Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My cats have anger management problems.

We have two cats.  Two female cats.  We did not get these cats because I love cats.  Or because I love animals.  Or because I need an outlet for my affection. We got these cats because I hate dogs.  My oldest child has a very distinct bond with animals, and every girl needs a kitten, and I caved. I just try not to notice the cat fur all over the house, and go on with my life.

That was going well until this winter hit.  With the cold weather, our cats were spending a lot more time inside the house and I had to take notice.  I don't know who is more stir crazy, the kids or the cats. 

The first time my cats ever totally embarrassed me was when we went to deliver christmas cookies to the neighbors.  They all invited us in for a little a chat.  Of course my girls behaved themselves very well, but the problem was that our cats followed us on our excursion and actually fought their way in to 2 houses on our trip.  When have you ever seen a cat that makes house calls?  I was mortified. 

The other problem we have is that when the cats take issue with anything, like running out of food, or their litter box needs to be changed, or someone pulls their tail, they throw a tantrum and pee in my clean laundry.  I have taken to closing the laundry room door ALWAYS, which always works until a child for no reason whatsoever opens it for the cat who promptly throws a tantrum in my clean towels.  In fact, they will even climb in the dryer to pee in clean laundry.  IT IS MAKING ME CRAZY!!  I can't help making them mad... they are female after all.  So, the solution, I know, is to never leave clean laundry out.  Ahem.  I do an average of 12 loads of laundry every week, and I rarely get the chance to fold and put away a load as soon as it is clean.  Does anyone?

Solutions anyone?  Two loving de-clawed fixed female cats anyone?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Going to the Library

Also known as:  I believe I deserve a medal.



Joe teaches piano lessons every Saturday afternoon, and I thought I'd take the chance to drop him off, then take the girls to the library since it is only minutes away from his lesson.  I really wanted to get Square Foot Gardening.  We were running a bit late, so it was 4:45 when we got to the library.

I thought that I had remembered that it was open until 8 or 9.  Wrong.  It is open until 5.  But, we still have a few minutes.  I just needed Square Foot Gardening.

Since we were running late, I didn't have time to fiddle with my stroller, and I couldn't get it to collapse far enough to fit in the back of the van.  I had to put Sophie in the sling, and let everyone else walk.  Which means I was carrying Phoebe and Sophie, and herding the other three like cattle into the library. 

As soon as we got into the library, the announcement came that the library is closing in 10 minutes.  "Please bring all your items to the desk in order to check them out."  Hm.  I just need Square Foot Gardening.  I've got time. 

In order to get to the garden section, we have to walk past the kids section, and everyone wants to pick a book or 5 or 12.  I agree 2 books per child, subject to my approval. (I've seen strange ones like "When Daddy was in Prison" or "My Two Mommies" GIVE ME A BREAK!!!) Of course they each take an hour or so to decide on a book.  I finally gather my herd and head to the garden section.  I just need Square Foot Gardening.  That's what I came for.

Then I catch a whiff.  Someone in my arms stinks.  Bad.  They both start fussing at the same time.  I just need Square Foot Gardening.  I can make it. 

I reach into my pocket for the call number of the book which I looked up online before I left the house.  The call number is at home on my desk.  "The library will be closing in 5 minutes.  Please bring all materials to the check out desk."  I just need Square Foot Gardening.  I see a pod of computers ahead.

I approach the pod, and get lots of glares.  Apparently people who use the library computers have a thing against crazy women with two stinky crying babies followed by a herd of small children.  There was a sign on the computer anyway that said I needed my password and to register for this time slot before I can use it.  Great.  I just need Square Foot Gardening!

"Mom, they said they are closing.  We should leave NOW!"  I just need Square Foot Gardening.  I looked at the shelf, and unfortunately there are about 3.7 million books on gardening, none of them Square Foot Gardening.  Bouncing 2 stinky babies, whispering to my herd to keep quite.  I just need Square Foot Gardening.  I know it's here.  The internet said it was here.  AHA!  On the other side of the aisle, there it is.  I grab the book and begin to herd towards the front desk.  We make it, the babies are calmer, and I have Square Foot Gardening

The lady at the desk looks at me and my herd and says, "Haven't you figured out what causes all this yet?" 

I think next time I'll pay $15 and buy it from Barnes and Noble.com

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The little ladies (and their dolly daughters) have guests for tea.

The Haws Ladies had a busy day.  They cleaned the house, baked cookies and made tea.  They were expecting company!  The director of a local doll hospital and orphanage (aka Grandma) was coming with one of her orphans for tea.  She was the one from whom they adopted dolls at Christmas just this last year, and they wanted to show their appreciation.

We had a delightful tea party, with Lemon Chamomile Tea, Snickerdoodle pinwheels, and lemon almond biscotti.

Best of all was the company and conversation.


Gotta love little girls!!

Project Hobbes

My girls are really into Calvin and Hobbes right now.  Joe has an old comic book, and they have been reading it four hours every day.  This is great in many ways.  It encourages Abigail to read and focus for a long time. It entertains the girls for extended periods of time.  It has also sparked an interest in earning money.

Abigail and Olivia each want a stuffed tiger.  I don't buy toys except for birthdays and Christmas, so I invited them to save their money and buy their own.  Abigail asked me to look them up on the internet so she'd know how much to save.  We found the one she wanted most, but it was $53.00.  Her response was, "That's a lot of teeth!  I'll have to wait forever!"  (Her sole source of income at that time was the tooth fairy.) We found a tiger for the more reasonable price of $9, and I told her she could do some jobs around the house for money.

