Tuesday, December 23, 2008
S0, dear daughter Rachel (7 1/2 years old) decides she would like to phone her grandmother to have a conversation (usually a one-way conversation ;o) about her own Christmas gift desires. This after she had already given her an extensive list the day before (laugh). Anyway, out of the corner of my eye I noticed Rachel chit-chatting away and walking into the bathroom as she did so. This was one of those "Momma has a red flag moments, but doesn't call it out" type deals.
I lazily chose not to reprimand her, and ignored my own uneasiness regarding her having the phone in the bathroom. In my experience as a mother of many, the bathroom is one of "those" rooms. It has water, waste receptacles, bathroom tissue, cosmetic/personal care products, and important household plumbing. These items are not ideal for children....LOL...and they often need supervision near them, especially when the children are under age 10. You can tell this story is headed to a big finale, can't you?
Suddenly, the bathroom door literally flies open and hits the wall adjunct to it. Rachel is standing there, horrified. "I dropped the phone in the toilet!!!" she exclaims with utter horror. We all stop what we are doing and stare at her. This is when the hysterical laughter breaks out...by the way, I am not the one laughing!
The boys are almost rolling on the floor in stitches of belly-rolling guffaws. They begin imitating Rachel's conversation with her grandmother: "Hey, grandma...this is what I want for Christmas..FLUSH!" They can hardly contain themselves and repeat this over and over. Rachel is not humored in the slightest, and only more troubled by what she has done.
My first reaction was obvious irritation. I gave her a 1 minute lecture about how it is not smart to have a phone conversation in the bathroom. Obviously, I left out the part about me not calling her about it in the first place! This is one of those "duh" lectures where nothing really needs to be said, and that the event itself taught her the lesson. (But it did make me feel a little better...grin). Rachel dramatically flees upstairs to her bedroom to throw herself down on her pillow and weep, Scarlett O'Hara style. (the boys continue to bust their guts with laughter...yelling upstairs and taunting Rachel even further).
We realize the phone is not operational, due to its fall into the toilet. Thankfully, we have a spare phone available.
Elijah (9 1/2 years old) immediately calls grandma to explain what cut her and Rachel's conversation short. She did say she heard a rather loud screech and then dead air.
As Elijah is walking around the house and chatting with grandma, I notice a crude sign taped to the bathroom door, in Elijah's 9 1/2 year old boy handwriting. This brings the beginnings of hysterical laughter to my mouth:
"No phones in bathroom!"
The whole drama died down after awhile...until my husband arrived home. The boys had to explain and re-enact it all over again. At this point, Rachel had gotten herself together, and was able to listen without crying. She even cracked a little smile as the boys mercilessly teased her.
When all was said and done, Roger (my husband) told Rachel a funny story about the time her brother Greyson actually "fell" into the toilet (head first) when he was potty training. This made her smile and gave her a little ammunition to strike back with.
And so goes another sound on the wide range of possibilities featuring noises emanating from our home....
Merry Christmas to all! May your home be filled with laughter and joy!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Rachel drew this photo of a fairy in fairyland, and I helped her color it! We had so much fun. If you want to spend some good, quality time with your child, try coloring or drawing with him/her. It doesn't have to be Picasso-like, just some stick figures if it pleases you. They just enjoy having you close by and doing something with them. And to tell you the truth, it is a lot of fun!
The kids have been telling me that my tummy is getting HUGE, so here is the obligatory pregnant momma photo:
Friday, November 7, 2008
The funniest moment occurred when Aunt Cathy took a photo of Grandma and Grandpa together. She asked Grandpa to smile. It took him a little work, but suddenly his face burst out with the most delightful smile. We all broke out into joyous laughter at the sight of Grandpa displaying a smile that took him a bit of work.
In the above photos, I am scolding someone...but whom? As you can see, Sam is around the corner looking like he wants to do something shocking. It is likely that I am saying, "Sam, you better watch your back, mister."
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
This is what you do A LOT when you live and strive to survive with 6 brothers. And as you can see by Rachel's smile, it's kind of fun sometimes (grin).
The victorious Pop Warner Peewees Greyson and Elijah.
We had to take this picture to show Sam trying to fit his enormous head into a too-small-for-him football helmet.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
At this point, our whole family is exhausted....even the football players themselves. We are thankful for an upcoming, short break. We are contemplating winter sports at this time with the boys.
For your listening pleasure, I have added a playlist of some of my favorite music (see sidebar). Perhaps you can take a listen as you read the blog entries!
I love these chorus lyrics by Mark Schultz in "He Will Carry Me"
Even though I'm walking through the valley of the shadow
I will hold tight to the hand of Him whose love will comfort me
And when all hope is gone and I've been wounded in the battle
He is all the strength that I will ever need
He will carry me....
You will see that my playlist is full of songs that encourage during the struggles of life. These songs really lift my spirit, and I hope you will find them a blessing as well.
This week we are trying to clean and organize (after all the chaotic activity during football season). Shoes are our biggest project right now. We have 3 large laundry baskets full of shoes! LOL! They are a blessing, but we need to weed out some of them. We only have 18 feet in our house to put shoes on (grin).
Have a blessed and wonderful day!
(p.s. We got to hear our baby's heartbeat! Rachel and Sam accompanied me and got to hear it as well. At the same appointment, my blood was taken, which Greyson and Elijah were thrilled observers of the process...quite a homeschooling fieldtrip, eh?)
Can't wait to hear your comments...click HERE to say "hey."
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
This is one of the myriad of Lego creations by Greyson and Elijah featuring the Indiana Jones theme. They've been hard at work building and taking photos of their masterpieces.
Did you ever make leaf paths when you were a kid? I remember making leaf houses on the playground in elementary school as a child. Here is a "leaf labrynth" (as Greyson has labeled it) in our front yard. Greyson worked hard raking and organizing this pathway, much to the delight of the younger children! They played for a few hours, running and finding their way around the winding maze. Greyson timed them as they navigated, which caused competition, which in-turn caused dissention, which led to arguing, tears, blah, blah, blah (grin).
As you can see, there is never a dull moment in our home, and we thank God for that.
Hope you and yours are enjoying October!
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Wednesday, October 1, 2008
On the left side of the sink, I have poster that reminds me to be thankful for freedom of religion in this country. These are dear souls who have either been jailed or killed for their Christian faith in Sharia law countries. When I feel downhearted, a glimpse of this poster tells me that many of my worries are so minor....
I have learned to love the times spent at my kitchen sink, my haven and place of "rest." Getting lost in my thoughts, as well in piles and piles of dishes each day is what I do here.
Blessings to you this day.
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Sunday, September 28, 2008
Noah is not entering an "all-you-can-eat" pancake breakfast. This is meant for our family (grin). Thankfully, Noah has extremely strong biceps....despite that fact, however, he still struggles to hold the immense towers of pancakes steadily on the tray. (not to mention that he is a bit clumsy sometimes as well :o).Here are Dad's special order banana pancakes (the ones I cook lastly because they really mess up the grill). We must keep the Dad happy and banana pancakes will do the trick (smile).
Elijah holds up his gluten-free special order. (Elijah, your shirt is on backwards)
After all the hard work of carrying and transporting literal piles of pancakes from the kitchen to the table, Noah is rewarded with a giant stack of peanut butter & syrup covered hotcakes. Yes, he ate every last drop.
Everyone went away from the table satisfied...at least for a few minutes anyway.
Here are the recipes:
Basic Wholegrain Pancakes (adapted from the La Leche League cookbook) We quadruple this recipe to suit our family's desire for massive amounts of food.
2 cups milk (or other nondairy liquid)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour (we use freshly-ground whole wheat)
1/4 cup honey or other sweetener, optional
1/4 cup oil, optional
Combine liquid ingredients, sweetener, & oil. Combine well. Mix separately the dry ingredients, stir well to combine. Add dry ingredients to the wet. Stir until lumps are almost gone. Cook on a hot skillet or griddle.
Elijah's Custom Gluten-Free Pancakes
Stir the following together:
3/4 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup potato starch
1 tablespoon guar gum or xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
Stir the following together in a separate bowl:
1 cup of water
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Combine the wet and dry ingredients above together. Stir well until batter reaches thick consistency. Batter is a bit thick. Drop onto greased hot griddle or skillet, cooking about 3 minutes per side, turning twice. Each side should cook 2 times. Serve!
Have a great day!
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Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Yesterday, 11 year old and 9 year old played videogames all day...seriously. I did not have the gumption to redirect or instruct them to do something else. While the two of them indulged their videogame fancies, the other little ones ruled the roost (yikes). 3 year old boy drew on the walls with dry-erase marker as well as in some of our good books (frown). We won't even discuss how the kitchen looked....(shudder).
So, I am thankful that today is a better day, and I was able to get up and eat breakfast (very carefully so as not to upset my fragile constitution at this juncture).
I aim to get supper started this morning so I don't have to worry about it this evening. It seems that I feel worse later in the day, and the kitchen is the last place on this earth (w/ the exception of our heavily-used boy bathroom) that I want to be.
Our supper today:
Hamburger Gravy w/ Mashed Potatoes
I use ground turkey for this recipe, 3 pounds.
Saute ground turkey w/ chopped onions. Stir in about 3-4 tablespoons flour until browned. Add either chicken or beef broth and stir well over medium-high heat. Add other spices (or salt and pepper) according to taste. I like to add a splash of Bragg's Liquid Aminos for a rich flavor.
This makes a delightful gravy to put over top mashed potatoes. Comfort food at its best! (Let's hope it comforts me at the end of the day when I am feeling yucky).
I am sorry if I sound like my posts are full of complaining. If I am physically compromised, my attitude becomes negative. However, last night as I was doing the dishes (at 10:00 pm..frown), I listened to the radio program called "Nightsounds" by Bill Pierce. He has one of those deep, hypnotic voices. The program features older, Christian music with an encouraging theme.
Mr. Pierce mentioned how God will never leave us nor forsake us, even (and especially) during the tough times. I have found this to be true! It really blessed me.
Hope you have a great day!
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Friday, September 19, 2008
We were discussing the frustration that occurs when momma is down (sickness, pregnancy, overtired, blah, blah, blah, etc..) and how when momma is down and out, the children have inefficient oversight and management. This eventually (in a very short time!!!) takes us to the "point of what-seems-like no return."
Meals go down the tubes, the house goes by the wayside, you can't find anyones shoes or socks, and everyone becomes very cranky. Many of you can relate to this very same phenomena. If you have many children, it is like a monster that gets bigger and bigger! (actually, I think the monster is the toddler, who isn't being as well-trained as they could be...LOL!).
As we spoke, I could feel the relief of being able to share this similar struggle with a dear, dear friend. What a blessing that God provides friendships that allow for deep sharing. So cathartic!
I was telling my friend that I could observe from my vantage point, debris on the floor, books and toys strewn about the room, etc. etc. It takes less than an hour for it all to unravel and happen.
After we complained awhile, we began to realize the blessings God has given us through our large families. Powerful blessings that are almost beyond words. The struggle, the pain, the frustrations are always replaced with laughter, joy, companionship. I don't think either of us would change of thing....
When I hung up the phone, the song "Praise You In This Storm" by Casting Crowns came to my mind. This song puts me in tears at the revelation that God is ALWAYS there in the midst of tough times. We just have to listen a bit harder for his voice.
If you have time, take a listen to "Praise You In This Storm" by Casting Crowns (lyrics included): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiRDpkoCKi8
...and I realize that some of you face serious struggles everyday that make mine look minimal. May God encourage you today.
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(Oh, just wanted you all to know I am working on a daily check-off chart for our homeschool and school duties. It is my aim to post it soon!)
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
I'm getting better at dealing with early pregnancy (it just took me a few times to practice..grin). It has been my experience that pushing myself to do more, despite the awful sensations of nausea and fatigue, is not helpful. It can actually worsen those undesirable symptoms.
So, I just sleep and rest in bed.
