Here’s our Food and Fun: January 21-27, 2024 post!
Big Family Food and Fun: January 21-27, 2024
Because of the extremely cold temps last week, our church building had a pipe burst and a lot of water damage. :( We are unable to use our building for a while now, so our ministry staff put together a worship service that we could stream online, and our church leaders organized families to meet together in people’s homes.
We were happy to open our home to whoever wanted to join us, so in preparation to host Sunday morning, I set out Bran Muffins I’d baked that morning, plus some Banana Muffins that were in our freezer.
I also made a pot of coffee and got out creamers and mugs.
We were thankful for the friends who gathered in our living room for worship that morning.
Our Kid’s Minister had organized a “Picnic with Pals” event for that day also. Since we couldn’t stay after church at our building to eat as originally planned, we all met at the Mall Food Court. The kids had helped me pack a picnic the day before. We ate cheese, turkey, crackers, pistachios, applesauce, juice, and cookie bites.
After we ate, several of us walked over to the Mall’s play area. It was so fun to burn off energy after so many days of being cooped up in the house. But the best part was being with friends. We are so thankful for the connections we are making here.
We watched a show when we got home so we could have some down time. Then for dinner I made a big Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole, using the leftover burgers I’d made last week. I topped it with leftover French Fried Onions I had in the pantry from Thanksgiving. This made the casserole so good! Also, not all of our kids like bacon so I left that on the side for people to stir in as desired.
After dinner that evening, I got Brayden and Kiya involved in scrubbing potatoes for our next day’s big meal. They are so capable of being big helpers, I just have to be intentional about involving them. They love it!
Monday morning we ate Bran Muffins that I cut in half, buttered, and warmed in the air fryer. They are so good this way! I also made several sheet pans of bacon and got out a container of yogurt to finish off.
Eva came over to help with kids that morning so I took Anna to an appointment then used my extra time to make a batch of Peanut Butter Honey Puffs. The kids love these, but mostly I make them because I’m addicted to them right now. :)
I took a photo of the smoothie full of greens I made that morning, just in case you were wondering if we still drink these every day. ;) For Matt and me, this blender-ful means survival. :)
Acacia has decided that she doesn’t need an afternoon nap any more. Ugh. So she and I did some baking during naptime. My plan was to make a double batch of Poppyseed Bread. But then I realized that I didn’t have poppyseeds or almond extract – both key ingredients in this recipe. So this turned out more like our knock-off Starbucks Lemon Loaf. It was delicious as our after dinner treat!
When the kids got home from school that afternoon, Elias figured out how to play our new Catan Junior game with them.
Malachi dropped by to pick up a few things. Just like when each of his older brothers left home and then came back for a visit, he seemed like a celebrity. :)
We’d been given two turkeys during the holiday season – one from the realtors who helped us buy our Castle and one from our foster care agency. I pulled one out of the freezer to thaw last week and baked it for dinner that night. We ate it with mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans. It was more work than a typical weeknight meal, but it was so good!
Unfortunately, we had a mix-up on getting leftovers put away so the leftover turkey got left out all night and wasted. Boohoohoo. :(
The good news is that I had already put the bones into the fridge and could still use them to make broth. I started cooking it during breakfast on Tuesday and it turned out great.
That morning, we had a home visit with our Speech Pathologist who comes to work with three of our kids. As you can see, the kids love her.
That afternoon I picked Brayden and Kiya up from school and we headed straight over to hand out food at the Food Distribution site where we volunteer. We had missed two weeks because of all the terrible weather and road conditions so it was so great to get back and see everyone. Now that we’ve been doing this for several months, we are starting to become acquainted with the clients who come through the food line each week. We love this.
I’m not able to have my phone out while people are coming through the line so I can’t show you pictures to describe the specifics of how this works. But local restaurants and grocery stores donate items that they can’t sell to an organization called Food Net. There are locations all over Lincoln throughout the week that give out this food to people who come at the designated pick-up times. The goal is that no food gets wasted and that no one goes hungry. It’s such a cool program and we’re so thankful we can serve in this way.
Volunteers are blessed with any excess, and often we come home with quite a bit of wonderful food.
We got some great bread and bagel items on Tuesday plus some fruit, sparkling water, chicken broth, and canned goods.
While Brayden, Kiya, and I are handing out food, Elias and Matt are home holding down the fort. I try to leave something easy for them to make for dinner while I’m gone. This week I left what I called “Taco Dip” which was all of last week’s Taco Bar leftovers stirred into a casserole like this. Elias warmed it up and scooped it onto plates with chips like this. It was so good!
Wednesday morning I made a pot of oatmeal and told the kids that after they ate theirs, they could have a Poptart. :) We’d been given a box of Organic Toaster Pastries at Food Distribution so this was very exciting!
