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First Day of School 2014

We had our first day of (home)school on September 2, 2014. After a two week break due to the pukeys (so fun with such a big family!!) and getting our “old” house on the market, we’re back at it. I will try to update with a homeschool curriculum post soon, but for now, here’s a pic of my students for this year – our first year on the front steps of our new house. Sniff. Bittersweet!

From L-R: Silas (2), Ellery (9 - 4th grade), Callan (4 - preK), Maya (11 - 6th grade), Lyra (six weeks!), Asher (6 - 1st grade)

From L-R: Silas (2), Ellery (9 – 4th grade), Callan (4 – preK), Maya (11 – 6th grade), Lyra (six weeks!), Asher (6 – 1st grade)

Lyra Lucia

We had a baby! Lyra Luca was born at home on July 17, 2014 at 12:34 p.m. (coolest time: 1-2-3-4, get it?). She was 7 lbs. 2 oz., 20″ long, and was born in just over two hours with one push. We moved into our new house just three days before she was born and are still recovering.🙂 Our old split entry 1975 farmhouse has been completely renovated and is on the market – stay tuned for a post on that!

Lyra is precious, growing fast, and completely adored around here. Thanks be to God for His wonderful gifts! (Follow me on Instagram if you’d like more updates than what you’re getting on the blog lately.🙂















Blender Batter Gluten / Dairy Free Dutch Baby (a.k.a. German Oven Pancake)

(When you have free-range chickens AND snap a pic at sunset, your pancake looks super yellow!)

Whew. How’s that for a title?!

We’ve been making and enjoying Dutch Babies for a long time around here. It started with my husband and I sharing the standard 3 egg version, baked in a cast iron skillet, with our lone toddler Maya. Delish. Nowadays, I make (are you ready for this?) the equivalent of 8 times that recipe for the seven of us. This is basically the recipe I use, only I use 1 tsp course kosher salt and start checking for doneness around 20 min. We usually use some form of whole grain flour. But not always…

Now, with me being gluten- and milk-free (I can still tolerate butter, cheese, yogurt), I have had to experiment with a version I can enjoy. And since I’m lazy and try to stick to whole grains, I also had to convert it to a blender batter (no pulling out the gluten-contaminated grain mill). Here’s the version I am enjoying now.

Gluten/Dairy Free Blender Batter Dutch Baby (a.k.a. German Oven Pancake)

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 TBSP coconut oil (or butter, if you tolerate it)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole oat groats
  • 1/4 cup whole dried corn
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk of choice
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or 1 tsp course kosher salt)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400. While oven is warming, place the 4 TBSP oil/butter (cut into 4-5 chunks) into a 9×13 pan and place it in the oven to melt.
  2. Put all the other ingredients into the blender and blend on high for 1-3 min or until grains are no longer chunky. (I use a Vitamix; other blenders may take longer.)
  3. When butter is melted, carefully remove from oven and pour batter in. Bake for 20-30 min, until puffed up and lightly browned.
  4. Enjoy with maple syrup, fruit preserves, or powdered sugar & lemon juice.

NOTES
* Obviously, you can make this with gluten and dairy while still enjoying the convenience of the blender. Just use about 3/4 cup of whole wheat grains (or experiment with barley, spelt, etc.) and 1 cup milk of your choice.
* I usually use unsweetened almond milk.
* I use our own farm fresh eggs and make a double batch, which just fits in the Vitamix without overflowing. Since our eggs can vary in size, I often use 13 (which is more than double, of course).
* You can also skip the blender entirely and substitute 1 cup of your favorite gluten-free flour blend for the whole grains.
* Try other GF grains. Brown rice goes well with oats. Or try brown rice + millet.

Howdy, folks! How’ve you been? Now that it’s April, we’re finally enjoying a day or two of spring weather once in a while. (Of course, it’s supposed to snow tonight. Longest. Winter. Ever! But 50s and sunny on Sunday, so I can endure it.) I hope the weather is delightful wherever you are.

 

shmop

We have one Sh-Mop and 12 cotton terry mop heads. I love this thing. (affiliate link)

 

So I finally put together a bathroom cleaning checklist for my older girls, ages nine and 11. I think this list is appropriate for children ages seven and up, give or take. I thought I would share it here for two reasons: 1 – It may help you or be useful, and 2 – You can critique it and tell me what I forgot. Download it here:

 

Bathroom Cleaning Checklist

 

A few notes:

  • Our bathroom cleaner is either a natural cleaner purchased at the store on sale or a homemade one made with half vinegar, half water + essential oils of choice (I like tea tree, orange, and/or lemon for bathroom cleaning) in a spray bottle.
  • We do use standard sanitizing wipes from the store. There are more natural versions, such as those made by Seventh Generation, that we have also used, but they get expensive. This is one of the only places you will see us use disposable, conventional cleaning products. Viruses and bathroom germs make me a little crazy.

