We’re Baaaack!! (well, almost….)

Back in January of this year, we started out on this journey….of reclaiming our family.  And, of course, when you decide to do something….to make this great change for the better in your lives, than what happens?  Satan comes at you hard…..bringing you down by the very thing that you are trying so hard to get out of.

 In our world, that would be chaos.  And let me tell you, in this year has been a year of complete chaos.  In addition to finding out that we are moving out of state, we also found out that we are expecting our 4th baby.  

We thought by this time, that we would be Floridians, but the date of Danny’s transfer keeps getting pushed back…and back….and back.  It’s due to construction issues with the building in Florida, but for us it was kind of like, “you’re moving in a month….get packed. Find a place to live.  Oh wait, did we say a month?  Make that 3.  Oh, wait, can we make that 2 more?” And so on.  So, from first hearing we would be moving in April, it turned into June, then August, then October and now it looks like we’ll be heading to Florida in September.  We shall see, we shall see.  

And on to the next news…..the expecting of our 4th child.  If you know me at all you know one thing I do really well is puke when I’m pregnant (and get insanely huge and birth really big babies, but that’s another story…).  This is not just any morning sickness, what I experience drags me down, usually for months at the time.  And this pregnancy has been no different.  I had a VERY rough few months, but I’m so happy to report that though the sickness is still ever present, it is also very manageable at this point.  Thank you, Jesus. 

But basically, the story is… it is really hard to blog when you are puking.  So, the first thing that got pushed to the back burner was, unfortunately, our blog.  But we are coming back.  I am feeling better, which means my family is feeling better and as of August 1, we are back in business here at Family Reclamation.  

Just a quick update on how things will roll  here on the blog starting NEXT THURSDAY, August, 1st:

First day of every month: we will introduce a new “area of reclamation”, which basically means a part of our crazy life that we are reclaiming.  In this first post of the month, we will explain our problem and why we are reclaiming this area of our lives.

Every Monday of the month: We will update on how we’re doing so far in our reclamation, and have specific goals for that  week.

Every OTHER Tuesday of the month: Sarah will host a series called, True Talk Tuesday where she blogs about random issues she is dealing with.  Not necessarily having anything to do with the current reclamation, but just as entertaining none the less!

Every Thursday of the Month: We have a series called Thankfulness Thursday, where we’ll list all of the gifts we’ve counted throughout the week.  At the end of 2013, the goal is to have a list of 1000 gifts.

We really hope that you will join us on our journey of Reclamation!

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When life is exhausting

mother  Sometimes life is exhausting.  There are stressful jobs, deadlines due, homework to be done, beds to make, meals to cook, kids to take to school (and baseball and soccer), babies that don’t sleep, church to go to, groceries to be bought, grass to be mowed, oil to change, diapers to change,  and no matter what YOUR list looks like, everyone’s list goes on… and on… and on.  Life gets crazy, and hectic and we are so busy we can barely even remember what we did yesterday that made us so tired today.

Sometimes eating real food in an already busy everyday can make you so. insanely. exhausted.

This is for the people that say to me,

“I don’t have time for that”

“I work too much”

“I could never do that”

“other things are more important”

and it is FOR ME who says to myself,

“I don’t have time for this!”

“I work too much!”

“I can’t do this!”

“other things are more important!”

Because, let’s face it….. some days I don’t have time for soaking beans and kneeding dough and sauteeing veggies and some days I DO work too much….that I miss out on playing a board game with my 6 year old, researching animals with my 8 year old, and stopping to look in the 11 month old’s eyes when he reaches out for me as I rush by…..to do more work.  And some days it’s true…. I. just can’t. do. this.  And Lord help us if we don’t realize that….other things ARE more important.

So as much as I believe in eating real food, and in making sure my family has good healthy things to snack on and as crucial as I know it is to keep things like high fructose corn syrup and GMO’s out of our house and our bodies, there are times that the plan doesn’t go the way I want it to go.  There are days when the dishes pile up because history has to be taught, and babies have to be nursed and games have to be played, and magic tricks have to be watched.  And there are days that the dinner that needed to be started by 4:00 was forgotten because the little one has teeth coming in and can’t stop crying, and the boxes have to be packed and the 8 year old needs to know right now what dog breed is really the smartest and why.  And when dinner gets forgotten and it turns into cereal at 10pm instead of chicken and rice at 6, that WAS NOT the plan.  And sometimes there is a traffic jam on the way to the chiropractor and a child that HAS TO go potty right now and stomachs that should have been fed lunch an hour ago so there is a drive thru and that was not the plan.