"What, pray, do the other children do while I am reclining" you ask? Yes, and keep in mind that my 14 year old twin boys are absent from the picture here and in school. Well, this is when the oldest child steps up to receive his promotion in the family.
Today, I announced to the younger 5 children, that they would be put in slightly different circumstances for awhile. Greyson, their 11 year old brother, would now be in charge of their safety and well-being. They are to listen and obey him, or it will mean terrible consequences for them. If he asks them to stand on their heads, then they must do so, and quickly.
Picture 5 children standing before me, all in a row like stairsteps. One of those children in particular, has the biggest smile on his face after hearing this news. He has just grown a few inches taller and become even more helpful and responsible. Can you guess which one? Laugh!
The others are slouching slightly, scuffing their feet on the ground. Realizing the announcement, they must make a decision: listen to their older brother, whom they have enjoyed many years of good sibling rivalry or deny his leadership and authority.
I tell them the choice is obvious.
As I lay in agony on my bed, my dear 11 year old comes in to check on me. He states rather confidently that I look very pale and white. He then offers to make me a few fried eggs. It is his opinion that I should eat some protein. I decide that this is a good suggestion.
He arrives a few minutes later with a plate of steaming eggs, the salt shaker, and a stool to use as a bedside table. "Should I get you some water, Mom?" he asks. I tell him "no thanks", since the thought of drinking water sends me into convulsions.
After eating the eggs, I did indeed feel a bit stronger and was able to sit up in bed. The blood then slowly redistributed itself properly throughout my body and enabled me to rise and make lunch. I used our leftover supper to make a nice, beef soup.
Here is our crockpot recipe for dinner:
1 beef roast (I used chuck)
1 large onion, sliced into rings
15 medium-sized white potatoes, scrubbed
10 carrots, peeled, halved and cut into long strips
1/2 cup Bragg's Liquid Aminos (the best stuff in the world...a soy sauce substitute that has an awesome flavor)
1 cup of water
Place the beef and carrots in the bottom of the crockpot. Layer onions next, and then add potatoes. Pour the Bragg's and water over the top of it all. Turn crockpot on high and cook for 3-4 hours (depending on the temperament of your crockpot). Serve w/ potato toppings (we like cottage cheese, butter, chives, etc.)
The next day, I reheated the contents of the leftovers the next morning and at lunchtime, I cut the potatoes and carrots into cubes (right in the pot) and removed the leftover meat and chopped it into soup-sized pieces. I added some water to make it into a soup. A little salt and pepper and voila! A delicious soup for lunch.
I then retired back to bed for a nap with my 3 year old. I'm praying the soup will settle well in my disagreeable stomach!
And...thanks to all of our dear friends who are transporting boys to football practice so I don't have to. Thanks to my dear husband for arranging this.
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Thursday, September 4, 2008
Though many women have held political office on both sides of the aisle through my lifetime, I have not seen even one of them who looks as comfortable in her skin as Sarah Palin, with one exception, Margaret Thatcher.
It is refreshing for me to see a Conservative woman hold her own and do it with style.
Overall, I was very pleased with the convention speakers last night. I especially appreciated Rudi Giuliani's words. Ever since 9/11, I have had a high regard for him.
The best part of the night was when I viewed Governor Palin's younger daughter holding her infant brother. She just stared at him affectionately as she cradled him. I loved it when she licked her hand and smoothed down the infant's hair! This is so reminiscent of my own children and what they would do! I thought that added such reality to the situation. Yah, this is a speech given by a powerful woman at an important moment in history....but when an infant's hair is standing on end, you can't help but lick your hand and smooth it down! Spit is the only thing that seems to work on that type of hair (grin).
So, I am encouraged. As a card-carrying, Conservative Republican woman, I am pleased.
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Friday, August 29, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
You would have enjoyed watching us register our oldest boys (twin 14 yo) at school orientation. The boys wanted us all to come! They will be taking 4 classes in order to be eligible to play sports. Funny thing is, they can't take any core classes!
Anyway, the funniest thing about orientation was seeing my boys proudly carrying and showing off their little siblings. After getting their locker assignments, the boys threw the little ones in their lockers one-by-one to see if they would fit inside! LOL! That was a funny sight. I just begged them to please not lock the locks...you just never know, kwim??
Needless to say, we were quite a sight to everyone there.
Also, we have been running the football player boys here and there to practice. The little ones become so cranky and tired from being out of their usual schedule. Poor dears..
I am doing well w/ thyroid and iron supplementation to correct those problematic issues. If anyone needs a good iron supplement, I HIGHLY recommend Floradix (I use the tablets) and Enzymatic Therapies Liquid Liver Extract gelcaps along w/ chlorophyll capsules. That combo brought my hemoglobin count up 3.7 points in just 6 weeks! Which is a great blessing BECAUSE.....
I am pregnant!
We just found out yesterday. Everyone is so delighted. Our youngest is 3 years old, so this is the longest we have not had a baby in the house. My boys are hoping for twins, a boy and girl, so my daughter can have a sister and they can have another boy to join their ranks. Needless to say, our daughter is praying like crazy for a girl!
I had to share our exciting news.
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Sunday, August 17, 2008
When I was a scholarly first grader (grin), tetherball was my passion. However, the rest of the children on the entire playground used to love it as well, thus the waiting line to play was at least a mile long. Anyway, I was alllllmost to the front of the line. The clock was ticking. Recess was about to end. My heart was beating...thump-thump and I had to "use the facilities", as they say, really badly!
I was *not* going to lose my place in the line. So, I had an "accident" in my denim, big-bell bottomed jeans rather than lose my spot in the line for a trip to the bathroom! LOL! I vividly remember going into the nurses office to get a dry pair of pants (they had a reserve! LOL).
To avoid embarrassment, I told her that I fell into a mud puddle.
That excuse didn't work for two reasons: 1) It was as dry as the Sahara that day on the playground and 2) The odor emanating from the jeans did not smell like that of a mud puddle. LOL! I remember the nurse's expression as she took my pants from me. Too funny.
I just crack up when I think about that. What was I thinking?!!!
Kids do the funniest things ).
