass of juice and drink this mixture daily for 3 to 5 days.

Colds and Sore Throats

Oil of Oregano is an excellent early defense mechanism when you feel a cold or sore throat coming on. Simply take 3 drops of Oregano Oil once per day (you can mix it into a glass of orange juice) and you should notice results within a few hours. Repeat this once per day for up to 5 days until the symptoms are gone.
So far it seems to be doing it's job.  Three months into school and I have yet to have a cold or any other sickness that is going around with the kids.  Usually by this time, I've had two sinus infections and bronchitis.  I haven't tried it with the children yet and probably won't.  I'm not sure of it's affects on them.
If someone does come down with a cold, we also treat that naturally if possible.  We up Vitamin C again.  We heat up water with peppermint oil in it and then "steam" our heads - put the water in a bowl and put our heads over the bowl with a towel on top - garenteed to clear stuffy noses.  We use heating pads on the chest.  We'll do "hot toddies" if possible (I don't put whisky in the kids - just warm 7up or Cider).  Lots of chicken noodle soup and hot tea or chocolate.
What home remedies do you use to fight off the cold and flu?  What do you treat them with?
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Thursday, October 28, 2010

I think I've lost my mind...

So after all the walking/jogging/running I've been doing this year.  After the over 350 miles I've put in since April 1st.  After coming up with every concievable reason not to - - -

I decided to go ahead and register for the Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon!

Call me crazy.  I don't think I can actually run that far.  I plan on walking most of it.  Maybe do a jogging sprint at each mile marker, through the castle and of course the finish line.

The distance doesn't phase's the time.  A 16 minute mile.  Can I do it?  Let's hope so.

I've got to up my attitude and training though. Since school started, I haven't done much of anything walking/jogging wise.  My prep times have changed as well as being in a new school and they just aren't as condusive to walking/jogging.  So I've got to try to fit in time at home.  Yeah, right!  LOL

Starting November 1st, I'm going to amp up my training.  I've got to get more miles and less time going.  I'll post my training plan once I get it finalized this week.  I'm gonna need some help keeping in check on this!

I am really excited about it though...even through the nerves.  I'm going with my friend Meredith .  We're going to have a blast!!!

And when I cross that finish line in February....I'm gonna have me one of these!

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Happy Fall Meals

Fall is by far my favorite season of the year.  Despite horrid allergies, I love the cooler weather and the changing of the leaves.  I think one of the benefits to living in northern mid-Michigan is that the fall weather makes for some beautiful drives.

With cooler weather and greyer skies, my head immediatly turns to warm belly food.  This is the food that fills you up and warms you from head to toe.  My favorite kind of food!

Today I'm sharing my famous pot-roast recipe.  It's super easy (even for a busy working mom mid-week) to throw together and super yummy too! 

Jenn's Pot Roast
1 rolled rump roast
1 pkg buttermilk ranch dressing powdered (I use Hidden Valley Ranch)
1 pkg Italian dressing powdered
2-4 medium potatos, peeled and diced
2-3 carrots, peeled and chunked
1 med sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 med onion, diced

Layer veggies on bottom of roasting pan.  Place meat on top and cover meat with ranch dressing and italian dressing mixes.  Cover with foil or glass lid.  Bake at 375 for between an hour and an hour and a half or until meat is done.  Cut and serve with veggies, pour some "sauce" from bottom of pan over top.  Yummy!

I usually serve broccoli or some other green veggie on the side and a salad and rolls as well.

Follow this dinner up with warm apple or pumpkin pie and you've got the perfect fall meal!
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Oh-bla-di, Oh-bla-da, Life Goes On.....

As a running theme in this blog....Life goes on.....

Late summer happened and with it the taking apart and putting away of the garden.  We froze many a green/yellow bean, corn kernal and broccoli tree.  Not to mention the berries that were frozen and put away.  Or the mushrooms, berries, onions, and apples that were dried.  The onions that were braided and put into the cistern for storage.  The peaches canned.  The apples sauced.  The tomatos juiced and sauced.  BBQ sauce made.  Cabbage fermented and frozen as sauerkrat.  Busy times.

