Being Sneaky in the Kitchen!

When the children were younger, they had limited tastes when it came to dinner. If it wasn’t fried, pasta, or pizza there would be exaggerated sighs of resignation as they moved their food about the plate in interesting but uneaten patterns. I recognized a declaration of war and began arming myself through the meals I cooked. Meatloaf, which for some reason they would eat now included finely ground carrots which were browned a bit with the also finely chopped onions. No complaints and no reality checks from the peanut gallery.

The seasoned tomato sauce for the pizza had steamed and pureed carrots and green beans in it. Blended with the tomato sauce, the opposing dinner forces never caught on. Initially, I had finely chopped and steamed carrots but a slightly larger bit of carrot caught the attention of one of the dinner-time police and I had to retreat and rethink strategy.

Spaghetti was the number-one favorite among my panel of judges. When I made a meaty tomato sauce, I would get a can of pinto bean, drain, rinse, and them puree them with some broth and add that to the sauce. The sauce would be creamy, meaty, and rapidly devoured by the family.

Have I shared these tips with my now older children? No, because, someday, they will have to deal with little versions of themselves and I think they should enjoy all the splendor of that period in their lives.

Did You Happen to See Where My Budget Went?

Budget, Children, and Uncooperative Husbands
by Barbara M. Barthelette

Budget has been a constant in our life as a one-income family. And even though we were offering up the ‘freedom’ of the outside workplace, God still saw fit to send us crosses particular to our station in life. I look back on those days with some nostalgia but am pretty sure I would rather not have to actually return to some of those mommy moments! Here is a particular memory on trying to maintain children and a budget!

We all have a sock basket of some sort. You know, the place we put the socks that come through the wash minus the mate they were made for! Our cross is that we will never match them all up, we will never get to the bottom of the sock basket and we will often find socks we don’t remember ever inviting into our homes. The size of the cross depends on the size of your sock basket!

Cooking can be a cross when it is days before payday and you have to be creative, not only in what you make but what you tell the children it is so they will eat it! That is why lids were invented for pots so family can’t come in and get preconceived notions about dinner.

Coupons for grocery shopping and special sales stretch the budget but can be a cross for the family. “Why do the fish still have their heads on?” They were on sale because they were cross-eyed. The store had to leave them on to make sure the customer knew this before buying. “How come you didn’t buy potato chips?” Goes back to the Irish potato famine. Still a shortage of potatoes. Check your history book.

Paper towels are a necessity in the kitchen. I usually end up with an empty roll and find ‘used’ paper towels all over the house. There were thirty paper towels, precisely separated and laid out on the floor from back door to bedroom. “We were pretending the floor was a deep river and the paper towels are stepping stones!” A sudden yell for help from the bathroom that there is a flood quickly tells me what they tried to use the rest of the paper towels for! They had used up the bathroom tissue to reenact The Mummy.

I keep trying to come up with time-saving, money-saving ideas to run my home happily yet frugally. I considered giving each person a sock basket of their own but quickly realized I would then probably have six or more baskets full of socks. I mean, what are the chances they would ever compare the contents of their respective sock collections?

I tried starting a rumor that potato chips were made from creamed zucchini, carrots and turnips but my gang figure that if it is fried, it can’t be all bad.

I tried assigning each their own roll of bathroom tissue. I thought I had a system figured out. I would keep written records and the stuff under lock and key. I would check out a roll to each person, initial and date the inside of the tube and make note of the distribution in my notebook. When they brought me their empty cardboard roll, I would check the first date, the date returned and give counseling on waste not, want not as needed. It didn’t get off the ground, My husband wouldn’t cooperate on this one. He said that if we weren’t a one-income family with mismatched socks and on a budget, he would take me on a long, long restful vacation.

Barbara’s Mommy Chronicles – Home Schooling is SO Easy . . . What Do You Do the Rest of the Day?

I home schooled all my children, three of them through high school. Although I understood the perks of giving them the real deal in learning, there were those days . . . As one child once said, “The best part of home schooling is getting to use my own bathroom.” See, I made and impact . . . in one category!

Every school year was a new beginning and we always anticipated great things being accomplished. Every year, there were many things I would have liked to hear as we began our studies but reality sets in around noon the first day of school at the kitchen table. I have the wished for thought and how it really went down.

1. Time for School! I thought we would take it easy but several of you little darlings sent me private notes begging to begin with math instead of art.

Reality translation: This is the third time I have called you to the school table. And you used up your art time when you crayoned in your new math workbooks.

2. Are you sure you wouldn’t like some fresh cookies and milk? It has been two hours since breakfast and you must be hungry. I promise we will still work on Geography, afterwards.

Reality translation: No, you cannot have something to eat. You should have thought about hunger when you refused to eat breakfast this morning. Yes, you have to finish Geography and no ad-libbing on the maps today. No undiscovered countries that only you know about.

3. I can’t believe how neatly you set up your insect collections for science. And to think I only assigned this term project yesterday and here you are, done already.

Reality translation: Smashed bugs don’t count for your bug collection even if you remember what it was before you squashed it. I don’t care if you weren’t the one who mashed the bug. You shouldn’t have put the bug in your sister’s bed to begin with.

4. How wonderfully you combined your poster paints to make a copy of one of the great masterpieces. And you didn’t get a drop of paint on the floor, table or mommy’s art book.

Reality translation: Look, it is a numbered dot-to-dot coloring page, What do you mean you don’t understand the instructions?

5. Sweet child of mine! No wonder you asked for an extra two hours of school, yesterday. You were busy composing this wonderful story for English class, double-spaced and typewritten, no less.

Reality translation: A three-page composition doesn’t count if written in crayon. It was supposed to be on what we did on our summer vacation. And, I did not spent it torturing you, but, don’t give up on the idea – there is always next year!

Jesus, Tender Shepherd, Hear Me

I was about to fall asleep the other night when a childhood memory came pouring into my mind about the night prayers I used to say with my mother before bed each night. I hadn’t thought about it in ages and, word for word, just about all the words were in my mind. Peaceful, happy memory!

Jesus, Tender Shepherd, Hear Me

Jesus, tender Shepherd, hear me;
Bless Thy little lamb tonight;
Through the darkness be Thou near me;
Watch my sleep till morning light.

All this day Thy hand has led me,
And I thank Thee for Thy care;
Thou hast clothed me, warmed and fed me,
Listen to my evening prayer.

Let my sins be all forgiven;
Bless the friends I love so well;
Take me, when I die, to Heaven,
Happy there with Thee to dwell.

Mary L. Duncan (1814-1840)