Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A new season for a new reason!

It's officially turned fall. I am drowning in my day-to-day activities, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I have something to do at every moment of the day. It's the best time for me to start, or in this case, restart a hobby. I am going to start to blog again. Some of my friends and family have mentioned that they miss reading about the Grow clan or the insanities of my daily life and thinking. Some of my dear friends probably don't remember that I ever had a blog. I remember. It's always on the back of mind. I always have new ideas that I want to write about, but never seem to sit and do it, kind of like my ever growing ironing pile in the laundry room.

Because I am insanly busy, I can't promise a daily posting. But, to make myself more accountable, I'm adding extra passion into the blog. I find that the things that get the most attention in my life are the ones that hit my passion button. While I love sharing the "Jen humor" of my day, which I will always be happy to bless you with, I will also be sharing another heart's desire. I want to hit on some heart subjects.

My other passion, besides my amazing family, is showing people that you can live a normal life and still love God! God has brought me through life's ups and downs and continues to do so. He has shown me that we all can live an easier life if we lift each other up and encourage eachother! We all have similarities and God uses them to help us know that there is hope and light at the end of the tunnel, and He helps us see when things should be laughed at and not to be looked at as just another stress in our lives!

Don't fear! I'm not a preacher. I just have a big heart that is bursting with love and want to share it from time to time! Ok! I also have a herd of children that seem to have taken it upon themselves to make sure that I laugh my assets off about something they did at least once a day! I can't wait to show you all!

Friday, February 27, 2009

I hope I look as good as she did!

This has got to have been the most amazing woman that I will ever have known. She was my Great Aunt Mae!

I loved this woman. She was like a grandma to me. We would go to her condo and swim until our hands and feet were pruny. She would always have a flowered swim cap for me to wear so my hair wouldn't get all tangled in the pool. I would spend weekends with her once in a while. She would take me to the rock museum or to Chicago to a restaurant. It was the first time that I had ever had something called yam chips. They were potato chips made out of yams. We would get our hair done together. She taught me how to make scrambled eggs. At night, we would sit and eat peanut butter toast and watch Jeopardy while she crocheted something for a friend or up and coming baby. She would then turn off the coo coo clock so it wouldn't go off all night and scare me. She is forever embedded into my childhood memories.

She was always the biggest traveler. She has been to every continent, multiple times. I believe that it was said that she traveled to over 147 countries in her life time. After 96 years of living, she went on to her farthest and grandest journey, to be with our Jesus. It seems that heaven was the only place left for her to go! When her time came, I knew that I wanted to be at the funeral.

*Before I go on with my story, I want to apologize. I am about to tell you what happens when you go to the funeral of your deceased aunt with your 4 children. It is the raw truth. Raw, uncensored, and true. I have love, honor, and respect for my dearly departed, but as a mother-of-4 I am always shocked back into reality.

Before we took our trip to Chicago, dear husband and I decided to prep the kids for the funeral. We like to sit down as a family and discuss what they are about to do and how the proper way to act. We discussed the funeral and how it would resemble a church service. We discussed how we need to be respectful and quiet. We told them how some people might be crying because they are going to miss the one who died. We, hubby and I, were feeling quite good about how we handled prepping the kids for the reality of what they were about to see.

As I drove to the funeral, I realized that we forgot to include one very important detail of the funeral. We forgot to tell the kids that they were about to see a real dead body in front of the church! No problem, I thought. I will just talk them through it now. I told them. I told them of how Aunt Mae will be in front of the church in a casket. She looks like she's sleeping, but she's really not even in there anymore. She's living with Jesus now.

No sweat! They got it. We were home free! Sort of.......

We arrived at the the church, late. Whoops! I got lost while using GPS! (Another story for another blog.) The service had already started and they already closed the casket. We snuck into the pew and as quietly as a mother and her 4 children could, we got jackets off and coloring books out. Then it happened!

"Mommy?" in a half shouting whisper.

"What?" I whisper back with one finger over my lips, and a begging look on my face.

"Where is the dead body?" They asked.

Mortified I answer, "In the casket. No more talking!"

2 minutes later.......

"Mommy!" my 3 year old who can't whisper to save her life asks.

"What!" I am now giving the threat of death look, because I know what is going to be asked.

"I wanna see the dead body!" again, this kid doesn't know how to whisper.

