Saturday, September 26, 2015

Groceries for a large family

As most of you can imagine, it's getting harder and harder these days for a lot of families to get food on the table. Now imagine trying to feed a family of 9. Here in Hawaii, food is not cheap, and it still bewilders me how our own local produce costs so much more than Sam's Club and Costco. When I read about eggs costing $2 or bread for $.99 on the mainland, I am blown away since we pay about $2.99 for the "cheap" bread, $4.79 for "good" bread. Anyway, I'm occasionally asked how much my grocery bill is and how am I able to feed so many mouths.

So, we have a small farm that we are able to raise egg-laying chickens, pigs, and various tress and plants. We don't have to buy eggs since we collect them on a daily basis at our farm. We grow green onions, ginger, basil, papayas, bananas, mangoes, citrus, avocados, tangerines, pineapples, and tomatoes. That knocks off a lot of groceries we don't have to buy, I can't even remember the last time I bought pork from the grocery store. We used to have lettuce growing in our aquaponic growing bed but that has since dried up. We buy almost everything in bulk, lettuce, carrots, onions, zucchini, cereal, canned goods, you get the picture. We buy our ketchup in a bulk sized can and rebottle them into our old small ketchup bottles that have been thoroughly washed out. I have recently started buying the tomato paste in bulk and putting them in smaller vacuum seal bags and throw them in the freezer. I spend 75% less on these two items alone by doing it this way.
I utilize our local grocery store weekly sales and buy LOTS when it's on sale. I don't use too many coupons since I don't purchase too many items that are found on coupons. Besides, Costco and Sam's club do not accept retail coupons. I only buy red meat twice a month, which is still more than we should be eating anyway. We try to use our own chickens for consumption but lately I've been buying our chicken from the grocery store then freezing it. I'll post later about how I prepare our bulk items for the freezer to make meal prepping quicker. I try to buy organic as much as possible, but there aren't many choices close to home. Hawaii does not have. Trader Joes, we have Down To Earth and Whole Foods, which as I already mentioned, it is very very expensive.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Re-Awakening: Being a present and attentive mom

In the busyness of raising 7 children, being a wife, working as a nurse at night, being the secretary for my farm association Board of Directors, and trying to stay sane, some things tend to get put on the back burner for a later time, forgotten, or just plain neglected. Yes, I do have a smart phone, an ipad, a Kindle, and 2 computers. I am not a tech savvy person so when I am working on projects, it takes me a little while to figure out templates and formats etc. I have noticed that I can get a lot more done by checking email when I'm standing in line at the grocery store or as I'm putting my little ones to sleep. I am not one of those that are glued to my phone or Ipad, I don't document every little thing I do on social media, and I do not take my kid to the playground only to sit in the shade and text or have my eyes looking down on my phone. With that said, my daughter made a comment the other day that pierced my heart. "Mommy can you please put your phone down, I wanna tell you something!" She quickly reminded me that I went pass my allotted time that I take care of anything I need to do online: bills, emails responses, Board issues, etc. She doesn't understand deadlines, and why should she at 3 years old. All she wanted to do was engage. Of course I stopped what I was doing and apologized for making her wait so long. I spent the rest of the afternoon disconnected from all electronics. It was fun and refreshing. I have been reminded once again that in the midst of all the craziness around us, I need to make time to quiet my mind, spend time with the ones that will soon grow up and leave out nest. I need to work on being more present in my children's lives, even if it's only to color with them, watch them jump rope, play hide-n-seek with them (although I am way too big to hide anywhere in our tiny overcrowded house), just be with them doing what makes them happy. If you're a mom of many littles who already does this, I applaud you. If you're like me, then I encourage you to be a more intentionally present mom.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

