Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day

Dad's like to color and play games

Dad's do the weird things that mom's would never do.

They make you do chores

They take you many many places

They watch you play game after game, sport season after season and they are the one that makes the noise cheering you on.

They are fun to hang out with

And yes they do make more then chicken nuggets and picking up pizza and Mcdonald's


Grandpa's go on trips with you and tell you yes when mom and dad say no. But then they just keep going on vacation when you have to go back to school and snow.

They love to sit next to you and just watch the fire, and relaxing after a long day of work.

They come and help you built a safe home for your chickens and ducks and even let you help.

And most of all grandpa's are still very big kids.

And while I don't have a picture of my Grandpa on this computer, I just wanted to say that I miss you grandpa, you were to me all the things my dad is to my kids. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

My Grandpa

It was just last year when I wrote about my Grandma Fees, today I write about her husband Gordon Chester Fees my grandpa. A man of not only great faith, but wonderful if sometimes taxing humor.

Since my children had been blessed with both having a Grandpa Fees and a Great Grandpa Fees there needed to be a way to tell the difference in conversations with them. Otherwise they never knew for sure if we were going my dad’s or my Grandpa’s. So my grandpa became know as the fix it grandpa, if my older children broke their toys, bikes, or needed to build something it wasn’t to my dad they went but to Grandpa. He took up wood working after he retired, since he needed to keep busy and out of Grandma’s way. First he was set up in the garage, and then he was somehow able to get grandma to let him move his stuff into the basement. But only if he stayed in the one part and kept that sawdust out of her house.

Grandpa was never one to stay still, he always was puttering, even when he got to the point that he had to have someone else mow the lawn or shovel he was always right there to tell you how it should be done, and if you didn’t show up to do it he would threaten to do it himself. I remember that one day he came home with a new saw and that didn’t make grandma very happy, so she looked over at my dad said look at what your dad got you. Or the ladders how many times did we take a ladder to keep him off the roof and he would just head to Sears to buy another one.

Grandma might have broken her ribs by coughing, but grandpa did his falling of the roof of the trailer.

Grandpa was a favorite of us kids and then our children as who else is going to let you climb up on the garage roof, or use the power saw, who always had time to get the bikes out of the garage. I think he loved to shop at garage sales just to make sure he had a supply of toys on hand to send home with the kids when they came over to play.

 When a lot of adults might not have had time for us kids’ grandpa always did, but even then there were some toys that were his and not for sharing. Even when grandpa was sitting he was busy painting, coming up with new jokes, and in his later years baking. Who here has enjoyed banana bread, fruit cake, or even cucumber bread baked by Grandpa?

There were many nights of sleepovers, with grandpa peeling apples and cutting them up and passing them out to eat, and candy’s passed to you out of his pockets while in church.

 Grandpa was rarely serious, you never knew what he was going to say when you called the house sometimes it went like this “Hello is Grandma there, Well of course she is, Grandpa can I please speak to her, well of course you can, Grandpa please give the phone to Grandma, Well ok why didn't you say that in the beginning.”  

The movies he made of all of us, and how we had to learn to talk in them once there was sound recording video. Him renting Dumbo on film from the library to play for my birthday. There is so much to remember.

I remember this summer going to visit and we headed out to check out the garden, I also like to garden and enjoy weeding somewhat. So I started to weed, a little to fast for Grandpa as he told me I had better leave him some of those weeds or he wouldn't have anything to do. He was always planning what his next project was going to be, and you better not tell him he was too old to do it.

He loved to sing and to square dance, he loved to be around people, he loved to tell stories to us about growing up, all the chicken they used to eat, the orphanage, the CCC, World War II, years spent working. And he did a wonderful thing he wrote down those stories so that even those great- grandchildren to young to remember him in person will read about him and know him.

He showed in his life what it was to be faithful; he cared for grandma and still loved her even when things were rough. He knew that the women he married was still in there somewhere and she would come out every once in a while. I look at how grandpa cared for her so tenderly and I tell my husband that there is nothing more in life I want then for you to care for me like that when we are old and I goof up more than people’s names.

Last year around this time he was worried that people would think it was wrong if he went to the Valentine lunch at the Senior Center with a woman. He asked me what did I think, I reassured him that no one would look down at him and that he should go and have fun. From what I heard from later he did.

