Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wow what a December - Dad's perspective!

So, what an eventful December thus far and holiday season since Thanksgiving!  We have experienced since then:

- 2 rounds of sickness including Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday weeks/weekends ranging from stomach bugs to RSV and our first (and probably not last!) ER visit leading to an overnight hospital stay.  Jeremiah and Rachel both have infections with RSV ( respiratory synctial virus) and both are recovering well thanks to the prayers from our church community and just the grace of Jesus because His grace is unlimited and doesn't run dry!  Below is a snapshot of Jeremiah on some oxygen with the tubes and a quick video of us waiting to be moved into an overnight room when we were in the ER.

- ran my second 50km (31 mile) trail race on much more friendly and runnable terrain at Huntsville State Park, although colder than than I ever ran a race in the NY area ironically!  Not why we moved to Texas but the 32 degree (Farenheit that is) weather made it easier to run!  Completed in 6hr 32 min, a tortoise pace of 12:37 minutes/mile, but it was an hour faster than running up at Bear Mountain, NY.

- moved a whole bunch of plants from pots/portable containers into the ground, for real!  Our first real attempt at growing anything made up of tomato plants, pepper plants and a lone sweet potato that we had left over and unused!

- washed our cars for the second time in about a year, Joshua and Hannah did a great job with the outsides of the cars!

- continued to experience crazy daily life with 5 little kids 6 and under and the craziness of my job in research.

So this year has been pretty eventful, counting from about October last year:

- said goodbye to 7 years of living in the NY area and good bye to lush green forests and one of my favorite outdoors spots, Bear Mountain, NY

- moved cross country with 4 little kids under the age of 5 in 2 cars towing a u-haul trailer in our minivan that doesn't have working heat.  Those were some cold nights going through Tennessee and Georgia!

- moved into a house!  Renting mind you, but this was a huge shift just to experience a laundry and parking all within 20 feet of each other and not having to walk more than 20 seconds to each as opposed to our quarter mile uphill trek to our cars in NY and our 15-20 min laundry expeditions with our double stroller.

- started first really serious year of homeschooling, Becca has done an amazing job since she does most of it during the days when I'm at work.  The kids have come a long way and within weeks were reading and their handwriting has improved heaps in terms of core basic skills!   Joshua has been digesting the history encyclopedia, Hannah is helping to do pre-school with Abby and when I am home in the evenings, we are making our way through the Periodic Table (brings back memories of my own school) and John Chapter 1.  Up to Potassium, 92 more elements to go and about half way through John 1!  It's good for Becca and I to be committing this stuff to memory, especially the Word, because our brains have all but atrophied since we finished high school and college!

- started a new job here in translational research, interesting and stressfull all at the same time.  The Lord uses it along with marriage and parenting as part of our sanctification process to make us more and more like Jesus Christ!

- started drinking gallons of coffee!  Yes I am a dad of young children and yes I need the caffeine to stay awake!

- started drinking a lot more Gatorade and had my first experience (very very good experience) with Gu Energy Gels for all you endurance sport nutrition fans.

- delivered Rachel unassisted, at least in person, Jesus was with us and we had the midwives on the phone as they were racing to get here.

- my brain is fried right now but there's of course the day to day fun, so I'll leave you with some pictures and videos of one of our trips to the local playground:

God Bless!

Claude for the Chews

Sunday, December 29, 2013

On the Mend

Thanks to everyone who was praying!  Jeremiah spent the night in the hospital.  He was on oxygen for the night and sent home with some breathing treatments.  We are glad to have him and Claude back home!

Jeremiah is doing MUCH better!  We haven't seen him smile, heard him talk, or watched him walk around on his own since earlier this week.  This afternoon he mustered enough energy to throw a little tantrum.  We figured he must be on the mend after seeing that.  ;)

Here he is after eating a big lunch and seeing his Christmas presents for the first time.  Such a difference!  Praise the Lord!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Updated: Sick Again

As a parent I have often worried that when the children are sick I may somehow miss the signs and fail to take them to the doctor when they really should go.  So far it's been obvious and only one time was anyone sick enough that they required medical attention.

