Tag Archives: parenting

How my six kids prepared me for COVID

Having six kids in an exercise in perpetual organization. 

One of the tricks I have that allows me to get so much done (kids, work, volunteer activity, writing) is that every morning I sit down with a cup of coffee and I write a to-do list for the day. 

Every single morning. 

And then I move through the list item by item. I even create little checkoff boxes near the tasks so I can see my progress throughout the day. 

I do love and live by my lists. 

But to be fair,I have always been a consummate list maker, even as a kid I’d organize items and thoughts in one of the notebooks that I always carried. But never was this superskill more helpful than when we would go on our family vacations. I’d carefully write out a list of absolutely everything we’d ever need (Toothpaste, sunscreen, Advil and bandaids. Snacks to keep kids quiet during the car ride. Enough clothing to anticipate a few spills, etc.) Each list would be subcategorized into one for the kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, and would always include a separate list for each child (DO NOT forget the favorite blankie of child #2.) 

We’d start every vacation off with the same tired joke “well if we didn’t pack it, we don’t need it.” 

When I realized that I’d have to feed my tribe 3 meals a day for decades, my list making skills went into high gear. 

On Sundays, I’d sit down and write a menu for the week which included using anticipated leftovers the next day after certain meals. After the menu, I’d create a shopping list based on the ingredients needed for those meals. 

Breakfasts were always a choice of frozen waffles, English muffins, or cereal. 

School lunches consisted of either dinner leftovers or a sandwich with chips or crackers and a piece of fruit. 

Dinners had protein with vegetables and a salad. As the kids got older (especially the boys) I’d also have bread with butter and usually a hefty serving of potatoes – mashed, baked, or sauted.  

Snacks were fruit, cookies, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or brownies – the rule was if you wanted a snack then you had to get it yourself. Snacking because you were bored was expressly frowned upon. Food was just too precious. 

By writing all this down and having a plan on how to feed my family for the week, I ended up going to the grocery store only once a week and spent about $180 each time I shopped, organization clearly pays off. 

As my kids got older and left to live on their own, I started slacking off on the weekly organizing and shopping. I mean seriously, I had put in my time, right? My husband and I started to rely a little too much on takeout and meals at restaurants. Meals at home became a hodgepodge of whatever was available – cereal for dinner? Sure, why not? 

And then COVID came along with its enforced lockdown. I have a medical biology background. I understand how viruses and transmission works. I got that you need to protect yourself and your family. 

I got it – message received.  

I also have a son who is immunologically compromised and while he wasn’t living with us, we still had to make sure that we were “clean” the few times we met up with him to transfer gifts or supplies. 

All of the sudden, it became vitally important to go shopping as infrequently as possible. 

Once a mom, always a mom – I dusted off my dinner list making skills and sat down once again to make meal lists except that this time I wasn’t making them for a week, I was trying to see how many weeks I could get out of one trip to the grocery store.

Like before I made my meal plans and then created my shopping list. High on the supplies were pasta, sauces, frozen vegetables and eggs. Spices were also important – we have learned that quality flavorful wins over quantity.

After each shopping trip, we’d gorge on the fresh fruit and soft vegetables in the first week or two and then switch to the longer storing items like eggs, potatoes, squash, apples and oranges. Meats were divided into dinner portions and frozen. I’d buy cans of beans so that I could sprinkle them on meals in the same way one would sprinkle parsley. Just a few here and there for protein. 

Frivolous foods didn’t make the shopping cut. Items that packed a flavorful punch – sun dried tomatoes, spiced meats, feta cheese, and pesto did. 

I paid attention to serving sizes – a handful of chips, not the entire bag.  A chicken thigh or two not a full breast. One English muffin with butter for breakfast. The goal was to eat well while making the groceries last. 

During the worst of the pandemic, I ended up going to the grocery store about once every 6 weeks and while we did end up eating a little too many carbs (see reference to pasta and cookies) we did end up eating pretty well. We even managed to avoid the dreaded Covid 19 pounds that afflicted so many who were desperate for emotional and physical nourishment. 

My family was lucky. No one got really sick from COVID (although it does look like two of us actually had mild cases of it) However, thanks to the extraordinary super-mom-power skills of already running a household with 6 kids by using organizational lists, I was able to help guide my family through the worst of this global pandemic by getting the food we needed with as few trips to the outside world as possible. 

Wendy Thomas is a mom of 6, a former NH State Rep, and a protector of all things great and small.

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Lesson 1503 – Find the Puppy

It’s been been almost 10 months (!) since Dalai (aka Dolly) joined our family. Even though Pippin puts up with her (no more territorial growling between the two), there are still moments of jealousy.

