Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How My veggie-hating Boys Eat Veggies

Jack and Creed are not veggie lovers. Jack has expanded his horizons lately and will choke down a green bean or two as well as a piece or two of raw broccoli or carrot. Creed will claw at his tongue until every single piece is out of his mouth if any vegetable touches his lips except in two ways...

First up is the green smoothie. Almost every single day for lunch my crew eats homemade bread with freshly ground peanut butter from Kroger or HEB along with a green smoothie. Elizabeth is our master smoothie maker though she does have Anne Michal in training to be her backup person. The ingredient list is most often about half a blender of spinach fairly well packed down, 1-2 bananas, a handful of strawberries,3/4 a quart of homemade plain yogurt and a touch of sugar or honey. Occasionally they add some protein powder. This has been lunch for almost a month now, and they still cheer over hearing it is what is for lunch. Total win-win situation as it is a very well-balanced lunch!

The second is one of their favorite meals. We had it last night, and I thought I'd share it with y'all. it is from one of my favorite cookbooks, Family feats for $75 a week, by Mary Ostyn of the blog Owlhaven. She has more kids than I do so I know she at least knows a thing or two about feeding a crew! I don't think I have made anything from this cookbook that isn't good. There is a wide variety including a lot of ethnic foods. So, yeah, the recipe....Thai Wraps.I am not sure how Thai it really is, but it sure is good!

1 pound of romaine lettuce, swiss chard, or fresh spinach separated into individual leaves.
2 carrots, peeled
1 onion, peeled
3 cloves of garlic
1 rib of celery
1/2 cup minced fresh vegetable of your choice(tomato, cucumber, or celery...I use celery and mince it really really fine because I have a bunch of celery haters)
1 T olive oil (if using ground turkey)
2 pounds ground beef or 1 of turkey and one of beef...I can get away with 1 1/2 pounds for all of us
1/4 cup fish sauce or soy sauce ( I use soy or ...ahem...bragg's liquid aminos)
1-2 cups leftover rice (optional ( i usually add)

Wash your lettuce and set aside.

Shred carrots(I just dice them.) Chop onion and garlic, slice celery, and mince any other vegetable that you desire. (if your family loves veggies and you aren't trying to just get them to eat a few like me then you could add extra and a wide variety. You can also add leftover scrambled eggs.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add beef and cook until browned.

Once meat is cooked through, remove it from pan using a slotted spoon. Add chopped, sliced, and minced veggies to skillet and cook in remaining oil over medium heat until soft, 5-7 minutes, stirring a few times. I like to add a bit of sesame oil at this point as it really ups the flavor and my people seem to love sesame oil.

Return to pan and mix with vegetables. Add fish or soy sauce. Add rice if using (if you have 6 kids I suggest you do ;-) ) Cook over medium heat a few more minutes, stirring until ingredients are well mixed and heated through. Serve by wrapping lettuce leaves around several tablespoons of the meat recipe.

Creed actually eats his in a tortilla, but he actually eats the carrots and celery and even knows they are in there!!! Jack eats his in either a tortilla or lettuce but if he eats it in a tortilla he adds lettuce! I guess this makes it a mexasian meal but it gets the job done!!! I actually ate mine last night on a big plate full of lettuce like a salad and it was so yummy!

Let me know how you like it if you give it a try!

P.S. Creed asked what was for supper and when I told him said, "And smoothies??? We haven't had them from a long time ago." They missed them at lunch today as we didn't have yogurt ready.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Reset Button

