All the rainy days

We’ve had so much rain over the past few weeks that during those moments when the sun shines, we almost don’t know what to do with ourselves.  Jonny runs out to the sawmill to try and quickly mill some lumber for the guinea house (those guinea keets are stinking up the kitchen, despite daily bedding changes!)  I managed to get that dresser painted.  Jonny and I made a big indigo vat on the front porch over the weekend, and dyed yarn while the rain poured around us (and came leaking through our front porch roof…oh the projects that need to be done).

We’ve all had a really nasty respiratory bug, nearly unheard of for us this time of year.  I wonder if the weather is to blame somehow?  Coughing and wheezing all night when eight months pregnant is not fun!  I’ve resigned myself to just sitting up, turning on my bedside lamp and knitting at odd hours.  Might as well make the best of things!

The strawberries, which I consider the most important plants in the garden, are suffering.  Too much rain means mold and slugs and more mold and more slugs.  Seth says we need garden ducks for the slugs.  I say, “No more animals just now, thank you.”  We did manage to make a nice batch of strawberry kombucha. “Boocha,” as Job calls it.  Kombucha is a new thing for us, after a long run with Jun.  Jun requires raw honey, and it was just too expensive to keep it up.  The Kombucha settles for sugar, which we can better handle.

We’ve always been a little obsessed with watching the weather forecast, even more so during all the rain of late, watching and hoping for patches of sun.  Right now the forecast looks impossibly good for the next five days or so.  There’s a whole lot of “mostly sunny!”  We still haven’t planted tomatoes, or basil.  (Or cucumbers, marigolds, and sunflowers.)  I know what I’m doing this week!

p.s.  I am going to be writing occasionally for Blessed is She, an online community of Catholic women.  If you are interested in reading it, my devotion is up on the site today, and you can find it here.

The (meal) plan

We started homeschooling again on Monday, this week.  I know that many people who start in September wait until after Labor Day, starting on a Tuesday, but I couldn’t handle that.  I start things on Mondays, not Tuesdays.  Today was our first day of homeschooling co-op.  It went well, but I am wiped out and a little freaked out over just how much school work these five school aged kids of mine have to do, and the fact that it’s up to me to make sure it all gets done.  I have to pour most of my mental energy into this task, so there’s not much left for anything else, like planning meals.

Meal planning for me is not an easy task.  Nor am I a natural cook, one who looks in her pantry at what’s available and throws something together that is both creative and delicious.  A plan is necessary.  I had to come up with something easy-ish to fall back on, something to take the stress out of making my weekly meal plan and executing it.  It’s not fancy.  (Sorry, no Pinterest worthy images here!) In the past I have planned roughly one week of meals at whatever point we run out of them, and then gone grocery shopping for the week’s provisions.  I have a master grocery shopping list with most things that I purchase regularly, so I can just circle what I need.  I have also relied on a master list of favorite meals in the past.  For some reason that list has stopped working for me.  I need even more structure.  I came up with themed weekdays, with an idea list for each Monday through Friday.  Monday is for chicken, Tuesday is black beans, Wednesday is ground beef, Thursday is pinto beans, and Friday is just meatless and a place where I throw some of our vegetarian staple meals.  The recipes might vary, but the spine of the meal doesn’t.  Weekends are more flexible and open to being filled with meals that might end up being shifted from a weekday, for trying new recipes, or for special meals. I plan to make and laminate a fancy spreadsheet including all the different ideas for each day so I can keep it hanging on the fridge, but I haven’t yet.  For this post, the best I have is photographs of my messy Mama’s Notebook page where I scratched out the bones of my plan, still a work in progress and being added to as I think of other meals.  Following that photo is one of a real week’s plan all filled in.  Each week I look to the master list and make my plan before going shopping.

I am planning breakfast and lunch as well.  I find that having a breakfast plan in place works well for us.  It keeps me from having kids upset because we’re having oatmeal for the fourth day in a row.  They know it’s only twice a week, and even if they hate it they can look forward to other days and just try to choke it down in the meantime.  If I am struck with some sort of fancy breakfast inspiration, of course I will deviate from the plan, but I really like not having to think, especially on school days.  I also prefer not to leave breakfast open to nine people making whatever they are in the mood for that day.  That type of breakfast scene tends to drag out for too long.  On weekdays we can’t spend ages on breakfast. As far as planning lunch goes, I need to always do it because if I don’t, I end up forgetting to feed my people.

Lastly, I have moved from shopping when we run out of food and I absolutely have to go, to having a regular shopping day each week.  Keats has orchestra on the same day each week and it happens to be near the stores where I shop and is also on a convenient day and time.  So after I drop him off, I shop with my little ones in tow.  I used to always avoid shopping with them by going during the evening or on the weekend, but I find that having a regular shopping day and time alleviates more stress than bringing four kids along causes.

Being married to Jonny, the “free spirit,” for almost seventeen years has forced me to bury any type A tendencies I might have, but sometimes they make an appearance and I find myself feeling very soothed by a little structure and order.  The routine helps me to function more efficiently and effectively which is just going to be necessary for me to keep up this crazy gig we’ve got going here.