Do we want to eat dinner? Yes. Can it get made after 4:30 p.m.? No. For some reason the hours between naptime ending and bedtime beginning - around 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. - can be complete disasters. It has taken me a full year to figure this out. The disaster hours are fairly consistent. I dread those hours. Kids are hyper, hungry, temperamental, getting tired, bored, etc. And then the thought of trying to make dinner, sit down together as a family, and actually enjoy it is frustrating...for a lack of a better word. So my new plan has been instigated: start making dinner soon after breakfast. I know that sounds weird to begin making dinner at 9 a.m. but it is working for us. My mom gave me this really cool cookbook about 3 years ago and I'm just now using it. Stupid me for waiting so long! Mothers really do know best - so listen to your mom! The cookbook is the Busy Woman's Slow Cooker Cookbook. Most of the recipes call for only 5-6 ingredients that you throw into the slow cooker, set to low or medium heat, cook for 8-10 hours, and then enjoy by dinnertime. So far I've experimented with vegetable beef soup, sweet and sour pork, and a few others that I cannot recall at this exact moment. What's really cool about this cookbook are the number of options. There are at least 5 recipes just for meatloaf. So if you like southwestern flavors, there's a meatloaf recipe for that; and, if you like traditional, there are 2-3 versions for that. There are several versions of chicken and rice soup, chicken noodle soup, vegetable soup, etc. I like the versatility because most of the time I can come up with something from my pantry that will closely resemble a recipe (or combination of recipes) in this cookbook.
Another struggle in our home...Do we like cleanliness and tidiness? Yes. Can we achieve it? Not without everyone pulling their own weight. So to help resolve the problem with clutter, I have purchased each child a green bag (you know, those sturdy reusable grocery bags). I purchased these green bags at Toys R Us for $1.29 because each one has a fun design on the outside: a monster truck for Schaeffer, a dinosaur for Lily, and a lion for Griffin. At the end of each day before beginning bedtime each child takes a bag and collects up toys, clothes, dirty socks, etc. and takes the bag to his/her room to be emptied into their proper places. We've just started this new routine so I'm curious to see how well it works in the long run. Tonight everyone was very excited about going on a "hunt" for their toys and clothes and stuffing their bags full. It was a complete miracle to see our living room, hallway, and kitchen clutter free with minimal effort on my part. It was a beautiful thing. I sure hope this routine sticks.
I came across this really awesome blog, Smockity Frocks. It is geared toward sharing practical ideas for large families. I've already found some great ideas there that I want to try in our home.
Also, I would love to hear from you, my dearest readers, about anything that you've invented out of necessity. It can be related to your routine at home, or something you've made to save money or because you couldn't find in stores, or something you recycled or used in a different way to better meet your needs. Please share your inventions in the comments section.