I’ve been trying to limit my time online and get more sleep so I haven’t been posting much recently. So I’ll do a miscellaneous ’roundup’ to kind of catch you up on the general goings on.
Yesterday was my birthday, and my family surprised me with special desserts and a special vegetable plate that spelled out Mommy – it was really creative and nice looking! Through the course of the day they ‘Happy Birthday’ to me three times – and each time took a while since they did the whole version (‘how old are you now? Not 1, not 2…..) Dh had everyone think in advance of something nice to say about what they appreciated about me – this is something I usually do with the kids on the spot when we have family birthday parties, and at the last party dh suggested that it might be easier for the kids to come up with something meaningful if given some time to think about it beforehand. Getting a little older, and hopefully a little better….
The last birthday party was the one we made a couple of weeks ago for dd15 (almost 16). Even though she’s in Israel until June, we still wanted to celebrate her birthday. Her birthday is actually after mine but we had her party early so we could video it; she’ll hopefully receive the recording in time to watch it on her computer on her birthday (at the end of the month). We didn’t bother with a special dinner but did make her a special ice cream cake and everyone sang while it was brought in for her and placed in front of her (the camera screen :)). Unfortunately the battery went out before we could record everyone saying something they appreciated about her, so I wrote it down and will send it to her with the disc and some family pictures to help her remember what we look like. The mother of one of her classmates is going to visit for Chanuka and was able to take a small package for her, so we were able to send her a birthday present that she’ll get about the time of her birthday.
Since the food situation isn’t really great at her school, she requested that we make her some dehydrated food. (She asked me if it were possible for me to can biscuits for her – had to tell her no to that idea!) It seems the standard fare served is lots of carbs and not many healthy fats, so the girls never feel full. But they do have access to hot water. I made a large pot (10 quarts) of split pea soup, a pot of meat chili, and chicken lentil stew. I also made her a pot of brown rice. I dehydrated everything (to do this I made my dehydrator fleishig) – it’s always amazing to see how compact this becomes. The split pea soup probably came out to about six cups or less – we blended the dehydrated split pea soup so that it was totally powdered; it should rehydrate easily when she adds hot water, and I hope the chili and chicken dish rehydrate well even though they weren’t blended into powder.
I also sent her some candied ginger (good for nausea, and yummy, too!) and some chia seeds. Chia seeds expand to several times their size when mixed with a liquid and left to sit for about ten minutes. I told her she could add 2 – 3 tablespoons to milk and add a little xylitol (she took some along with her after reading a comment someone left here that it was a good lice preventative :), and she told me all her friends like it, too!) and after letting it sit for about ten minutes, it will be like pudding and should be a reasonably filling breakfast. I had to keep everything under 5 lb so I could only send a small part of what I made (two cups of each of the stews, and no rice), but at the very least she’ll know we thought of her and feel loved – and really, that’s the most important thing.
I thought it was particularly ironic that the same week that dd15 told me how much she missed our food, dd14 and ds11 told me that they would appreciate if we could make some adaptations to what we eat that will make our meals more appreciated by them. That’s a nice way of saying they politely complained. I asked them what they would like to change and how those changes could be implemented. The main suggestion that I agreed to was to spend less energy on lunch and dinner, keeping them as simple as possible. That way, the saved energy could be spent on dinner preparations, so that meal would feel more special to them. I told them I’m happy to make whatever they want but they have to let me know what that is, and the meals have to meet my idea of decent nutrition. The changes haven’t been major (if we add a large fresh salad to our regular dinner it makes them very happy) but they’ve been pleased with it.
On the menu planning front, I’ve shifted to simpler meal plans and haven’t been sharing since I’m making less variety than have in the past, so I didn’t want to bore you. I’ll try to post about the general guidelines of what we’re doing sometimes soon in a different post, though. Dd14 has asked that her morning chore be making breakfast, so I give her free reign and she likes having the freedom to do what she wants. She doesn’t always stick with my guidelines but that’s okay.
Despite being hungry, dd15 is doing great and having a wonderful time. She fortunately has a blog that we all read for regular updates of what is going on at school. We miss her a lot and I’m appreciative that Skype allows us to see her and for her to see us, particularly the littles, who are growing so fast. They wouldn’t be able to get much of a sense of connection via the phone but seeing her face appear on the computer screen in front of her definitely helps them feel more connected to her. Ds4 regularly tells me how much he misses her.
Ds17 is also doing great and will be coming home for a visit in three weeks. I was hoping we’d have more time with him but it looks like a week is all the time they’ll be off. Last night my mom asked about them coming for Friday night dinner that week, but I told her that we’re not having anyone over while he’s here. I would have been happy to have her when it was just her, but now that she’s remarried, it’s different. For starters, our family enjoys singing together and we can’t do that when guests are here.
On the homeschooling front, things have been very busy. The kids are all busy with lots of good things, but I’m kind of ambivalent about it all – it’s becoming a big effort to carve out time when everyone is home to relax together. I don’t think I’m going to change the schedule now, as much as I would love to tell everyone that they have to drop all of their out of the house activities! They’re of enough value that I’ll bear the discomfort of feeling too busy. But next year I’ll definitely be thinking about all of this before making similar commitments. For those of you with younger children, enjoy this peaceful time!