Then school started.  Thing #1 began second grade in the gifted and talented program.  She's doing grade level work in science and social studies and working one grade ahead in math and language arts.  She is in a magnet classroom, so all the children are at the same level and working at the same degree.  Thing #2 began first grade and is having all the challenges that come with being a spirited child in this world.  He just doesn't fit into the box of a "typical" first grader and has a teacher that wants all her kids to fit neatly into that box.  It's a struggle, but he's coping well and we're working with him on respect and expectations.  Things #3 and #4 began doing preschool with Auntie CrazyLife, who comes to our home each morning at 6:45 to watch the children.  Having her around has been a lifesend.  Mornings are so much easier and the big kids don't have to ride the bus anymore.  I'm not rushing around to get out the door and everyone is happier in the home setting than a daycare setting.  Mr. CrazyLife and myself both started teaching in new schools this fall and are adjusting as well as we can in the situation.

Add afterschool dance classes, college classes and church activities and well, we're pretty much on the go all the time!

So that's life....I'm trying to be more productive with the blog and keep it updated more; life just seems to step in the way.  I haven't been online at home in almost 3 weeks!  And at school during my prep time I'm actually planning and prepping (amazing, I know).  So time has been limited.  I promise to update, but expect like 5 posts in a day and nothing for like a week!

Thanks for sticking with me and being loyal followers and friends!
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Monday, September 6, 2010

Hello, Fall!

What a perfect weather way to end summer for us here at CrazyLife!! 

We all head back to school tomorrow...Thing #1 will be a second grader, Thing #2 will be a first grader, Things 3 and 4 will be having preschool.  Daddy CrazyLife goes off to High School and the world of biology and advanced biology.  And Momma CrazyLife heads back to the elementary school and preschool music world.  It's going to be a crazy year with both adults in new school buildings and so much going on outside of school.

However, fall weather appears to be upon us and boy and I ever happy!!!  This summer has been one of the hottest ones on record here and I don't do heat.  The past few days have been perfect - breezy, cool, and partly sunny.  My jeans came out of hibernation along with their friend, the sweatshirt.  Ahhhhh, how I've missed them!!
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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Keeping Kids Accountable

I admit it.  I had fallen into the rut of doing almost everything for my children.  I picked out their clothes.  I made all their meals, packed their schoolbags, even picked up their dirty clothes off the bedroom and bathroom floors. But there came a point at the beginning of this summer when I said to myself, "Self?  What in the heck are you doing?"  This came after spending almost an hour picking up toys and messes after the children had gone to bed.  Why was I the one doing this?  I didn't make the mess.  If anything, I'd picked up that same exact mess at least three times already that day. Why? Why? Why?

I never intended to become the parent who did everything for their kids.  I wanted my children to be independent.  I wanted them to be able to take care of themselves.  And they were - they just couldnt' or more likely, wouldn't  do it.

So I declared war.  As soon as school was over this summer.  I made up a system to "help" them help themselves.  And it's long as I keep up on it.

You see, my children are just like myself.  In order to stay accountable to me, to them, to each other, we need a visible checklist, something we can see what needs to be done.  This can't be something you can hide away and forget - it has to stay constant, and you have to be able to physically manipulate it.

I mentioned in my last post about my love of the Motivated Moms system.  I keep the calendar in a 3 ring binder on my kitchen table.  I HAVE to mark things off the list before I feel like I can finish my day.

The kids are the same way.  Through trial and error, we came up with a system that helps them help themselves (and me in the process).  It's worked for the most part - vacation days kind of put us off.  But the biggest thing is that we keep it visible and that the kids are able to physically manipulate their list.