But this week Jeremiah and Rachel have been sick and we haven't known whether or not they needed to see the pediatrician.  :(  Along with Abby, they've had flu-like symptoms and are generally under the weather.  Abby has gotten over it, but these little guys are struggling - coughing, stuffy/runny nose, labored breathing, lethargic, lack of appetite, etc.  Jeremiah can hardly keep his eyes open.  :(

Joshua said today, "Jeremiah is usually the happiest one here.  I really miss his little smiley face."  And we all agreed that life with the Crew is not the same without this jolly little guy running around.  Claude and I have been getting approximately 100 times the cuddles, though, since Jeremiah does not want to be put down except to sleep in his bed.

We have been waiting out this sickness since they were just coming down with it on Tuesday.  So far there is no improvement.  So, this morning, after a fair amount of deliberation, Claude and I made the call to take Jeremiah and Rachel to the pediatrician.

We decided right in time, too, because in the entire network of clinics that we use there were only two pediatric appointments left for today.  We are talking about a clinic spread across the Houston area that has multiple locations each with several physicians on staff.  It seems that we are not the only crew with sick kids!

Amazingly, the appointments were at the location we usually visit.  Praise the Lord!

Hopefully we will have some answers later today so that these little ones can get back to their energetic selves.  And in the mean time I'll enjoy these cuddle bugs.  I know that once they are healthy I'll get two hugs like this a day and then Jereiah will be off exploring the world with his big brother and sisters.  Rachel, at least, still has several more months of nursing (and immobility) but soon enough she will be up and about, too.

They really do grow up fast!

Updated to Add:  The diagnosis is RSV for Rachel.  No treatment necessary at the moment.  Jeremiah, on the other hand, has pneumonia most likely caused by RSV.  Since we were the last people in the clinic this afternoon, the doctor sent us to Texas Children's ER for observation.  So we did a quick car seat swap and Claude took Jeremiah to the hospital.  I have to say, it's hard not going with them.  However, the pediatric clinic was enough of a wait for the other kids.  They're much happier playing at home.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Grocery Shopping with the Crew

Recently we have been trying our hand (again) with once a month grocery shopping. Our first attempt was while we lived in a one bedroom apartment in the New York City area.  It was a bit too much for us at that time.  After reading about how a few other families execute this type of grocery shopping I talked to Claude and we decided to give it another try.  We are working on modifying it to fit our family.

What do I like about once a month shopping?

Well, ideally it means that we only step into a grocery store a dozen times a year.  This helps us stay on budget and also saves time.  It also requires that we have a plan to make sure all the mouths are fed and our food is not put to waste.  We have been making weekly menus for the past year.  It works, but I was spending a lot of time over the course of a few weeks.  And we were spending more on groceries than I wanted to.

NOTE: Since our post about the cost of feeding our family, we have adjusted our food budget to $600 monthly.  With once a month shopping this is working well.  It was not working well when we were going to the grocery store a couple of times a week.

There are a million and one resources on the web for once a month shopping.  I don't have the time now or a workable system to write about.  If you're curious, just turn to our good friend, Google, and you'll find a host of articles written by all sorts of people who really know what they are doing.  Some of them even have printable grocery lists and samples of their monthly menus.

This is about halfway through a trip to the wholesale club.  It took us 45 minutes in the store and our "train" as the kids called it, drew plenty of attention from other shoppers.  I pushed the stroller and pulled the cart while Joshua helped steer from behind the cart.  It worked out well enough that we'll do it again if we can't go with Claude next time.
The kids and I braved this month's big shopping trips since Claude had his 50K race on the weekend we planned to shop.  We divided it into two days.  One day we went to the wholesale club and the next day we tackled the regular grocery store.  All in all it was successful.  We even made it to and from the store without incident.  Well...kind of...