Someone shared an easy, no-knead artisan bread recipe on the Well-Trained Mind Board. This technique came from a book: http://www.amazon.com/Artisan-Bread-Five-Minutes-Revolutionizes/dp/0312362919
There is also a demonstration by the authors on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMxJgIpe38Q
I have not tried the recipe and method yet. I am still a bread snob! Just today (even though it was humid and hot), our home smelled of "freshly-baked bread" aroma. I made 5 whole wheat sourdough loaves, with the help of my 11 year old boy.
Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice book is still my favorite. He gives the lowdown on making many sorts of bread. I like his explanations regarding using pre-ferments to produce delicious sourdoughs and artisan breads.
My favorite, hands-down, is the recipe for his Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread. Following the baking of the loaf, you rub it with butter and then roll it in cinnamon/sugar. MMMM...it produced a sweet crunch before breaking into the tender, cinnamon/sugar swirled slice. Don't forget the butter!
Have a great day! We begin our brutal stretch of football season tomorrow. My husband coaches our 8 and 11 year old. Our 14 year old twins are playing on the local high school freshman team.
Thank Heaven the littlers are very portable. I tell them to jump into the van, and off we go...:o)
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Saturday, August 9, 2008
It seemed sensible to me that this entry should reveal updates of our family's summer so far.
It has been a cool summer here in Michigan! We have not been able to enjoy the beach that often. Only one day has worked out for us to spend time at our favorite, family-friendly beach.
We have picked raspberries (from Grandma's berry patch), picked strawberries, worked on school (summer "lite" schedule), cleaned and organized the house a little more, and transported the boys to summer football workouts w/ the high school freshman team.
I am in dire need to take a block of time to work on our fall school schedule. I will be teaching 6 children. One is a preschooler, so that won't be so tough, but the others will require me to prepare a plan of some sort. We keep things very simple and uncluttered (when it comes to school anyway :o), so it isn't hard to organize once I get started.
The biggest transition into fall school mode will be the oldest boys', the twins, course schedule. I am outsourcing Spanish, Biology, and "maybe" history (I am quite possessive of history, however. I'm still thinking about that one). It was my intention to begin a "Greats Books" study with them this fall. We would start the classical education format 3-year cycle with studying Ancient times. I love ancient literature (yes...I am a geek...and proud of it!). Even my boys love the gore and violence of ancient literature, namely The Aeneid.
My 11 year old boy's schedule is well-determined from this vantage point. Yet I am struggling over whether we should continue Latin or not. Our main hindrance is "t-i-m-e." I do believe Latin is wonderful for teaching an understanding of grammar, sentence structure, and vocabulary. Did you know that students who study Latin have higher (on average) SAT scores?
Much of the younger children already are doing their studies for the fall schedule. I need to determine further their memorization work. We have learned many poems in the past (mainly Robert Frost), and I'd like to work on more of that. They have learned excellent public-speaking and verbal skills from memory work.
But...the hammer will fall soon.....football begins NEXT WEEK. (yikes...panic). It will be rush, rush, work, work, run, run, etc...
As Ricky Ricardo used to say on the "I Love Lucy" show, "LUUUUCY!"
So, that's where we are.
It has been a blessing to be sprinkled with the company of friends this summer. We are expecting some visitors this week.
Hope your summer is progressing well!
Hey, one more thing... Don't forget about the Perseid meteor shower next week! Here is a link for more information about it: Perseid Meteor Shower. How about waking your kids at 2:00 am (during the meteor shower) and taking them outside for an awesome display of God's handiwork! This would be a great memory for all.
Oh, one more thing (laugh). I just wanted to tell you all about my 3 year old boy who is as stubborn as a mule. He threw a literal blow-out tantrum at Sam's Club the other day. After having 7 children, this doesn't phase me a bit. I just looked at him and said "This does not embarrass me, and is that *all* you got?!!!!" I lost my pride when it comes to these things (children's unpredictable behavior at times) a long time ago! LOL! No, really, he was tired...I'll give him that much. He settled down after his brother took him to the van, kicking and screaming. That was my fun this week!
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Thursday, July 31, 2008
"His thoughts said, The sting of grief abideth.
His Father said, My word to thee is, 'Pray for them which despitefully use thee.' The word is not, 'Wait till the stinger be sorry for stinging.' Art thou stung? Thou wilt find as thou prayest that the sting will lose its power. Thy thinking will be kindly. Thou wilt remember Him who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously. Thy Savior hath left thee an example that thou shouldest follow His steps."
Monday, July 21, 2008
I hope you enjoy the pictures!
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Friday, July 18, 2008
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Since my miscarriage in June 2007, I have felt tired and worn. It seemed to me that my age and numerous daily duties would be a likely explanation for this state of physical condition. After all, don't we get tired as we get older, and those of us homeschoolers with many children of different ages push it even further?
Well, last week it made sense to me to get my hemoglobin checked in order to evaluate the thought that I could still be anemic from the miscarriage. The doctor also decided that I needed the range of "Congratulations your 40 and now we need to check other things, too" gamut of tests.
It surprised the doctor (and me) when the tests showed that I was very anemic (groan) and hypothyroid! All I could think was "What???!!" No, not me, the super achiever (wannabe..grin)! Sigh.
However, these tests did reassure me somewhat. I have been tired and other physical system issues were put into perspective. So, I am in the midst of figuring these things out and seeking out my family physician's expertise. Those of you w/ either hypothyroid or anemia, please don't hesitate to give comment on your experiences.
I also had my first mammogram (warning: those of you who hate to hear about these things, exit now. Do not read the rest of the story :o). It occurred to me that I should be very thankful for this technology...*and* for the beautiful facility which did the examination (very "spa" like).
I sat in the gorgeous waiting room w/ my pretty gown on, while watching the news on a large, flat-screen television. As I sipped on ice-cold mineral water, the technician called my name. My number was up.
After having numerous children, my modesty and sense of privacy has been given a new definition. Many things that compromise those areas pale in comparison to childbirth (grin). The mammogram seemed like a walk in the park, but it was a bit humorous to me.
I realized a few things during the examination:
- Mammogram technicians are great at giving instructions on what to do during the process (i.e. "You may stick to the plate, so be careful as you step back after the x-ray is taken" LOL).
- The particular part of the female anatomy that is being x-rayed, cannot move itself like a limb, and it must be moved and put into proper position (thank you, attendant..grin).
- The exclusive part of the female anatomy being referred to is very flexible and subject to various contortionist positions...LOL).
- I need to get my rear in gear and keep up w/ different diagnostic testing as I get older.
I can now say that I have graduated from "now you're a real woman" school of physcial experiences and diagnostic tests. Oh, I take that back...can you say "colonoscopy?" That may be next.....
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Wednesday, July 2, 2008
I have been having a blast! My younger sister (17 years younger than I!!) is visiting from Taiwan. It has been so wonderful to have her home. She and I get along very well and laugh a lot. Each evening we are up until past midnight, talking and giggling. She'll be here for a few more weeks. Here is a photo of her and her boyfriend (who also lives in Taiwan).
That is why entries have been limited (grin).
Now that summer is in full-swing, we are in the throes of different activities and oddly-scheduled days. The calendar and planner are important items for me at this time especially. You can print free planners from all over the Internet (try Google). Also, Donna Young has some great planners (see sidebar for link).
To keep our house in decent (or semi-decent) order, we continue to use a morning and evening routine. Morning is for making beds, collecting dirty laundry, straightening rooms, putting clean clothes away, and reading our Bibles. Our children have morning & afternoon jobs in addition to the morning routine as follows:
- Malcom (14) puts away clean dishes in kitchen. Sets table and assists breakfast prep. Makes coffee. Cleans upstairs bathroom after breakfast.
- Noah (14) and Greyson (11) collect trash from all receptacles in the house and then get it to the outside dumpster. Dump dehumidifier water. Feed and water chickens. Noah cleans downstairs bathroom after breakfast. Greyson washes dishes.
- Elijah (9) puts away clean silverware. Helps set table. Wipes table after breakfast.
- Rachel (7) Helps set table for breakfast. Takes care of Sam and makes sure he stays out of trouble. Sweeps after breakfast.
- John (5) helps momma make her bed and tidy living and dining rooms. Helps clear table after breakfast.
- Sam (2) does the same as John.
- Malcom cleans and tidies the entryway (he uses a list that splits up jobs for the week: Mon: wash door fingerprints Tues: Dust wainscot trim and baseboards Wed: Tidies closet. Thurs: Mops the floor.
- Noah cleans and straightens the downstairs family room. Jobs are spread through the week just as Malcom's are.
- Greyson maintains the living room w/ the same concept as the jobs above.
- Elijah and Rachel set the dinner table and make sure the condiments are put on.
- John helps a big brother with his jobs.
- Sam helps a big brother as well.
A few summer raw foods and other staples in our house are the following:
- plenty of fresh fruit and veggies
- fresh salsa, not canned (homemade or Sam's Club fresh salsa). Dice up a tomato and 1/4 of an onion. Chop 1/2 of a jalapeno (or use canned for convenience). Add a dash of salt, some freshly chopped cilantro, and stir. This is delicious! I use salsa to top rice, burritos, salads, etc. This will last a few days in the refrigerator. If you add a tablespoon of lemon juice, it will last a week.
- frozen fruit. We have picked and frozen almost 10 gallons of local strawberries so far. These are great for homemade smoothies and sorbets! We try to get in-season fruits into the freezer as much as possible.
- Hot dogs & browned, ground beef. (for meal-prep ease). Browned ground beef can be turned into sloppy joes, tacos, burritos, spaghetti sauce, potpies, stews, etc.
- Tortilla chips and tortillas (for quick wraps or burritos).
- Yogurt by the gallon ( see homemade recipe blog entry. Quadruple it to get one gallon). Use the fruit recipe from previous posts to create flavor for the yogurt.
- Styrofoam cooler (kept in our van at all times). I use this and a freezer pack for keeping a gallon jug of water or other perishable items when we are out and about. This is also used for take-along snacks. The cooler will stay in the van all summer.
- Paper cups and paper plates. These are great for summer convenience. I like to keep some of these in the van as well along w/ plastic eating utensils. Don't forget the paper towels.
- Cooked brown and white rice. Great for wraps. You can also blend cooked rice w/ a bit of water to make rice porridge for breakfast (our favorite!). After blending the rice, put in a pan and add more water until porridge is your preferred consistency.
- Carrot sticks
- Baby wipes for easy clean up.
- 4 cups cooked pinto or black beans
- 3 tablespoons oil of your choice
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
I throw all of this into a food processor and whiz until a paste forms. We then place about 1/2 of paste in tortillas and wrap them up. If you don't have a food processor, just use your potato masher. You may have to add a bit of water to ease the mashing. It is nice to do a bunch of these and keep them in the refrigerator for quick or portable meals. Try warming them in a covered casserole w/ the oven set at 375 for about 1/2 hour. Serve w/ cheese, salsa, and other toppings. Rice makes a great side dish for the burritos. Yummy.
We have a busy weekend ahead, including our local festival's airshow. The Blue Angels are here this year! They are our favorite. More berry picking may be in store as well.
Enjoy the days!
Thursday, June 26, 2008
So, I'd like to greet this great season with a series of "Specifically Summer" articles.
I'm thankful for Michigan's four seasons. It gives one an appreciation for spring, fall, winter, & summer, respectively. Things always seem to be changing as the seasons trade places. I like that.
One thing I know that is particular to summer, is food preparation. In our household, we consume less food. Our meals are also lighter and more convenient.
Heating up the house by baking and cooking can be a pain in the summer, but is part of my life at least once per week. My children eat lots of homemade bread and yogurt, so we have to keep that stocked. I also bake gluten-free items for one of my children. Nevertheless, I try to keep the baking heat to one day per week in summer. I try to be positive and think of it as the "sauna" effect. I love saunas.
