We added a few extras to our home this week. What?!?! Yep, our Big Family Food and Fun just got bigger. (And “funner.”)
Our household grew this week
I mentioned here that Matt was getting the suites in our third floor ready to rent out. We thought these rooms wouldn’t be filled yet for several months, but God had other, better plans. We thought we’d just rent out two of the rooms and keep the other one open. But God had other, better plans.
He worked out the details and all of a sudden, all three rooms are full! (Well, one person hasn’t moved in yet but she’s got her spot reserved and will move in next week.) We are so thankful for who God brought into our home. It’s all working out to be a win-win!
UPDATE as of 9-17-23: We currently have two of the rooms occupied by sweet single gals and one room filled with a mama and her two young children. :)
Our arrangement with our renters is that they have no obligation to eat meals with us but that they are more than welcome to eat with us if they would like. We love having our table full, and now extra full. :)
So there’s our household update. :) Now on to our Food and Fun from last week:
Food and Fun September 3-9, 2023
Sunday morning I set out three varieties of bagels I had picked up at Aldi. We toasted them in our air fryer and spread on cream cheese, enjoying bowls of applesauce on the side.
When I had breakfast set out and went in to see what kind of bagels each kid wanted toasted, I found Kiya reading a book to Anna and BabyBoy#11. Kiya LOVES to read and is becoming very good at it. :)
On our way home from church I ran into Sam’s and grabbed two rotisserie chickens for our lunch. Of course, I can’t just run in and get chicken. I grabbed a few other things we needed: applesauce, peanut butter, yogurt, spring mix, and tortilla chips. I threw them all into the messy back of our van and we headed home for lunch.
While I was putting together the sides to go with our chicken, we set out the Peanut Butter Cup Whipped Cream and animal crackers I had made for dessert. The littles saw it and started treating it like an appetizer. Good grief. ;)
To go with our rotisserie chickens, I had made baked potatoes in the crock pot, Caesar salad (mixes from Aldi), watermelon, cantaloupe, and Hawaiian rolls. It was such a simple but delicious lunch!
We invested in an espresso machine a few weeks ago and Elias is our local barista. He made us all iced lattes to enjoy once we got all the littles down for naps/rest time. BLISS.
That evening, we were blessed to go back to our friends’ house to enjoy their pool. Of course, we were so busy having fun (and keeping children safe in the water) that I didn’t get many pictures. Here are the girls when we “made them” get out of the water to eat.
Ms. Barbara and Mr. Steven had put together a most wonderful dinner of BLT Salad, grapes, peanut butter and jelly sandwich makings, chips, and cookies. We felt so loved and spoiled. Then back into the water we all went!
They sent us home with a huge bag of homemade waffles which we enjoyed for breakfast the next morning with applesauce, syrup, and peanut butter.
We had been given a lot of garden tomatoes, zucchini, onions, and squash and I needed to cook them before they went bad. I washed and chopped everything and put it into a pot to cook into a sauce.
Mid-morning Brayden, Kiya, Keith, and I went to help at a church that offers a weekly food distribution. They did a great helping Ms. Kathleen with any job she gave us to do. (More details about this below.)
We got home and pulled leftover rotisserie chicken out of the fridge for lunch. The kids sat at the picnic table outside and ate chicken with dips plus oranges slices, carrots, and cucumbers. Then I got out cold grapes and spoonfuls of peanut butter to finish off our meal.
We kept the kids outside after lunch to wear them out before naptime. It got hot so I pulled out frozen Go-gurts for a treat to cool them off.
It was too hot to bake, but I needed some extra fillers for lunchboxes, so during naptime I baked a double batch of these Peanut Butter Snack Bars to individually wrap, freeze, and add to lunches as needed.
That afternoon I finished simmering the sauce I had started that morning and blended it up. I chopped up a few grilled burgers we had leftover from last week and added it to the sauce to make it meaty.
Meanwhile, I prepped two garden fresh spaghetti squash we’d received and cooked them in our Instant Pot. I also boiled a pound of regular spaghetti noodles and warmed up some leftover Cream Cheese Corn from last week. I wasn’t sure how the kids would do with this meal because the sauce was different than they are used to. But they all gobbled this up – and the littlest kids loved the spaghetti squash!
I had promised the kids that they could have leftover Peanut Butter Cup Whipped Cream and crackers if they ate a good dinner (again, because I didn’t know if they’d eat the veggie-filled sauce and spaghetti squash) and indeed, they all ate a good dinner and were rewarded with their special treat!