Here's what we do:

I made up a chore chart for each of the children.  I just used Excel, nothing fancy.  Each child has 7 chores per day.  These things include brushing teeth, making beds, picking up bedrooms, picking up toys, picking out clothes.  They also include some "extra" chores - setting the table, clearing the table, sweeping the floor, taking out the trash, putting away laundry.   Many of the basic chores are the same for each child, allowing me to use the same template for all four munchkins.

I post the chore charts on the side of the refridgerator.  That way, the kids can check themselves to see what needs to be done and I can check to see how they are doing.  When they finish a chore and I've checked it, they can put a sticker on the chart for that day.

Each chore is worth 5 cents of "momma money".  At the end of the week they can earn up to $2.45.  This isn't a real allowance.  It's Momma Money.  The wee monsters and I sat down and came up with a list of rewards that they can "buy" with their Momma Money.  The things included, dinner out, a date with mom/dad to the park, swimming at the college, a sleepover wih a friend; all things that are free or reletively free.  Or they can save up or pool their money to "buy" something larger: a trip to the zoo, a movie date, a toy from the dollar store, etc.

It's working pretty well.  The kids are saving up right now to buy a trip to the zoo for the Halloween event and Thing #1 wants a sleepover with 2 friends.  If they start to fall behind, a simple reminder of what they need to do and what they are working towards seems to help.

And we're all staying more accountable!
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Monday, August 30, 2010

One Motivated Mom

Do you ever get bogged down by the daily grind of housework?  I sure do.  I love making my house a home, but the constant upkeep of that home drives me crazy.  Guess I wasn't cut out to be little Suzy Happy Homemaker.  It stresses me out.  The clutter gets out of control.  The little things slip out of my control.  The kids sabotage everything I try to do!  *giggle*

So I've been on the lookout for a plan that will help keep me on track and honest with myself and my family about the house.  I've tried different things over the years - FlyLady (too many emails and too much guilt about not keeping up PLUS I hate wearing shoes in the house!), a card system my mom used when I was a kid (not visible enough and too easy to ignore), making lists (which get lost in the general clutter), etc, etc, etc.

Then last year I stumbled across a system called Motivated Moms and have fallen in love with it!  You have got to check this out!  It comes in a calendar/list form.  It's great - you check things off!  And if you don't get to everything on your daily list, it's okay, because it comes back up next week or the week after.  And it includes things like working on crafts, reading to your children, and making time for yourself, all things that sometimes get lost in the general clutter of life.

As with any program, you've got to actually stick with it.  I stopped using it last spring when life got a bit hectic.  And the world fell apart! Pulled it back out this summer and now I feel a bit more in control.  Just what I needed heading back to work this fall.

If you need a system to try...check it out.  It's a lot easier than FlyLady (although the same concepts apply) and your house will start showing the difference right away!!

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Meal Plan Monday

Back to the daily grind - Back to school - Back to fall
That's where we are in our yearly cycle.  This week starts both Mr. CrazyLife and myself back to school/work.  The kids all go back to school next week.  It's time to get back into regular schedules and regular meal plans.
Some things have changed this fall.  Instead of daycare, Things #3 and #4 will be staying home with my sister, hereafter referred to as Auntie CrazyLife.  She will be doing all daytime meals except supper with the kids and doing a preschool program.  So our meal schedule has changed a bit to reflect that.

Here's this week's meal plans:

breakfast: cereal/granola bars/scrambled eggs
lunch: lunch out with IL's
dinner: dinner out with Auntie CrazyLife

breakfast: cereal w/milk
lunch: grilled cheese sandwiches, grapes, tater tots
dinner: tacos and taco salad

breakfast: scrambled eggs with toast
lunch: PBJ with fruit
dinner: Hot dogs/Hamburgs on the grill

breakfast: smoothie for mom/cereal for kids
lunch: bologna, cheese, crackers, fruit
dinner: speghetti w/meatballs and fresh bread

breakfast: soothie for mom/eggs for kids
lunch: Mac n' cheese, sausage chunks
dinner: steak salads for parents/hot dogs for kids

breakfast: pancakes
lunch: nachos w/meat
dinner: homemade pizza

breakfast: cereal
lunch: PBJ and chips
dinner: leftovers
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Sunday, August 29, 2010

News from the Garden.....