"Do not say that again!" I whisper in my most serious of whispering voices.

"But, why? I wanna see the dead body!" she says.

This went on the whole time. Every quiet moment, which is pretty much the entire service since it was a very traditional church, my kids would ask the same question, over and over. The funeral soon ends, thank God. I couldn't have been more mortified in my life! I thought that it couldn't get worse. It did.

When the funeral ended we had to hurry to our car in order to get into the funeral procession for the cemetery. We, of course, had to park across the street. I was trying to rush the kids along when a couple, not one, a couple of the kids started to cry. And I mean really cry! I look around and ask what the problem was.

"We didn't get to see the dead body!!!!!" they cried.

We had a very lonnnngggg ride to the cemetery. They were mournful alright. They cried almost the whole ride!

I almost pray that God let Aunt Mae peek in on us during the funeral. I hope that she was sitting with Jesus and laughing.

Monday, January 26, 2009

You know that your are a slacker with your blog when......

when everytime you enter the site it makes you relog in your name and password, even though you asked it to rememeber you. Sorry!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My baby

I woke up in a daze yesterday. Those of you who know me are probably saying, "What else is new?" I'll give that to you, but this was different. I went to bed early. Early for me means before 10:30pm. I slept decently, as decent as a mother 4 can sleep. But, I have this nasty little problem of a 3 year old who thinks she needs to sleep in my bed. I had that girl sleeping through the night in her own crib by 4 weeks of age. But now? Well let me tell you my conversation with her from yesterday.

"It's morning time mommy!" as she cups my face with her itty, bitty girl hands. (Mind you it is still very dark out. I saw a microscopic hugh of orange in the far east corner of my window meaning it's probably about 6am.) She mysteriously crept into my bed around 4am without me noticing, or was it caring?

"It's not morning. It's still dark outside," I say while hoping and praying that my lie would work.

Giggles start...."No, it is morning time, mom." In her most demanding 3 year old tone.

"Oh!" I said. I am soooooo talkative in morning. (This was a joke. I am more of a grunter in the morning. Me talk caveman 'til tea drank!)

As one eye is opened, I look over at her sucking her fingers waiting patiently for her possesed mother to realize she is there. "(Yawn, moan) Where did you sleep last night?"

Lots and lots of giggles start, "I swept in your woom!"

"You're suppose to sleep in your bed, your big girl bed. Remember? You're a big girl now."

"No, I sweepd in mommy's woom."


"Because (giggle) it's funny!"

Friday, January 9, 2009

Another, "You know you're a mom when.." update!

You know you're a mom when your lunch consists of eating all the half eaten bowls of soup that were left on the table.

*I know all you DINK (Duel Income No Kids) people think this is the most disgusting thing you've ever heard of. You just wait my friends. It'll happen!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I made my man moan at the dinner table!

Yes, I did! But not in the way you dirty little minded people may think! Let me tell you the background story first. We have had a miracle happen in our house. Three years ago one of kiddos was diagnosed with severe food allergies. It first happened after feeding him a piece of cereal from his daddy's bowl. The poor kid swelled up. He had hives the size of dimes all over his little 9 month old body. He was really, really sick. We didn' t know for sure what had caused such a thing.
The next week, I had given him some baby food that contained some cheese in it. Wrong move! He got more hives and then projectile vomited all over the place. This time we called our doctor. He told us that it was most likely a severe dairy allergy.

We took him to see an allergist, who concluded that Caleb did indeed have a dairy allergy along with an egg and peanut allergy. My heart sank. I knew very well that our entire diets were about to change, and it did!

We made it through. I found 10 different recipes that we all liked and he could have without worry. So for the last 3 years, I have been making the same recipes over and over and over! Life was really getting boring in the food department. My family was starting to believe that I had no ability to bake. My cookies and cakes are not cookie and cake like. They lacked a major something. Do you remember that commercial with the egg, "This is your brain." And then the scrambled egg came, "This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?" Well imagine your perfect Nestle Toll House cookies. Now imagine them with out eggs or real butter in them! Any questions?

Well my miracle came. A couple a months ago, I had a conversation with a woman who knows her nutrition. She is a naturopath. She recommended that we try raw milk. At first I was skeptical. Milk is milk, I thought. The only difference between pasteurized and unpasteurized is less germs. At least that was my initial thought.