Since it was a hot night, we set up the sprinkler for the kids to play in before bedtime.
Justus and Kelsey had come over to do their laundry so it was extra great to have them for a few hours that evening.
Tuesday morning we ate toasted bagels with fruit and got Brayden and Kiya off to school. Then Matt and I loaded up the five littlest and headed to a library story hour that was featuring a special Heavy Equipment Experience. The parking lot was full of all kinds of trucks and “worker vehicles.” It was Keith’s dream come true!
That afternoon, I went to Walmart to pick up formula and baby food for BabyBoy#11. Then right after school, Brayden, Kiya, and I went back to the church food distribution.
Community Food Distribution
Allow me to explain more about what I learned this week and what this is. A few weeks ago while we were at a fun Literacy Festival with our kids, we stopped at a booth and I learned about FoodNet. This is an organization in Lincoln that receives donations from local grocery stores, bakeries, and restaurants who give food that they can’t sell but don’t want to throw away. There are multiple distribution sites all through the city all week long who give this food to people in the community.
After hearing about it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Matt and I have such little spare time, yet this was something I felt God leading me to check into more. (I’m not sure if you know this about me, ha, but I love food and feeding people.) I researched it and prayed about it and God prompted me to involve our kids in this. This was a way we could serve with them and help them look beyond themselves.
I called one of the distribution sites and we arranged for the kids and I to go there on Monday since they had the day off of school. (Bless Matt and the boys for keeping the littlest four at home while we did this.) Monday is the day they receive a lot of the food and get it sorted and bagged. The kids loved helping with this, and so did I!
Then on Tuesday, right after school we went back to help distribute the food. Brayden and Kiya were put in charge of handing out treats to people as they came through the line. I was put in charge of handing out bunches of bananas, melons, and grapes. We loved every minute of it! Hopefully we can make this a part of our weekly routine if we can make arrangements for everyone at home. (Tuesday, Malachi was Matt’s side kick to help make it happen.)
What we didn’t know is that volunteers get to take food too, as long as there is plenty. The goal is that no food gets wasted and thrown away! So we ended up coming home with a huge box plus two bags full of food. We got a variety of breads, croissants, bagels, and English muffins plus bananas that I can turn into smoothies or banana bread. You can see some of it below. We also got broccoli, apples, peaches, a sweet pepper, and some salad fixins. Oh, and some sweet treats that the other volunteers were happy to give Brayden and Kiya. :) What a fun and unexpected bonus to help us feed our family and others!
We arrived home with our goodies around 5:30 and it was a bit nuts in our kitchen. ;) Before I left, I had put Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole into the crock pot (using the rest of the leftover rotisserie chicken from Sunday) so it was hot and ready to eat when we got home. We’d received a Caesar salad pack at the food distribution so I threw it together and that was dinner that night. (Along with a treat of some frosted cookies the kids were given as a “thank you” for helping that they shared with everyone at home.)
Phew. What a crazy lot of fun that day was. :)
Wednesday morning we took advantage of the croissants we’d been given the day before. I scrambled eggs with cheese and cooked bacon to make Croissant-wiches. Wow, they were good!
I had tuna salad in the fridge so I used more croissants to make tuna sandwiches for the kids to take to school for lunch.
Then I took a few minutes to open and break the over-ripe bananas we’d been given. I put them into freezer bags and into the freezer to use later for smoothies.
Dinner that night was in part compliments of one of our newest “tenants.” Everyone renting from us is a wonderful fit and some are even willing to make us a huge pot of the best mac and cheese!
We enjoyed the mac and cheese with smoked sausage and stir-fried veggies before heading to the zoo for about an hour before bedtime. We saw the red panda (he’s not always out so it’s always super exciting when we see him!), giraffes, and a few other animal friends. Then we enjoyed the free cookies they were handing out to zoo members before heading home for the night. :)
I have a confession
I wanted to make oatmeal on Thursday morning…and I couldn’t remember how. :) :) :) :) :)
I mean, I knew to boil water and then add oats, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember the ratio of water to oats. And I didn’t know how long it would take to cook. Has it been a full summer much, Laura?? Why yes, thank you. It has.
Anyway, on Thursday I googled how to make oatmeal. (Yes I know there are directions on the package but I buy in bulk and had transferred my oats from my package.) In case you need to know this: 2:1. Two cups of water for every one cup of oats. You are very welcome.
So we had our oatmeal and I stirred in baby fruit puree (that I have in abundance because we get it from WIC thanks to BabyBoy#11). And the kids gobbled it up!