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary
How Does Your Garden Grow?

That old child's verse comes into my head whenever I talk to someone about my garden.  I love my garden.  I love planting seeds and watching them grow into plants, flower and produce food that then sustains us.  I love the beauty of the different plants as they grow - vines ever moving outward and upward, sunflowers reaching towards the heavens, tomatos and beans bushing out with little flowers everywhere.  It's poetry in motion.

And now that it is the end of August, it's a body in motion as I try to harvest everything and get it preserved and put away for the colder months!

So far this season, I have frozen about 8 quarts of broccoli, 8-10 quarts of corn (with more in the refridgerator, ready to go....just finding the time) and 1 of green beans (too hot so far for many).  I have also put down 4 quarts of raspberries and about 4 quarts of blueberries into the freezer.  I did up 16 pints of peaches (from a 1/2 bushel I bought at the farmer's market), most of those in light syrup, but a few "spirited peaches" with peach schnapps in the syrup!  I also did 11 jelly jar size (?) of sweet n' tangy BBQ sauce.  I've never done that before, but it sure does taste yummy!  We've had sauerkrat brining for about 6 weeks now...another two weeks and I'll take it out and freeze it.I had a whole pot of tomatos stewing for sauce, but ended up burning those.  That irritated me...about 30 lbs of tomatos down the drain.  (well, actually into the chicken pen, but whatever).  Remind me not to try to stew tomatos while playing video games with the kids again, okay?

The garden is still going in full swing.  It seems like almost everything is coming in at least two weeks early, despite our late planting.  My beans are finally flowering quite a bit, so I'm hoping for more of those.  The tomatos are going bonkers and taking over the entire end of the garden!  The sweet potato vines look awesome, although I haven't dug around yet to see what's under there (anyone know when to harvest them?).  Broccoli and celcery are looking good and still going strong. And our pumpkins are already turning orange....I hope they stay good till the end of October!!! 

I've planted more peas and radishes and lettuce and spinich for the fall garden.  It's been so hot this summer that we really had a hard time with the cool weather stuff that usually goes all summer for us.  I'm hoping a fall garden goes well.

And I'm hoping that Mr. CrazyLife proves good on his promise to create my cold boxes this fall.....I'd love to keep some things going through the winter!!!
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Feeling Blue?

Blueberry, that is?

It's blueberry season in Michigan and I love it!  As a child I never cared for blueberries.  I refused to eat them - whether plain, in muffins or mushed up in yogurt.  I hated them - with a capitol H.  My Gram used to say that I was her favorite blueberry picker, because my bucket was always full - I never ate any while picking!  In the years since, I have grown to tolerate them.  I still won't eat them plain or just mushed and mixed with yogurt or cottage cheese.  But I will eat them cooked in breads or pancakes.  And I love them in my breakfast smoothies!

My family has had a tradition from, well, forever, that every August, usually the first weekend, we all meet at Gram and Gramp's house and go blueberrying.  My aunt, uncle and cousin come.  Gram and Gramps used to come before it got to be too much for them.  My mom and sister always come up.  It's a fun time.  We have a favorite farm that we go to and the berries there have always been fantastic!

This year the calendar was not our friend.  We just couldn't find a time to meet up with everyone and hit the farm.  I was sad.  My own family usually picks around 30-40 pounds of berries and my mom and aunt pick around the same for their family.  I was worried about not having any berries for the freezer this year.

Then I discovered a secret, hidden treasure, just up the road from our own little farm - a BLUEBERRY patch!!!  Now, it isn't the best patch I've ever been to (you should see the patch at Soldini Blueberries - that's our favorite little patch!), but it isn't too bad either.  The bushes are huge and the berries small - but still tasty!  So I've gone a few times and picked.  It's late to be picking here, but these bushes are sill loaded up with berries.  I took the kids once and will probably go at least once more this month.