I did some research. I found out that my opinion is totally wrong. Raw milk is way easier to digest. And, raw goat's milk is one of the easiest to digest, especially for those who are lactose intolerant or have allergies to cow's milk. I was sold! The thought of my son being able to have dairy products sent my mind soaring. To make a long story short, he has been drinking raw goat's milk for 2 months without any problems!

Now for the moaning! Because of my limited recipe ability, my family hasn't been able to try new things. In fact, trying new things is pretty hard for my kids since they haven't had to do it often. That has changed my friends! I made a new recipe last night. I made something that I would order at a restaurant. I made pork tenderloin with a creamy herb sauce. This may not sound as good to you as it did to me, but you have to look at it in my perspective. I haven't had creamy anything in 3 years. I crave cream. I dream of cream! I finally had me some cream yesterday and so did my husband! (This is where the moaning began!)

My husband was eyeing me with every bite he took. I think that I hit a new level of love with this meal! My picky I-don't-think-I-will-like-it kids devoured every bite, even my kid who we swear wants to be a vegetarian, ate every bite of his meat before I even sat down at the table.

So for your blogging pleasure, I have photographed my new recipe adventure. I will leave you with the recipe at the end in case you need to make your mate moan at your dinner table!

For starters, you need 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. I personally use coconut oil because it is even healthier than olive oil, but you can use whatever you have.

Take your 2T of oil and saute 1 cup of minced carrots. I found out yesterday that minced meant really little. I never had to mince a veggie in one of my 10 normal recipes! Because I am lazy, I put my carrots through my food processor for about 3 seconds. I have no patience for cutting things into tiny pieces. Saute for about 5 minutes, stirring often.

Now add your pork. I had a whole tenderloin that I sliced into half inch medallions. Cook until lightly browned on each side. Remove and keep them warm.

Isn't he cute! When something smells this good, you can't keep him away! Now you need to add to the skillet your flour, basil, pepper, and beef granules. Whisk in your cream (I used whole milk instead!), stirring until thick. Stir in wine.

Return pork to the pan, reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes or until you simply can't keep yours or anyone else's hands away!

Here is the finished plate. I served this with mashed potatoes since we had the gravy in the pan to use as a topping. It went perfectly together! I wish I would have done something more for the veggies, but I got so excited about the meal that I forgot to make something! I threw in a frozen bag of corn just as I served the meal. Yeah, for frozen veggies!
Have fun trying it, and don't forget to think of me when you moan, or not!
Pork Tenderloin with Creamy Herb Sauce
2T of veg oil
1c of minced carrots
1 1/2 lbs of pork tenderloin medallions
4 t of flour
2T of dried basil
2T of dried parsley
1t black pepper
1t beef boulioun granules
1 1/3c of light cream or whole milk
1/2 cup of a dry white wine
1. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat; cook carrots for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add pork, and cook until slightly brown on both sides. Remove pork and keep warm.
2. In the same skillet, stir together flour, basil, parsley, pepper, and beef granules. Whisk in cream, stirring until thick. Stir in wine. Return pork to pan, cover, and simmer on low for about 20 minutes!
Oh! The wine goes perfectly with the meal, if there is any left by then!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Where are your calendars?

I have wanted to give a preview of what we did in school this week. Last month I started my daunting task of making a list and checking it not twice, not even three times, but checking it over and over and over again. It was my list of school curriculum for next year! It is daunting, but I am slightly addicted to curriculum, so the time seems to fly by! Each year I have been ordering samples, and checking PDF files online for all the sample lesson plans of each distributor. Because I am random, I like to see what is out there that we aren't doing as of yet. Sometimes I haven't jived well with the writers of certain curriculum. Sometimes they are awesome, but cost a mortgage payment to buy! Sometimes the learning styles of kids aren't lining up with the way the curriculum is presented.

For instance, my son has the attention span of a fly. He simply needs something that is going to grab him and not distract him. He has to work with his hands in order for his brain to stay focused. My daughter though, loves workbooks! She is the one who loves to have all her work piled before her, and then takes it to another room and finishes it all in one shot. I love her! So out I go into the world of homeschooling curriculum. Let me tell you that this is no small world. Not even Walmart could house all the curriculum that is out there.

