Thursday, February 20, 2014

Work in Progress

Just because a family decides to keep their children at home instead of sending them to school does not mean that mom (or dad) is instantly blessed with a deep well of patience. In fact, being around your children all of the time may cause your patience to be stretched even thinner. Some of us struggle with this more than others. 

I struggle hourly.

Dear Daughter,

When I have asked (and told) you at least a thousand times over the last four years NOT to drag your giant Tinkerbell blanket through the house, or leave it in the middle of the kitchen floor, it wasn't because I didn't want you to be warm.  It was not because I did not want you to have the comfort of your soft, cuddly blanket.

I have slipped on it and tripped over it more times than I can count. You have dragged train tracks, coloring pages, pieces of waffles that didn't quite make it to your mouth at breakfast, shoes and countless other objects through the house. You have knocked over brooms and chairs and most recently my expensive, very-much-loved, vintage spinning wheel.

When I heard it clattering to the floor, I may have overreacted a bit. When I discovered the leg was broken, I may have yelled more than I meant to. I will admit it. I am sorry. I was wrong. I was a poor example. I try to have patience and be kind, even in my anger, but sometimes I just lose it. Completely. It happens more often that I like to admit. I felt little sympathy for your tears. I was so angry. Hadn't I just told you half an hour ago to stop dragging that darn blanket through the house?

After I calmed down, my empathy kicked in and I realized how awful you must feel. I went to you and apologized and accepted your apology. I love you so much, Ryleigh and I am sorry that my anger hurt you. I am a work in progress, and I need your patience the same that you need mine. Thank you for being so understanding.

Love Always,
Your Mom


The spinning wheel is in rehab.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Slow-cooked pork ribs, broccoli, carrots and onions with garlic

The cook-up went well. My husband cut up all of the veg and I did all of the cooking. It took about 3 hours total of actual work between us. I didn't get to the sauces or muffins yet, but it is in the works for today or tomorrow.

We started out with me getting the ribs and roast in the oven to slow cook while Matt cut up the long list of veggies. About halfway through, I had to nurse and fix lunch for the other munchkins. When I was done, I cooked up all of the vegetables with the steam-sautee method. Then I got two burners going and grilled all of the chicken-- this was the most time consuming part.

Things I will do different next time-

  • We will both work at veggie prep on Saturday and have them ready to cook on Sunday.
  • I will get two burners going with the veggies to make this process even faster.
  • Peas. I forgot them this week.
  • More carrots and cabbage.
  • I will pound the chicken thighs flat to cut the cooking time and probably add white pepper to the seasoning.

It was tiring, and a pretty big job, but dinner took less than 20 minutes to make last night. This is going to help keep us away from take-out and reduce stress during the week. I am totally on board for next week.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I've found that by the time dinner rolls around, between not sleeping at night and all day nurse-a-thons, I am exhausted, nursing or both, and it is difficult to get dinner cooked before bedtime. We manage, but there has been an awful lot of Trader Joe's hotdogs and stops off at Chipotle.

Last week, I picked up a cookbook called Well Fed from the library and it may very well change my life. The first chapter of the book goes into why we should eat a Paleo style diet, but we've already been at this (off and on) for two years, so we're already there. It is the second chapter that is really working for me though.

The Author, Melissa Joulwan from The Clothes Make the Girl, talks about "Hot Plates" and Cooking WOD's (Workout of the Day). Basically, she takes an hour or two and preps her veggies and meats for the week, then she pulls them from the fridge and builds plates throughout the week.

This weekend, we are going to be attempting our first Cooking WOD. It should feed our family of four for five days Sunday through Thursday. It looks something like this:

3lb Ground Beef , browned, Make chili w/ half and put the other half in the fridge.
4lb Chicken thighs in grill pan, for salads, stir fries etc.
3lb Pork shoulder, slow cooked, for salads and hot plates
1lb oven bacon, reserve the fat
1 doz hard boiled eggs

Cooked Veg
2lb of Broccoli, steam sauteed
1 Cabbage, shredded, steam sauteed 
2 lb of Carrots, steam sauteed
4 Mixed bell peppers, steam sauteed
2 Sweet Onions, steam sauteed
1/2 Celery Heart, steam sauteed

Raw veg
2 onions, chopped
2lb Baby Carrots
1/2 Celery Heart, diced
4 heads of romaine
1/2 lb mushrooms 
2 cukes
2 tomatoes
1 bunch spinach or kale

1Sunshine Sauce – Well Fed pg 45  
1  Tahini Dressing – Well Fed 2, Page 74

I let Ryleigh choose a meal as well, and she picked  pan-grilled Salmon for lunch one day and tuna salad on celery another.  

It sounds awesome, but can we get it done? I think that if the husband and I work at it, it is definitely an attainable goal! Wish us luck <3

Thursday, February 13, 2014

I had every intention of writing here, but suddenly everything felt so mundane and so unworthy of blogging. It seems that the kids and I have a routine. Maybe "rut" is more accurate.

We get up in the morning. Ry gets breakfast for herself and Sean-- usually waffles or muffins from the freezer. The kids watch something on PBS or Netflix, I drink my coffee and nurse the baby. The kids play or color until lunchtime.

I make lunch. After lunch is electronics play-time. The kids got iPad minis for Christmas. I loaded them up with educational games. Things that I thought would help the 4 year old learn his letter sounds, more about shapes, something. Do you know what he does? He plays Angry Birds and Bad Piggies. He is obsessed with them. My husband was getting frustrated with it. Shouldn't he be learning?

As we watched Sean play, we discovered something. He is really good at these games that use physics and invention to get to the finish line. He builds rocket and soda water propelled go-carts. He calculates and measures the arch for certain sized birds, accounting for weight and gravity, to hit in the exact place he needs to make a structure topple. He is learning about force, gravity and trajectory. Beyond the physics, he is learning to be persistent. Having a rough time and can't get your piggy over the hill? Keep trying!

Our older child is starting to gravitate away from electronics, which is somewhat surprising. I always thought that she was as much of a technophile as I am. After lunch most days, she gets out her scrapbook or her drawing supplies instead.  I am encouraging her to slow down and spend time telling her story on each of her scrapbook pages.When she does get on the computer, she enjoys BrainPop Jr. and building games on Scratch. When she says she is bored, I tell her to get out her Brain Quest workbooks, and those usually keep her busy for a couple of hours.

I think that my goal as the weather improves is to get out of our rut and get out of the house more.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Welcome & Intro

Hello and Welcome! We are a family of five.

Mommy- 30 - Knitter, spinner, sometimes chef, former lab assistant, lifelong student. Likes reading and coffee.

Daddy- 30 - IT Consultant, gamer, LEGO builder extraordinaire.

Ry- 8 - Girly-girl, likes princesses, ponies, video games, drawing, coding. Dislikes "icky" things.

Sean- 4 - Beast. All boy. Loves playing Angry Birds and Bad Piggies, making up words, being gross. Dislikes anything green on his plate (Mommy frown).

Kell- Infant - Loves milk, keeping mommy up all night and silly noises.

You won't find us being hateful or negative about the way that others choose to school their children, nor will you find long winded posts about the theory of Unschooling and why it works. For that, I will direct you to John Holt and Sandra Dodd. What you will find here is simple: me, taking the time out to journal about what we are doing from day to day as an "unschooling" family and how it relates to learning...or not. This is simply us, being a family and learning from life.

Thank you for joining me in cataloging our unSchool Days!