Monopoly

It has been almost two weeks since my husband went to the States to have some minor surgery.  He took with him our sweet three-year-old, Callie girl.  I have missed them tremendously and I am looking forward to their return later today!

I wish I could write an amazing list of all the things I accomplished while they were away.  I wish I had gotten way ahead in my kitchen, but that isn’t quite accurate.  I wish I could say that all the laundry is washed, dried, and put away but it isn’t.  I wish I could say that the kids really advanced on their school work, but they just kept up with the regular assignments.

What we did do, however, was absolutely worth every second that was spent.  We honed our Monopoly skills.  We played for hours.  Christa, 11; Hannah, 9; Wilson, 7; and Jett, 5  and I spent much time rolling dice and moving our tokens around the board.  Jett was a great partner for me.  He stuck with me throughout almost all of the game, only running off momentarily here and there.  Wilson was most impressive to watch.  He did a great job counting money, buying properties, and going to jail (which he did quite regularly).  I was most impressed with his long attention span and his dedication to the game.  He didn’t ever want to give up.  It was a great time of learning skills of game playing.  We all practiced  speaking encouragingly with each other, taking turns patiently, losing gracefully, and winning humbly.  I purposefully determined to be in the moment with my big kids, knowing that these days are fleeting. I tried not to be consumed with all of the billions of things that I could have been doing.

Well, there is always tomorrow to work in the kitchen, do the laundry, and take care of life.  Today, I am thankful for the time I had with my big kids (some  games are best played without the three-year-old sister running around).  I am thankful my husband had a successful surgery and is healing properly.  I am thankful that our family will all be together for dinner tonight.  I am thinking tacos…and chips and salsa. 🙂

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Tell Me, Do You Love Someone

If you love someone, anyone at all, you have to show your love by making these amazing homemade hash browns!

The first time I made these hash browns, I spent the entire day preparing and finishing them.  I scrubbed, baked, peeled, fried, ate, froze, and bagged.  It was a super long process (with great return).  I have discovered a few tips along the way to make it a much simpler process, though, which makes them that much greater.

Day One:  Scrub and bake a whole pan of potatoes.  Plan on eating baked potatoes for dinner to help with dinner prep.  If there are some potatoes that are not quite soft enough for eating, keep those back for the hash browns.  Put all leftover potatoes from dinner straight into the refrigerator.  I don’t bother wrapping them in anything, I just stick them on the shelf.

Day Two:  For breakfast, grab as many potatoes as you need and start grating.  I don’t bother to peel the potatoes anymore.  I lost too much potato and besides, most of the skins are left in my hand after grating.  Heat your skillet and melt a fair amount of butter in it. Layer a not too thick layer of grated potato into the skillet and cook on medium heat for about five minutes.  Every time I think I should start to flip it, I wait about two more minutes.  This gets the hash browns brown and crispy.

You can see, the skins just fall off.

After you get all you need for breakfast, if you still have potatoes, finish grating the rest.  Spread the remaining hash browns on a big flat plastic wrap lined cookie sheet and place in the freezer.  After they are frozen, place in ziploc bag.  Pull out for a quick and easy breakfast that shows a lot of love or lotzoflove.

I chopped up some bacon and then added some cheese for an extra special treat (yes we are on somewhat of a bacon kick).  The kids always want more than I ever prepare. Eric says he could eat them every day.

I hope potatoes are on sale this weekend and you can get a bunch to put into your freezer.  Your whole family will feel the love!

Market Day

I have a great lady named Roseline who comes everyday to help me keep up with my house.  I count this a HUGE blessing in my life and I pray that we are a huge blessing to her in return.  Occasionally, I will ask her to go to the market for me before she returns to my house the next day.  With Eric out of town for a week now and still another week yet to go, I knew that I was going to need some veggies to get us through until he returns.  It was like a mini Christmas around here this morning when she came loaded with delicious things for us to eat this week.

Here are the goods!

We had two bunches of bananas as well, but by the time I got around to taking the picture they were almost finished.  The small pile of oranges is much smaller now, too.  I am out of coconut oil (a new favorite!), so I have plans to use the coconuts to make some coconut oil this week.  I will share about that later.

Baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, fried potatoes, hash browns...

The kids have been asking for more hash browns lately, so I baked up a bunch of the potatoes this evening.  We ate them for dinner and have a bunch to turn into hash browns for breakfast, too.  Although, there aren’t as many as I hoped there would be.  Seems that Jett and Wilson couldn’t stop eating those baked potatoes tonight!

Garlic, green beans, carrots!

There are a lot more green beans in that basket than what the picture shows.  I have big plans to prepare several bags of stir fry veggies to keep on hand in the freezer.  I love, love having things like this in the freezer for a quick, easy dinner.   I  better get chopping those carrots and snapping those beans.

I love Market Day!

Too Short?

How would my life be different with arms that were too short or with no arms at all?  I know there are many people who do not have full use of their arms.  Many people, who live in close proximity to me as a direct result of the Port-au-Prince earthquake of 2010, have lost the privilege of having arms and/or legs.  Life has been dramatically altered in so many ways for these people. Many times, they are left with little options for their livelihood, left to be beggars on the street.

If I lost my arms, I wouldn’t be able to prepare food with quickness and accuracy.  Washing clothes would be a monumental task. Sweeping the floor would be impossible.   All of my “work” would have to be done with assistance. The saddest part might be that I would never be able to give my husband or my kids a big hug.  Or what if there was a terrible accident and I couldn’t reach in for a rescue.

This year I am trying to read through the Bible in a year together with Christa (11) and Hannah (9).  I was challenged to read my Bible in a year with my kids because of my great friend Emily, who together with her family, accomplished this very same challenge.  Although we are not overwhelmingly succeeding, we are not failing completely.  The other day, I was reading from Numbers 11 and a word jumped out at me.  It seems this same word jumped out to me a few years previously from Isaiah.  I decided to get out my husband’s huge concordance to see where else this word might show up within the same context.

Numbers 11:23  The LORD answered Moses, “Is the LORD’s arm too short?  You will now see whether or not what I say will come true for you.”

 

Isaiah 59:1  “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.  But your iniquities have separated you from your God;  your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”

 

Isaiah 50:2  “When I came, why was there no one?

When I called, why was there no one to answer?

Was my arm too short to ransom you?  Do I lack the strength to rescue you?

All Scriptures from the NIV, italics mine.

 

Try to imagine God with Short Arms

I love the word picture that God shows us when he asks us if His arm is too short to save.  If God’s arms were too short, he wouldn’t be able to do what He says He can do.  His promises would be empty.  His words be void.

 

I am so thankful that God gives us these words about His arms.  I am thankful that he has rescued me from my sin.  He saved my family from the deadly earthquake.  My God is mighty to save; and He has long arms!

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Bacon Basil Tomato and Cheese

Today’s lunch was inspired by another blogger that I found a couple of days ago.  The basil jumped out at me as I was scrolling through her pictures.  I simply love basil right now in my life and have been using fresh basil from my garden all spring and summer.  Perhaps it is because basil is the ONLY thing I could get to grow in my garden!  Check out her post at Channeling Contessa.

Beautiful Basil

Basically following her instruction, I placed half of my homemade sourdough English muffin on the pan and layered 2-3 slices of bacon with pepper jack cheese.  I broiled on high for 5 or so minutes.  I pulled it out just in time; the bacon almost wanted to overcook.  While the bacon and cheese were melting in the broiler, I put a bit of Kraft Creamy Poppyseed dressing on the other half of the English muffin.  This second half Christa toasted for me.  Then covered it with fresh basil leaves with a tomato slice.

When the cheese and bacon half came out of the oven, I placed the two halves together and served.

Everyone was all smiles and wanted to know if there was another one.  Not this time, but next time I might have to make more!

Pale Tortillas

When we moved our family to Haiti in the fall of 2008, perhaps there was a bit of guilt that played into my parenting.  Every time we traveled down from Ft. Jacques into Port-au-Prince, we bought the kids sodas and papita (fried plantain chips) on the side of the road. When we went to the grocery store, we bought them snacks that would remind them of the States.  These treats soon turned into expectations from the kids and unhealthy habits were formed.