So now I've got berries to freeze.  Yay!!!  And berries to use in my favorite blueberry recipes.  Here's a couple to share....try them out and enjoy!!!

Lemon Blueberry Shortbread
2 C white or white whole wheat flour
1/8 tsp salt (I just pinch it in)
1/2 C dark brown sugar
1/2 TBS grated lemon peel (I use fresh and guesstimate the measurement)
3/4 C dried blueberries (I use fresh or frozen)
1 C butter (only butter - no substitutes)

Heat oven to 350.

Mix flour, salt, sugar, lemon peel and blueberries.

Cut in butter and mix till crumbly.  Continue mixing until a smooth dough forms.

Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Roll out cold dough between two sheets of wax paper to about 1/2" thickness.  Cut out with cookie cutters or score and cut into squares.

Place 1" apart on cookie sheet and bake 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned.


Blueberry Whipped Cream - yummy on cakeor with fresh fruit
2 C whipping cream (not coolwhip)
1/4 C granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 C mushed blueberries

Mix together all ingredients in a deep bowl (it splatters).

Whip with a mixer 8-10 minutes or until a nice whipped cream texture.  Chill.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Natural Mosquito Repellent

If your family is anything like my family, in the summer mosquitos and other flying, biting insects can be quite a problem.  In our family, myself and Thing #2 are plagued the most by these little annoying bugs.  And while I admit to using commercial bug spray (with some really nasty chemicals) while on vacation, I usually don't like to do that.  And I really don't like to use it on the kids.

A few years back I did quite a bit of research into natural bug repellents.  At the time I was just starting my "green" quest and was looking for any and all information on how to make my family's life more natural and green.  There's so much information out there and it takes a while to sort through it all and try things to see what works for you and your family.

Here are some things we do around the Auburn Glen farmstead to help with repelling bugs naturally.  I hope it helps!!


The most natural thing you can do is to make your land and home bug repellent.  You can do this by planting certain plants with bug repelling properties.  Generally speaking, catmint, scented geraniums and citronella are good ones.  Plant them in pots (cause otherwise they can take over your yard!) and place them near entrances to the house, near picnic/play areas and by ditches where water will collect.


Another tip I have been given and tried with moderate success is to uptake your Vitamin B levels during the warm months.  Supposedly the higher levels make your blood not quite as tasty to those little vampires we call mosquitos.


As for making your own bug repellent, it's quite easy.  Take a few drops of essential oils such as lavendar, calundra, or peppermint and add them to a TBS or so of either witch hazel or rubbing alcohol.  Rub on your body before heading out.

If you're nervous about using alcohol as a base, try this recipe - I LOVE this one!
3 drops peppermint essential oil
2 drops lemongrass essential oil
2-3 TBS coconut oil (or almond oil) for base
Rub it on before going outside.


If you do get bites, what is the best way to treat them?

I like to use a bit of baking soda paste on bites.  Mix a couple of TBS baking soda with some water - enough to make a thick paste.  Then dab on bites.  It might sting at first, and it can be a bit messy, but it takes the sting/bite right out.

Dabbing bites with a cotton ball soaked in apple cider vinegar works pretty well also.


Hopefully you are able to get outside and enjoy God's beautiful nature without getting too many bug bites!! 
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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fitness for Momma CrazyLife

I've really been trying to take hold of my health and fitness this year.  So far, I think I'm making a dent in things.  I've lost about 5 lbs this year - not a huge accomplishment, but one I feel good about.  My weight seems to be stuck in a rut since having kids.  However, I have lost quite a few inches off my waist and hips and thighs, so I think that makes up for the lack of weight loss.

Since April 1st, I've managed to walk or run or jog over 175 miles!  I started by going on 3 mile walks/runs during my lunch hour at work.  Then when school ended, I started going on 6 mile walk/runs during the times the kids were still in daycare.  I'm still keeping up on that routine and will be renewing my gym membership next week so that when it rains, I can still keep up the walk/run routine.