Last Monday was the first day of school in the Anderson house. In the past, we have schooled through most of the summer. We did this because we needed to make up for time off in the school year, for the daily structure, and simply because it can be too hot here to do anything but school and go to the pool! We decided we really needed a break this year so we took off a good 2 months. It was nice to just be relaxed, a bit lazy, and flexible. The kids had plenty of freedom to play together, be with friends, and be creative!
I found myself dreading starting back to school. It was so nice to be laid back and not have to wear my teacher hat along with all my other regular hats. The kids didn't have to wear their student hats and other than their regular chores could just "be."
I am not one to ever really even say homeschooling is hard. It has its challenges just like anything else does, though some are certainly unique to homeschooling. It can be a bit of a juggle between homeschooling, taking care of the house, cooking, and running kids around along with everything else. Many times kids handle difficulties they encounter in their schooling differently with ol' mom than they would with a regular teacher. Plus home can have a lot of distractions and it can be hard to want to sit and do your school work when you have lots of fun toys around. Hey, it can be hard to want to teach school when you have a lot of fun toys around!
So all that to say, that I really didn't have a good attitude about the new school year. I was thinking a sabbatical from the whole teaching gig might be nice. The big kids could all go to school and Creed and Janey Kate and I would hang out playing, reading books, doing puzzles, and going to the park and story hour. I'd relive those golden days when Anne Michal and Elizabeth were chubby cheeked, golden hair little girls. In my mind at least, those were stress-free days.
I wasn't the only one with a bad attitude, but then we all know mom can really set the tone for the house...good or bad. About the fourth day, we got into a bit of a groove. Those of us that needed to resign ourselves to certain things were starting to do so and everything was getting done! I was sitting on the couch watching Creed and Janey Kate playing and enjoying listening to Creed's chatter as he pretended in his play. It was like a reset button was hit at that moment, and I was reminded at that moment that homeschooling is worth every bit of the hardships for what we gain. The hardships are mere bumps and the rewards are mountains.
I once again gave thanks for the opportunity to spend my days with my kids. To facilitate their education, train them, and foster their relationships with each other. I am so grateful that my big kids are there all day to offer hugs and kisses to the little ones, to take time out to read them a story or build an awesome train track. I am grateful that Anne Michal and Elizabeth can be study buddies and Anne Michal can take her sister under her wing and help her with her challenging new subjects. I am grateful that Jack and Emma can sit at the table together and giggle while while doing their spelling. I pray I can always see the blessings over the difficulties.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Just Because...

you have been on our minds so much...

and I can still hardly believe that I can't just reach right over and swing you up into my arms even though you'd be too heavy now...
because I miss looking into that face that knew so much but said so is a long wait for an "I love you"
I thought of you while Jack and Creed were snuggled up on the couch watching TV and Janey Kate in just her diaper crawling all over them; for a brief moment, I could almost see you there too.
while it seems like you are on the outside looking in, I guess it is really the other way around and we are on the outside with barely a glimpse of your joy...

Let us praise and join the chorus
Of the saints enthroned on high
Here they trusted Him before us
Now their praises fill the sky
Thou hast washed us with Thy blood
Thou hast washed us with Thy blood
Thou hast washed us with Thy blood
Thou art worthy Lamb of God

A Hope for Janey Kate

Today after church, two sweet older ladies were talking with Janey Kate and enjoying her smiles and giggles. One of the ladies took her hands, looked her in the eyes, and told her,"The joy of the Lord is in your smile!" She told her that several times as she continued to talk and play with her.

I was thinking about that on the way home coupled with the sadness I feel over how teenage girls communicate. Sometimes I wonder if the only compliment they know is "You are so pretty" and any other compliment along a similar vein. They even argue over who is prettier. I have often wondered if they notice anything else about anyone other than the way they look, and if they are as concerned about their character as they are about how they look. I'd love for them to find a compliment about their friends that doesn't focus on their looks!

My hope for Janey Kate and my other girls isn't that they are pretty, gorgeous, or beautiful. They are all beautiful on the outside, but that isn't what I want them to concern themselves with or to be the number one thing people notice about them. My hope is that they have "The joy of the Lord" in their smile and their actions. My hope is that their sufficiency is in Christ and not in how they look. When people see them my hope is that they see "The joy of the Lord" in them and not just another pretty face.