Cookout

A few months ago we decided to have a cookout on a Saturday.

We made kielbasa, hot dogs, and burgers.

We added pickles and olives and baked beans and cole slaw and potato salad and chips.

The kids (well, all of us) loved it so now we have a cookout one Saturday a month.

(There’s a burger hiding under all those chips.)

Cutting Chicken

We got through a lot of chicken in our house. Just one single meal takes a crazy amount. We buy chicken once every four weeks so there’s a lot to cut up and prep at one time.

It’s a lot of work at one time, but it sure does make the next four weeks of meals so much easier!

Meat Restaurant

We took Noah to the Brazilian steakhouse. He loves to eat meat so we wanted to see what he’d do with all that amazing meat. The staff seemed a bit apprehensive when we showed up with a toddler, but they soon were delighted with seeing him sit and eat and eat and eat. He ate SO MUCH meat. He was truly in heaven.

Four Weeks of Groceries

With twelve people in this house we go through a LOT of food. We kept track of what we bought for four weeks starting the middle of January. Want to know how much we spent between SamsClub and HEB? $1575.39 (yes, I am scared of how much food we’ll need in five or ten years).

First I made menus for four weeks. I hate menu planning, but it’s a necessity. My parents cook dinner twice a week. I don’t plan breakfasts. I use emeals, a few cookbooks, and some recipes I’ve collected over the years. I make my plan in Artful Agenda which I also use for my to do’s and our schedule.

Anthony went with us to SamsClub for our monthly giant shopping trip. That’s a lot of meat in that cart there (and we needed to get a little more from HEB).

When we got home from Sams, I processed the meat into meal portions to make it easy to deal with during the month.

That all went into the freezer. We have two full size refrigerator/freezers. We’ve toyed with getting a standalone freezer as well. Once I finished with the meat we went to HEB to get the rest of what we needed for the month.

We use OurGroceries for our shopping list. After getting everything at SamsClub and HEB, that left us with much, much shorter lists for the remaining three weeks of the month.

That was our smallest shopping trip of the remaining three. The third week was quite a bit bigger. I always try to keep at least one unopened extra of everything non-perishable in the cabinet. When we open an extra item we write it in OurGroceries so we can replace it. It happened a bunch of things were needed that third week.

The fourth week we need quite a bit fewer things than we did the third week. We took all the kids to HEB that day which is always quite the adventure.

So that’s all the food we bought over that four weeks. We also got some stuff from Amazon Subscribe & Save. I forgot to go over our subscriptions before the deadline so it was much higher than usual ($198.42). We’ll use everything, but it means we won’t need several of the things for a while. That’s where we get stuff like toilet paper, Fritz’s contact solution, and Clorox wipes. Adding in the Subscribe & Save stuff, we spent a total of $1773.81 on groceries over the course of that four weeks!

Waffles for a Bunch of Us

Making waffles for our family is a process. There are twelve people living here including four adults, a teen who eats more than most adults, a teen who barely eats anything but can put away a LOT of waffles, and six kids who eat varying, unpredictable amounts but always seem up for waffles.

Because we need our waffles to be gluten free, and we need to triple our already doubled recipe, we have to start out by putting all the dry ingredients in three separate bowls. Gluten free recipes don’t multiply well. The wet ingredients don’t saturate the dry ingredients right or something. So mixing is done in three separate bowls.

We add the wet ingredients and mix. Doing the bowls assembly line fashion isn’t too bad. it really doesn’t take much longer than if we mixed all of it in one bowl all at the same time.

Once the individual bowls are thoroughly mixed, we let it sit for at least an hour. This plus using actual buttermilk instead of my usual cheat of milk + vinegar makes the fluffiest, most delicious waffles ever.

Gluten Free Waffles

1 cup Brown Rice Flour
1/2 cup Potato Starch
1/4 cup Tapioca Starch
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Sugar
1 1/2 cups Buttermilk
1/4 cup Oil
2 Eggs

1. Mix brown rice four, potato starch, tapioca starch, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a bowl.
2. Add buttermilk, oil, and eggs and mix thoroughly.
3. Let sit for at least an hour.
4. Pour onto a waffle iron and let cook until desired doneness.

Our waffle iron makes four square waffles all at the same time. We also have a waffle maker that makes big Texas-shaped waffles. When we’re having breakfast for dinner we use that one, but we use the four square one when we’re having chicken and waffles.

I like my waffles to be a bit paler and floppier than other people in the house do so I make a mix of lightly done and very done ones when I make waffles.

These gluten free waffles are always a hit in our house. They disappear so fast, and on the occasions there are any leftover, they heat up nicely in the toaster.

Fritz grew mushrooms!

Fritz has been watching YouTube videos on growing mushrooms for a while now so my parents gave him a kit to grow his own for Christmas.

