Friday, August 31, 2012

School Days

Well, it's official:  I'm a "school mom."  Oh, wait, it's not all about me?

Both The Captain and Tinkerbell were so excited to start school, they could hardly sleep.  They were eventually so tired that Tinker slept through the light coming on and I had to wake her up.  Have I mentioned that I hate waking her up because she jumps a foot high and then cries?  So I touched her gently on the shoulder and she startled and then smiled -- without opening her eyes -- and said, "Today is my first day of school!"

Here are the little cuties:
His shirt has a "5" on the sleeve -- so exciting!
It didn't translate to photos but the heart is "bling" - shiny studs

Tinker's backpack is huge on her.  Even empty, it totally cramps her style.  Funny story:  We made a big deal out of buying first day of school outfits for all 5 kids and the Littles got a (rare) choice of outfits.  On the second day of school, Tink had a huge fit because she thought she got to wear the purple outfit every day!  She will be really happy to see that outfit again next week!

The Blitz gets a ride in the stroller and we walk to school although it is almost a mile because I want The Captain to really "get" it that I am close by.  We practiced a couple weeks beforehand and now they have built up some stamina.  They are so excited to go to school, they run almost the whole way!  (And yes, I cried all the way home that first day).  Daddy tried to get some pictures which were a little blurry for some reason, but here they are.

We're frowning because Daddy was trying so hard to get a picture he kept yelling at us!

The Bigs and The Blitz won't start school until September 4th since I have a philosophical objection to starting school before Labor Day.  The Blitz does not want to go to home-school Preschool; "I don't like homeschool.  I like the gray school."   He has made that very clear.   Yet I think he is really enjoying our 3 "Tink-free" hours each day and we have both relished just chilling together every morning.  Next week I"ll get out the Preschool In a Box and we'll enjoy that too.  For now, the leisure is a big gift.

I finally did get a picture of all 5 kids; they're so beautiful -- inside and out!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Menu Plan Monday!

I'm joining in her Menu Plan Monday link-up again.  I love to share!

Yogurt, bananas, dry cereal
Lunch - out!  Busy day
Pork chops, baked potatoes, green beans

Dr. Bircher's Museli
Korean Beef Skewers, (homemade Asian dressing in marinade) steamed rice, Lemon Zucchini Ribbons, apples [marinate the skewers overnight; the rest is a snap]

Scrambled eggs, bacon, milk
Soba Noodle with Spring Vegetables; Sauteed purslane, amaranth, fruit
On their own for supper!

Refried beans, egg, corn tortilla
Turkey and Egg, Carrot Soboro Bento, brown rice

Beef Rolls, Asian Pear and Cucumber Salad, brown rice
Baked fish, sweet potatoes, pasta salad

Bacon and Corn Griddle Cakes
Chicken Canzanese, Creamy Parmesan Polenta, mixed vegetable
Leftovers or snack plate

Bacon and Egg Cups
Kickin it Up Drumsticks, Rolls, Salad

We are having a big bacon week.  It was on sale so I bought 2 packages but I won't buy it again for a month.  It works for us this way!

plan my meals on Google Calendar, so they repeat on a set schedule; this saves me tons of time and it's easy enough to make a change if I want to try something new.  It also ensures that our favorites do come back because I love to try new things, but the family loves to eat the old favs.

Friday, August 24, 2012

School Time Rhythm

I notice that a morphing of this blog has occurred.  It began as a way to keep the family abreast of all the changes in our world when our 3 Littles joined the family; since, it has stretched to  become part photo album, part memoir, and part mommy-stays-sane by thinking aloud.

Right now as a first time "school mom" I am trying to figure our how to order our lives so everyone (including me!) gets what they need but we aren't over-reaching.  Public schooling two and homeschooling two is befuddling.  Add to that Peppers two classes twice a week at the community college, The Captains three therapy appointments and Sunshine and The Captain's sports, and my mind is spinning.  Some day (sooner than I think) I will long for these days!

I call it scheduling, but in actuality it's more a process of decoding the rhythms of our home and considering how to place things in a predictable order.  All 5 of our kids thrive on order.  Here is how I *think* our schedule will look most days:

5:00 - Mom rise and have quiet time
5:30 - Finish lunches, make breakfast                        
          (I make everyone's lunch, including for those of us at home and then  its' done for the day!)
6:30 -Wake The Captain and Tink, Breakfast, Dress
7:10 - Walk to school with Littles
9:00 - Bigs start school, The Bitz home-pre-school
10:20 - Walk to school to pick up Tink            
            Play at park on the way home
11:30 - Lunch for Littles            
            Game time with Mom
1:00 - Rest for Littles, Lunch for  Mom and Bigs            
           Mom's break time
2:15 - Walk to school to pick up The Captain
3:00 -  Snack            
            Puzzles, chores, indoor play or Swimming (at least 1x/week)
4:00 - Homework time (school kids)  room time for tots
5:00 - Dinner prep and tidy toys
6:00 -  Dinner, then outdoor play
7:00 - Jammies, stories songs
7:30  - Bedtime for Littles
           Relaxin' time with the Bigs and Dear Hubby
8:30 - Prep tomorrow's lunches, organize back packs, etc.            
10:00 - Hit the hay!

Monday - The Captain therapies; pick up at school at 12:30
Monday and Wednesday -- Pepper college courses 3:00 - 5:20,
Pepper sits in evening for neighbor
Wednesday a.m - Sunshine at Mother's helper job
Thursday - The Captain, therapy; pick up at school at 2:00

It looks do-able on paper.  Meal prep work in advance will be key; I'm very committed to feeding my family whole, real, home-cooked food and that requires a time investment.  On the weekends I'll be looking ahead several days and prepping vegetables, preparing sauces and dressings and cooking some main dishes.  I also double, triple or quadruple batches for things like meatballs and spaghetti sauce in order to save time later.  Pepper pitches in to cook supper a couple of times a week which frees me up to work on taming the "stuff monster" which requires constant vigilance.

