Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Black Friday Thoughts

I have to say it....I ♥ Black Friday! It's a tradition for my oldest & I to go out and have fun shopping & bargain hunting together. We don't get crazy neither do we ignore our family. My husband is fine with it, gets a kick out of our childish glee & appreciates my frugalness. As for the complaints about people having to work I think it IS important to be with family. BUT at the same time this is one of the deals when you work retail. I used to work it. Dave still does. I don't hear anyone up in arms about all the others who work on every holiday. Nurses, doctors, emergency workers, military, food service workers, hotel staff, police, fire fighters, convenience store (gas station) workers, nursing home/assisted living home workers, etc. etc. all work the holidays. The list goes on as I've barely covered it. I haven't seen anyone writing an article demanding THEY don't work. Why are we suddenly up in arms because stores are opening earlier? It's not the first time they have done this. It has been happening for years. Personally I think if you have a job be grateful. Yes, it stinks to work on a holiday. I 100% understand that. I've done it. I've been a child whose parent has had to do it. But it's not the actual day that counts. It's the time with family. So set aside another day and celebrate then. Count your blessings one of them being that you are employed. And that your job may be more secure by the number of shoppers that come through those doors. I know I'm in the minority but maybe this gave a different side that wasn't thought of before. Some food for thought on Thanksgiving week, if you will.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Angels Among Us

I've been having a rough few weeks with my kids, with life & with homeschooling. Today I took 4 of the 5 out to Aldi with me. I was pausing to add items up on my calculator when I saw an older lady waiting to get to what we were standing in front of. I asked my oldest daughter & son to move aside so the lady could get what she needed. I apologized with a sheepish smile to the lady for being in the way. She leaned in to get her item and then suddenly came up and half hugged my shoulder. Her touch was gentle & kind. She said softly, "Homeschoolers, right?" Immediately my defenses went up but I relaxed as her next words reached my ears. "You are so blessed!" I have to admit I was startled. "Me, blessed?" I haven't been feeling that much lately. More like tired, defeated, unappreciated, a failure. Yes, those are words I'm familiar with especially these past few weeks. She talked to me for at least 10-15 minutes. She encouraged me telling me what a blessing I was to my children to choose to have them at home with me. How I was showing an example of love to them for how I ministered to them daily. I felt my spirits lifting. Her eyes sparkled with joy as she shared these words & thoughts. She told me how she raised 8 children in Japan as a missionary. And how blessed she was to have done so. We talked about her children a bit & then a little about homeschooling. She was an elegant woman and her joy gave her a rare beauty. The love that she had for her children, her life and her Lord shone from her eyes. The loving looks she gave my children. She saw them as treasures. Their chatter delighted her, it didn't annoy her. Seeing them in and around my cart didn't make her swing wide to avoid us but rather drew her in. Like a cold drink of water on a hot day her words & actions refreshed me. It was only for a few minutes but it was exactly what I needed. I hope I meet this charming woman again one day. I want to tell her how much her words encouraged me. They wrapped around my weary mind & heart like a comforting hug. I know she was sent by the Lord. One of those rare angels that live among us. I'm thankful for her. Her precious gift. A gift of loving words, a smile & a moment taken to minister to an overwhelmed mama. Thank you, Lord for sending her my way today.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Zaycon Foods

The homeschool Yahoo groups around here are a wealth of information. I find out about field trips, curriculum, helps in our every day schooling, cooking tips,discounts and much more. One mother posted about a company called Zaycon Foods. One of the things they sell in bulk are fresh chicken breasts for a discounted price. They sell them in bulk and from what I understand deal directly with the farmers. I researched for hours & read a lot about them. All the reviews I found were positive. An opportunity came soon after to purchase from them. Dave & I decided to give the company and their product a try. We have been unhappy with what we have been buying from the grocery stores. The chicken is often a bit rubbery & very salty. Could this be better than that? And at a better price to boot?

Boo drove with me to Nashville to pick up our order. They have an assigned date & time frame that they email to you once your order is placed & paid for. We bought 2 cases.
(1 case = 40lbs. chicken)

Each case comes in a wax lined box. Inside each box are 4-10lb. bags of chicken. All of these bags are sealed & inside a thick bag. When they loaded my chicken into my van, (Yes, you never have to get out of your vehicle!), they put down plastic underneath the boxes. Nice, huh? Absolutely nothing leaked & there was no dirt or anything of the like on the box. But it was nice to know the extra plastic was there just in case.

Boo showing us her 'Happy Chicken Dance'.

I got to work right away cutting up the chicken & trimming it when needed. I didn't need to trim much fat at all. It was quite lean and had much less fat than the stuff we buy at the grocery store.

Now that's some nice looking chicken!
I cut the chicken up into serving size pieces. Then they were wrapped individually in plastic wrap & put in a freezer bag. Sweet Pea helped me by doing the wrapping & bagging.

I remembered we had these crates in the shed. Dave washed them up before leaving for work. They made great storage containers for our chest freezer.

By the time we were done we had 2 crates full plus a few more bags.

Do I smell CHICKEN?

We have been using the chicken for many of our meals. I am extremely pleased. The chicken is not at all salty. Oh I was so tired of salty meat! And it is the most tender chicken I've ever had! No matter what dish we make it for it is so tender and delicious! I will definitely be buying from this company again.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Muffins, Waffles & More Baby Steps

It was baking day here at our humble abode! Or at least it was an afternoon of baking. By the time I got home from running the kids to TKD, our shopping trip to Aldi & a trip to pick up a uniform it was about 2p.m. by the time I got started.
As I mentioned in an earlier post I'm taking baby steps in OAMC (Once A Month Cooking). Today's goal was getting breakfast items in my freezer.

First on the list were several batches of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins.

Next was a quadruple batch of Coffee Cake Muffins.
Oh that cinnamon smelled yummy!
Bugsy was a sweet helper running to get me items & then sprinkling the cinnamon & sugar mix on every muffin.

After a taste of a Coffee Cake Muffin he gave it 2 thumbs up!

These poor little guys didn't fare so well. The bottom rack was too close to the bottom of the stove & their poor little bums burned. =( We salvaged them cutting off the burnt parts. It hasn't deterred the kids from eating them for one second! =)

Fresh from the oven!

Last but not least came the waffles. I made a quadruple batch of these too.

103 muffins all bagged up & ready for my freezer!

Dave offered to cook up the waffles for me. I was so tired I gratefully accepted.

A small stack.
These were only a few of what Dave cooked up. The kids had some for dinner & the remainder went into our freezer.

Next I hope to start prep work on our dinners! Today I did most of the shopping for them. Baby steps. Baby steps.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thank You, Veterans

This afternoon we went with our HEART homeschool group to the TN State Veterans Home. Tomorrow is Veteran's Day & we went to thank them for their service to our country.

After finally finding where we were to be the kids performed in a little Talent Show. Elvis was the first one to perform. Poor boy. He was scared to death! It's not easy being the first one to go up.

I talked to him & then asked Boo to go up with him for support. Soon he was singing his first song.

The next song was another from church. He sings it with the Kids Praise Team all the time. The leader loved that it had dancing and motions.

Here's my boy singing & dancing for the Veterans.

Sweet Pea performed two of her patterns for everyone.

Red Belt! Watch out!

She ended with a big 'Hi-yah!'

Bugs acted out the part of Yankee Doodle while Boo sang the song.

He was so precious riding his horse!

Boo sang 'The Star Spangled Banner'.

All the residents that could stand did as did all the visitors & employees. I could tell that hearing her sing this song meant a lot.
A few of the other kids played the piano for their talent. They did very well.

After the Talent Show the kids passed out cards they had made for the residents. One of the employees led us on a small tour of the facility where we had the opportunity to meet more residents.

This lady, Betty, enjoyed listening to Bugsy tell his story of how he is named after his great-grandfather. He told her all about him too.

Princess' favorite part was going and shaking hands with the Veterans.

She showed no hesitation or fear & was completely adorable.

She was precious. She walked right up on her own, stuck out her hand & then shook hands. Sometimes we paused for a bit so a hug could be given.

Boo & Bugs thanking one of the Veterans.

I was proud of all the kids. I hope we are able to go back again soon. It was an honor and a pleasure to be able to thank them for all they have done for us.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pancakes Galore!

I've been wanting to get back into cooking & freezing meals ahead of time. I used to do this years ago & it save a lot of time and money. Many refer to it as Once A Month Cooking. Coincidentally my friend Rhonda posted on her blog & Facebook page that she has been cooking up a storm of delicious meals & goodies. That inspired me even more especially after seeing the delicious things she was making!
I wanted to jump right in but soon realized we will have to wait for a shopping trip first. In the meantime I made a baby step in the right direction. I had ingredients for pancakes and spent yesterday making batch after batch of them.
We have 2 griddles & I soon had them busy at work.

Oh they smelled so good!

Another batch on & cooking!

Griddle #2
For the 2nd batch I tripled the recipe & added some wheat flour too.

Princess enjoyed a yummy lunch.

Trying to chew & smile at the same time is not an easy task. Lol!

All packaged up in freezer bags & ready for the freezer!
One tiny step towards easy meals!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Trek Book 1 ~ DONE!

Boo finished her first AWANA Trek book this past Sunday night! It is written to be finished at the end of May. She has been working extra hard & is done 7 months early! I'm very proud of her!

As you can see by her smile she is very proud & happy too!

And of course she wouldn't be Boo Bear if she wasn't a little silly. Lol!

Congratulations, Boo Bear! Daddy & Mama are VERY proud of you!

All Dressed Up

All dressed up & ready for church!

See you later!