Where was I? Oh yes, changing curriculum! Sometimes I find a curriculum that presents things in an awesome way, but it leaves some other aspects out that I loved in the curriculum that I left behind. One thing we changed this year was math. My son was doing just "ok" in math last year. We decided to change companies to do something more hands on. It was a great change, but the new math company didn't have everything included that I was used to having like calendars or clocks.

So what does this hands on mom do? We made our own calendars and decided to call it art! I am actually impressed with my idea, so I have decided to share! I first print off a calendar page from http://www.donnayoung.org/. This is a cool website that offers free printables for calendars, lesson planning, household planning like grocery lists, and lots of other things that I can't remember! Yesterday, we printed off January's calendar onto normal white copy paper.

Then, I took a piece of plain white paper and told the kids to draw something nice for their calendar. One drew herself standing next to her cousin and a snowman that they had just built. (This obviously took place in NY, since Indy doesn't believe in having snow!)

My youngest boy drew himself with his brother and cousin holding swords and ready to fight the world! Some moms gasp at such violence. I personally think it is cute!

My oldest son drew a building with the sun. You have to understand this kid! He just wants to get the job done. No frills. No wasting time. "Let's just do it," is his motto!

After the pictures are done, we staple them to a huge piece of construction paper. I am totally guessing the size, but I think it is a 10x16in. It fits two 8x10 pieces of paper with some room on each side. Here are the pic's to see what we did!

Part of the learning process is that we color in each date as it happens. This way the kids get the concept of dates, months, and days of the week.

This is my boy drawing his building. As you can see he sees something else way more interesting happening in the living room and must hurry up and finish so he can join them.

This is my other boy. He's just proud that he is finally old enough to join in all school fun!