    (affiliate link)

    Seventh Generation Natural Sanitizing Wipes (affiliate link)

  • We don’t make or buy a special window/mirror cleaner because a microfiber cloth works great. I have friends that use Norwex (also microfiber) cloths, too, and they like them. I just use the ones I already have. Dry microfiber is great for removing streaks and cloudiness.
  • Lest you think I only change my hand towel once a week, allow me to reassure you: I change it once every 1-2 days, whenever I’m in there and thinking about it. With five children and only one main bathroom, it gets gross quickly, so I just change it myself.
  • Why don’t the kids scrub the toilet and mop the floors? Good question. They are capable and those items could easily be incorporated into the kid list. But for our house, this works best. I like to mop the floors all at once myself or with family help, and it becomes a hassle to ask them to get out the Schmop and make a floor cleaning solution in the sink separately from when I do it. Just easier to fill the sink once a week myself and do all the hard floors at once (and our whole house is hard floors, by the way). As for the toilet, I’ve found that children often splash more germs out of the toilet than they actually clean, especially when they’re younger. Definitely something they should be trained to do, but again, I tend to clean the toilet several times a week myself when I’m thinking of it or noticing it. Takes me a minute or less. I think children of this age can easily be be taught to do these tasks, if that works better for your family.

If you find this checklist useful and would like more, or if you have critical feedback to leave, please comment. I wanna know how your kids are cleaning the bathrooms.

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1 – Make your favorite layer cake recipe. (I used the Special Occasion Chocolate Cake from the Trim Healthy Mama book.)

2 – Divide the batter evenly between a circle and a square pan of the same width/diameter.

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3 – Bake according to recipe instructions. Cool.

4 – Remove from pans, slice the circle in half, and assemble into a heart shape. Use toothpicks to anchor the pieces together, if necessary. If you need to, trim any ill-fitting pieces and eat them.🙂

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5 – Frost with your frosting of choice. (I used this one.)

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Enjoy!

A Summer Baby

Say hello to Baby Tomato, around 9.5 weeks gestation:

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I am currently 14 weeks pregnant and feeling less like death warmed over. But not much. Baby Tomato is due in July (tomato season, see?) and I’m looking forward to my first summer birth. Maybe an outside one? (Let’s not dwell on the HOT that is a summer pregnancy. Nope.) The girls are lobbying for a girl, and the boys want a boy, of course. We grown ups are praying for healthy and full term.

We are all doing well and finally using that lower level family room that we started working on last spring. It’s great!

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I am currently sipping tea and hiding under a blanket. There be sub-zero wind chills and blizzard-like conditions out there, yo. Stay warm!

Not Moving

Life is a roller coaster, is it not?

What we thought was a sure thing (moving to town behind the church where my husband is assistant pastor) turned out not to be. Thankfully, we are fairly good at rolling with the punches. We are at peace with our decision to walk away from the house. There was a huge lack of trust that developed after the inspection revealed some big misrepresentations in the real estate listing. We couldn’t get to a price that we all agreed with. And so we terminated our agreement.

We are truly grateful for the chance to step back and reflect. It allowed us to think, pray, ponder…and we realized the house was no longer worth it for us. God is good and we are fine. We look forward to finishing up the projects we have here at the country house and staying here as long as we can. When I see the kids wander our acreage, exploring and playing together, I know we will be just fine.

To close, a letter my husband wrote to the congregation this week:

Dear beloved friends:

If you have not heard me say it yet, our family is very grateful for the congregation’s agreement to sign the purchase agreement for us to get the yellow house through [church lending institution]. We are humbled and grateful. The extra work required of church staff, the prayers, and the special voters’ assembly touched us with your love and care in a very special way.

Unfortunately, I need to write you now to tell you that the deal is not going to go through. The inspections have been completed, some negotiations followed, and the result is that the agreement has been terminated.

Sometimes, the shortest path between two points is a zigzag, as the people of Israel discovered in their trek from Egypt to Sinai, and later to Canaan. The move to the yellow house seemed to be a clear path for us to live closer to the hub of church ministry, to have a better arrangement for family bedrooms and storage, and to reduce our monthly expenses. It turned out not to be the path we were to take, though I am confident that God will use the experience to help our family clarify our desires and goals for any future housing improvements or changes.

Thank you for your patience during this process. We never intended to draw the whole congregation into an experience of disappointment. We were excited about what we thought was going to happen, but God surely has better plans in mind.

You may be interested in learning more details of why we are not getting the home. Publicly, I will limit my comments to this: The inspections uncovered that the home would have required more work and expense than we initially expected and the listing initially indicated. We could not come to an agreement on a reduced price and we were not comfortable with the amount of work that would be needed.

Please continue to pray for our family’s wisdom in housing decisions; and please accept my personal apology for any confusion or disappointment this whole experience has caused.

In Christ and for the making of mighty messengers,

Pastor Jason

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