This was my ace in the hole. The kids are better, so I really needed to catch up on the pit that my house was decaying into. Remember entropy? It is real. I have seen it. Anyway, here is a piece that was in draft. Please ignore verb tense errors and anything that lacks a simple subject. To heck with grammar, darn it, I am digging out here! The photo is the very real pile of sheets I need to get to...I am also linking up to Pennywise Platter because others always ask how I do it I think it is likely someone there will want to know, too. You might to go check it out, the posts there are always great. I always learn something and I bet you will, too.
Finding a routine is critical to happy homemaking. Without it, you are just going to get depressed. Find a rhythm or get the blues! Someone recently told me she wanted to see what our daily schedule looked like. Ten kids, homeschooling six, cooking from scratch, I can see wondering how in the heck I handle it. I wondered before I was the one with ten! A reader here (who does not actually know me, there are a few!) wanted to know about food, just what it is we eat, because she is trying to get her family of five on board the real food train. So, I have been keeping a log and trying to make sure I keep track of what I do. Ultimately I couldn't stop every minute to type it out so this really is a composite of days, not one actual day.
Learning how to cook from scratch and seem overwhelming when you have a lot of children, but it can be done. I often prep food (like yogurt) while children read spelling words or reading lessons to me. I have kids soak beans and rice and start bread dough. I have them peel veggies while they recite poetry. I ask kids one grade level up grade Math and grammar for siblings. I ask kids to try to correct their math themselves and if they get it wrong twice, see me. They learn to seek out their own errors and it has benefited them. I also employ reading and writing skills by making them check all the staples (honey, maple syrup, lentils, black beans, pintos, steel-cut oats, raisins) and add to my list. I am flash card maniac. Anything that can go on flash cards does. I have two kids at a time working on a set (say state capitols) and I check them only on Fridays. Otherwise, they quiz each other on the other days.
Got up, emptied dishwasher, transferred soaked wheat berries to sprout. Started a load of laundry. Joey starts coffee. Yep, we are caffeine addicts. I blame the Finnish genes. I never drank until I was married, we were herbal tea drinkers. Finns drink coffee to excess. My in-laws were horrified when I told them the mid-wife told me not to drink coffee while pregnant. They think it's good for you. One aunt politely informed me that her kids turned out fine, despite a five cup a day habit. My one cup seems like nothing.
Reheated soaked oats, dribbled each both with maple and cream, and the kids sprinkled cinnamon on them. Actually, shook the jar violently but "sprinkled" sounds so much more civilized. Drove Daddy to the train. Switched the laundry and set the dry laundry aside to fold while kids read to me.
Loaded dishwasher and washed dutch oven. Wash counters, table (Raymie's job), faces and hands of kids (Maria's job), and tidied living room. The little girls (ages 21mos, 3 1/2 yrs, and just turned 5) play with the Brio train set during the morning hours. We call the bin "the school toys" and they only get it in the morning on school days. I ran for a shower while kids did handwriting or math, depending on age. Started phonics flash cards and had kids read to me while I folded. Everyone put their things away, down to the three year old.
Couscous in beef bone broth and soft fried eggs on top with apple slices and milk. I had the nine year old wash and slice the apples using one of those push-through slicers. Rinsed berries and drained, put them back in the cupboard. Ran dishwasher. This happens twice a day around here, but since we Xeroscaped the front, let the backyard turn into Beirut (and let kids run amok in it) and I am a water Nazi when it comes to bathing, our water bill is the same as the average 4 member household, according to the water company. We have a "mullet house" all business in front (nice yard, flowers) and a party in the back (we have five boys, you do the math). Also, lunch time is when we do Saint of the Day. We read briefly in Butler's Lives of the Saints everyday at lunch. The Catholic Church has a calendar with at least one saint recognized each day. We follow an older rule and calendar (making us the especially freaky branch of Catholics) and so our calendar is different. By the way, this is where the term "red letter day" comes from. Our red letter days are called that after the red letters listing a feast day for a martyr. Red like blood. Not quite what you have thought it meant. But still cool.
Then Raymie lays down Cristina, Maria lays down Veronica, and the baby is my job. Joey does dishes, Greg washes the table, and Eli sweeps. During nap I made four loaves of bread and started another batch of dough. Actually, I had my oldest daughter help the nine year old learn to read a recipe and they started it. When I make bread, I grind enough for two batches, so I grind only every other batch. This takes 20 minutes to shape loaves for rising and start another batch, if I am not grinding; twice as long if I am. I make yogurt on non-grind days. Started yogurt, took 8 minutes, while I did poetry with five, six, and seven year olds. Have Joey switch the laundry and I folded while we covered history.