A brilliant idea came to me a few years ago on an online forum of moms of many children. One participant mentioned that she uses her crock pot often in the summer, but puts it either outside or in her garage, plugged into an exterior outlet. An extension cord can also be used if an outside power source is not available. This helps to cut down on the heat inside!
It is also important to have those seasonal fresh fruits and veggies available. We will be picking many pounds of strawberries very soon so we can freeze them. I still have lots of peaches in the freezer from last summer. I cut and peeled peaches for hours while viewing Rick Steves' travel videos (smile). The children and I went to the Alps as well as Croatia via Rick Steves. These videos are both educational and transporting!
Frozen fruit is one of our favorite treats. Just the other night I made a delectable strawberry sorbet in my food processor. Strawberries, lemon juice, a bit of sugar, and water to ease blending. I then put the processor bowl in the freezer. After a time, the bowl can be put back on the base to blend the mixture again. The children loved it! My husband added it to his glass of red wine, a sort of wine smoothy. This idea would work with any frozen fruit, or a combination of the different fruits.
If you are trying to get a bit more fiber in your diet, you could add ground flax seed or ground psyllium seed to your fruit sorbet. This is great for children or adults who need it. If an irritated digestive tract is a culprit, you could add aloe vera gel or juice to the sorbet instead of water. If you cut an aloe leaf lengthwise, and then scrape out the gel inside, you get a wonderful, soothing pure aloe vera. Be careful not to use to much or it will cause diarrhea. For convenience sake, capsules or packaged juices and gels can be purchased in a healthfood stores.
Hope you are all staying comfortable in the summer heat. I'll try to get to some raw food stuff in the next entry (my summer favorite!).
Saturday, June 21, 2008
As we were working, I was listening for the smaller children, and making sure they were staying out of trouble. Hubby was sorting and piling, and I was helping, yet many times I had to leave and check on the little ones. This coming and going made me realize why I don't get many planned tasks accomplished (grin).
My newest undertaking is to use up the stored foods we have and organize the kitchen and pantry. If this sounds like something you would like to do, here is an inexpensive e-book that would be a helpful guide: Organize Your Kitchen and Pantry in a Weekend. It costs less than $10 for the e-book.
Personally, I will be making myown pantry list. I would love to print out the e-book, but printer ink is a rare commodity in our house. My pantry categories are:
- Fruits and juice
- Grains and starches
- Baking supplies
- Herbs and spices
I and a helper (the youngest child capable of writing) will go through the freezer, refrigerator/freezer, and cupboards to take inventory of our food stores. Each food (and the amount) will be written under the appropriate heading listed above.
I will then develop a menu plan to use up those foods on the list. If my brain is working efficiently, a trip to the grocery store will not be required for at least a week. This is a great way to save some pennies while making use of those stored foods before they are past their prime.
Today is baking day as well. I have to bake our regular whole wheat bread, gluten-free bread, hot dog and hamburger buns, and gluten-free buns. I want to have this all done so I won't have to bake too much this-coming week.
It will be a busy and, hopefully, fruitful day.
Have a great day,
Thank you for your kind comments and encouragments. I love to hear them! Click here to add a comment or suggestion. If you have any questions or blog ideas, don't hesitate to send them my way.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
I love an idea recently posted at Homeliving Helper. The author speaks of how to start your day off thinking, with pen and paper in hand. She mentions that when you sit down to have your morning beverage, begin writing down a list of things to accomplish that day. It sounds so simple, and it is, yet it is brilliant! I have been doing this and it puts me in a more logical frame of mind, planning out the daily activities (and who will be doing them).
When our days begin, I do poorly when weariness and fatigue set in. It is always nicer to have a sheet of paper with a list on it. I delegate jobs first to the youngest child that is able to do them, and then gradually hand out additional jobs sequentially to the older children.
I find it helpful to split the page into two sections: contacts (persons needed to be telephoned, emailed, or written to) and to-do's. You can carry this idea further by breaking up your list into morning, afternoon, and evening. I like to use a simple, yellow legal pad.
Another great idea I got from somewhere else (that slips my memory!), is to organize your daily web reading. To do this, you create folders in your favorites (in Internet Explorer which is my search engine). There are many possible labels for these folders. You can name each folder a day of the week and then put websites under each heading according to when you'd like to read them. You could read news sites one day, blogs another, and informational sites on another, etc.
I hope these ideas are helpful!
Another thing, I did want to give instructions on how to germinate lentils (re: the Black Bean Salad recipe posted in the previous entry). Just soak 1 cup of lentils in about 1 quart of water for about 4-6 hours. They are ready when they crunch like a bean sprout. Drain the water from them and either put them in a jar for further sprouting. Don't forget to put the jar in a dark place and rinse & drain the lentils a few times per day. I put my soaked and drained lentils in a glass quart jar topped with a square of nylon net secured w/ the jar band. This makes rinsing and draining very easy, you just run water into the jar (without removing the lid) and then pour the water out through the netting. Sprouted or germinated lentils can be served t on a salad or as a salad main course. Yummy and so simple! You could top them with salsa, serve them over rice w/ plenty of veggies, mix them with a dressing and vegetables and wrap them in a flatbread, etc. Germinated lentils are a great raw food, full of enzymes!
Have a great day!
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Friday, June 13, 2008
God has really called me to task in my life. Many of you are familiar with the story of how God prunes the vine in order to make it more fruitful. I'm one of those vines who has tried to fight the pruner, attempting to grow out of control in my own direction. It is such a blessing to know that my God is a determined gardener with infinite power to do as He chooses...for my own good. It is like the child who is taught his/her boundaries for their own safety.
He has not left me on this journey alone, but provided strength, peace, joy, and wonderful friends and family. I would not call my life stagnant at all....it is full of surprises and changes that keep me hopping.
Currently my husband and I are in the stage of having many children of different ages. One moment a toddler needs his bathroom mess cleaned up. Another instance a 7 year old needs training, correction, and hugs (all at the same time). Pre-adolescents need chore training for quality control and teenagers may need my our time for chatting and talking about the things of life. Needless to say, they all need meals and clean clothes...and plenty of both!!! (I always think if they didn't nees these things that my life would be a lot simpler!)