At least our issues didn't happen in the store.  But I did find myself frantically unloading a van full of kids and groceries while Jeremiah (who had diarrhea in his car seat on the way home) screamed from the bathroom, Abigail had a tantrum right in the front doorway, and Rachel wailed from the confines of her car seat.  Oh, yeah...I also had to clean a car seat cover in the midst of that.  Ugh...

So far the once a month shopping has proven to be a good fit for our family at this stage.  I was able to quickly put together a menu for the month.  I tried to see what was already in our freezer and pantry.  I also am trying to make foods that everyone likes so that we don't have unwanted leftovers hanging around.  No more Pinterest searches for what to make for dinner.  We're sticking with some tried and true favorites.

I've also instituted a little "Leftovers for Lunch" campaign.  So far, so good.  It's made lunch preparation quick and easy (something I need in the middle of our school days) and has enabled us to keep up with eating leftovers before they've sat around long enough that we wonder if they are okay to consume.

And just to set things straight...we do actually go to the store every week.  BUT the list is generally short and we are keeping our wholesale club shopping to just once a pay period.  Each week we buy fresh produce and restock milk as needed.

We also keep our eyes open for sales on meat.  When we find one, we stock up and then use what's on hand in our menu planning (something we've always done).  This weekend Claude found ground beef marked down to $1 per pound.  He got several packages that are now in our freezer.  And when the kids and I went on our big trip we found turkey (leftover from Thanksgiving) on sale for $0.27 per pound.  I estimate that we spent about $30 on meat for this month and much of next month.  Don't you just love it when you score a good deal like that?  :)

Will we do grocery shopping like this forever and ever?  I don't know.  My "I must find the one right and best way to do something and execute it perfectly for the duration of my days" type thinking wants to plan on this system for the rest of our lives.  But I'm learning that what works now may or may not work in the future.  Right now it's working and I'm looking forward to settling into a routine with once a month shopping.  We shall see how long it will work well for us.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Getting Kids Involved in Household Chores

I was asked once, after writing some posts about our schedule, where cleaning fits into the mix.  I was a little embarrassed to say that cleaning was not on the schedule because we didn't have a specific plan of keeping our house clean.

There are daily tasks that Claude and I perform to keep the household up.  Every evening we finish up the dishes and go over the floors after the kids finish their kitchen chores.  We wipe down the counter tops, take out the trash, make sure things are picked up around the house, and Claude faithfully cleans the toilets and any other bathroom surface that needs attention.

In this way we keep up with the basics.  But the truth was that since our third child, keeping up with vacuuming, mopping, dusting, and other chores just wasn't happening.  Life with three children ages 3, 2, and newborn was just too much to put weekly household chores into our schedule.  We did other cleaning on an as needed basis.  And let me tell you that it was certainly needed!

Fast forward a few years and we find ourselves in a new and different life stage.

One day, more out of desperation than anything, I put a vacuum into the hands of Joshua and Hannah.  I gave them a few basic instructions and then let them have some fun "cleaning" the front rooms.  To my surprise they not only enjoyed the work, but they also did a really good job cleaning the floors.

It was then that a new day dawned in our little family.  I knew that now I had some willing and able helpers to keep up with more than the basics.  So, we instituted a set of Friday morning chores.  When we finish our work, we head to the park with our local home school group - the perfect motivation to get all of us through our chores.

Now, I find that our carpets are vacuumed and our kitchen floor is mopped at least once a week.  Because Joshua and Hannah are able to help out with cleaning the floors, doing the laundry, cleaning the windows, taking out the trash, and changing bedding, we can keep up throughout the week even better.

I have purposely waited a few months before posting about this new cleaning system.  I wanted to be sure that it was actually working and that we were able to maintain our Friday chores over a period of time.  Now after about four months, it has become a regular part of our weekly schedule.  With a few exceptions (everyone being sick or pre/postnatal check ups with the midwife) we have been cleaning every Friday morning.

Can I just say that freshly vacuumed and mopped floors are amazing!  I wasn't able to keep up with it for a season.  That required a definite change in my expectations. But I'm glad to be back in a family stage where regular cleaning can actually happen.