I'm interested in your school time schedules.  What does your fall rhythm look like?
Ah, the good old days of summer

Monday, August 20, 2012

I've decided to join in her Menu Plan Monday link-up.  I'm always looking for inspiration so maybe I can share a little at the same time.

I'm so aware of summer just slipping away.  We are eating our "school time lunches" now to be sure that The Captain knows how to open, eat, and re-store his lunch stuff.  I should not admit this but sometimes I am very tempted by the PBJ in the plastic bag that will become landfill.  He is catching on though and will be a lunch pro by the time school starts!

Baked Oatmeal, fruit (made night before and refrigerated)
Tamagoyaki, Ham/Cheese roll up,  rice, mini veggies, sauteed spinach, fruit (roll-ups made night before)
Avocado Chicken Salad, bread or roll, carrots (chicken was roasted on Sunday)

Yogurt, banana, plain cereal
Peanut Sauce Bento Bowl (sub shrimp for tofu), grapes
King Ranch Chicken, mixed green salad (again, Sunday's roasted chicken)

Pancakes and Milk
Lemon Chicken Nuggets, carrot kinpira, spinach knots, rice
On their own for supper!

Eggs and Toast, Milk
Slow Cooker Orange Chicken, rice, greens
Beef Tips, Mashed Potatoes, fresh veg (whatever is on hand)

Zucchini cakes, Yogurt, Potato Salad, green or yellow veg
Order pizza!

Muffins or quick bread, cheese, fruit
Oven BBQ Chicken Legs, baked potatoes, corn
Leftovers or snack plate

Pancakes or Waffles, bacon
Leftovers (likely chicken and some kind of fried rice dish!)

I prep my veg the night or several days before for lunches.
Yes, I know we eat chicken almost every day.  I have no way to justify this except that we eat two small meals containing meat so one of them is often chicken.  Maybe I should have been a chicken farmer!

I plan my meals on Google Calendar, so they repeat on a set schedule; this saves me tons of time and it's easy enough to make a change if I want to try something new.  It also ensures that our favorites do come back because I love to try new things, but the family loves to eat the old favs.
Monday Lunch Menu

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Yummy Lettuce/Chicken Wraps for Back to School

Lazy summer is nearing an end.  The "bigs" have been so much help and it has made our no-schooling time so enjoyable.  Yesterday after taking her next-to-last Intro to Psych test, Pepper relaxed with her ukulele, part obsession and part constant companion.

Sunshine built the most fantastic fort ever. Let's face it, if you live in Texas, you'd better find some ways to play indoors in August.

With school starting in only 3 weeks, we are shifting focus around here.  I just moved the kids "wake up lights" to come on a half hour earlier; next week they will be adjusted again.  We are practicing a "school time" schedule to make an easy adjustment to the rhythm of our days.  By the time school starts, the rhythm will be set and we can focus on helping The Captain adjust to Kindergarten, itself.  I blogged about it for adoption. com but then re-thought it a bit and realized we needed to ease in and not just jump in with both feet (duh!).

Tinkerbelle will be headed to Pre-K 3 hours a day; her days will either begin or end at the same time as The Captains.  Both will attend Old Town Elementary, right across from our neighborhood.  Sunshine and Pepper will be homeschooled again; we are starting after Labor Day.  Pepper is taking dual-credit classes at the community college. In the fall, she'll be taking composition and art history.

It all adds up to me reorganizing myself in the kitchen.  We are "back to bento" for the fall.  Our bento lunches pack a lot of protein into an interesting and compact arrangement.  They are so perfect for lunch.  We are teaching The Captain how to take his lunch out and eat from the bento boxes; he is just a boy who needs to practice things!

For today's lunch, I found this interesting recipe on Iowa Girl Eats and then made a few changes so that I can make it any time with ingredients I always have on hand.  It was so wonderful, it'll go on a 2-week rotation.  We enjoyed it with edamame and cous-cous.

P.F. Chang’s Lettuce Wrap - adapted 

Serves a family, or 6  hungry adults
(approximately 185 cals., 5 grams carbs, 8 grams fat, 21 grams protein)

  1. 4  large cloves garlic, minced
  2. 3 tsp fresh ginger, peeled & minced (I buy it frozen - MUCH easier to deal with )
  3. 1-1/2  tbsp  sesame oil
  4. 1/4 cup  soy sauce
  5. 2  tbsp  peanut butter
  6. 1  tbsp  honey
  7. 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  8. 2 tbsp chili garlic sauce (I use the one with the rooster)

  1. 2 tsp. olive oil
  2. 3 fresh carrots, washed and diced finely
  3. 2 lb ground chicken breast
  4. salt & pepper, a dash of each
  1. 18 or more large outer lettuce leaves, rinsed and patted dry (you can buy these all prepared now, in a plastic box!)

Place the first 8 ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl.  Microwave 30 seconds.  Stir until smooth and set aside.
Using a large non-stick fry pan, heat the olive oil briefly and add the carrots.  Saute for 2 minutes, then add the ground chicken, salt and pepper.  Stir fry until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink -- this only takes a few minutes.  Add the sauce and cook a few minutes until desired consistency is reached.  I like to cook out a bit of the liquid.
Place the chicken mixture in a bowl.  If desired, garnish with chopped green onions and/or ground peanuts.  I used just a bit of chopped cilantro.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Advocating for The Captain

This week we had The Captain's appointment with the Developmental Psychiatrist.  Maybe Psychologist?  Anyway, since I wrote about it for, I am just going to send you that way to see the report.

In the meantime, please enjoy this picture from the beach: