A Bushel of Brooks

A Bushel of Brooks
Us as we are ...

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Moving Forward

It is July 31st.

Tomorrow is the start of August.

Perhaps that seems rather obvious ... in fact, it is. But, the fact also is that means the school semester is about to start.

I have enjoyed our summer more than I even thought possible. No drives there and back to preschool. And although we read and wrote each day - and practiced a bit of math here and there - I got a break from being "teacher" as well as mom/cook/cleaning woman/laundry detail/etc/etc/etc/. = ) You get the point. It was much needed for my brain.

And now, curriculum has arrived. I have one last thing to order, which I plan to do tomorrow, and our shelf is lined with books, separated into 1st grade work, and preschool workbooks. The boys oohed and aahed over the beauty of clean, new books. I remember that feeling as well! School looked so exciting at that moment! They have been asking: "when can we start school?"

And so, I am gearing myself up. They are geared up already. I need to lesson plan. I have realized that for me, I can't lesson plan the entire semester. Because, most likely, things won't go quite according to plan and then I will feel upset in being derailed. But, I hope to sit down each Sunday and plan our week's worth of lessons. At least, that is my current plan. I haven't homeschooled two children before, so I also know it's going to be a rather large learning curve.

Next Monday we'll start easing into our new routine. One or two subjects a day for the first week. So that we ALL can see that although we're at home, just like the last two months, so of the time at home is changing. Becoming a bit more focused.

I am excited. I will enjoy seeing my kids learn and grow and being a part of that with them. But, I also look ahead with a bit of wistfulness about the days we're closing the chapter on.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Take A Breath ...

We have had a fantastic last week ... but B.U.S.Y.!!! Vacation Bible School was Tuesday thru Friday evening at church. Eli had put in lots of planning and prep time for it this year - Kingdom Rock was the theme - and we had a huge castle wall on the stage at church, lots of decorations, and lots of buildup for those kiddos! My boys had a fabulous time each night, and Jonah actually woke up this morning, and the first words out of his mouth were "I wish that VBS wasn't over already". = ) It's great to end on that note. Although, I can say that I think the volunteers and the adults involved were ready to end it! My boys are usually in bed by 8:30 each night, and I don't think they made it into bed before 9:30 or 10 each night by the time they got home, had a snack, and I could try and wind them down.

It was also launch weekend at the gym, so my week leading up to Friday morning was some extra practices with other instructors as well as working on choreography on my own at home (I have been for weeks now). That was in my brain ... adding in that we have decided to drop the price on our home some AND had a open house on Saturday. So, although we work to keep it clean, we knew there were some rooms that needed some extra attention. So, I was trying to add in deep cleaning to my to-do list.

Oh, and my sweet little 2 1/2 year old niece was going to be staying the afternoon/night Friday with us and Saturday morning while her parents went to KC for their anniversary! Whew!

Everything went smoothly, though. We somehow all got enough sleep each night for the next day. A couple days even the big boys took naps. All my gym stuff made into my brain and stayed there and I had loads of fun launching new classes on Saturday and Sunday,

The people that came through the house yesterday all made comments to our realtor on how clean our house was!  Score! And Eli really deserves a huge pat on the back for that one. I did the best I could to clean the bathroom and stuff like that on Friday, but Saturday morning, I took the four kids and left. He stayed home and cleaned for two straight hours and then joined us at his parents' house for the afternoon. We then got to enjoy some crazy cool weather yesterday: fire pit in July???? It worked! Oma and Opa came over in the evening to sit outside in the backyard and visit for awhile.

No complaints. I started my week working to keep my focus on the good the Lord has given us. Purposing to enjoy all the busy-ness ahead because it is ALL GOOD things! And really, I went to bed last night full of thankfulness and joy, not weary and worn down.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

An Exercise Home

We have a partially unfinished room in our basement which has been set up as a workout room. It has a decent enough space for us to have weights, a bench, a small cable machine my dad gave us, and a spot to hang my TRX. Works well for Eli to get in his workouts, and for me to sneak in some weights sessions if I'm not able to lift at the gym. Either way, it's a great little space, and two little boys are often down there as well. Swinging on the TRX, lifting their 3 and 5 lb dumbbells with great pride. = )

But today, today, they grabbed some exercise tubes (actually, Reuben started the whole thing, and Jonah jumped on the bandwagon) and made themselves into superheros. What can I say? Exercise equipment can be used for so much more than I thought!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Barbequed Chicken

1: I have not felt very motivated to cook much this summer. It's hot. Seems silly to use the oven much. And I've been tired of my "usual" recipe lineup.
2: This means I have Eli grilling quite a bit, which is good. But, still, our grilling hasn't been exactly "inventive". And the times that I've really wanted to make shish-ka-bobs, I've been bummed to remember that my skewers are packed. Packed in the boxes sitting in my parents' basement while I wait wait wait for my house to sell. = (

So, a couple weeks ago, I realized that I needed to spice up my dinners. Try some new recipes, try some recipes that I've eyed for quite some time on blogs, but just hadn't gotten down to trying.

I'm constantly oogling over browneyedbaker.com's recipes ... mostly her desserts, because they look TO.DIE.FOR! And the few that I've tried have turned out really well. So, I decided that I should look over her "regular" recipes and maybe find something to give a try.

We found a winner.

Eli declared that this was the best homemade barbequed chicken that he had ever had. Not sure if that is really true, but when a wife serves her husband a meal, and those are the words of appreciation she receives? Why question them? Just smile, enjoy it myself, and plan to share it with friends. Which we promptly did the following week. Although there are a few steps to the recipe, it actually goes pretty quickly, and I was able to do it (Eli did the actual grilling) with a toddler on my hip nearly the entire time. I'm more inspired - once again - to add some new ideas to our dinners!

I had to tweak her recipe slightly, because I didn't have all the spices/ingredients, and I felt like I could go ahead without them. So, here's my modified recipe = )

Spicy/Sweet Grilled Chicken

3 lb Chicken Drumsticks
2 quarts cold water
½ cup kosher salt
¼ cup light brown sugar
Smoked Paprika Rub:
3 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoons salt
4 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
Spicy Apple Glaze:
2 cups 100% apple juice
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup applesauce
1 cup granulated sugar ( I think I did half to three-fourths)
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup thinly sliced fresh ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1½ teaspoons crushed red pepper
½ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon salt


1.Combine the cold water, salt, and brown sugar. Stir well until sugar and salt has dissolved.Place the drumsticks into a gallon-size zip-top bag and pour the brine over the top. Seal and refrigerate for at least 1½ hours, turning the bag occasionally: I brined mine for about 4-5 hours.
2. While the chicken sits in the brine, mix all the ingredients for the rub in a bowl and set aside.
3. Next, prepare the Spicy Apple Glaze. Combine all of the ingredients, in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often. Once the mixture has come to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook until it has reduced to about 1 cup, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside!
4. Remove the chicken from the brine (discard the brine) and set on a clean cookie sheet. Season all over with the Smoky Paprika Rub and let sit at room temp for 30 minutes.
5. While the chicken is resting, preheat the grill to a medium-high heat.
6. We believe in cooking bone-in chicken low and slow. So, once you get the chicken on, let it sear for a few minutes, and then turn down the heat, close the lid, and they may cook as long as 30 min (turn them, of course!). During the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking, brush the drumsticks all over with the Spicy Apple Glaze. Coat them several times!
7. Remove the drumsticks from the grill to a clean plate and cover with foil if you're waiting a few minutes to eat, or devour right away! YUM!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Special Day

It doesn't happen very often that the big boys get taken for a special outing ... but today was one of those days. My sister lives in the KC area, and almost two years ago, we had taken the boys to Build-A-Bear at the Oak Park Mall to get new bears. Trust me, they have NEVER forgotten that store! I have heard many queries of: "Mommy, when do we get to go to the bear store with Aunt Hannah again?"

I knew that we would take them again sometime, but we were waiting a bit. This spring, I told them that she and I would take them again this summer sometime, before school started up again. So, this morning after I taught my morning class at the gym, we dropped Matthias off at Grandma's house, and headed to KC.

In line at Build-A-Bear
 We had lots of fun! The boys did fabulous during the drive times (which, I was worried about how many of the "are we there yet?s I would get), and had fun at the mall. I had forgotten about the new LEGO store I had heard about there, but we walked through it for a short time, and they didn't even ask us to buy anything there.
We love our Aunt Hannah!

Headed to Build-A-Bear, and spent time picking out animals, outfits, and names. They got to ride the Carousel in the middle of the mall, and get a cookie and visit while we drank coffees before heading back on the road.

Stuffed animals have been spread out all over the living room since we've returned to the house, so that everyone can "get to know" the new animals in town = ) Not necessarily a cheap trip, but it was one that worth the time and the money to have such a fun time and make that memory together with her! Bears are snuggled in with their new owners as I type, everyone drifting off to sleep.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Picky Eaters ...