Our usual jurisdictions are as follows:

Joshua, 6 years old:
-Boys' Room--change bedding, pick up toys, vacuum
-Front Bathroom--change trash, change towels
-Living Room--pick up toys, vacuum
-Laundry--wash, dry, and put away boys' room bedding

Hannah, 5 years old:
-Girls' Room--change bedding, pick up toys, vacuum
-Master Bathroom--change trash, change towels
-School Room--pick up toys and books, vacuum
-Laundry--wash, dry, and put away girls' room bedding

Abigail, 3 years old:
-Girls' Room--help Hannah change bedding, pick up toys
-Clean slider door
-Mommy's helper

Jeremiah, 1 year old:
-Help Abby clean slider door
-Mommy's helper

Mom, unidentified age :)
-Master Bedroom--pick up, change bedding
-Bathrooms--clean sinks, counters, mirrors, tubs, and toilets, mop
-Kitchen--clean sink, counter, and windowsill, sweep and mop
-Laundry--keep up with loads
-Oversee kids' chores

Sometimes we change it up a bit, like this week when Joshua and Hannah worked together to clean all of the bedrooms, the living room, and the school room.  I took care of the kitchen and bathrooms with some help from Abby and Jeremiah.  I was proud of the kids to see how they are starting to take responsibility for their assigned areas.

It may not be perfect or exactly how I would do things, but they are doing their best work, learning to work together, and are beginning to develop good attitudes about their chores.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Funnies: Bugs and Things

We saw this big guy on our back window this week.  He caused quite the excitement among the Crew.  Long after a photo op and some speculation as to what type of bug this was, the kids were still standing at the window watching him.

And, of course, they were reporting all that they saw.  This, of course, wasn't much since the bug was just sitting on the glass occasionally moving a leg or two but not really going anywhere.

After I left the room, though, I heard Joshua call out.

"The bug is depositing some waste on the window!"

The girls were just as excited as Joshua was.

Jeremiah let out a happy shriek.

Apparently a bug going potty on the window is fascinating when you're young and in love with nature documentaries.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Run, Run Daddy!

As some of you may have noticed from some of his posts, Claude is a bit of a runner.  Early on in our marriage he insisted that he disliked running very much and then after training with me for a 5K after our second child was born, he caught the running bug and he hasn't looked back since!

Now instead of 5Ks he's covering a distance of a mere 50Ks.  (For anyone who, like me, is metric system challenged, that's 31 miles).  And yes, that is just over the distance of a marathon.  Apparently these races are considered ultra-marathons and can reach distances of 100 miles or more.

Anyway...he's fixing to run (Did I really just type that?  I must be in the South!) a 50 mile race in a couple months.  As a warm-up he ran his second 50K race last Saturday.

The temperature was pretty cold (low 30's) and we don't have heat in our van.  So, the kids and I had accepted the fact that we wouldn't be able to go and meet Claude at the finish line.  But after he rushed out the door on Saturday morning I changed my mind and we prepared for a long and cold drive.  With sign in tow, we were looking forward to cheering him on as he finished the race.

Everyone bundled up for the drive.
But, life with five kiddos is pretty hectic and getting in and out of the car is usually a big ordeal.  Upon arrival at the state park we had to get everyone unbuckled, load up the stroller, put on heavier coats, and visit the restroom.  Just as we began walking to the start/finish line my phone rang.

It was Claude.  He was done.

Yes, we missed his finish.

But the trip was not completely in vain.  He did see our van as we drove near the parking area.  I thought it might have been him that I saw running in the woods. The jacket was familiar.  The pants were familiar.  But the gloves were just wrong.  Claude does not own white gloves.  At least he didn't until he was given a pair at the start of the race.

So, we unknowingly cheered him on in his last mile.

I'm not sure if he'll have time for it, but Claude may weigh in with his own post about the race.

