Storage Hack for a Large Family

As a family of 8, we have amassed large quantities of water bottles, travel mugs, and sippy cups. Storing them in the kitchen cabinets makes a mess. They fall over and take up a lot of space. What’s an easy solution for quick and easy storage? Purchase an inexpensive over-the-door shoe rack. Hang it over the inside of a pantry, laundry room, or garage door. Ours is hanging over our pantry door.

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How about lunch box storage? Ours were on top of the freezer. They’re bulky and fall over frequently.  I purchased an over-the-door purse rack. It hangs on our laundry room door and is a perfect place to keep lunchboxes in easy reach but also out of the way.

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Travel Binders

This past September my family took a road trip to Rocky Mountain National Park.  Since we live in south Texas, it was a bit of a drive.  Later this year we are going on another road trip to California (I love that we homeschool and can take trips on our own schedule).  Keeping 5 small children occupied in the car for long periods can be challenging.  I’ve written before about car travel and how we have backpacks, snacks, movies, and car games.  For the trip this past September I decided to step up the car activities a notch.

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Everyone got their favorite color.

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Activity sheets and pencil bags

During the back-to-school sales, I stocked up on binders, spiral notebooks, colored pencils, and pencil cases.  Each of the 4 older children got a binder and matching colored pencil bag.  Inside the pencil bag was several pencils with erasers, a set of of colored pencils, and apencil sharpener.  Crayons melt too easily in the Texas heat, so no crayons were included.

The front pocket of the binder had a list of suggested games such as I Spy, the Alphabet Game, and Roadtrip Bingo.  A simple Google search for car games gave me plenty of suggestions.  Next came the pencil bag, then spiral notebook.  I then printed out sheets Roadtrip Bingo game cards, tic-tac-toe boards, dot game boards, a list of the 50 states for the license plate game, car scavenger hunt, and (for the older boys) a paper Battleship game.  The back section of the binder had coloring books and pages.

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Overall I’d say they were a big hit with the kids.  They were certainly occupied and the restlessness was kept to a minimum.  I’m definitely going to refresh these binders for our next trip.

Cooking With Honey, Quick Tip

When cooking or baking something that uses both honey and oil, such as the granola recipe I use, I have found a secret to easily pouring the honey.  I first measure the oil in my glass measuring cup and pour it into the mixing bowl.  Next I measure the honey into the same cup.  The cup has been sufficiently greased from the oil to make it slide right out in the mixing bowl – no more sticky mess!  Maybe this is an easy tip that I am the last to discover, but it makes it that much easier for me!  I have yet to try it, but I am wondering if I have a recipe that only calls for honey and not oil, if I sprayed the measuring cup with nonstick spray, will the honey still slide right out?  I’ll have to try!

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Our 2 months summer break has come to an end, and we were back to homeschooling this week.  So what did I do all summer to occupy my copious amounts of  time?  In no particular order, here’s what I did on my summer vacation:

  • Attended the San Antonio Catholic Homeschool Conference
  • Took the kids and my parents to the Texas Folklife Festival
  • Took the oldest 3 to swimming lessons twice a week for 4 weeks
  • Took several kids to the doctor for check-ups
  • Celebrated the 30th anniversary to the diaconate with a long-time family friend
  • Helped plan the upcoming school year for the Catholic homeschool group we belong to
  • Rearranged the classroom for the next school year
  • Hosted dinner for a priest friend of ours who was visiting from out of town
  • Dusted all the blinds and washed all the windows in the house (with the awesome assistance of my husband)
  • Attended a wedding in Dallas for one of my dear college friends
  • Visited Medieval Times and In-n-Out while in Dallas
  • Delivered meals to two friend in our homeschool group
  • Took the oldest 2 to vacation bible school for a week
  • Took the kids to the children’s museum
  • Got my haircut with the girls (since I only go about once a year, this is worth mentioning!)
  • Went peach picking, made 2 peach pies, 2 peach crisps, peach ice cream, and numerous jars of peach jam
  • Took the family on our annual anniversary beach weekend trip to Corpus Christi
  • Made birthday cakes for 2 of the kids, and of course celebrated their birthdays
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  •  Made a month’s worth of lesson plans for a 2nd grader and 1st grader

and finally, my favorite

  • Read all 7 Harry Potter books

Whew, I need a break from all that vacation!

NFP Awareness Week

This week is Natural Family Planning Awareness week.  Simcha Fisher, one of my favorite bloggers is offering free giveaways all week.  Check out her give away today, and read the rest of her posts.  She also has a great new book, The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning.  As they used to say on Reading Rainbow, “you don’t have to take my word for it” go read it for yourself here!

 

Crunchy Wife, My Version

I recently read a blog post entitled 10 Things Guys Married to Crunchy Moms Understand and while I found it amusing, I found that there are at least 4 of them that I don’t do. Though I don’t use the title “crunchy” when I describe myself I would probably be classified as such.  So I’ve created my own list of 10 things that make me a crunchy wife and mama.

  1. I make my own sourdough bread.  I learned from a friend how to make my own sourdough starter.  It is homemade, with no preservatives, very simple ingredients, and it is so delicious!
  2. I make my own yogurt. It started out as a money saving thing, and now I also enjoy it because again, it’s simply milk with no added sugar and other weird ingredients.  I let the fruit I put into it be the natural sweetener.
  3. I make my own laundry soap.  Yes, I make my own.  It keeps the clothes clean and costs pennies compared to what I used to buy at the store.
  4. Most of my cleaning is done with vinegar.  I do still have some cleaning products, but I am trying to finish them up before switching mostly to vinegar.
  5. I make my own granola.  It’s so good!
  6. “Don’t throw that away, put it in the recycle!”  I’m constantly taking things out of my husband’s hands that he’s about to throw away and insist they go in the recycle bin.
  7. I grow my own vegetables.  I admit my vegetable garden is nothing compared to my sister’s or my parent’s but still, we get a good amount of produce from it.  This past week we have enjoyed green beans, okra, tomatoes, and jalapeno peppers from the garden.
  8. I can’t stand wastefulness.  This has more to do with being a good steward of God’s creation, and not wasting the gifts He has given us.
  9. I think it would be fun to raise chickens.  Yes, my husband thinks I’m crazy on this one, and I’m sure our HOA wouldn’t approve, but I think it would be awesome!
  10. We don’t use birth control.  My husband and I practice Natural Family Planning, specifically the sympto-thermal method.  This one, again, is more for faithful religious reasons rather than crunchy reasons, but hey, it’s also non-hormonal and natural!

“You can win mo…

“You can win more converts with a spoonful of honey than with a barrelful of vinegar.” – St. Francis de Sales