Our morning outing after we got the two older littles to school was to walk to a park we hadn’t checked out yet. It was a perfect toddler/preschool sized park.
It was all good except that there are no potties there and someone (it wasn’t me) peed on the slide.
We decided to head home, but we did go ahead and eat the snack I’d packed so that those in our crowd with wet pants didn’t also become hangry.
We had juice, cheese/crackers, and applesauce. Aside from the pee, it was a lovely outing.
Lunch was leftovers. For dinner that night I went to a bit more “trouble” than I usually do because I had a bunch of over-shredded-weird-texture chicken in the freezer that I didn’t know what to do with (but couldn’t stand to waste). It had been in our freezer for many months and I needed to use it!
This week, I remembered this Chicken Patty Sandwich recipe, which calls for ground chicken. My weird chicken wasn’t exactly what the recipe calls for, but whatever. This is how we adapt recipes, use what we have, and avoid wasting food.
I made four pounds worth of these sandwiches, plus a blender full of these smoothies.
This was a very high maintenance meal, plus it made a huge mess, so I won’t likely make these very often. But the sandwiches did taste very good and we have leftovers so we’re getting two meals from one mess. :)
After we cleaned up, we loaded kids into the van and headed to one of our favorite parks to get the last of the ants out of our pants before bedtime.
Friday morning, Matt headed to York to work so Malachi was my side-kick for the first few hours of the day and then Elias took his spot when Malachi had to leave. Malachi and I decided to see if we could manage walking to “The Mill,” a coffee shop that is 0.8 miles from our house.
It turned out to be a lovely walk, and we were all very proud of ourselves for making it happen. (Keith especially, because he did great on his bike.) I stayed outside the shop with the babes while Malachi and Keith went in for a coffee. Then I took the girls in to potty before heading home. Because guess what?
This big 3-year-old is learning how to use a big girl potty. She is very proud, as she should be!
Lunch was leftovers – which is becoming pretty normal around here.
For dinner we had French Fry Friday! We used the rest of the croissants we’d been given earlier in the week to make delicious BLTs. I air fried our French fries, and sliced up oranges. It was a great way to wrap up our school week!
Saturday morning we ate scrambled cheesy eggs with yogurt, granola, and blueberries.
Impromptu Shopping Trip
Mid-morning we dropped Brayden, Kiya, and Keith at a park for a birthday party. Knowing we needed to pick them up an hour and a half later, we decided to take the youngest four to pick up a few groceries.
Ha, “a few groceries.”
I filled a cart at Costco, because I picked up some staples and then saw that berries were SUPER on sale. Strawberries were just $2.89 for 2 pounds!! Organic raspberries were only $2.29 for 12-ounces. I got four packs of raspberries and 8 packs (two flats) of strawberries. So now we have 16-pounds of strawberries, hahaha. The price and quality was too good to pass up!
We loaded the littles back into the van and headed to Aldi where I grabbed milk, salsa, cottage cheese, and salad kits for a lunch after church the next day. I also bought 6-pounds of grass-fed ground beef, breaking my meat price point. (It costs 4.99/pound.) I decided that I’ll stock up on “regular” ground beef if I find a sale, but when I can afford it, I’ll buy the good stuff. There’s a very big difference in quality for just $1.50/pound difference. We eat less beef overall now, so I can mostly buy meat at this price point and “allow” myself to buy better hamburger meat when I can.
Besides strawberries and raspberries, salad, meat, and milk, we also came home with potatoes, almond butter, avocado mash, olives, peach cups for lunches, chips, sausage, frozen fruit for smoothies, bananas brats, tuna, grapes, pancake mix, hotdogs, tea, and a few other goodies. I’m wondering if this will be our final watermelon of the season?? Sniff.
So far in September, I’ve spent $419. We are very well stocked up on everything we need and I am thankful for the abundance.
For dinner that night we ate leftovers from the fridge before rushing out the door so we wouldn’t miss Art in the Garden, a special feature that day at Sunken Gardens. We got there just as it was ending so we were thankful we could still see what it was like, with all kinds of art booths set up throughout the garden.
When we got home, I had promised the kids we would enjoy a special treat with some of our fresh strawberries. We had been given an angel food cake at the Food Distribution on Tuesday so I cut up strawbrries, whipped some cream, and it was all so delicious after our walk!
Keith wanted to help and took his job of adding strawberries to each plate very seriously.
And that’s a wrap!