By the way, not all the school subjects are listed here. That could be a whole post!
After School Chores and Snack:
I keep baby carrots, celery, peanut butter, cubed cheese and apples in the fridge. I assign one kid to prep a snack and everyone else chips in to put away school books and toys. Last load of laundry goes in. We also sort laundry at this time. The schedule is as follows.
Monday: diapers and cloth wipes (pre-wash, wash, rinse, dry on line or dryer) sort Reds (reds, pinks, oranges), Whites (white or mostly), Blues (blacks, blues, greys, purples NOT jeans)
Tues: wash the red, whites, blues
Weds: sort greens (greens, browns, yellows) and jeans (they are heavy and fewer go in a load and they take longer to dry)
Thursdays: wash greens and jeans
Fridays: diapers, change and wash sheets, match socks (this is the bane of my existence)
Saturdays: towels and kitchen laundry (we use rags and bar towels not paper disposables)
As you can see, I really only wash Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays giving me Wednesdays and Sundays off. Yes I have a front loader and nope, only one. And Mondays (only diapers) go fast.
Turkey soup. Kids picked carcass while I chopped. I added corn at last minute to cool it and cream. Had bread with it. A lot of times I use coconut milk as a thickener. If I am busy and don't have time to babysit the soup, as I would with cream or roux, I just dump in the coconut milk and keep on going. I keep the stock pot out when having chicken so the kids can put their bones in immediately after dinner so the kids know the routine and let guests know. Today the middle kids were picking and when they were done I started the stock before dinner rather than afterward. Just add salt, pepper corns, bay leaves and apple cider vinegar.
With ten children, homeschooling six, seven in dance lessons, my choir practice, Daddy's Knights of Columbus, two book clubs, altar boy practice, catechism, the church girls' group, the boys' group at church and what-not I often cook food while gone. Here are some tips to make those meals successful:
*When using a Crock-Pot, always sauté aromatics (garlic, onion) or mire pois, and brown the meat FIRST and deglaze with the cooking water, wine or broth. The sauce will be flavorful and the meat taste better than simply boiling it in the pot. Cook on low if you can. If you have a busy afternoon, start your meal at lunch and then it won't be a race.
*When cooking in an electric roaster (like a Nesco oven) still brown the meat and be careful to choose veggies that won't weep excessively, like spinach. The meat won't ever develop a crust because of the moist air and additional steam will make for a soggy meal. This can also be a life saver in hot weather. On a solid wooden work bench in the garage I keep my roaster, which Ben calls "the Sunday kitchen". I often will have a Crock-Pot going, too. We can still have a delicious meal, ready to go even when it's hot, I'm busy or both.
*Use broth for cooking water where you can. The added protein and nutrition lets you get by with less meat, which saves money.
*Soups are made thicker with more veggies and potatoes especially, making them more filling.
*Well fermented miso (be careful here, it is soy) makes for richer tasting soups which can help you get by with less meat.
*If all else fails, there's always eggs! Eggs are cheap fast and my go to food in a hurry.
But if you are having too many emergency meals, you need to reexamine your priorities and find what is preventing you from eating real food. A weekly plan and grocery trip can keep you on track. Work during the day? Prep all your veggies on Sunday night and keep in the fridge. Make an extra large pot of steel-cut oats and heat portions through-out the week. Get "Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" and keep a double batch of dough in the fridge. You can bake a loaf in the evenings and keep it in your breadbox. Start yogurt in the evening and put it in the fridge in the morning. Since slow food requires long prep times, it actually works in your favor. Start it now, deal with it tomorrow night. Quite frankly, I am really busy. If I can do it (and I do), so can you.
Before Bed Chores:
I wash any dishes, the counters, and check the dishwasher (because the kids load it) and start it. I check my menu plan and soak oats, pancake batter, biscuit dough for breakfast and any beans or rice for the next day. I seldom go to bed without knowing what is for breakfast the next day. I also start thawing meat for the next day. The kids and I run through the house and do a quick tidy and then pick-out clothes for the next day. This way we can have that fight about swimming trunks and cowboy boots now. In January. With snow on the ground.