Anyway, I digress. What did I do today? Let's see...since it's after 1:00am now, let me turn my brain back on.
6:30am Woke up, threw on my favorite warm clothes and headed toward the local Walmart Neighborhood Marketplace. These, for those of you that don't know, are the little brother to the giant mega store Walmarts. The Neighborhood Marketplaces are primarily groceries and usually MUCH cleaner. We've been shopping at this particular branch for almost ten years now and we've gotten to know many of the employees by name. Butch, the butcher (go figure, right?) is beginning his morning mark-down process about this time every morning. I glide in and snatch anywhere from ten to forty pounds of meat at a serious discount. Today, I scored about forty pounds of Walmart's 73/27 hamburger meat. Now, I know you farmers out there are probably cringing right now at the thought of not only eating lousy Walmart meat but eating the fattiest of the Walmart meat. All I can say is, until we get our own homestead/farm, I go for quantity. I used to spend the extra money on the fancy schmancy 95% lean meat but at the end of the day...it was still Walmart meat. I'm sure it was full of pesticides, puss, hoof, hormones and whatever else is thrown in there.Argh! This is depressing me! Moving on...
I originally went to the store for simple staples: milk, cheese, etc. On occasion I get lucky and today was one of those days. Inside a freezer end cap, in the far corner of the store, was a whole freezer of clearanced out food. Two slices of heavenly strawberry cream cheese pie for $1.25. Large bags of chicken nuggets (don't get me started on the meat issue!) for $2. Hormel sausage links for $1 and the list goes on and on. I filled up my shopping cart like the angry golden horde was heading down the isle straight at my freezer. I don't know why. There wasn't many people in the store. I guess buying groceries at half off (and more) just really gets me excited. I rounded off the cart with apples on sale. $0.25 per pound! I gasped and quickly snatched up several bags. Once home I juiced $1 worth of apples and it filled a 2Qt jug . Oh, I was racing to the bedroom to show Wifey! Cheap and delicious!
8:30 I'm mashing up the hamburger I just purchased from Butch and mixing in my Nesco beef jerky seasoning. I made three pounds and was ready to start shoving it into my Nesco beef jerky gun when it happened. A crucial piece of the gun was gone. Searched every stinking cabinet, behind freezers, gone! Now what? Wifey told me we had no icing bag squirty things. That was my first solution (watching too much Cake Boss lately, I guess.). Not one to be stopped when I want something done, I emptied a stiff baggie of edemame beans. Wifey cut a corner off and I shoved the meat into the bag. She began squeezing the meat out into tube strips and we were off to the races! Until the bag popped anyway. We went through three baggies before I finally started rolling this stuff between my hands like a kid making "snakes" out of play dough.
9:00 Went out and checked on the garden. I had used my left over pvc pipe from last years keep-the-birds-outta-the-corn netting creation and built an arch over the peas. Then I used some twisty ties (cause I've begun keeping every stupid little thing I get my hands on) to hold in place some chicken wire which I stretched from one end to the other. This made a sort of trellis for the peas to climb up. I read that was a good thing for peas. Didn't look so hot but I made do with what supplies I had. Squash still haven't even sprouted. I think I messed something up with those? Last season they overtook one whole corner of the yard. The beets are growing nicely, as are the cauliflower and artichoke, oh and lettuce. Cukes are a no show so far. Strawberries are barely hanging in there.
9:15 I go through both freezers to organize. My grocery run had resulted in the need to re-organize. I didn't realize how much food we still had from the last few runs. Both freezers are now completely packed. Time to start cooking in the fire pit out back. Ribs, steaks, hamburger and chicken among others. As a new tactic, as I cleaned out and reorganized my freezers, I wrote down meal ideas. The kids are always saying "There's nothing to e-he-he-he-heat!" That's my attempt at sounding out the way the whine when they complain that there's nothing to eat. Turns out, after my little experiment, there are exactly 13 dinner meals, 12 lunch meals and almost as many breakfast combinations. I think I'll write down all the meals on strips of paper and put them in a hat. When they ask "What's for dinner?", I'll have them draw it out of the hat. I don't know about your house , but around here seems like no three kids can agree on the same meal. I'm hoping that drawing out of a hat makes it appear like a random choice and we won't hear "she always gets what SHE wants!" Ugh, girls.
