The kids headed back to school this week so our Big Family Food and Fun needed to be extra nourishing (and easy) as we settled into a new routine. Here’s what we ate all week…
Big Family Food and Fun August 13-19, 2023
Sunday was our anniversary so Matt and I worked it out with Asa, Eva, Elias, and Malachi to stay with all the kids so that we could have a few hours to ourselves. It had been way too long since we’d been able to go out on a date!
Before we headed out, we warmed up leftovers for all of us to eat for lunch after church.
Then I threw two big packs of hotdogs into the crock pot to heat up during the afternoon so that all anyone would have to do at dinner time was to fix plates. This was a GREAT IDEA except that apparently I was a bit too eager to head out the door and forgot one very important step.
Elias sent me this photo when they discovered an unplugged crock pot at dinner time. Ooooooops. Sorry guys.
It was just hotdogs, so they just transferred them to a pot to heat them and dinner was saved.
Meanwhile, Matt and I had discovered a really cool park and had spent a few hours walking its trails and having actual uninterrupted conversations – woot! We decided we MUST bring the family back to this park because it was perfect for all ages (playground, disc golf, biking trails, basketball, and on and on!)
At dinnertime, Matt wasn’t super hungry – and I was hungry but can’t eat a large portion – so we split a burger and fries at Five Guys. Happy Anniversary to us!
Monday morning was Brayden and Kiya’s first day of school so I made them scrambled eggs with spinach to get them off to a good start.
Here’s to fourth grade and second grade!
That morning after dropping off those two, while wrangling the littlest five, we met for two hours with teams of preschool classroom teachers, special ed teachers, and educational specialists working through IEPs our two of our kids. It was long and intense, but necessary.
Afterward, I made five boxes of mac and cheese so that we could enjoy it for lunch and then have leftovers to pack in school lunches. Remember my trick? I stir the littlest kids’ mac and cheese into bowls of frozen peas so that it cools off their noodles and gives them an automatic veggie too.
Brayden and Kiya had an early-out that day so after hearing all about their first day of school we laid them down for an hour of rest time in an effort to keep them from becoming overtired as they transitioned to a new school routine.
That evening we met up with Asa/Eva and Justus/Kelsey at the park that Matt and I had discovered the day before. I baked two bags of chicken strips before heading out and packed up a variety of dips to enjoy with them. I also packed several bags of salad that we made at the park like this. I LOVE this trick.
And I packed buns, clementines, strawberries, a variety of drinks, and Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars.
This ended up being such a fun meal!!! Some of us ate chicken with dips like regular chicken strips. Some of us used the buns to make chicken sandwiches. Some of us chopped the chicken into our salad. Everyone had fun making their plate in whatever way sounded good. If you haven’t tried this make-a-salad-at-a-picnic trick, do it. It’s effortless and fun!
It’s almost impossible to get everyone in one picture but here’s 11 of our 15. :)
The best part of the evening was that we were able to let our 3, 4, 7, and 9 year-olds ride their bikes on one of the trails that was a simple loop around the playground. THEY LOVED THIS SO MUCH and their smiles were huge the entire time. Meanwhile, we put the littlest three babes into the strollers for a walk on the trails. The weather was perfect and the night was magical. We praise God for moments like these.
For breakfast Tuesday morning I made a big pot of Warm Vanilla Soother. I hadn’t made this since last winter so it was a fun treat for the kids and filled their bellies well before school.
I threw some ham into a skillet to warm up to go with it.
Meanwhile, since we didn’t have to leave for school until a little after 8:30, I mixed up these “Hidden Spinach” Cupcakes to bake while the kids ate.
Then I blended up these smoothies for Matt and me. (I do this every other day forever and ever amen, but I don’t always take pictures to show you because I don’t want to bore you with my boring smoothie of boredom. I do actually think it tastes good and it helps keep us healthy so…) :)
Matt and Elias headed to York to work on our properties that day so Malachi and I loaded the kids into strollers and walked the kids to school.
Everyone was happy to play outside for a while when we got home.
Then we set out bananas and a random selection of muffins and breads leftover from last week for them to enjoy for a breakfast picnic in our backyard.
Midway through the morning the kids were “all starting to eat each other” which is my way of saying that everyone was getting grumpy and no one was having fun anymore. This happens every day around 10:30am. So we gathered picnic food, loaded everyone up, and headed to a park nearby to play in the sand.
Keith made “the biggest pile ever” in the sand with his excavator.