MFW Geography

This year for Geography, we are using My Father's World. I purchased a student set for the 3 older learners, grades 2, 4, & 5. Our home is very small so I couldn't put the large map that comes with the curriculum up on the wall. My husband suggested to put it on the dining table under the glass, so here it is
I love it there because whenever they sit at the table, they are always finding a new country.
I was a little worried the kids were not going to like this subject, but after our first day, it is probably their favorite, net to science. I love that MFW haseverything planned out for you. We just insert our own math and science curriculum since we don't follow theirs. We use Teaching Textbooks for math and Apologia for science. I've finally learned, after homeschooling for 5 years, I need to make sure the curriculum I choose for each child will captivate them and encourage learning. If I can't even bare going through the book, how can I expect them to do it?
We are now starting to have fun with our homeschooling and I think thay's largely due to MFW. I don't need to spend hours planning lessons (i just need to read ahead) I can teach the day knowing that by the end of the year, we will cover almost everything we need to learn. And yes,I say WE because we are all learning things together. I might have my Bachelors in science, but there is still a lot I'm learning along with my kids.

Monday, September 14, 2015

DIY Counter Cleaner

It's been almost a year since our kitchen remodel. I absolutely love my granite counters, but I don't love the high maintenance. I priced around at various retailers for granite cleaner and did not return home impressed with prices. With my new glass stove top, I need a special cleaner for that, with my new refrigerator (glossy black) I need a cleaner for that, and with the new counters I need a cleaner for that. I knew there was some way to tackle all of these with simple solutions. After searching and trying different mixes, I found a granite cleaner that sufficed.
Granite Cleaner
1/4 c rubbing alcohol
5-8 drops of Dawn detergent
2 cups water
5 drops lemon oil (preference)
Mix together in spray bottle. Spray surface, wipe with clean damp or dry towel, let air dry. I also use this on my glass table tops too. Dries so shiny and clean.

For the everyday cleanup I use Melaleuca's Tough and Tender on the stove top and on the counters. Once a week we spray down the counters with Pledge to shine and seal the granite. We have a granite composite sink as well so the Pledge works great to clean and return it back to it's original appearance. So, that is how I'm able to maintain my beautiful new kitchen on a fraction of the cost.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

CPR for our homeschool day

I don't know what it is lately, but our homeschool days have really been chaotic. I find myself questioning, "Why am I doing this?" From needy toddlers, sick kids, sleepless nights, and other curve balls that are coming at me from all directions at the same time, I have not been able to stabilize our day, our homeschool. After a good cry and a good laugh, I thought about how we began this journey, what motivated us to do this. My dearest husband took my whole mess, compressed it down to a simple problem that was fixed by reminding me of what really matters. Do our children know and love the Lord? Of course they do, well, then that's all that matters. Everything else will work itself out. At the moment of chaos, the only thing I needed to do was comfort the 3 yr old who just wanted to hold me, give a bottle to the baby, and sing to the 2 yr old that feels lost in all the craziness. The older ones witnessed mommy become frustrated, fall on her knees to the Lord, and receive the answer to fix our problem. The best thing about it was the joy that followed immediately after praying. God is good.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Did You Hear About....

As ladies, we have a natural tendency to talk...a lot! If you're a stay at home mom, you probably take to social media, be it Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. If you have a career or work outside the home then the break room or the water cooler is a common area to share in the "did you hear about..." Whether it's "verifying facts" or sharing an opinion, let's face it, it's still gossip. I'm so guilty of this, as I'm sure a lot of us are. The tongue, as small as it is, can cause so much damage if used for evil. It's a lose-lose situation. According to Proverbs 16:28, A dishonest person spreads strife, and a whisperer (gossiper) separates close friends. Yes ladies, relationships, friendships, and trust can be destroyed when you make a decision to spread the latest news, the latest scandle, or even the latest fortune. How we say things are just as important as what we say. You could simply be sharing the news about a co-working expecting her 2nd baby, but the way it's said makes a difference in how it is perceived or taken. I like the illustration of the lightning bolt versus the lightning rod.
A lightning bolt strike reaches out and strikes an object and transfers heat which in turn could cause severe damage. A lightning rod is part of a protection system that absorbs the strike, the heat and grounds it out with purpose of minimizing or preventing damage altogether. Now, gossip or backbiting happens around you, that is your lightning. You now have to decide, are you a like a lightning bolt or a lightning rod? Are you going to stop the negative talk, ground it out, or will you let someone or something go up in flames? Something to think about.....