10:30 Wifey and I start dropping hints that if everyone was to get ALL their chores done and rooms cleaned, we MIGHT be able to go out and have some FUN today... Well, guess what? They did! I was shocked. I had to give the usual reminders. You know, help keep their little teenage brains focused. Slowly but surely, it all got done. So at noon we...
12:00 Headed to the local Swap Meet. This place is a local phenomenon. You see, here in Arizona, our winter population explodes with winter visitors, aka snowbirds, you know...blue hairs. And without fail, about three miles from my house, every single weekend during the winter, we have a ginormous traffic jam of Wisconsin license plates converging from every direction, jockying to get into the Swap Meet parking lot. So today, I took my 14, 12, 11 and 5 year old daughters to check it out. It's like a giant garage sale under a circus tent. There must have been 100+ booths rented at this thing to folks selling just about everything. The girls had a great time and spent about $10 each on earrings, rings, necklaces and one Beanie Baby rainbow bear. They thanked me numerous times and exclaimed what a great time they had. I kept reminding them that this is an example of what we can do when they don't spend the ENTIRE day dragging out their chores.
2:00 We headed to a local K-Mart and picked up a bunk bed. We have a four bedroom house and six daughters. Do the math. We have to put two girls per room and the time has come to finalize that idea. We still have the two and four year old in our bedroom and it's, um, well...time for a change. So tomorrow, I'll be putting together our third bunk bed and re-arranging some rooms. I shutter at the thought of Wifey and I having our bedroom all to ourselves. I remember those days...kinda. It was a while ago.
I spent the rest of the day hanging with the fam. This is what I've been waiting for. The years of working double overtime to pay off bills. Now, I can finally just stay home and relax. Well, figuratively speaking. While relaxing, I:
- helped daughter #1 prepare for her talk tomorrow in church. Her topic is Faith and Repentance. I actually learned quite a bit just by helping her. For starters, I was spelling repentence all wrong. I kept looking up scriptures for anything related to "repentence" and my searches kept coming up empty. I was like, what? Is this stupid program trying to tell me that nobody repented? Ever? That's when I realized I misspelled repentAnce. LOL.
- helped daughter #2 outline the second portion of her science project. She chose the project where you drop different colors of food coloring onto the plate of milk. Then add a few drops of Dawn liquid detergent soap and watch the colors all spread out and swirl around. Yup, now dad gets to learn about surface tension. Remember, we're relaxing.
- daughter #3 chimed in about how her grades are suffering in math and she'd like to start going to tutoring after school. You mean, you don't want me to help you figure out why your ipsilateral quadrilateral parallelogram isn't coming up with the proper angles? Gosh, well...okay. Go see a tutor then...I guess :-)
- daughter #4 is completely amusing herself. She claims she sat on a barking spider...
- daughter #5 has a fever hovering around 105 and we're about to give her pediatric tylenol to start helping her body bring the heat down a bit. She finished her amoxicillin a few days ago so it is apparently viral. I try to let the fevers run their course but get uncomfortable when these little angels hit 105-106. I've called my ER doc buddy and he keeps reading me a medical book that says there have been no documented cases linking brain damage to high fever. Regardless, she gets tylenol.
- daughter #6 is happy as a clam watching Dora the Explorer with mom in the bedroom.
Now it's almost 3am and church service is at 9am. Not too bad. Of course, it's my turn to come in early and set up chairs. So I have an 8:15am arrival time. But it's all good. In retrospect, I don't think this day could have gone much better. Let's see what tomorrow brings.