Malachi pushed his sisters (<— a precious phrase I’m still not used to) on the swings and I hung out with BabyBoy#11.
We made our way to a picnic table, and of course, by the time we got all five kids over there, Keith and Anna had to go pee. And of course, the bathrooms were all the way on the other side of the park, ha. Malachi started handing out lunch while I took kids to go potty. (Dare I mention that the reason Anna is wearing a jacket in the heat is because when we got to the park and took her jacket off so she could play, we realized she’d never put a shirt on that morning. Oy. This is better than the time we were at the zoo play-place and realized she had failed to put on undies. Good grief.)
Anyhoo, lunch was leftover hotdogs I’d warmed up before we left plus applesauce pouches, yogurt, juice, and a spinach cupcake from the batch I’d baked that morning.
For dinner that night I mixed up a big bowl of Tuna Salad for sandwiches. I had found fresh pineapple on sale, and I knew Brayden would be so excited about it! I finally managed to get them cut up that night. :)
I put fruit in bowls for the kids then took a tray of sandwiches outside for them to eat while they played. (We were watching for Daddy and Elias to get home after working in York all day.)
Since it had just been Malachi and me at home all day with the kids, I got very behind on everything. Here’s what the kitchen looked like at bedtime, and I was too tired to do anything about it.
I did take the time to baggie up the Cupcakes I’d made earlier so that I could freeze them for school lunches. Then I went to bed. :)
I woke up refreshed on Wednesday and made Eggs in a Nest for the kids (in my dirty kitchen).
We got the big kids off to school then Matt and I loaded the littlest five into the van to meet Mandy, someone from our Heavenly Homemakers community. She was kind enough to hand down some baby items we needed for BabyBoy#11. It was great to meet you, Mandy and we appreciate your gifts so much!
Since we were on the north side of town, we headed to Menards to get some things Matt needed for our house. Three kids in one cart, two kids in another, here we go…
Ah, but wait. We got inside and found these amazing carts. PERFECTION!!! We unloaded and reloaded kids into these —>
Menards wins the prize for having these for the kids!
After Menards, we loaded back up and headed to Sam’s. Matt stayed in the van and handed out snacks to the kids while I hurried through the store to get what we needed. Total grocery spending so far in August: $1150. Yep, I’ll be going over budget this month. No worries. We need to eat and we’ve shared food with lots of guests. Plus I went under budget for several months in a row before we moved so I guess I’m just making up for it now. :)
Lunch was leftovers that day. Then I finally had a few minutes to get some dishes done!!!
After lunch, I loaded up a couple of the kids for a doctor appointment while Matt put the littlest kids down for a nap. Once I got home, I made an early dinner of burgers on our smoker. We ate then headed to the zoo to ride the train.
It was a lovely evening and someone was sweet enough to take a picture of all of us on the train car.
We met back up with Daddy and BabyBoy#11 then headed to see the birds in the Aviary. It’s not always open so it was a treat to be able to walk through! Then we found some benches to sit and eat bags of popcorn Matt had made for everyone along with cold juice pouches I’d packed. We headed home in time to get to bed for the night!
The next morning I warmed up the Hashbrown and Egg Nests I had made last week and frozen for an easy breakfast. We ate them with yogurt and granola.
As always, I was feeling like I needed to get ahead on food in some way and I had in mind to bake muffins. But it got hot early in the day so I made two no-bake breakfast/snack foods instead. BabyBoy#11 was napping and Matt had the four other littlest outside so I was able to make Peanut Butter Honey Rice Krispie Bars and No-Bake Cookie Cups. <—They turned out weird because of all things, I ran out of coconut oil. But they were still good.
Again, trying to get ahead so that I’m not constantly scrambling, while the kids ate an early lunch I worked on dinner prep. Keith saw me peeling carrots and wanted a turn. I couldn’t turn him down. (So much for using his carrot for dinner though. He finished peeling it then promptly ate the entire thing.) :)
We threw all the kids into the tub to get cleaned up for Keith and Anna’s first day of pre-school!
And then there were only three babies at home for the rest of the afternoon, whoa!!!!
Before their naps, I got dinner finished up so that I could try to work all afternoon. I smoked chicken legs and put them into a crock pot to stay warm. I also washed potatoes and put them into the crock pot for Mashed Potatoes. I baked a big pan of brownies for a special treat to celebrate everyone’s big day (Keith and Anna’s first day; Brayden and Kiya’s first full day of school). When the babies went down for a nap, I got myself a cup of coffee and a brownie and enjoyed the bit of silence. :)
When Brayden and Kiya got home, we sat at the table to do their homework and watch for Keith and Anna’s bus. They hopped off the bus with excitement. Then Anna, who is used to an afternoon nap, decided that she had held herself up as long as she possibly could. Thank you and goodnight.
