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Friday, February 24, 2012

March Monthly Menu

Today is big grocery shopping day! My husband gets paid on the 23rd of each month, and that's when I do my monthly grocery shopping.

But this month is going to be slightly different than usual. First off, I didn't spend two hours creating my menu for the month. Someone else did it for me!

In our effort as a family to eat more God-made foods, I have subscribed to a blog entitled 100 Days of Real Food. On this blog, there are four weeks of kid-friendly, real-food meal plans - breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack - as well as the grocery list to go with them, which I integrated into my staples grocery list. So for March, I printed them off and am using that as my guide. I am so excited! This is going to be fun!

The other thing about this month that will be slightly different is the stores I will be visiting today. I'll start at Costco - always do. Costco has recently added numerous organic products to their shelves - very exciting! Organic products are already slightly more expensive, so having the ability to purchase them in bulk is a big blessing to the Seiler family.

But after Costco, I'm going to visit our local whole foods store, Sprouts Farmer's Market. I'm going to see how much I can afford to get there off my grocery list. If I still have items left, I'll pick them up at Winco.

This will be an adventure - trying to move more towards eating God-made food while staying within the grocery budget! Thank God we're starting work on our spring garden today as well! Hoping that will provide a little budget relief in a few months.

UPDATE AT THE END OF THE DAY: I was so pleased! I came in on budget! Buying less meats and buying more organics was a great trade-off!

Friday, February 17, 2012

What's on My Mind

This week, there's so many exciting new things mulling around in my head or actually taking place in our family, so that's what I'm going to share with you today!

GARDENING: I can't wait to go all out this year growing our own organic food. I'm so excited! It's going to be a family affair. I want to teach the children how to plan out a garden. The boys are going to help Dad build one more raised bed for us. They're all going to participate in planting, caring for, and harvesting our family garden. My goal: that one day, when they each have their own families, they know how to grow their own food. We will spend time on Fridays working on this project as part of our learning. I can't wait! I've got my copy of Backyard Homestead on my side table ready to get my creative juices flowing.

FITNESS: As motivated as I am to grow our own food this year, I'm just as motivated to get fit! I started working out three days a week with a friend who loves working out (unlike me). We just work out in our homes with dumbbells doing a boot camp-type workout. I don't enjoy exercising that much, but I love eating well. I've been enjoying a few websites that share ideas on eating real food (which I call "God-made food"), such as 100 Days of Real Food and Vintage Remedies' 8 Weeks to Real Food. Much of my current eating habits were sparked by watching Food, Inc. and Forks Over Knives on Netflix. I also have it on my agenda to watch another documentary that some friends suggested entitled The Beautiful Truth. Although I am not a vegetarian, I do strongly believe that eating a diet that consists more of organic fruits and vegetables than anything else has the greatest degree of health benefits. I'm loving my weekly delivery of organic produce from It's Organic.

While the transition in thinking is challenging, I'm trying to make fruits and vegetables the center of my meal planning, instead of meat. I also strongly believe that, if we just ate what God put on the earth for us to eat in its most natural form, and also used the plants He made in their most natural form to cure our ailments, we'd all be in much better health. Both my husband and I are on the fast track towards being healthier overall, getting rid of as much toxins as possible, and trimming down.

GOOD READS: I'm going through my life-transforming book, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, a second time right now, ensuring that the message God has for me truly sinks in. I also subscribe to the author's blog, A Holy Experience, and am THOROUGHLY enjoying getting a daily dose of the same message and more. I have been enlightened to so many new ideas as well as resources through her blog.

In addition, I had ordered Created to Need a Help Meet by Michael Pearl before Christmas, and Amazon had it on back-order. I ordered it because Created to Be a Help Meet by Debi Pearl so RADICALLY changed my life about five years ago, I couldn't wait to see what her husband's version of the book had to say. What a delight when the back-ordered copy arrived at my doorstep this week - the week of Valentine's - so I could pop it right into the gift bag I had already started for my husband! We just returned from Lake Tahoe with some friends, so we took the book on our trip and read through it together. It sparked some great conversations, and really reminded me how my husband's mind works. Couldn't be better timing as we prepare to sit on a panel this Sunday evening for our church's Marriage Tune-Up event.