Another thing I've started is a Zumba class.  If you haven't seen or heard of these, you have to check it out!  It combines dance and fitness into one.  Mostly it consists of latin style dancing, but also includes some hip hop and belly dance, among others.  It's a fantastic workout!  I've never sweated so much in my life!  I'm now taking two classes a week and loving it!!  It totally appeals to the dancer in me, as well as my need to get fit.

And finally, I've started working yoga workouts into my life.  Yoga totally appeals to me for its simplistic nature and calming effects.  I can do it anywhere, anytime.  I started doing some yoga workouts posted on youtube by Yoga Polly and then started doing my own routine.  Lately I've been doing this lunar yoga routine from this month's Natural Health magazine.  I love having the time to relax and meditate and tone and stretch all at once.
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Vacation Time

We just got back from our annual summer vacation.  This year we went into Michigan's Upper Peninsula to the far western edges of the state.  It was about a 12+ hour drive for us.  My mother-in-law grew up in the area up there, so every year her family holds it's annual Northwoods 4th reunion.  It was a lot of fun.  We camped in a tent with 4 kids, so that was interesting.  Saw lots of waterfalls and beautiful sunsets.  Went swimming in Lake Superior and even climbed to the top of the world's tallest ski jump.  We picked wild raspberries and had fresh fish fry, right out of the lake!

Here's a small picture recap of the highlights of our little trip.  Hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed our family holiday!!

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Here we go again...

So another bloggy break for me.  I guess the summer and blogging just don't go well together in my world.  I've got a ton of things I want to post on and just never seem to find the time to post.  I think I'm going to try to type some up as drafts and then go and post them bit by bit.  Maybe that will help me keep updated!

Anyhoo...since my last postings....we've gone on holiday.  I'll do more on that one later.  We've been working in the garden and harvesting a few things.  It seems that the big farms are harvesting about two weeks early this year due to the heat and water, but since we planted a bit late, we're right on schedule.  Playing with the kids and trying to keep them busy.  Working on catching up with unfinished and half-finished home projects.  Just really keeping busy. 

So to all my wonderful followers and friends, I hope you're still out there!  Drop me a note to say hello!
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Indenpendence Days: June 15-June 21

Plant Something

We finished planting the main garden this week.  Sunflowers, more corn, cucumbers, watermelon, beans, more radishes and lettuce. 
Harvest Something
Harvested lettuce and the first ripe peas!  Also strawberries. And rhubarb. And chamoille. And radishes.
Preserve Something
Cut up rhubarb and put it in the freezer.
Waste Not
Took a bunch of things to the church rummage sale.
Want Not

Bought new ear phones for walking.
Building Community Food Systems
Gave eggs to family and friends.  Shared bread and beef with friends.
Eat the Food

Ate lots and lots of strawberries.  Ate the peas, lettuce and radishes in salads.  Made rhubarb bread and ate that.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Garden Harvests

It's still early here in Michigan to be harvesting too many things from the fact, we're still PLANTING in the garden!  Every week we try to add a few more plants/seeds to our yard and garden.  Things are growing ip everywhere and it's looking like a good year.  The only thing we have left to plant is some pumpkins.  We'll also add a few more radishes, carrots and lettuces later on this summer for a fall harvest.

But for now....

We're havesting strawberries.  And lettuce.  And radishes.  And rhubarb.  And the first peas of the season yesterday.  Yummy!

I also harvested my first crop of chamoille yesterday.  It's in my dryer now, and the house smells so fantastic!  I can't wait until it's ready to blend into my own special chamoille tea blend!
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Serindipity Mommy's Staycation Event!!

If you haven't been to my friend Candy's blog, Serendipity Mommy,'s the time to head over there! 

Candy is hosting a Staycation Event with tons of great giveaways (she always has fantastic giveaways, but these are superfantastic!!), plus, she's a super sweet girl with a great take on life, mommyhood, kids, and college.  You should totally check her out.