The kids and I have decided that we will NOT miss the finish for his next race!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Family Hike

We've started what we hope will become a Chew Crew tradition.  Every Saturday morning we load up the van and head out for our weekly family hike.  Of course, Houston and the surrounding areas are flat.  We probably should call it family walk, but we don't and so we at least try to find trails that are gravel instead of paved.  That way we can at least pretend we're really hiking.

This past weekend we managed to make it around a 1 mile loop at a local park.  It was windy and a little chilly, but everyone made it with energy to spare.

It was one of those mornings when you forget how chaotic the days can be and you think to yourself, "Wow...this really couldn't get any better.  A small crew of kids and a happy little family.  And everyone is having fun at the same time.  We must be getting this large family thing down!"  Smile.  Pat on the back.

And then Abby fell into the creek.

And the older two kids screamed like the world was coming to an end.

And these two woke up with a start and a scream.

And we all loaded up the van - cold, grumpy, and one of us very wet.

Real life, folks.  That's real life right there.

We laugh.  We cry.  And sometimes we are wet, cold, and covered in algae.  But no matter how we fair, we make it through each day.

And then we wake up and do it all over again, being careful not to pat ourselves on the back.  Better to give credit where credit is due.  It is by God's grace alone that we make it through any day.  And by His grace that we can do it again and again.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Vacuums and Things

Claude reads a passage of scripture each night at dinner.  We are currently in the book of Zechariah, Chapter 5.  Apparently the kids have been listening but not too carefully.

Before picking up in Zechariah 5:5, he asked the kids what Zechariah had seen when we last read together.

Hannah exclaimed, "A flying squirrel!"

Which led to a short discussion about what was really flying. Mere semantics.

Also, Abby is sure that we went to the "Older Store" today.  She will not believe Joshua as he (rather impatiently) insists that it was the Dollar Store.  And since she can't read, his attempts to spell the word are in vain.

And I've had my senior moment for the week.

The kids have been spending every spare moment in the backyard.  I'm not sure what they do.  I hear them barking and howling which, as I am always assured by their ringleader, is their way of giving signals to each other.  They are not trying to scare away the neighbor's dogs.

I also see them sitting on balls looking intently at the back fence.  I'm guessing that since watching cats out the front window in the evening is such great entertainment seeing tiny glimpses of the neighbor's dogs through little slits in the back fence must be equally enthralling.

It being "winter" and all down here in Houston, our yard is full of leaves.  We haven't bothered to rake except when Joshua needs to get some energy out.  Then we let him go to town.  And I think the girls had fun making a pile and jumping sitting in it over the weekend.

So, back to my senior moment.

The kids play in the backyard.  Then right into the living room they track every last leaf, pebble, and stick from our backyard.  We could just pretend that we're living on the patio and then maybe it wouldn't be so bothersome.

Anywho...tonight I needed to vacuum.  Again.  Things were going pretty smoothly but I noticed that some leaves were blowing around the carpet.  A little odd, but okay.

Then it dawned on me.

The vacuum is bagless.

But it's not this bagless.

It really does work better when fully assembled.

And then I tried to put the digital camera into the computer's DVD drive.  It made me think of my Grandma Phillips.  She gave the best hugs, made the best cup of tea, and had a way of causing you to feel special.  She was also electronically challenged.  I'm following in her footsteps.  Hopefully my hugging, tea making, and making others feel special skills will improve along with my growing technological impairment.

The Great Toy Purge of 2013

We had a bit of a crisis one evening last week.  One of our children is a bit of a pack rat.  Okay...so maybe more than a bit.  This kid collects all manner of trash and treasures to store in any container, bag, backpack, shelf, or corner that can be found.

If ever we are missing something we know where to go.  The problem is that we can never find what we're looking for until we deal with a mess like this...

And there are times when we have had enough and we insist on clearing out the entire room.

After a long talk one night, Claude and I decided that part of the problem is that this child has access to a lot of toys and other items.  Perhaps if there was less to gather less would be collected?  It was worth a try.

I've been wanting to clean out our toys for a while, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

So, after throwing away and giving away about half of the kids' toys here's what resulted.