FINANCES: OK, so we're sometimes a little slow with this stuff, but this week, our friends whom we traveled with turned us on to Mint, which is a free online service to manage ALL of your finances. Once they told us all that it does, we were excited. We've always used Quicken, but because I use it on my laptop, my husband rarely gets to see it and keep track of it. So this service provides just what we were looking for, and more. I've spent the last two days getting our account set up and exploring the site, and it provides lots of personalized financial advice and other things - we're still learning all that it does. I think it will save us a lot of time not having to enter all our transactions, as well as keep us both aware of where we stand financially on a daily basis.

CHILDREN'S EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES: Probably the most motivating factor in us using a charter school (Visions in Education) for homeschooling is the funding available for each of our children for extracurricular activities. Many of the activities they are involved in, we would not be able to afford to keep them in on our own. The only activities they won't cover are organized sports. We don't put our children in activities just for the sake of keeping them busy. We only choose activities that help them develop a skill or talent they seem to have naturally or have an interest in. A few of the kids are starting new activities right now, which is always fun!
Hannah (12 yo): Hannah's our creative one, and she is quite musical. She's learning more and more each day about piano, vocals, and most recently, guitar. She comes to our worship team rehearsals for our church to observe and learn as much as she can. Sometimes, we let her jump in there and give it a shot. Her dream is to be a worship leader someday. In addition, she goes to art classes twice a month, which she just LOVES.
Joshua (8 yo): Josh is opposite of Hannah. He doesn't care much for music (although I still teach him the basics of music in our homeschool just because I think it's good to know, so he's currently learning his scales and the formula to create them). Josh is our athlete. He's just starting his second season playing baseball in a Cal Ripken league. His dad (who played some college baseball) has been practicing with him every night, getting him ready for the season.
Luke (6 yo): Luke follows Hannah in creativity. I'm teaching him piano and music theory as well. Ultimately, though, we are looking for a good drum teacher for Luke, as we see a natural gift for rhythm. Luke also does art class twice monthly with the same teacher Hannah has. It's like his FAVORITE class! We recently signed Luke up for taekwondo. Luke, of all our children, has a personality that is more spontaneous and less self-controlled. He tries hard, but something in him just likes to do crazy, off-the-wall things. Daddy really likes the principles taekwondo will teach, such as respect and self-control. We're going to give it a try for six months. If Luke doesn't enjoy it, he doesn't have to continue after that.
Noah (4 yo): Noah follows suit with Josh in athleticism. Even at his young age, we see tremendous coordination. He will be playing his first year of t-ball this year. He really doesn't know what to expect yet, so I can't say he's excited. He's also learning scales on the piano, not because I was particularly trying to teach him yet, but he just had a desire, so he sat down and started plucking them out.
Nathan (3 yo): Nathan is still glued to my hip. He's not much for classes or teams of any kind. He's the baby of the family. We're also still watching him to see what gifts God has put in him, so we can steer him in the right direction. We already know that he is very rhythmic and has an intense love of music, and already plays a steady drum beat, but he also loves building things. He can sit for an hour putting together train tracks that go all over the playroom floor. He likes Legos and building blocks. He even uses Jengas to build elaborate towers and structures. We won't enroll him in anything this year. We'll know when the time is right.

So that's the latest in the Seiler household. WHAT'S GOING ON IN YOUR HOME?

Friday, February 10, 2012

My House Cleaning Routine

For me, house cleaning routines change with seasons of life. In our home, with seven people (including four boys under the age of 9), we HAVE to clean every week. I may not have to be thorough every week, but I do have to, at minimum, wipe everything down every week. There have been times it worked best for me to clean the whole house in one day once a week. Other times, such as this current life season, it is easier for me to clean a little bit each day. Right now, my cleaning routine is as follows:

MONDAY: I clean the kitchen (except the floors) - I start by tidying and clearing as much off the counter tops as possible, putting them away in cabinets; I use disinfecting wipes to wipe down the range hood, range top, outside and inside of the microwave, outside of oven and refrigerator, front of dishwasher, and all counter tops; I wipe my dining table and all the place-mats; and I use Comet to scrub my sink; we also wash my 12yo's bed sheets every two weeks

TUESDAY: I clean the laundry room (except the floors) - This isn't too difficult. It mainly consists of wiping down the laundry machines (for the washer, that means lifting the lid and cleaning inside the top rim). In addition, my 12yo cleans her bathroom this day, as it is right off of the laundry room. I wash my 3yo's bed sheets every two weeks

WEDNESDAY: I clean the other two bathrooms (the master and the boys' bathroom) - I use glass cleaner with paper towels on the mirrors; I use disinfecting wipes to wipe all the counter tops, the toilet, and the sink; I pour bleach into the toilet bowl and use a brush to swish it around and clean up under the rim; I use a squirt bottle of diluted bleach to spray the showers and tubs; I also wash the master bed sheets every two weeks