I just entered to win a Eureka! Tetragon 1610 Family Tent at her blog.  Our little family LOVES camping, but our tent is getting a bit crowded with all six of us in I'm totally hoping to win this one!!

Thanks, Candy for a great blog and a fantastic giveaway!
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Rhubarb Bread

I picked up this tasty recipe from my friend, Tina.  I had some rhubarb left over from the Farmer's Market a few weeks back that was just about past it's use.....we were on the phone and I was lamenting my lack of rhubarb recipes.  She shared this one and it's a keeper.  Even Mr. Crazylife can't stop eating this bread - and the wee monsters ate one entire loaf in the first day!

I see lots of possiblities with this bread as well...add some strawberry to it.  Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.  Bake in a cake pan like brownies....Change the topping......Yummo!


Rhubarb Bread

1 1/2 C Brown Sugar
2/3 C Shortening
1 egg
1 C Sour Milk*
1 tsp Baking Soda
2 1/2 C flour**
1 1/2 C finely diced rhubarb
1/2 C chopped nuts, opt.

1/2 C sugar***
1 TBS cinnamon

Mix together all bread ingredients.  Place in two well greased bread pans.  Top with topping mix.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

*if you don't have sour milk, add 2 TBS vinegar to regular milk, mix well and let it sit for about 5 minnutes.  Voila!  Sour milk.

**the recipe called for white flour - I used wheat flour.  A little heavier, but still good.

***the recipe called for granulated sugar, but I used brown sugar and it was tasty!
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Meal Plan Monday

So now that's it's summer time, I like to do my meals plans a little differently.  Instead of general lists of meals to make whenever, I actually schedule a meal per day.  Breakfast and lunch I still play it loose, but for dinner/supper it's scheduled.  Now, mind you,  I don't always follow the schedule and sometimes mix up the days, but I at least try to keep it a little tighter.  =)

With that said.....

Cereal - Cheerios/Fruit Loops
Eggs in a Basket (eggs in bread)
"french" toast - toast with butter and cinnamon sugar

PBJ & chips
Bologna, chips, cut veggies and Jello
Egg Salad Sandwhich w/veggies

Sunday - Grilled Brats/Hotdogs, baked beans, chips, watermelon, Jello, potato salad, Oranges
Monday - Fish Sticks, chips, Jello, Apples, Blueberries, Grapes
Tuesday - Sausage & Saurkrat (homemade), broccoli, salad
Wednesday - Mac n' Cheese, corn, Jello, Grapes
Thursday - Pulled Pork Sandwiches, potato salad, corn, cut veggies
Friday - Homemade pizza night
Saturday - Kids & Daddy with Grandma, Momma and Thing #1 eating out at a dance show
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Long Time....No See?

Well, I've taken a short hiatus from blogging.  With the end of the school year and re-adjusting the kids to a summer schedule it's been super crazy.  Then add in the fact that every weekend in June is action packed with out-of-town and in-town events and relative visits and such.....well, there you go.

Sooooo....hopefully my wonderful followers haven't lost faith in me and will check back in.  I'm going to be better at posting now, I promise!

It's June 21st - the longest day of the year.....the summer solstice!  Happy Summer Solstice Day!!!
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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

As you celebrate and visit with your family and friends this Memorial Day, please take a few moments to remember those who have served in our country's armed forces and given thier lives in sacrifice to our country.  Remember also, those who still serve.  Let us honor them all.
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A Taste of Summer

It's the official kick-off weekend for summer and I am SOOOO looking forward to it!!
Between the super warm weather, the sunshine and all the picnics we've been having, I kind of feel like it has already arrived.
So to start off the season, here's a surefire recipe for a summer picnic. 
Or maybe even a late spring one!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

1 pie crust
 (either homemade or store bought; enough to make a cover & base)