Last December, I was desperate to move from “survive” to “thrive” with my kids and our home school.  Occasionally, I would get a glimpse of what our home school could be; what it needed to be.  Somedays everything went so well.  The kids were happy to do what ever I told them they needed to accomplish.  They worked their hardest and did their best.  There were no emotional outbursts and running to the other room.  It was enough of a glimpse that I started investigating ways to ensure that there were more days like these.

One area of our lives I focused on was the nutritional habits of our family.  I thought maybe eliminating sugar might be part of the solution for our home school woes.  As I investigated what “eliminating sugar” actually meant, I read about the differences between white flour and whole wheat flour.  I bought a five pound bag of whole wheat flour just to experiment some with it to see if I could do anything fun with it.  Turns out I found some really great recipes on the internet and in just a matter of time switched out all of my recipes for whole wheat flour.  My kids didn’t fuss a bunch about the switch.  It has taken some trial and error in finding the right amounts and consistency.  I found a lot of useful information from heavenlyhomemakers.com that I use on a consistent basis.

After nine months of mostly using whole wheat flour (and LOVING it), I cannot find any more in Port-au-Prince.  I am not the “sugar nazi”  and we have in no way eliminated sugar; but I am confident we are much healthier now than we were a year ago.  I don’t want to switch back to white flour, but it seems at the moment I have no choice.  I have pale tortillas, pale pizza crust, pale muffins.  When I put any baked items on the table, my kids all think they look funny.  My measurements are all off, I cannot get the consistency right anymore.

The question now stands, will the grocery stores ever restock with whole wheat or should I look for other options?  I can buy wheat here in Haiti, but I need a grain mill to grind it.  Do I want to be a hard core whole wheat grain grinder?

tomato and basil pizza, with a pale crust

I miss my whole wheat flour…must find a grinder.

Whale Watching

Sweet Hannah wrote a summary of all she learned about whales.  I wish I could take my kids on a whale watching expedition.  It would be so fun after learning all about whales.  Maybe someday.  The Pacific coast is calling my name…

Whales

I learned all about whales. I learned about the two different kinds of whales: baleen and toothed. A baleen has baleen instead of teeth. Baleen are smooth on the outside and bristly on the inside. Baleen are bigger than toothed. Toothed have teeth. Whales can perform too. They do four things: breaching, lobtailing, spyhopping, and logging. Breaching is jumping up in the air and splashing into the water. Lobtailing is sticking their tail out of the water and smacking the water. Spyhopping is sticking it’s head out of the water and spinning. Logging is floating with very little movement and looking like a log. Whales also migrate.  They will usually go to Antarctica and eat four tons of krill a day.Then they will go to their breeding grounds where they will have their calves.There they will not eat until they go to Antarctica again.They live off their blubber.

By: Hannah

 

Whale behaviors, by Hannah

 

 

Apple Down Cake

A week or so ago, Eric came home with three amazing pineapples.  As soon as Jett saw them, he said, “YUM! Now you can make an Apple Down Cake!”  That might be the only way I ever refer to a Pineapple Upside Down Cake for the rest of my life.  Those pineapples were all eaten fresh, so the thought of apple down cake has been on his mind for a while now.

Fresh Haitian Pineapples!

 

Today was Jetty’s tea party day.  He knew for a few days that it was coming up because I asked him what he wanted to help make and serve to his siblings.  Of course, he wanted to make apple down cake (although he has corrected himself) for the tea party.  Eric found some more pineapples on Tuesday evening because that is just the kind of great dad he is!  So this afternoon, we ate apple down cake and drank a little soda pop.

Jett concentrating hard on the pineapple placement.