Here are the finished products! I didn't have my 3 year old do one, but I am sure she will want to next time! I am planning all sorts of ideas for the upper pictures. Here is the list I have so far, along with a list of holidays for each month.
January: We didn't do this because I just thought of it right now, but you can take white paper and fold it up an cut pieces out for snow flakes. It maybe the only snow you see if you live close to me. You can decorate it with silver glitter if you are really brave! Holidays: Martin Luther King Jr. B-day, Mozart's B-day, and National Bird Day
Feb: Anything with Valentine's Day! Hearts, Love, kisses on the paper with the brightest lipstick you can find! Come on! What kid wouldn't love that? Holidays: St. Valentine's Day, Ground Hog Day, President's Day
March: St Patrick's Day! Growing up outside of Chicago made me a believer of this holiday! Make clovers or rainbows with pots of gold at the end of them. Take red, orange, yellow, green, and blue construction paper and tare it up into dime to nickel sized pieces. The kids love this! Have them glue the pieces to make a rainbow. You can draw a black pot at the end and take gold glitter and sprinkle the top of the pot for gold! Don't forget Leprechauns! They are fun to draw too! Holidays: St. Patrick's Day, National Pig Day (I never knew!), Vincent Van Gough's B-day (The boys might like to draw this one.)
April: April showers bring May flowers! Make clouds with cotton balls. Have them draw raindrops, or have them dip their finger (notice this is singular!) into blue or gray paint and make the raindrops with their finger prints. Also Easter!!!!! Make a cross or a tomb with the stone rolled away! Make an Easter basket filled with colorful eggs. Holidays: Easter, National Frog month, National Kite Day, Arbor day and Earth day, Firefighters Day, and National Pet Day (Take a picture with your kids and their pet. Put it on their calender. You can have it blown up to a 8x10 for a $1 at Walmart.)
May: May flowers! Get some old magazines or pictures and have the kids cut out pictures of flowers, trees, or anything that is living and growing. Make a collage of all the things we are about to see outside. Holidays: (kind of a boring month!) National Transportation month, May day (May 1), Cinco de Mayo, World Turtle Day, Mother's day!!!!!!!!!!!! (A gentle reminder for them.), Memorial Day
June: Remember that old Barney song, "Mr. Sun, Sun. Mr. Golden Sun, please shine down on me!" Have them draw anything having to do with outside. Balls, pools, parks, or even the sun! Even my 3 year old can draw the sun with a happy face! Holidays: Zoo and Aquarium month, First Hot air balloon flight, Father's Day, Flag Day, International Picnic Day, Paul Bunyan Day, Space Day(Ooooooh! I am thinking astornauts, space ships, the moon, stars, and even aliens if you want to get technical!)
July: Stars and stripes. You could cut out a ton of red, white, and blue stars and make a collage of them. You could tare apart red, white, or blue paper and make fire work pictures with them. Use glitter for the sparkles. After you paste all the paper onto the picture, take a paint brush and brush on Elmer's glue. Sprinkle the glitter on top and voila! Your fireworks sparkle! Holidays: National Ice Cream month (make the biggest ice cream sundae they could imagine! Don't forget the cherry and whip cream.), 4th of July, Beatrix Potter's B-day
August: This is back to school for my kids! Have them brainstorm about either something they want to learn about or something they already learned last year. Draw it. Was it sea turtles? Was it the lunch break? Get them motivated for school. What is there favorite subject? If it is math (that's mine) have them show what they learned last year, like their multiplication facts or something. I used to trace my kids' hands at the beginning of the year to be able to go back and see how they have grown. You could have them make hand prints with paint. It would be fun for a keepsake someday! Holidays: International Clown Week, Watermelon Day (glue real watermelon seeds onto a picture of a watermelon), sports day
September: Fall colors. Find some leaves and place them on to white paper. You can make that your picture. Or! For something a little tricky, but worth the effort. Take your leaf and place it under your white paper. Take a crayon and tare the paper off of it. Lay it on its side and color, pressing hard where the leaf is located under your paper. This should make an imprint and a leaf design similar to your leaf. Use different fall colored crayons for different leaves. Holidays: Labor Day, Grandparent's Day, Teddy Bear Day, Patriot Day (love those history lessons!), Elephant Appreciation Day (make a picture of Horton the Elephant from Dr. Seuss!)
October: Pumpkins, ghosts, gourds, bats, or anything to do with Halloween. Cut a big orange pumpkin out of construction paper. Cut out 3 black triangles and a black mouth. Have them glue them on the make your jack-o-lantern. You can make black bats really easily and take a white crayon to make spooky eyes on them. Holidays: International Dinosaur Month, Farmer's Day, Columbus Day, Pablo Picasso's B-day, Reptile Awareness Day, The Statue of Liberty's B-day (interesting), Halloween
November: Turkeys, pilgrims, Indians, etc. Whatever floats your boat. I like turkeys myself. You can make a body and head with brown paper. Then cut out multicolored strips of paper and make feathers for it, but snipping and fraying the paper. If this is too much for you, try the old tracing your hand and coloring it in to be a turkey. The thumb is the head and the other fingers are the feathers. You could trace dad and mom's hands to make a turkey family! Awwwe! Holidays: National Candy Day (glue candy onto your page), Veteran's Day, National Bible Week, National Cake Day, Thanksgiving
December: Christmas! Or whatever you celebrate. We do Christmas here. You can find pictures of nativity scenes, Christmas trees, or even fire places. Make a Santa face with lots of cotton for the hat and beard. Make Rudolph with his nose so bright (red glitter!). Make the star of Bethlehem with lots and lots of gold glitter! Turn it into a history lesson with making the frankincense, gold, and myrrh. Make a manger with hay. You could use little strips of brown paper, brown yarn, or real hay for the bedding. Another real simple idea is taking a square piece of wrapping paper and having them glue it on. Place a bow on top to complete. You now have a present! Holidays: National Cookie Day, Poinsettia Day, St. Nicholas, Christmas
Make it fun! The possibilities are endless. This is art class and calendar learning combined! Have them repeating months of year and days of the week frequently. Write down all family birthdays, holidays, family trips, or family game nights. You can never forget a family game night if they have it on their calendar! They won't let you. I personally like the family birthday idea, since I can't remember to call them all by myself. My daughter is definitely better at these kind of things than me, and will have no problem reminding me all day until I call the special person to say "Happy Birthday" to them! The kids could then get into the great habit of making birthday cards for all their family members!
One last tool for the projects is this link: http://www.first-school.ws/theme/occasions_index.htm It is a link to a website with free worksheets to color in. They have everything from pictures of presidents to trees. If you need a picture for a holiday, chances are they have it. It's all free! Remember to have fun!
I am thinking that we are getting rid of our current calendars and trying something new and improved! Hey! We did ours on the first day back from Christmas break. My creative juices were not flowing!