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Homeschooling Littles #2

Here are a few things we've collected to keep little ones busy while I work with the older ones during very busy homeschool days.
Yes, it's playdough. We usually think of a theme and ask them to make something from that theme, ie: desserts, animals, alphabets, etc...
Then we also have busy mats for them to draw on too. Love that they're dry erase!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Homeschooling With 3 Littles

Good morning! This is actually my most productive time lately, 0130-0200am. I fall asleep with my babies while I'm putting them to sleep, then I wake up to finish cleaning the house or work on email and homeschool things that couldn't get done earlier. Homeschooling grades 4, 3, 1, and Kinder can be very challenging with a 3 and 2 year old and a 14 month old. The older ones can't concentrate with all the noise and interruptions. The 3 are a bumdle of joy but they needed to be kept busy. Here is item #1 providing at least an hour of fun.
Yes, it's a blow up swimming pool ball pit. The first day we used it, we actually got through math and language arts without a problem. The older ones rotate playing with the littles while the others work. They actually started teaching them their colors and shapes and patterns using the ball pit. I'll be sharing other things we use in another post
I hear world war 3 breaking out downstairs.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Speed bumps

Well, our first week of school has hit a major speed bump yet again with more kids getting sick along with myself. This is the second year in a row that we manged to get sick right at the start of our school year. My initial reaction was to cry in frustration but then I realized that I needed to be more flexible and just go with it. Fighting the uncontrollable is always a losing battle, but seeing the blessing even through the rain (which Oahu is getting a lot of it right now) is far more important. Stuck in the house taking care of all my sickies helped me illustrate to the little ones how to serve with a joyful heart. We talk so much about serving others, putting others first, but to young children, what does that look like? When we can live what we teach, practice what we preach, our children will model the behavior with deeper understanding. You can tell your daughter, "go help so and so," and she'll do it, but is she doing ut because she was told to do so or because she recognized a need? Our goal is to teach them to be a light, an example of Jesus in other people's lives. It was such a delight to see my girls getting each other their "sick blankets" a cup of water, their medicine, and singing to each other - all the little comforts we need when we're under the weather.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

2nd First Day of School

So, today was supposed to be our first day of school, well, actually it was supposed to be Monday, but with low energy, unbearable heat, 2 sick kids, doctor visits, and a few unplanned wrenches, I moved it to Tuesday, but here we are, with another incomplete day. It actually started off great, I had their "back to school" bags with their new school supplies put together, all the way down to the 2 year old. I got the littles fed and entertained and I started our day with just one older one still in bed. We started off with Bible lessons, character building using Galatians 5:22, Fruit of the Spirit. I tied it into serving others, putting others first, and finished with prayer. They picked Math first, so I let them do their math separately and waited for the last one to join us so we could get on to Geography using our new curriculum, My Father's World Exploring countries. My kinder was almost done with her lessons for the day and my son finished up his math and headed outside to do morning chores with the animals. Sounds good so far right? Well that's about it folks, it went downhill from there. My mom ended up coming over late so it got pretty loud with all the littles getting restless. Grandma usually takes the littles upstairs so the big guys can concentrate without interruptions, but my husband was very sick, resting upstairs so we all had to share the living room. This is the reason I overplan our day. With all the interruptions we get around here, if I don't shoot for completing 2 days worth of schooling per day, we would end up very far behind. So 4 hours after we started, our day was completely broken up. The older ones went to the farm, the middle 2 went with grandma, but they took their homework with them by choice, and I was left with the littles, ages 14 months, 2 & 3 years old. Defeated and tired I retreated to my comfort place and began cleaning my kitchen - yes, I feel better after I've cleaned up a big mess of something, weird I know. Better luck tomorrow.