 

Jetty's Apple Down Cake

We sent Eric and Callie off to Joplin, MO early this morning.  Eric has a minor surgery on Friday morning for a neglected medical issue. We decided to send Callie at the last minute for some time with her Grandmas and Grandpas.  We are missing them like crazy, but the house is such less chaos without a three-year-old!  I plan to get all my laundry finished tomorrow afternoon.  Hopefully I can spend some quality time in my kitchen to get ahead for when they return.  Chances are that isn’t going to happen because Wilson is always hungry!

Oh, I shouldn’t forget to share this picture of an awesome rainbow we saw this afternoon.  Careful not to point at it, it will bring bad luck…a Haitian superstition.

Taken from the roof of our house.

 

Just after I took this picture, my exact words were, “No sword fighting on the roof with no railing!”  I love these crazy Lotz kids!

A Little Quiet Time

Sometimes I need just a little peace and quiet.  In a family with six kids, ages 6 months to 11 years, I must demand it or I will never get it!  Every school day at 2:00 PM, all the kids head to their rooms.  Ideally, they are supposed to read silently or play quietly on their beds.  Reality is that sometimes they get a little rambunctious with building blocks and Thomas the Train.  The girls love to spend their quiet time belting out tunes with Hannah’s Karaoke machine.  Poor Callie gets shuffled between the boys and the big girls.  Seems being three-years-old is rather rough.  She is at that age where she needs a nap, but doesn’t want to give up the fight.  Some days she wins, some days I win.

As I have mentioned, home school did not start out so great for us.  Not quite a year ago, I started reading a lot from other home schoolers about their schedules, curriculum, and expectations.  I came across several families who insist on quiet time for their kids (no matter the age) and I thought it should be added to our day.  My oldest girls are readers and Christa was insisting that she needed an hour everyday to just read.  Quiet time was just what we needed.  It gives the kids a break from listening to their mom’s instruction.  They need a break just as much as I need a break from trying to teach, train, and guide them.  They now refer to it as “QT”.

At two o’clock, everyone heads to their room and shuts the door.  They are not supposed to come out until I excuse them.  Although they didn’t like it at first, there are no arguments now.  Everyone is content to play in their rooms.  Even Aimee lays down in her pack-n-play to take a nap as well.  I reheat a cup of coffee and  I escape to my room usually to fold laundry.  If there is a lot to fold (and there usually is), I turn on a Mark Driscoll sermon from Mars Hill Church out of Seattle, WA.  Sometimes I spend QT in the kitchen getting ready for dinner.  Sometimes I talk on the phone with my best friend Krystal.  Sometimes I accidentally fall asleep.  After an hour of QT, I am ready to take on the kids again!

I am so thankful that other moms shared this tip with me.  I love this time and I am thankful that it helps me be a better mom!

I sure wish I had started this earlier…

 

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Looking for Some Adventure

I was really hoping for some adventure today, but found the next best thing.  The whole Lotz family trekked up the mountain to Ft. Jacques, Haiti, where we spent our first year together when we came down in November of 2008.  The week before the Haiti earthquake in January 2010, we moved down to Port-au-Prince.  Today was the first time we went back to visit our old neighbors and let the kids run in the hills and through the gardens.  We got to see our overgrown pig that has been living and EATING up there in Ft. Jacques.  The air is cool in Ft. Jacques, a nice respite from the Port-au-Prince heat.

The kids on the "rout de coupe" or short cut from our old house to the main road.

On the way to Ft. Jacques, we stopped at the Baptist Mission for lunch. You can learn more about the Baptist Mission here. We feasted on pizza, chicken nuggets, french fries, and ice cream.  It is a fun place to visit, and has the most incredible view of the surrounding mountains terraced with gardens and small houses.   In addition to their “fast food” restaurant, they also have a great gift shop of hand made items that are made by the Haitians living in the area.  I picked up a nativity scene made from a coconut with hand painted figurines.  I know it is a little early for Christmas, but the last couple of times I have been there they were sold out.  I didn’t want to miss out again!

 

Wilson enjoying his ice cream. He finally lost his second front tooth!

 

Aimee eating her first bites of ice cream!

My new nativity scene! Hannah called it a "Cocohut".

Although we didn’t have a new adventure, it was great to take a peek into the past.  Fun day here for the Lotz family.