She and Olivia were very excited, and to prepare for our family meeting to make a plan about what jobs are money jobs, and what jobs are just the regular everyday chores, they drew pictures of their ideas to earn money.  They wanted to earn money for the following:
  • checking the internet
  • learning to read
  • learning to add
  • sewing
  • playing with their little sisters
  • washing the car
I told them that I don't pay them for school work. Abigail came right back with, "Well, dad told me that at his work, he does adding all day long, and he gets paid!"  We (Joe and I) decided that their paid jobs would be folding laundry, cleaning bathrooms, and cleaning the car (inside and out).  They worked really hard the first day, and earned $3 each.

Zenna's idea was that she would "help" by doing a tiny part of the work, and then she'd get just a little tiger... we decided that this job thing is for 5 year olds and older.  We'll see how she takes it later...

Yesterday we went to the toy store to see if there are any toy tigers here locally.  Unfortunately no.  When we walked out of Toys R Us, Abigail said she was totally bugged with the store 'cause they don't have any tigers.  I would have to agree.  Totally inadequate toy store.

As a side note, I have to say I have the best kids in the world.   I walked into the toy store with 5 kids, looked over the whole store, walked out with no toys, and nobody was crying.  That is a big deal for me. 

I was hoping that this trip to the toy store would be very motivating (they saw lots of other things they were interested in buying after their tigers are purchased) because my upstairs bathroom really needs to be cleaned.  Unfortunately not.  At this point, our system of paid jobs is completely voluntary, and it looks like I'll have to clean the bathroom myself.  Bummer.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Recipe Using Canned Beans

After a day like today, where I did homeschool from 8:30-11:30, then spent the afternoon prepping and painting the schoolroom, dinner is the last thing on my mind.  So, when the husband calls from 20 minutes away and I realize that in order for the night to run smoothly dinner must be ready in 25 minutes, I know exactly what to make.  Here's the recipe:


Chicken White Bean Chili
1 can chicken broth
1 pint canned chicken
1/2 pint canned green salsa
2 pints canned white beans
1/2 tsp. cumin

Mix all ingredients in a pan.  Heat over medium-low heat until warmed.  (30 minutes or so gives it the best melded flavor, but less will suffice in a pinch)

There.  Dinner done.  And delish.  Not often that dinner comes together so quick, with such great results!!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Canning Dried Beans

When it comes to using food storage the biggest problem that we all face is that it's well... not instant.  I've come to grips with the fact that I must grind my wheat before I make bread, must cook the rice for 20-30 minutes, not just 5.  But, to soak beans overnight and then cook them for 1-2 hours just takes too much.  So, I don't do it, and the beans go unused.  I love beans, my family loves beans, and they are cheap!   My solution: can them up.  Spend a few minutes here and there throughout your day, and you have quarts of beans ready to eat!

Here are the steps:

 Open your bucket o' beans.  You will use one cup of dried beans per quart jar. 

Rinse your beans thouroughly (I do this in a strainer) then put them in a clean, sterile quart jar

 Add 1/2-1 tsp. salt (if I try to go "low sodium" and add 1/2 tsp, I add more salt when I prepare the beans, so most of the time I go with the full 1 tsp.)

 Add water up a little past the rim.  Right up to where the ring will be.

Heat your canning lids in boiling water for a minute (or just follow package directions).
Put a lid and ring on each jar.

Put into your pressure cooker and cook at 10 pounds of pressure for 90 minutes. 

DONE!

This all takes very little hands-on time, and you have beans on your shelf and ready to use.  Very simple, and tasty!  Ready for soups, tacos, refried beans, salads, anything you would use a can of beans for.  This works with all bean varieties.  I have tried navy beans, black beans, and pintos with equal success.  I plan to try kidney beans soon, and I'll have to let you know how that works out. 

I weighed it out this time, and each cup of black beans is 1/4 pound.  Average price of beans right now is around $15 a 25 pound bag.  That is $.60 a pound, $.15 per cup.  A lid costs between 10 and 15 cents.  Per quart of beans then, cost averages 25 to 30 cents.  Last time I checked, that was way cheaper than any in the store.  And coupons don't seem to cover beans very often. 

Awesome!  Just thought I'd pass this along.  It's my favorite frugal/food storage/canning project!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dishwashers

These are my dishwashers.  My mechanical dishwasher is on the fritz--again!  It works sometimes.  There must be a short in the control board (the one we've replaced 4 times in the 2.2 years we've had this dishwasher) because the start button doesn't always work.  It usually works as soon as all the dishes are washed by hand.  Of course.

My lovely ladies slaving away
I am taking this opportunity to teach my girls how to wash the dishes by hand.  A skill everyone should know.  They were super eager to learn, so I took advantage of this (relatively) rare occasion.  They take turns rinsing and drying.  I wash and put away.  It actually goes pretty fast.  We can do 2 meals worth of dishes in 30 minutes.  Not bad, I say!

Zenna asked if she could help, so I said "grab a towel and join in!"  Then she hesitated.  "Actually, I have other things I need to play."  As soon as the dishes were all finished and put away, Zenna showed up.  "Look!  WE did it!  WE washed the dishes!"  Ahem.  I don't think so chick...  

When we finished Abigail said, "You know mom, it's better when we have a dishwasher because then it doesn't take us ALL DAY to was the dishes.  We have time to play when we use a dishwasher."  I reminded her that now that we are done, she has all day to play (like 11 hours or so).  Too funny.

The culmination of dish training came last night when I had finished making cookie dough.  I put the dough in the fridge, and Abigail came and looked into the sink at my cookie dishes.  "MOM!  We JUST washed those!"  I could suddenly hear some empathy with the plight of my life.  (Insert Cruel Cackle) I LOVE IT!!!