It's been a long time since I've written anything about Jonah's eating habits ... needless to say, most of those that know our family well, know that nothing has changed. The child has incredibly sensitive senses ... smells are more smelly, textures are worse, and food is a constant issue. You name it: we've tried it. Bribing. Rewards. Starving the child until he will try a food. Offering bites at every meal. Being an "adventurous" eater. Putting foods into a smoothie. "Try It Bites".

It feels like we've tried every method we can find, every attempt we can come up with. With little success. Jonah eats no meat, no pasta, no traditional breads, few veggies, no cheese, few grains, and whatever else is on the no-go list. He survives on fruits, pumpkin and zucchini bread, milk, yogurt, lime chips, carrots, and a couple cereals and crackers that he doesn't gag on. He would eat strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, and chocolate chex for every meal if we would let him. Now, on one hand, when sweets are carefully monitored (as I attempt for them to be), his diet is rather healthy. The trouble is: how can you take this child out to eat? How can we go over for dinner at friends' houses? We have to bring food for him. And it is not the bringing of food that actually is an issue ... but I will admit, it does get a bit old. And every person we come into contact with looks at me like I've half a brain and says: "Well, haven't you tried ..." Yes. YES. YES. We've tried it. We haven't come so far as to literally withholding food for more than 24 hours yet until he eats chicken or something, but we've tried a lot. Eli and I have wrestled with it, brainstormed til my head could explode: we have tried!

Perhaps Jonah will be a vegetarian his entire life. I suppose that I can't really complain about that. Perhaps someday he will finally give a sandwich and real try and realize what he has been missing! I don't know ... We do the best we can. We try not to take offense when it is obvious that others think we are terrible parents because of his eating habits. All I know that we have tried and tried and tried. And as far as we can tell, we raised Jonah and Reuben very similarly in how we offered food, and Reuben will gobble down most things. Jonah gave a speech a few weeks ago about wanting to eat blueberries all the time and how good they were ... Reuben looked perplexed ... then loudly proclaimed: "I want hot dogs wrapped in bacon!"

Those are my boys.

And along came Matthias. Number 3. 14 months old. He is very scarily eating like Jonah. We offer it ALL to him. We have since he could mash food around in his mouth. He seemed fairly normal. And now - he refuses meat. Doesn't want to try noodles. Would much rather have a banana or yogurt or applesauce or peanut butter. Eli and I look at each other - and really I think we both feel like sobbing about it. But, we try and smile, and put food on his tray and hope he will give it a try.

Before I had children, I readily admit, I was quite sure that picky children were completely avoidable and just needed to be forced to eat what the family was eating. And YES. I would love it if Jonah would just eat what we eat. But I have also seen enough gagging, tears, and fought the fight with him for the last five years to see that sometimes, the best I can do as a parent is pray ... and do my best. Ask God to help me understand my child and do what is right. I certainly don't have all the answers. I certainly did not expect this to be one of my biggest parenting challenges = ) But, it is ... it truly is.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July!

From our Bushel ... who enjoyed a perfectly relaxing, family day today ...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Splash Pool

I don't trust myself to take all three boys to a pool alone: unless it be the South Park wading pool, in which I trust that none of the three will drown, as I can keep a tight hand on Matthias, and the other boys are pretty safe and just run and splash around. They are game to go, but of course, they would rather swim in a "real" pool. My younger sister used to be my trusty "go along" with me, until she had her own baby, and now Mataya is 10 months old, and at that dangerous age of needing constant attention as well! So, we haven't made it out to those "real" pools much. Swim lessons were great, because the boys got to swim, and those times had to be structured into our day = ) But, now ... we've made it to my Uncle's pool twice: once with a large group of family members, and today for awhile, with my mom! We haven't made it to the downtown public pool at all, though it gets frequently requested. Working on that one ... mostly working on convincing Eli to come with us some evening or weekend, when he would much rather do ANYTHING something else than be in the sunshine!

So, many afternoons, we play in the backyard in the splash pool. We got it on clearance last year at Wal-mart for $10, and considering we have already probably played in it at least 15 times in the month of June, I would say it was a good investment for us! Jonah and Reuben often play in it by themselves during Matthias' afternoon nap, and I will take paperwork for the gym, or reading outside for about 30 min and soak up some sunshine. It works! And when Matthias gets to get in: he goes bananas, soaks us all, and makes us and himself laugh and laugh.

Jonah begged me to take a picture of this flying man pose!

Fearless! This kid just puts his face right in!