And I always self condemn and I think I should have had a better plan.  I should have gotten up earlier,  gotten more done today, brought snacks with us, had a frozen meal ready to be cooked and maybe all of those things are true.  But at the end of the day when I am kissing my husband goodbye as he heads out to work and I am laying the baby in his bed, and listening to the girls play nicely together (for the first time all. day.), I remember that it’s okay.  There is always tomorrow.  And just like one bad day doesn’t make everyday bad, one bad meal does not mean every meal is bad.  So to you, and to myself, I say

grace

give yourself some grace.  

you have a bad real food day, don’t make it a bad real food week.  Start again at the next meal.  Or the next.  Or the next day!  Take a deep breath, and start again.  Because, afterall, everyday I do have some time, and if every day I make some time then there are far less days when I work too much, and if there are far less days when I work too much, there are far more days that the things that are more important, are more important to me, and far more days when the feeling turns from “I just can’t do this” to “wow….I’m doing this.”

          Personally, if I get overwhelmed, I am prone to depression and panic, among other things.  In order to keep the chaos under control, I try to take one day to do all the baking.  I also double the recipes and freeze what I can, so the baking (bread, crackers, snacks, etc.) last about 2 weeks. I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl, but the older I get the more I realize I can train myself to be  more organized.  One way I am doing this is by following a  meal plan and having a nightly routine to prepare for the next day.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  bad day

Goals for the week

As we talked about our goals for this week, what we’re struggling with and what we think needs to be reclaimed in our food life, we both were burdened by the amount of clutter in our kitchen.  To cook real food it takes pots and pans and pans and pots and dishes and dishes and dish.es.  Just like when we blogged about our laundry, we started realizing that we have too. many. dishes.  The dishes pile up and there’s always another pot to cook this or boil that, and then we end up with a sink full of dirty dishes….and no time right now to wash them because there’s speech to get to by 12:30 and then by the time school is done this afternoon there’s no time to wash those pots from breakfast…..because dinner has to be cooked NOW.  No problem!  There’s 8 more pots in the cupboard.  …..And so it goes way more often than I care to admit.  This is clearly a problem for us.  It is time to CLEAN OUT THE KITCHEN.

*narrow down the dishes (pots pans, plates, silverware….everything) to what we really need

*make time after EVERY meal to wash the dishes (which for me, will a lot of times mean to start meals earlier)

*Eat dinner at 6pm every night (this is still a goal, because it’s still a struggle)

Thank you all for reading our blog and for your support.  W love hearing from you and would love to know about your real food journey!  Are there days when it is just plain exhausting??  How do you cope?

Thankfulness Thursday

welcome to Thankfulness Thursday! Every Thursday I will add to our 2013 list of 1000 gifts. The list is compiled throughout the week by all members of our family as we learn to see God’s grace gifts on a daily basis.

1. Tiny marshmallows
2. Jesus & God
3. Zebras
4. Making zebra masks
5. Reading in bed
6. Hot soup on a cold night
7. Calm after the storm
8. White clouds in a blue sky
9. Baby laughs
10. Tickles from daddy
11. Car lights
12. A surprise unexpected
13. Money saved
14. Quarters in the mall ride
15. Red bird in the tree out front
16. First run
17. Pajama Saturday
18. Front parking space
19. Ice cream smiles
20. School on the mantle

March week 2, part 2

You can see part 1 of this post here.

It was brought to my attention that in part 1 of this post I didn’t mention where we buy our ground beef. We have gotten our ground beef from several different places.  We used to get it from Destiny Organics at the State Farmer’s market.  Then we ordered from Natures Garden delivered for awhile (and we highly recommend them, btw).  Right now the ground beef in my freezer is from a friend’s brother’s farm.  You can buy grass-fed ground beef from just about any grocery store now, but you’ll pay anywhere from $8-$10 lbs.  You can get a MUCH better deal if you buy it from bulk from a farm.  A great resource is eat wild, where you can put in your location and it tells you farms where you can find grass-fed beef near you.  We’re about to be in the same boat as all of you trying to figure this out when we move out-of-state in a couple of months.  In some ways, I feel like I’m starting all over again on this real food journey as I try to navigate what the real food world looks like in Jacksonville, Fl.