Though the work never stops (and I mean *never*), though I rarely get time by myself for things I want to do(*rarely* is an understatement), I can say that happiness is beyond measure for me. My heart just overflows with joy when I step back and look at my life so far. So far! I just know God has more blessings to come.
Blessings do not come without hardship, this I have seen. I am thankful that God says He "will never leave me or forsake me" and that He is a "pleasant help in time of trouble" and that "the joy of the Lord is my strength." The Bible, His Word, is living and breathing. The mere reading of it will produce an effect and it will not return void. It cuts through bones and marrow, right to the heart of the matter.
This may all sound so sentimental and mushy, but it is my desire to communicate God's message and love to you, dear reader. Perhaps it doesn't make sense to you and has not in the past. Maybe your life seems like daily drudgery and you just "suck it up" to make it through every day. Perhaps the joy has left your marriage and relationship with your child (or others) and it leaves you in despair or feeling cheated by what you thought would be something different.
So, I have a challenge for you today. Put your life in His hands and be prepared for "extreme living." Talk to Him & read His Word daily (see the online read though the Bible plans). Don't stop being who you are, because He takes us just as we are and uses it for His satisfaction and glory. "You" were born for a purpose!
This doesn't mean that you won't mistakes. You won't be perfect. But you will see your purpose for living and experience the joy God intended for our lives.
I'd like to close with 5 questions for you. I got this idea from my dear friend Donna at Quiet Life (a daily read of mine). Her "Friday Five" is one of my favorite things to do each week. I guess I just like questionnaires about various topics. Here is my own version of the Friday Five...
1) Have you ever thought about if everything was taken from you (material possessions, loved ones, health)?
2) What has been the most significant loss in your life?
3) What has been the most joyous time or occasion (I guess this could be singular or plural!)?
4) Do you know Jesus as a personal friend and not a religion (see "not religion" for more explanation).
5) If you were to define your life so far, what statement would you use?
Thanks for listening to my ramblings.
One more thing...HAPPY 5TH BIRTHDAY JOHN ELDON!!! My dear little son who hates to wear clothes and is never without a gun tucked into his underwear. He wants to marry me and loves to give me kisses to make Daddy jealous. He has the most heart-warming "belly laugh" that you could ever hear. I love you, dear son.
Leave your comments and answers to the Friday Five questions by clicking here.
Here's a salad recipe I'm making for our yearly homeschool support network picnic:
Black Bean Salad
1 cup of black beans (I will used lentils soaked for 6 hours...they do not have to be cooked if you soak them a long time)
1 tomato, diced
the juice of one lime
1/2 onion, diced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (I will use 1 tsp. of garlic powder)
1 cup of coarsely chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon dried cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil of your choice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine and mix all of the ingredients and let sit for a few hours to let the flavors combine. Yummy!
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Monday, June 9, 2008
Friday, June 6, 2008
"It's popcorn night! It's popcorn night!" exclaims little Sam (2 1/2).
He gets very excited when he discovers it's Friday night, our family movie/popcorn night.
This tradition began when I was a little girl. Every Sunday evening we would watch the Disney Sunday night movie, and my mother would make a large bowl of popcorn. It was the highlight of my week, and thus began my love affair with popcorn.
I decided to add popcorn night as one of our family traditions when my twins were little guys. Now they are 14 years old!
Tonight we are going to watch "Rocky." The very first of the series of Rocky movies. I figure it will motivate and encourage my boys to step up their workout programs (grin).
10 reasons to have a family popcorn night
- Family togetherness
- The benefit of viewing great & inspirational movies. We enjoy popular movies as well as great documentaries.
- You get to drink pop (this is about the only night our children get to splurge on pop :O)
- No need for supper preparation (yahoo!). Just have a light, informal and early supper of sandwiches or another simple meal. We begin popcorn night at 6:30 or 7 pm.
- Encourages serving one another. Have a few children help with serving pop, getting bowls and napkins, and passing out the popcorn. This is great for the littler children.
- Provides a restful evening for busy parents. It's nice to just unwind and sit with the family.
- Allows the family to re-focus. While everyone is in one place, you could have a short family meeting/conference/devotional time, etc. before you view the movie.
- Facilitates discussion over movie content. Sometimes the content is objectionable and the movie is turned off. Other times, we are inspired and encouraged by motion picture themes.
- Helps get the house clean! No popcorn night until the house it tidy and laundry is put away.
- It's cheap!!!!! Along w/ homemade popcorn and pop in 2 liter bottles (we get 3 or 4), we get our movies from the public or church libraries. Once in awhile we will get videos or DVDs from the video store. Still, it's a thrifty way to have family entertainment!
- 3 Tablespoons coconut or other oil
- 3/4 cup popcorn
- 1 stick of butter + 2 tablespoons of oil to stretch the butter
Melt the butter over medium heat and add the 2 tablespoons of of oil. Pour over popcorn. Stir w/ a large spoon. Salt to taste.
You can also add other spices to flavor the popcorn. The possibilities are endless! We will add Parmesan cheese once in awhile.
Our family quadruples the batch listed above in the recipe. If we want leftovers for the weekend, we double the quadruple batch.
Hope this inspires you to have a family movie & popcorn night.
(*if the evening is simply too hot for making popcorn, we eat ice cream sundaes!)
If you'd like to give comments or suggestions, please email me by clicking here
Monday, June 2, 2008
It was a lovely, late afternoon and the host family decided that we should all move to their deck and have an outside meeting.
The children played on the lawn below as the adults had fellowship together. It was going very well, the bigger boys were playing a game of football while the smaller children shoveled and plowed in the sandbox. No one seemed inclined to wander out of the yard, and the situation was content . Until....
During a quiet, reflective moment with our friends, the host family's oldest son said rather clearly and plainly, "John, next time go pee in the woods!" (John is our 5 year old, by the way)
We all just looked at each other...My husband & I specifically exchanged a "we know perfectly what is going on" kind of glance. Then came the laughter.