Each morning when I come downstairs I greet my pups and give them each nice, long ear and belly rubs. I then spend some quality time cuddling.

This morning Pippin carefully guarded my lap from Dalai’s even entertaining the thought of jumping up to join us.

Once the first born, always the first born.

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Find the puppy.

 

 

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Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.

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Lesson 1393 – Find the Puppy – Skunk Spray edition

 

So, the other night, this little stinker:

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decided to have a not-so-pleasant conversation with this little stinker:

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Lesson 1392 – Leaving the nest

For the last 13 days I have had the most incredible experience of watching robins hatch from their brilliant blue eggs to then seeing them become little, but perfect birds in their own right.

Late yesterday afternoon I noticed that the chicks were starting to stretch out and sit on the top of the nest. That’s it, I thought, it’s like when you unfold a map, once opened there’s no putting it back.

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And then this morning, I went out on the porch to find this. Continue reading

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Lesson 1390 – Eyes wide open

I can’t get enough of these baby robins. The mom and dad are very tolerant of me  – I coo to them and they no longer fly across the street when I come outside and instead just move to the end of the porch. As long as I bribe them with blueberries they don’t seem to mind me getting near the nest (and then leaving quickly.)

It looks like one of the chicks didn’t make it (four eggs hatched) but honestly with how these little guys are growing so quickly I’m not sure the nest would have supported 4 chicks. All chicks have opened their eyes and the feather growth is nothing short of amazing. It’s such a pleasure and honor to be able to see all this.

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Lesson 1389 – The Prodigal Chicken Has Returned

 

Last night when I went to close up the coop, I realized that Charlie, one of my Black Copper Marans, was missing. It wasn’t *that* unusual because Charlie tended to try roosting in some odd places at night, sometimes she’d be on our front porch, sometimes on our back door, and even on one ironic occasion I found her roosting on top gas grill. Like a tiny tot, I secretly thought that Charlie enjoyed being carried off to bed when it was time for all to sleep.

But she wasn’t in any of the places I knew to look.

Put that on top of the text I had received from a neighbor who said that she had seen a fox near our house and the sense of dread threatened to buckle my knees.

No. Not Charlie. Please anyone but Charlie. Not beautiful, beautiful Charlie. Continue reading

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Lesson 1388 – Blue eggs countdown – they’re here

A lot has happened in our neck of the woods. Because our Robin has nested so close to our front door and because (I hope anyway) I continue to leave blueberries out for her each morning, she has tolerated me taking quick snapshots of her little family. Just take a look at what I am so lucky to be able to see.
Lots of pipping on that top right egg.

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Oh, look, here she is giving her siblings some emotional support. Continue reading

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Lesson 1386 – Blue eggs countdown

May 19th, 2016 – getting closer and closer.

I thought I saw some pipping yesterday, but now I think it was just some scratches on the egg.

The mama is *loving* the blueberries I leave out for her.

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Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.

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Lesson 1383 – Medicated mash or not?

 

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It’s chick season! My Facebook page is filled with all sorts of adorable chick photos (not that I’m complaining.)

I recently gave a chick workshop to some people who are interested in perhaps “trying chickens” (my advice? just bite the bullet and go for it.)

One way in which my workshops differ from others is that I suggest that all chicks receive medicated mash (baby food) until they are fully feathered and ready to live in the coop. Even if you want to grow “organic birds” I suggest medicated feed for those first few weeks.

Sorry, but it’s the microbiologist in me. I know what bacteria can do. Think about it. If you get chicks from a feed store they are typically housed in low tubs. Moms’ bring their young (sneezing) kids over to look at them. People pick them up (because they are so cute) and then return them to the tub (because they are not cute enough to keep.) Not only that but chicks are typically kept with many, many other chicks some of which may be weak and it’s the weaker ones that get sick. When one chick in a tub with hundreds gets sick, chances are many others will as well.

So I see medicated feed as a sort of insurance policy. Eat this for a few weeks just to make sure. Continue reading

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Lesson 1382 – Blue eggs countdown

I’ve been using this week to catch up on a lot of work that had been put aside for the past few months. I still have an article to write and a trip to the college for administration purposes before I can close up shop for the weekend.

Regardless of whether I’m ready or not, life goes on. Two days before my mother’s funeral, I got a call that our ordered chicks had arrived. I briefly thought about bringing them with us for the weekend to Connecticut but then figured the hotel probably wouldn’t be too excited about that. So I set them up in a trusty Tupperware box and found a chick sitter, who through the wonder that is Facebook, kept us connected to the newest members of our flock all weekend. Continue reading

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