Nearly all of our toys are in this part of the living room.
The boys' room now has beds, a tool bench, dress-up armor, Legos, individual keepsake bins, and clothing.

The girls' room has beds (yes, they are unmade...this is real life, folks!), a doll house and accessories, Legos, clothing, and individual keepsake bins.  Once Rachel moves in the empty wall will have a play yard.
This left some extra shelving and bins to clear out this:

Our school room shelves.

And this:

The reading corner minus half of the books that we once had there.
So that we could organize this:

The entryway closet now houses craft supplies, games, and other things we don't want the kids to have free access to.

And this:

No more folding the linens!  Now we can just toss linens into their labeled bins and be done.
Which gave some incentive to hang up these:

Now if we can just tackle this:

We'll be set!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Catching Up - Mom and Hope's Visit

We've been posting pretty infrequently around here recently.  I have all kinds of ideas for writing posts about the craziness of raising five littles but the craziness of raising five littles prevents me from sitting down at the computer long enough to get anything written.  It also keeps me from forming fully coherent thoughts.

But in an attempt to use this blog for one of its intended purposes - chronically our family life - I'm going to use the next couple of posts to catch up a bit on the life and times in the Chew Crew.

So, back to October/November...

Just a few days after Rachel's birth, my mom and one of my sisters came for a two week visit.  It was the first time we've had my sister Hope come for a visit, so the kids were super excited.  And since they'd only really seen her on Skype it was a really neat opportunity for them to get to know their aunt.

The kids spent quite a bit of time drawing with Hope.  I think they had a good time.

Mom pitched in with some housework and took on a couple of days of babysitting so we could go to post-partum appointments, to the see the pediatrician, and for Claude and I to have a date.  All in all it was a good visit, although I'm sure Mom and Hope were glad to get back to their quiet house.  ;)

While they were here, we visited George Ranch Historical Park.  I was skeptical that the cost was worthwhile, but I was pleasantly surprised.  They had a lot to offer in terms of history and the kids really enjoyed it.  The highlight was the cattle demonstration where we watched real cowboys show us how the look after their calves.  We also were able to see a Texas Longhorn take a walk around the arena.  I wouldn't want to get in the way of one of those guys!

It was, despite my misgivings, a great way to experience something pretty unique to Texas.  And now we have some cowboys running around our house with lassos made from scarves, trying to rope rocking horses and any toddler who might happen to wander in their path.  :)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

How to Calm a Crying Baby

This, ladies and gentlemen, is how a 3-year-old sooths her 2-month-old sister.

 Light-up balls and princess dolls do the trick every time.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Snapshots: Sunday Afternoon

Sundays around here are low-key and generally quiet.  We come home from church, heat up some leftovers or enjoy Claude's famous curry hot dogs and ramen noodles.  And then the kids take turns with some one on one time with Daddy.  The day comes to an end with a movie of the nature documentary sort and something quick and easy for dinner.

On a good day Sundays are restful and enjoyable.  At other times...well, we have five small children.  You can take a guess as to what the other days are like.  ;)

Today we...

 ...painted toenails...

...and fingernails...

 ...cuddled with the toddler crew...

 ...read out loud from the "Little House" books...

 ...and hung out.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The King of Fruits, tapping into my South East Asian Heritage

So check out this link from the NY Times, it's a little video article on Durian, regarding as the king of fruits by many South East Asian people, I don't tend to prefer it but I can appreciate my earthly heritage from afar!




Sunday, December 1, 2013

Life with the Crew: Leftovers, Loaves, and Living Room Dates

We started this blog with the main purpose of rambling about life with a crew of littles.  The days fly by and sometimes it's hard to remember the small things that go on around here.

Since Rachel was born the days have been even fuller and the time for rambling has pretty much ceased.  But I miss rambling, so I thought about getting back into doing it on a more regular basis.

We currently have a cold/flu making its way around the Crew.  So far everyone has it, including 5-week-old Rachel.  Claude and I just have a touch of it so far.  I'm hoping that'll last.