I’m so glad I planned the evening the way I had. Dinner was almost ready from earlier prep, and kids were tired and hungry. I had stir-fried the already-prepped veggies and mashed the potatoes that were in the crock pot. We enjoyed a fantastic meal with brownies and ice cream to top it off before heading in for an early bedtime.
Is it Friday yet?
Friday morning for breakfast we enjoyed the Peanut Butter Honey Rice Krispie Bars and No-Bake Cookie Cups I had made the day before. Lunch was leftovers again before sending Keith and Anna onto the bus for Day 2 of Pre-School. We had big plans to do nothing that night after our full week of transitioning back into a school routine. This included “take advantage of the 50% off pizza deal” plus “use the rest of the gift card” we’d been given so just like that, I had the night off. :)
Strangely enough, knowing that I didn’t have to worry about dinner prep made me want to take advantage of the extra time I’d just been given. With school starting and needing to keep up with several new schedules, getting ahead a little bit sounded marvelous to me.
So I took advantage of the night off from cooking to do a little bit of cooking. (It all made sense to me, and now I feel better.)
I made a batch of these Orange Muffins (I left out the poppyseeds because while they are fun, what exactly is their purpose??)
I thawed some cooked meat our friend Phyllis had gifted us with when she came to visit last week and used it to make some meals for next week. It was SO NICE to simply stir the prepped meat into casseroles! I made an extra large Pork and Hashbrown Casserole to bake for an upcoming Sunday Lunch. (I used this recipe, subbing cooked pork for the ham.)
I then stirred some of the cooked chicken she gave us into a container with black beans, corn, Rotel, cheese, and sour cream. I’ll bake this and we’ll enjoy it as a chip dip!
It felt so good to have these extra dishes completed and put into the fridge or freezer for upcoming meals! Then Elias arrived home with our pizzas. The kids (and their parents) were so excited about this treat! We grabbed paper plates and enjoyed our pizza outside in the shade.
Then Matt set up a movie in the living room so everyone could have fun but REST in the evening after our full week. Notice how well the toddlers “rest” while watching a movie…
Meanwhile, I took advantage of everyone being in the living room with Daddy (even BabyBoy#11 was hanging out and playing on his mat for a good long while) and I got to the bottom of some laundry baskets!! Woot! This is a very big deal and it rarely happens.
Saturday morning, we relaxed and ate “whatever the kids wanted” which was their choice of Peanut Butter Honey Rice Krispie Bars, No-Bake Cookie Cups, and Orange Muffins (<— I’d frozen half of what I’d baked for another time). Plus they chose a fruit to go with their breakfast – bananas and blueberries.
We did some cleaning that morning – Brayden and Kiya are getting pretty good at sweeping effectively. And the dining room needed a sweep and a mop very badly! Mid-morning, we loaded up and went to the Farmer’s Market to walk around. We got some sweet corn and a cantaloupe, but that’s all because the heat was making the kids grumpy. We stopped to feed BabyBoy#11 and Matt handed out animal crackers to the preschoolers and toddlers before we headed back to our van.
Brayden, Kiya, and Keith found some benches to play on while the baby ate. They can start a game of make-believe on the spot!
By the time we got home it was already super hot, so I made these smoothies to cool everyone off and to load them up with spinach. :) Everyone guzzled their smoothie down and some even asked for seconds. It was a perfect choice for this hot day.
Meanwhile I warmed up some shredded pork Phyllis had provided (some of the meat I referred to earlier in this post), poured barbecue sauce on top, then turned them into Barbecue Pork Melts in our air fryer. So delicious!
After naps and rest time, that evening we loaded up and went to cool off at our favorite Splash Park. I packed a cold dinner for us to eat there between splashes. We ate crackers, cheese, turkey and ham roll-ups, a bag of picnic salad, applesauce, and juice.
It was miserably hot that evening and all of the available picnic tables were in direct sun, so no one ate much. The cold water of the splash pads was a big hit though, so for the kids’ sake we were glad we’d made the trek out there.
We made our way home and got all the kids through a shower before bedtime. This upcoming week is supposed to be very hot so Matt and I are going to have to get creative in keeping everyone busy without letting us all melt. Stay tuned!