He used to tell me in that non serious way of his that my dad was no fun, and each year he couldn’t wait until my dad went on a trip and then he could do whatever he wanted and my dad wouldn't know.  A lot of those plans involved him getting a flight to my house to come for a visit; he just couldn't find a pilot. He looked forward to lunch out on Tuesday’s, and the senior center in the Falls was never as good as the one on Grand Island.

Two things that I have that my grandpa made for me way back in 1983 when he first retired are my cradle and chair, things that he made for each of his granddaughters. I enjoyed playing with them, and then my daughters and I look forward to the day my grandkids get to play with them. And of course they went back to grandpa for repairs over time.

This year as I plant my garden I will think of grandpa in his, when the dandelions bloom I will think of his recipe for cough syrup, when I see square dancing I will think of all those nights spent dancing with him, when grandma couldn’t. I will never look at a napkin without picturing grandpa.

 I will always remember my last conversation with my Grandpa; he wanted me to mail him a glass of water since the nurses were only letting him have ice chips.

Tonight I go to sleep knowing that he is home, and that grandma and he are talking about all the wonderful things that did together.

And I ask that we all do something that Grandpa worked hard to do write down, record, remember your stories that others will remember and learn from them. Grandma left behind many homemade items, Grandpa has left behind the stories.

*Pictures to be added later, on a different computer*

Master Chef Cook Off

We are fan's of the show Master Chef around here and enjoy watching it, but of course being the family that we are that's not enough.

                     So we had our own cook off this summer :  

                                         Mom vs Dad

An item that neither of us had ever eaten or made before.
Since we do not have a Master Chef Pantry we were allowed to look up our recipes and make a shopping list.

Since we also don't have a Master Chef Kitchen we were allowed to set up workstations before hand.

Dad's Workstation

Mom's Workstation

The Tasting Area

But all the rules apply:
We only had 1 hour and once we started we were not allowed to go into the cupboards or fridge for more items.

One Stove made things interesting

I am in it to win, mine was going to be better then his, and since the kids were judges I had high hopes of winning.

The kids took their job as judges seriously asking questions while we cooked just like on the show. And that is very distracting when you are on a time limit, trying to make something you have never made and being asked questions all about it.

The dad thinks his potato based one is going to win, I don't think so.

What a messy workstation

Look at mine all nice and clean

This was mine based on ricotta cheese, served with a light tomato cheese sauce

The judges taking the tasting very seriously, looking at taste, texture, seasoning and more.

The Dad's potoae based, with a alfredo sauce

Who was the winner, well the kids were smart they called it a tie, after offering a lot of feed back on what was good and was bad.

Looking forward to the next challenge.

Monday, February 3, 2014


One of this weeks goals has been to get the kids back into the routine of doing chores, we have had many different systems over the years and all have worked for different times. But something new was needed for this period of our lives, where we have only four children at home, and all are active in many different things.

So after much thought I went for 2 teams, team one is Conner (17) and Aidan (7), team two is Nolan(15) and Kat (13). The idea is usually if one team member is busy the other should still be home. For right now we are only doing dinner time chores like this, but I find if dinner time goes well the rest isn't too hard to keep up with.

After making the teams, I made two dinner time chore lists

List one:
Set Table for dinner
Clear Table after dinner
Wipe Table
Sweep floor in Living room and Dining room
Pick up living room
Take out trash

List Two:
Unload dishwasher if needed
Put away pots and pans if needed
Load dishwasher
Hand Wash pots and pans
Wipe counters
Sweep Kitchen floor

It is up to them to work together to divide the jobs. This week Nolan and Kat were assigned list two, Nolan loaded the dishwasher, did the counters, and swept the floor. Kat unloaded and put away pots and pans and washed the pots and pans. All picking jobs that they are good at, with mom helping out as needed. 

The next decision to make is whether they should switch lists every week, or every month. Right now I am leaning toward the month, so the list won't switch until March. After talking with the kids they would like to keep the same jobs for a much longer period of time.

The other thing I have done is serve dinner early and have the kids do their chores if Aidan has basketball which is from 6-7 or Nolan has play practice, since we normally eat at 6:30 when the dad gets home. We have been eating at 4:30-5pm on the nights I won't be home, saving a plate in the fridge for the dad, and I try to have a dessert for those nights as well since we are eating so early.

Two funny things that were said when I told the kids what we were going to be doing. Conner told me that the reason he doesn't do chores is he is trying to prepare me for when he is gone to college in just a year or two, my answer to him I guess I don't need to feed you for the next year or two as I get used to you not being here.

 Kathryn told me that she only washes dishes at Girl Scouts, that was answered with a quick then I guess I only want to use my money for me to travel, she did the dishes without another word.

Menu Plan Monday 2/3

This is more of a menu re-cap of the last week, as I have found lately that we eat off the menu list but never on the days I plan to. I also am trying to keep track of the cost per meal in order to help cut the food budget yet still serve favorites.

Sunday - Star pasta aka Pastina cooked with carrots, chicken, diced onion and chicken broth served with green salad

Price for dinner - 6.25 or 1.04 per serving ( 6 people)

Monday- 3- Cheese Lasagna made with homemade noodles ( way easier than I ever thought and so yummy)

Price for dinner - 30.25 to make 3 Lasagnas one to eat two to freeze. Each Lasagna was 10.08 to make or 1.26 per serving ( 8 people)

Tuesday- Hot turkey sandwich w/ rice and peas, fresh veggies

Price for Dinner- 8.50 or 1.41 per serving  ( 6 people)

Wednesday- Hot dogs, fresh veggies, mac and cheese

Price for Dinner- 8.00 or 1.33 per person ( 6 people)

Thursday - A little bit of this a little bit of that otherwise known as Leftover Day

Price for Dinner - zero as it was leftovers from other nights.

Friday- Pizza Night w/ fresh veggies, the one night I don't cook as my 17 year old son is the master pizza chef around here

Price for Dinner- 12.50 for 3 large pizza's or 1.38 per person ( 9 people)

Saturday- Sub sandwiches for lunch and since the older kids were gone for dinner, leftover pizza for the rest of us.

Price for Dinner- 15.00 or 2.14 per person

So the average cost of dinner for the week per person was 1.38 ( including milk)

Also to add per meal per person 16 cents for milk.

* The reason the number for meals flexes is sometimes adult children come home to eat and some things my pans serve 8 so we plan on having leftovers.*

This post is linked at Menu Plan Monday

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Budget Update - Week 3

This week was going to be a great week as far as funds toward the trip, but once again the clothing budget took a bite out of it for some reason people needed sneakers and dress shoes . But there is always next week. We also went out to dinner, which doesn't happen often but we had a lot to celebrate here.

Food- 183.60
Non- Food- 10.69
Clothing Budget- 41.60
Kathryn's Trip- 40.00
Dinner out- 40.00

Total so far for the year:

Food - 511.31 ( average 170.44 per pay period or 85.22 per week)
Non-Food- 50.50
Animals- 15.00
Clothing- 125.19
Kathryn's Trip- 120.00
Dinner Out- 40.00

So what was bought with the food budget:

12- yogurt                                            10- gallons milk
5# Ricotta Cheese                                1# provolone Cheese
5# Cottage Cheese                                1- fresh mozzarella
2# butter                                                5# Mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese

5- packages flour tortillas                      2- Baguette
2- loves sandwich bread                        2- bags sub rolls
Case Frozen Waffles

Fruits and Veggies:
1- Head of Cauliflower                          4#- onions
2- packs roma tomatoes                         mini cucumbers  
2 head broccoli                                       baby spinach
spring mix                                               5# Carrots 
3# bananas                                              Romaine Hearts
3# apples                                                 10# Potatoes
1 bunch celery                                         Garlic


salad dressing                                      2- cans tomato soup
1- box fruit snacks                               1 bbq Sauce
1- jar salsa                                            1 box granola bars
1- mustard                                            1- caramel coffee syrup
#10 can sauce

Meat :

2# Salami
1# Ham
3# Turkey

Next shopping week I hope to add pictures, finally found the camera the lovely daughter borrowed it.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

I MADE IT - update

This week I have been a bit more successful on my goals, each morning the family has had breakfast and that even includes the husband who mind you was a bit surprised. Since he leaves before the kids get up all he usually gets is coffee and a lunch.

This weeks breakfasts included frozen waffles, chocolate chip pancakes, cereal, bagel sandwiches ( bagels, eggs, cheese, sausage), waffle sandwich ( waffles with sausage). This week I am adding to the morning breakfast goal by aiming to serve fruit smoothies with breakfast at least three times this week.

The other morning goal I am adding is cleaning the upstairs bathroom every morning, I figure it should take me no more then five min's to do, verses the twenty it does now when I only do it two times a week. This bathroom is still the job of Kathryn to deep clean once a week during the school year, and she still has the litter box every day. 

Afternoon goals, I can say that one is still taking a bit. There have been a few more blogs written this week but not really as often as I would like. I really need to move from thinking up blogs in my head to getting them written out. I do know that part of the issue is allotting time to do it and then doing it. But I am also adding another goal to this time slot and that is to exercise Monday- Friday.

I have no excuse not to exercise as I work at a Senior Center with a exercise room, so this week my goal is to stay after work for 30 min each day and use that exercise room. 

Dinner time goals, we have had dinner each night this week, except for one day when we had leftovers and cereal on a crazy night. This week menu has included cheesy potatoes with ham, meatloaf, chicken enchilada's , chicken and dumplings, pizza night, and a dinner out to celebrate a lot of good things happening around here.

So this week I am adding a goal to not only serve dinner each night but to also serve a salad each night or raw veggies.

Evening goal, I did it each night before I went to bed the sink was empty the dishes were done, note I said when I went to bed it was empty. Somehow there was always a dish or two in there in the morning, but at least they are placing the dishes in the sink. So this week I am going to add another goal and that is to bring back dinner chores for the kids.

For a while it has been easier to do it myself, or ask one or two children to help me with something, but not anymore it's time for the kids to step up and start helping. The hardest part has been trying to think of a way to get dinner chores done when we are never sure who will be home for dinner but I have a idea, that I will share later this week if it works.

So that is this weeks update and new goals. So the question is why did meeting goals work this week, when it hasn't worked in the last month. Well I had been keeping this to myself, but last Sunday I shared with the family my goals and that they should encourage me to meet them. And it worked, so goals are easier to make if you share them with those that can help you out.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Budget- week 2

A bit late of a update, but this last pay week:

208.16 on food
21.15- on non food items
50.83- clothing

The clothing budget was a bit bigger this trip as Kathryn needed some clothes since she seems to be finally growing a bit taller.

So this weeks total was 280.14

So nothing went toward the trip this week, as a combination of increased non food expenses, and a lower then normal pay check. The food budget also was high as I bought my husband some k-cups for nights he is studying, but they should last for more then two months.

Looking forward to staying more on track this week.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Shortcuts in the Kitchen

Tonight's dinner is Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas, it is dinner that uses a lot of my favorite short cuts to make. The recipe I use is from a friends site Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas Recipie, we just leave out the peppers and serve with salsa.

First I cooked the chicken in the crock-pot , all I did was I toss the chicken in the crock-pot with a bit of salt and pepper and out the door I went. 

Later when I got home I used another of my favorite short-cuts, shredding chicken with my kitchen aid mixer. If you have a kitchen aid mixer and need to shred chicken it is something you just have to do the very next time you need shredded chicken or just add shredded chicken to the menu tomorrow, it is that much fun. 

I went years before learning the trick and it makes me sad to think of all those years I could have been having  fun shredding. All you do is toss the cooked chicken into the mixer, use the beater blade on the lower setting and in seconds you have beautiful shredded chicken. 

The final short- cut that this meal used, was the Make One Freeze One method of cooking. I don't have time to do large all day cooking events like I used to, when I was able to take a Saturday and cook all day for the month. 

So something that I do is when I have a meal that will freeze well I make one for dinner and one for the freezer. That way on days when life is more hectic or I am leaving the thirteen year old in charge of dinner we will have something eat that isn't pasta and sauce. Even though we do eat plenty of pasta and sauce.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

I Made It - Update

As you can see from the post's or I should say lack of posts I am not doing so well with my I Made It Goals. But it's a new week and a new day so I am going to try again this week to make my goals, as I really would like to move onto the next set of goals that I have planned.

One thing that wasn't a "goal" but that I have been working on is getting rid of things in this house, this week alone 4 bags of clothes have left. Also a huge bag of papers and some stuff that belonged other places then my home. This is the time of year for getting rid of stuff, because soon enough the outside work will be calling and time for sorting out closets, and drawers will be limited to rainy days.

A funny from my life today my son Aidan was taking about wanting to sell his brother for a million dollars, he wasn't very happy when told that was illegal. He then asked if it was ok in the back in days. I had to ask what the back in days were, because with a 7 year old that could be last year. He clarified it as the time when they only had sliver money. Yes it was legal then but not a good idea. I guess he did pay attention to the movie that we used for the second half of Sunday School as most of my class today needed naps.