The kids’ favorite way to eat oatmeal right now is with an overripe banana smashed up and stirred in.
Mid-morning we took our five littlest to a Music and Movement Storytime at one of our libraries. We got there early so we had time to play with the learning toys. The girls found the make-believe post office.
Meanwhile, Keith hung out at the Train Station.
The story time was SNOW themed this time. I tried to capture the fun they had dancing and singing with their snowflakes here…
Back at home, we decided that our table was a “charcuterie board” and just tossed out apples, clementines, nuts, and crackers for the kids to eat before the school bus came for Keith and Anna.
That afternoon, I baked Chocolate Cake full of spinach for our dessert that night. I topped it with this Cream Cheese Frosting, though instead of stevia I used a couple of tablespoons of powdered sugar just to lightly sweeten it.
I also cracked 24 eggs onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheets to bake. Once they came out of the oven I sprinkled shredded cheese on top to melt.
Then I cut the eggs into squares and turned them into 24 Breakfast Sandwiches to have on hand. I’ve noticed that our third floor renters really enjoy grabbing these and warming them up for breakfast before heading to work. Elias, Brayden, and Matt really like them too. How long will 24 sandwiches last? I give them a week. :)
For dinner that night I made Smoked Sausage, Stir-Fried Veggies, leftover Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans, plus Mac and Cheese and Corn on the Cob we’d brought home from Food Distribution. Followed by Chocolate Cake of course.
I had to run out the door for Parent-Teacher-Conferences that evening, Justus and Kelsey came over to eat and to have a piano lesson with Brayden, and we had a lot of dishes to wash at the end of the day. That sums up Wednesday. :)
Thursday morning for breakfast I warmed up Sausage Links or Bacon, depending on kids’ preferences. Then we toasted and buttered some Cranberry Orange Bread we’d been given at the Food Distribution plus I sliced apples.
Mid-morning we piled all the littlest kids into the van and went to the Zoo Play Place to burn off energy.
We had freeze dried apples, crackers, and juice for a snack while we were there.
That afternoon, Elias took Brayden out for some one-on-one time (something we’ve decided to employ him to do a couple afternoons each week to help with some of B’s extra needs). So I used that time to pour extra energy into Kiya. We read through my fun new (old) cookbook and picked a recipe to make together. She learned about measuring cups and some simple, cooking basics and she LOVED IT. So did I. :)
I had put together a huge pan of Pizza Casserole that morning, so it baked while Kiya and I made her snack. We steamed broccoli to go with it.
That evening, one of our housemates, Abby, went out for dinner with some of our York friends, Melody and Alice. Abby returned home with a special bag for us from Melody – a 4-pint package of Culvers Ice Cream!!! Such a sweet surprise!
Friday is a big blur as Matt and Elias went to work in York for the day. Malachi came over and helped me with the kids, but I got no photos of our day because we were mostly in survival mode. We decided to take advantage of a Domino’s Pizza special offer for dinner. We knew we’d have up to 16 people joining us that evening, so I ordered seven larges, paid for them online, and my nephew Troy picked them up and delivered them for us at dinner time. He then grabbed the Baby and chased preschoolers and toddlers and basically, he was the hero of the night. :)
By the way, seven large two-topping pizzas that night only cost $53 – a pretty sweet deal!
Matt and Elias brought our Bonus Boy (former foster son) back from York with them Friday evening so that we could enjoy the weekend with him. Saturday morning we took all 8 kids to our favorite Sensory Story Time at one of our libraries.
BabyBoy#11 was soooooo cute, crawling up to the front where Librarian Diane was singing and reading and doing fun action games with us. He sat there the entire time, just like he was one of the big kids. :)
We then did something a bit crazy, but what do you do when you are almost out of milk, eggs, and formula?? We took all 8 kids into Walmart, oy. It was a good outing but wow, not one we want to enjoy regularly. I got zero pictures of the shopping time or groceries because we were keeping everyone alive and trying not to scan groceries twice. Also, Walmart on a Saturday?? WHY? But at least we now have milk, eggs, and formula. :)
I had made a big bowl of Tuna Salad before we left so as soon as we got home, we made sandwiches for lunch.
Our friend Katie came by for a visit and while we chatted, she washed dishes and swept my kitchen floor. SO SWEET!!
We had a couple extra friends over that afternoon so after they did crafts and painted nails (hello, we have girls now!!), we let them watch a movie. I made popcorn for everyone, and as it started popping out into the machine, Anna laughed and laughed!!
Dinner that night was one of our $5.00 Hams, along with Mac and Cheese and Peas.
It was time to get ready for bed after that, and that wraps up our week!