THURSDAY: On this day, I dust and vacuum the bedrooms, hallway, playroom, and living room; I wash my 8yo's bed sheets every two weeks

FRIDAY: I clean the hard floors - the kitchen, the laundry room, and the front entry floors; I also wash my 6yo's bed sheets every two weeks

SATURDAY: We usually do random house projects on Saturdays (things that don't need to be done weekly); I also wash my 4yo's bed sheets every two weeks

That is our current cleaning schedule. Daily tidying, laundry, and dishes happen through our chore charts.

What's your current cleaning schedule?

Friday, February 3, 2012

We're All in This Together

"Can I have a drink of water, Mom?" That's what I heard at 4:45am this morning from my feeble four-year-old little boy. He had crawled in bed between his Dad and me sometime in the night, body hot with fever, tongue burned dry. He's the fourth in our family this week to be stricken with this awful virus.

Last week was quite different. We went on a 7-night Mexican Riviera Disney Cruise with my husband's entire family. It feels like we were gone a month - we've never taken a vacation that long. Our ship sailed day after day on that strong and powerful body of water - the very thing our family craves this week.

We all returned sun-kissed - I love that - it brings out little freckles on the kids' noses. The weather was unbelievable! Adults spent days long laying out by the refreshing pool filled with water while children splashed in it.

And in Puerto Vallarta, even the adults played in the beautiful blue ocean water while children filled their swimsuits with sand.

Having so much time to rest, play as a family, no cooking or laundry, I was refreshed and ready to come home and take on life again. A friend and I discussed beginning a new exercise routine upon my return, and I was highly motivated to do so (after spending the week in a swimsuit)!

We returned Sunday, but I knew the final days of the cruise that I was catching something. My head felt like a bowling ball. A nasty cough took over my body and exhausted me. Not cool! I don't have time to be sick. We'd already been gone so long, I needed to get home and get busy, return to schooling.

That wasn't in God's plan. By the night of my return, I had a fever of 101. Thank God my Pastor-Husband took Monday off from work so he could recoup. I don't think he did much recouping - he ended up substituting for mom, as I didn't move from bed. Doctor said I had a sinus infection and off husband went to pick up antibiotics. Great! Light at the end of the tunnel! We should be back up and running in no time!

Day #2 back home: My 8yo wakes up barking like a seal and by nightfall, also has a fever of 101. Luckily, I was able to squeeze a little school in (curled up on the couch) so we wouldn't fall behind.

Day #3: My 3yo wakes up feverish, coughing, runny nose. He's so small, it's very sad when he's ill.

Day #4: My 4yo caught it. He started the day not wanting to leave my lap. I knew it was coming for him too. By afternoon, he was burning up. And I'm handing out rounds of Children's Tylenol on a regular schedule, plus keeping up with my own antibiotics. I myself still only feel 50%.

And that brings us to this morning. Didn't sleep well with little bony knees in the small of my back most of the night. Couple that with the fact my Pastor-Husband says he thinks he's getting sick. He's already been out of the pulpit the last two Sundays for our cruise. Recovery for all the ill has been very slow - slower than I thought.

Then 6:00am this morning, my bedroom door slowly opens. Light appears. I hear loud coughing. Which child is it this time? I don't have any more room in my bed. I see a tall figure. "Mom," the voice creaks. "I have a fever." It's my oldest and only girl - the one who has denied the whole week she would get sick. Daddy gets up this time, gets her Tylenol and ice water - that substance that gives life and fun and "floats our boat" - and offers his spot in bed to her, heading himself for the couch.

While the week would ordinarily seem quite unproductive to me - a waste - I don't have that sense today. We did what God wanted us to do this week - we focused on one another, served each other, everyone pitching in, rested, nurtured one another, watched movies, did school laying on pillows and covered with blankets, massaged lotion into tiny toes, and this is what was supposed to happen this week. I'm right where I want to be - where He wants me to be. I thank God I get to be here for every little one who needs Momma when they're sick, for every little tear running down a cheek, every dry tongue that needs the refreshing of life - and every child who utters, "Mom, can you pray for me?" Thank You, God, for the privilege of being a Mom, for being here, right where you called me to be. Was this in my plans? Not whatsoever. But the older I get in God, the more meaningless my plans become. It's all up to Him, anyways. I surrender all.