He’s quite proud of the growth his little (er… big… they grew so fast!) oyster mushrooms. Who knew fungiculture could be so fun?

24 hours later…

About 18 hours after that…

And then about 10 hours later… HARVEST TIME!

He grew some very tasty mushrooms. They were crisp and tender in all the right ways and fried up in butter with some salt… absolutely amazing! He said growing his own mushrooms was everything he dreamed it would be and he can’t wait to do it again.

2021

This has been a busy year for us. I simultaneously can’t figure out how the time has gone by so fast and how we fit so much into just twelve months. Tomorrow will be 2022 and the start of twelve more months of adventures.

In January Fritz and Adrian got their first semester report cards for 7th and 9th grades and both did amazing for their first time in public school since kindergarten and second grade. We also continued trying to figure out just how much food to make to feed our small army (spoiler alert: it’s always too much or too little).

In February we put up a baby urinal in our bathroom and it’s been the best thing we could have done. There was more figuring out how to feed our small army (we’ve pretty much got it down now). We got a playground put up in our backyard. We ended up with COVID in the house and had to quarantine at the same time pretty much the entire state of Texas shut down due to a freak snowstorm and crazy cold (we got lucky and never lost power).

In March I started getting more creative with Mayci’s hair. All the adults in the house got vaccinated for COVID. Zeke turned six on Pi Day. The next day Noah had surgery to remove his tonsils and adenoids and have tubes put in his ears. We got brave and took all six kids to HEB for the first time.

In April I sprained my foot when I gracefully fell down the stairs of The Beast. We also discovered Zeke has hair like Fritz’s: It grows SO fast!

In May our six-year-old officially changed his name to Zeke. School got out and so Mayci finished pre-k, Zeke finished kindergarten, Adrian finished 7th grade, and Fritz finished 9th grade.

In June the kids were bored of their 11-week summer vacation within about 30 seconds so we started our summer schedule which continued the entire summer and worked great. We got Fritz’s end of course results (all three passed). We entered Birthday Season when Adrian turned 13 on Juneteenth. The end of the month the twins turned two.

In July we got Adrian’s STAAR test results (he did great especially because it was his first time taking that sort of test). On the 6th Nicholas turned 3. And then on the 11th Fritz turned 15. Adrian saved all year and enlisted the help of a few other people in order to give Fritz an Oculus Quest 2 for his birthday. On the 18th Anthony turned 4 ending our intense streak of five birthdays in less than three weeks. Fritz got all registered for the virtual school for 10th grade.

In August we finished birthday season on the 2nd when Mayci turned 5. Zeke and Mayci both took off in their reading (best decision ever to work on teaching them how to read over the summer). We found out who the three elementary schoolers’ teachers would be (they’ve all been the perfect teacher for each kid, especially Zeke’s). In the middle of the month it was time for four of the kids to be off to pre-k, kindergarten, 1st, and 8th grades (and Nicky moved to a new room at preschool). A week later Fritz started 10th grade. Just before the end of the month my beautiful mother turned three-quarters of a century old.

In September we started getting monthly boxes of Young Adult books from Literati for Adrian (love those books). Dance classes started up for Zeke and Mayci. I did the most complicated and beautiful hairstyle on Mayci that I’ve done so far (53 twists). The twins moved out of their cribs and into their big boy beds. We took four of the kids to the movies for the first time. Mayci went to dance camp at the high school and got to perform at halftime at a football game.

In October we pulled Nicholas out of preschool. We got the four littlest boys new church clothes. I did some fancy hair on both Mayci and Haley. We had some really cute costumed kids on Halloween.

In November Jamie and I went to see The Beach Boys again. Lola moved in with Cameron and Tami and it’s helped Nicky’s eczema so much (he’s allergic to dogs). We celebrated Jamie’s 46th birthday and one year since we adopted the kids by playing at a trampoline park. We got our family pictures taken. I started having more time to read again thanks to Haley playing with the twinplets six hours a week and the kids getting a little older and more independent.

In December Nicky suddenly started looking much older and bigger than his little brothers. Anthony’s dreams came true when we put a Christmas tree in our living room. My Daddy turned 77 on Christmas Eve.

And now here we are on New Year’s Eve looking forward to what 2022 will bring us. We know a few things like Trek for the big boys, Fritz being ordained to the office of Priest, Birthday Season ending with us having 3, 3, 4, 5, 6, 14 and 16-year-olds, Ani turning 22 in February, Zeke turning 7 in March, me turning 44 in April, Cameron turning 21 in October, and Jamie turning 47 in November the same day we hit two years since the kids were adopted, and having kids starting pre-k, kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 9th, and 11th grades in August. Whatever else 2022 has in store for us, I know it will be awesome!