At this point and time in our family life, my husband and I have learned to have quite a sense of humor over moments such as these, and we seldom experience embarrassment anymore! I think we are getting used to it! (However, stay tuned...this could change at any time)
For such a time as this we all had a laugh!
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
As a mother of many, I am often asked how my time is divided between our children. How can one mother give seven children quality time? I think this is a worthy question.
The more this issue swam in my head, it occurred to me that many opportunities abound each day for special one-on-one moments with my sons and daughter and husband as well. Perhaps a few may consider my answer to be unconventional....
I believe that every minute has the potential to be special one.
Almost every morning (like clockwork), my oldest sons (14 year old twins) arrive in the kitchen to give me their individual sports updates. Seriously, they come as individuals, but tell me almost the same story verbatim! That's identical twins for ya. "Mom, the Pistons won. The Tigers lost. The Redwings play tomorrow night." Just today they shared that the Green Bay Packers had not yet cleared out Brett Favre's locker and that he had not signed his retirement papers. Could this be ESPN Radio rumor? Who knows? Who cares! It is just my boys coming up to tell me something they want to share with "me", their mom. I smile and listen with great interest (because I really am interested in sports :o). You ought to see us during football season!
My son Greyson is a scientist. He is either doing an experiment, building some contraption, or dreaming of doing both. We will sit for the longest time discussing different scientific theories or doing scientific experiments. Our latest experiment was using a peppermint essential oil solution to kill bugs. We are also observing the seeds we planted in the garden to chart their progress. I just love these talks!
Elijah, my 9 year old, loves to talk about his passions...reading The Adventures of Tintin by Herge (his absolute favorite), Indiana Jones films, or his Lego movies on our computer. He asks often for my input on why Tintin did this-or-that or why did Indiana Jones have to get so old or "can I please make another Lego movie on the computer?" (No!)
Rachel, the dear 7 year old princess of our children, loves to help me in the kitchen. She also enjoys it when the two of us clean her room together. We have the longest talks while doing this. It is a special blessing when mother and daughter (who are SURROUNDED by testosterone) can spend some time together just being feminine and girly. We talk about babies, flowers, pretty things, birds, cats, etc.
John, the almost 5 year old genuine boy, says he is going to marry me. He wants to kiss me all the time. He then flaunts this in front of his daddy who in turn goes after him and jokingly tells him that I am already married. John also loves it when I read to him. He also loves to help in the kitchen and laundry room.
Samuel, our baby boy of 2 1/2, is so loving and huggy to me. If John kisses me, he is right there to counter it with a kiss of his own. He loves it when I sit with him, read to him, or lie down with him at nap time. Like John, Sam enjoys cooking and folding laundry, too. ("folding" has its own definition for a toddler boy :o).
My husband Roger, enjoys it when we can spend just about any time together. It is our daily routine to have morning coffee, before the children arise. We both value this time so much and hate it when it doesn't happen. It is rare that we miss our morning coffee time. Sometimes we are very tired and look forward to a nice cup of coffee. Our conversation may not be enthusiastic on the tired days, but we are there together. Just a touch of a hand or foot rub, and we both feel better. (the children are encouraged to leave us alone as we talk)
So, this is getting much longer than I anticipated. To sum it up, our culture emphasizes quality time with our loved ones. What a blessing that I get plenty of it everyday...just living in this household...walking, talking, working, struggling, smiling, laughing, eating, sleeping, bathing children, cleaning house, brushing little ones teeth....the list goes on-and-on!
Not everyday is perfect all the time...but I seem to remember many more happy moments than sad.
Quality time is perspective. It is everyday life!
Now I am inspired to smile and spend some quality time with my seven, wonderful children and fantastic, handsome husband. Perhaps you are inspired to do the same with your loved ones, too!
Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow!
Sunday, May 25, 2008
But, there is an even more crucial subject that we cover everyday and can put the house in an uproar if it is not completed, and that is "lunch."
After a busy morning of homeschooling, we all get very hungry. The "What's for lunch, mom" question begins to fly around the room. It would often be met with a response like "Make some sandwiches" or "Have some yogurt and fruit." As my children have grown and are still growing, they are not thrilled w/ the aforementioned answers to the "What's for lunch" conundrum.
I came across a brilliant idea to help answer the question with a satisfying response. This answer was easy on the wallet and acceptable to the palate. Beans and Tortillas!
Directions on how to have a great lunch that is healthy, delicious, fairly simple, and inexpensive:
- Place pinto beans in a crock pot w/ enough water to cover by 3 inches. I normally use about 5 cups of beans. Soak overnight.
- When you get up in the morning, turn the crock pot on high (check to see if you need to add more water. Sometimes the beans absorb much of the water). Cook for about 3 hours. Check for doneness w/ a knife by breaking a bean in half. If tender, they're done.
- Warm your tortillas. We do this by either wrapping a stack of tortillas in foil and placing in the oven on 375 degrees until warm (about 15 minutes), warming them one at a time on a hot cast iron skillet, or popping them in the toaster one by one for a more crisp tortilla. Make sure to watch them carefully in the toaster. They can burn quickly if you are not careful.
- While tortillas are warming, drain cooked beans in a large strainer. Put beans in a bowl or back in the crock pot (turn on low). Mash the beans and add a shake of onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, & a dash of salt. You could also add a small can of chopped green chillies for more flavor. Take note to add more of the spices if you use more beans. Keep taste-testing to get flavorful results.
- Prepare any desired toppings (i.e. lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, onions, peppers, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, etc.) . We stay very simple.
- Serve mashed beans in tortillas and top w/ your choice of the above.
That's it! This is our favorite lunch. You could also serve freshly prepared raw vegetables on the side. If you have a capable child to prepare this lunch, that is very helpful, too!
Prepare a large amount of beans so you will have enough for more than one day of lunches. Just heat them in the crockpot that morning.
I purchase our tortillas at a Save-A-Lot store for 99 cents a package (10 tortillas). I buy the tortillas with the least amount of ingredients listed as possible to avoid all of the preservatives and chemicals. These are normally refrigerated due to their perishable nature.
For those of you skittish to any prepping, feel free to use canned beans!