Yesterday we started working on our Thanksgiving leftovers.  We made soup stock from the turkey carcass and then made this soup out of it.  Yum!

And then we froze some of the leftover broth for another meal.

Here's an easy way to store liquids in the freezer.
Line a large pitcher with a freezer bag, fill it about halfway with broth, sauce, etc., get the air out, zip closed, and lay flat in the freezer.  Once it's frozen you can stack and store for several months.
I also had a brilliant idea to make some bread (something I'm trying to do regularly with varied success) so that we could have turkey sandwiches for lunch today.

So, I set to work after the kitchen was cleaned up last night and made two loaves of bread.  This is what I found in the cold oven this morning:

Oops...I think I was supposed to bake these last night!

After another attempt here is what we ended up using for lunch this afternoon:

These were perfect loaves, except that they were gigantic because I forgot that the recipe is for three loaves, not two.  Oh, well...

The sandwiches were fantastic!  Probably because the turkey breast was juicy and full of flavor.  This is definitely the most delicious turkey ever!  And at 27-cents a pound it couldn't have been better!

Other turkey leftovers are still TBD.  I'm thinking of tacos and/or enchiladas and maybe some "pulled turkey" sandwiches.

Also last night, while the loaves of bread were rising sinking, Claude and I enjoyed a late night living room date.  We lit a birthday candle, poured some sparkling cider into the goblets we used at our wedding, and played a rousing game of Big Two (which we found out is called "The Hannah Game" in Canada).

Truth be told, this was a great date.  And we got to enjoy it in the comfort of our pajamas!  :)

Hannah, being the big game player of the family, was excited when I shared with her the Canadian name for her new favorite game.  She is my game-playing match - the only other person in the family who likes to play them like I do.  And she wins pretty much all the time.  I like this because that means we can keep score (which I like to do and no one else really does) and she doesn't mind since she's usually winning.

Abby brushed her own hair in preparation for family hike today.

So, while the healthy patients went on Saturday family hike with Claude, Hannah and I played "The Hannah Game" and whipped up a batch of these:

Overall it has turned out to be a good day, despite its beginnings.  Nobody likes being woken up by the following, "Yuck!  Jeremiah threw up in his bed!"

Yep...just another day with the Chew Crew!

Chocolate Chip Cookies (The Time-Saving Way)
1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.

2. Grease a large baking tray with sides.  Ours says its dimensions are 17.25x11.5x1 inches).

3. With a mixer (hand or stand), cream together:
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
2/3 cup margarine or butter, softened 
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4. Add and mix well:
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
5. Add and mix until smooth:
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup oats, instant or rolled
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
6. Stir in, by hand:
1 12 oz. package of chocolate chips
7. Spread cookie dough onto prepared baking sheet.  You may need to use a wet spatula or wet hands to spread it out evenly since the dough will be very sticky.

8. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting and removing from pan.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving Snapshots

This year marked the first time that we have prepared a full Thanksgiving meal on our own.  Previously we have received gracious invitations to spend Thanksgiving with friends.  This meant that we only had one or two dishes to make and bring along.

We opted to make this a family affair and involve the entire Crew in the planning and preparation.  Out of a plastic knight's helmet we drew pieces of paper for "main dish", "vegetable", etc.  And each person chose and helped to cook a dish for their selected part of the meal.

Here's what our final menu looked like:

Appetizers (Dad's and Mom's request):
          Veggie Turkey Platter
          Cheese and Cracker Platter
           Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites

Main Meal
          Main Dish (Joshua): Roast Turkey
          Vegetable (Hannah): Green Bean Casserole
          Side Dish #1 (Claude): Potstickers
          Side Dish #2 (Becca): Homemade Sausage Dressing
          Bread (Abigail): Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

Dessert (Becca): Crock Pot Apple Crisp with Ice Cream

Despite most of the kids coming down with colds the day before, we all had a good time.  It was nice to stay in our comfy clothes all day and to take our time preparing food and eating.

And here are some photos from the day (and the day before if you count our giant bin 'o turkey in the fridge).  :)