2 C Strawberries, hulled and chopped

2 C rhubarb, cut in small pieces
(I usually cut the stalk into three and then chop from there)

1 1/2 C granulated sugar

2 TBS flour

Zest of one orange

Juice of one orange

Mix all ingredients together and put in base of pie crust.  Cover with top crust.  Cut vents.  Decorate as desired.  Bake at 400 for about 40 minutes or until crust is brown and filling is bubbly. 
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Friday, May 28, 2010

New Friend Friday

I'm linking up to the New Friend Friday at The Girl Creative today.  Hope to meet some new friends and find some new blogs to hop around and follow!
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Bath Fun for the Kiddos

Since I'm in the bath and body mode today, I thought I'd share a fun little recipe I use for the kids bath.  Bath Fizzies.  Or Bath Bombs as some call them.  I was first introduced to these through a parenting message board I frequent. I ordered a few from a WAHM vendor on there and the kids loved them.  Begged to have them at every bath!!  They love to throw in the ball (or whatever molded shape) and watch it fizzle away!  So I started to look into how to make them myself.  Keep things a bit cheaper, plus, it gives me a project to do with the kids.  We're going to make up a batch of these really soon!

Bath Fizzies Baisc Recipe

1 C baking soda
1/2 C citric acid (available at drugstore/bulk foods)
1/2 C salts (dead sea or epsom)
1/2 C corn starch

Mix together all dry ingredients.

1 TBS water
1-2 TBS oil (any light vegetable oil will work; I've also used cocnut oil)
1-2 drops food coloring (if desired - makes for fun colors)
1-2 tsp essential oil (if desired - for fun)

Mix wet ingredients and add to dry ingredient mixture.  Now you have to work fast before the mix begins to set.  Take the mix and press into a mold.  Let them sit in a dry place, out of humidity for at least a day.  You can take them out of the mold reletively quickly as they will take shape and then let them dry out of the mold.  You can also use just about anything for a mold - ice cube trays, candy molds, plastic two piece christmas bulbs, etc. You can also take large scoops and use your hands to mold them into balls.
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Another Summer Beauty Idea to Try

Okay, I've never tried this one.  But I'm finding that as I get older, shaving gets harder and harder.  The hairs just seem to come back faster.  And with all the nurological issues I'm having, the sensation of stubby hair on my legs and arms really bothers me.  Strange, I know.  But I found this idea for hair removal the other day and I think I might give it a try.  It's called sugaring and while it is similar to waxing, apparently it works better and is not as painful.  Hmmmm, we'll have to see.  Let me know if you try it out!

Basic Sugaring Recipe and Directions

2 cups sugar
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup water

Combine the ingredients in a heavy saucepan, and heat on low using a candy thermometer. Watch the mixture very carefully so that it doesn’t boil over. Heat the mixture to 250 F on the candy thermometer; this is the hardball candy stage.

Remove from the heat and let cool enough to pour into a jar without breaking or melting the jar. (Note that this jar will be reheated in the future. Make sure it is safe for whatever form of reheating you plan to do—in the microwave, or in a pan of water.

Rip clean cotton fabric in 1-inch strips. Make sure the cotton isn’t too coarsely woven.

This next step is very critical: Let the mixture cool enough so that it won’t burn your skin. The first time I did this I didn’t let the blend cool enough and I burned myself! Test the mixture on the palm of your hand, knowing that is much tougher than the sensitive skin under your arms.

Using a dull knife or Popsicle stick, spread the cooled sugar onto your skin. Cover with the cloth strips, let set for a few minutes, and then rip off quickly as you would a bandage.

In the future you can reheat the mixture to a warm and not hot temperature (see above), and reuse. Note that reheating will thicken the paste.

Taken from: Care 2 Make A Difference

Apparently, the history of body sugaring goes way back to the ancient Egyptian times.  The Pharohs would ask that their slave girls (or harem, I suppose) would be completly hairless.   This was a sign of beauty and cleanliness.  While there were razors and cutters available back then, I would imagine they would not be the safest or cleanest way to go with hair removal.  So sugaring was used.  Interesting, no?
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