In part 1 I talked a little bit about how much we spend on groceries, where we shop and what kind of things we buy.  I wanted to talk a bit more about budget.  We save a good deal of money by making a lot of the things we eat.  We don’t usually buy snack foods.  I regularly make a lot of our food, including…

*sandwich bread

{my favorite recipe is the frugal girls whole wheat sandwich bread.  I exchange the white flour with whole wheat pastry flour.  I’ve also started experimenting with gluten-free bread.}

*muffins & english muffins

{I try to do at least 3 grain free breakfasts a week.  Here is our #1 and #2 favorite grain free muffins.  We also do grain free pancakes. The english muffin recipe is not grain free and it comes from the frugal girl.  Again, I replace the white flour with Whole Wheat Pastry or spelt flour.}

*tortillas

{tortillas are super easy to make and really good, too!  There’s a ton of great recipes out there, but this is one of our favorites!}

*snacks

{I like to have a lot of healthy snacks on hand so when the kids ask for a snack, I can fill them up with something nutritious and yummy.  We have just started making 100 days of real food’s homemade larabars.  They. are. so. good.  We also enjoy power balls, I’ve started making the nourishing home’s grain free crackers –sometimes I add 1/2 c of cheddar cheese for a “cheese it”- like addition.  We also snack on bananas with almond butter, cheese sticks, apples with yogurt-try mixing plain yogurt with 1 tsp of maple syrup-, carrots and 100 days of real food’s homemade ranch dip.  We also always have a good assortment of nuts and dried fruit to snack on.Also, one of our all time favorite snacks is kitchen stewardship’s granola bars. }

Making these things really does cut down on the budget.  Snacks are expensive!!

WHEN do we grocery shop??

**I know going to several different stores (one of them being 45 minutes away) can seem ‘un-doable’, but I am here to say this is about priorities and it is possible.  We have done our grocery shopping several different ways.  Sometimes we go to DFM all together on the weekend, as a family.  It’s a really fun place to go and the kids view it as a family day.  They get to sample bread, pick up live fish in nets, eat lunch together and grab a (super cheap!) pastry to eat on the way home (or after you get home if you’re not one to have frosting smeared on your car windows.  Smile.)

**Sometimes life feels hectic and I just have to go. to. the. store. alone.  When this happens, I’ll run out by myself in the evening, on the weekend, in the morning….whenever I can get away and Danny keeps the kids at home.  Recently, I have left the two youngest kids with Danny, and Ruthie and I run to do the groceries on our own.  This works really well.  We get time alone to chat and connect and we can also get things done a lot faster.

**I go to DFM with friends, a lot of the time.  I’ve done this with kids or without.  Both are doable.  Hear that–both are doable.  There is not a right way or a wrong way to do this.  I know schedules are different….some of you may have your kids in school all day and you have a great opportunity to get your groceries done during your day.  Take advantage of that.  start early and you can get it all done before it’s time to pick up the kids from school.  I am also aware that some of you go to work all day and I know it’s tougher to find time to hit several stores.  It can be done, though.  It may have to be done on an evening or a weekend, but it can be done.  Some of you have a job of educating your kids at home (like myself) but–It can be done.  It can!  A lot of the times I am wearing a child, have a child walking (or dancing or skipping) beside of me, a child sitting (or building castles out of food) in the cart…but we get it done.  We view it as an adventure, I remind myself of how fast these days will be gone and we get it done.  And most times, we enjoy it.

**Some advice I can give is—try to shop or 2 weeks-1 month at a time so you are not trying to figure this out every week.**

GOALS FOR THE WEEK

Our goals for last week were to meal plan every meal for this week.  The meal plan is going well so far–because it Monday–.  Now, if I can only get my scattered brain to stick. to. the. plan.  We’ll see.  The next goal was to eat dinner at 6 every day.  That did NOT go very well.  I’m bad a time management.  I’m trying, though!  We will be keeping that goal on the list for this week.  In addition to that, our goals for this week are…..

*Stick to the meal plan

*Take healthy snacks with us wherever we go!

*Eat dinner by 6:00 every night

*Eat a grain free meal every.day.

March week 2, Part 1

DISCLAIMER: this a a 2 part post.  I will post again on Monday with part 2.

I’m just going to plunge right in….I know what people think.

“Organic food in expensive.”

“Everyone eats like I eat.”

“I’d rather die happy than healthy–I’ll take my chances.”

I know these thoughts, because they were once mine.  Especially the expensive one.  I could not imagine HOW people ate organic food.  I chalked it up to it must only be rich people who do that, and I’m not rich.  I have to eat what I can afford.  I didn’t want to know what I was eating.  I just knew I couldn’t afford anything else—-so I blindly cut out coupons for food that shouldn’t be called food, grabbing the least expensive things I could get my hands on, not knowing (or wanting to know) what I was doing to my body.  Or the bodies of my family.  I explained back in February that we had a wake up call when my daughter was diagnosed with food allergies and I found Robyn O’Briens website and book, the UNhealthy  Truth.  From there we watched Food inc., followed by Jamie Oliver’s Food revolution (I recommend season 2 episode 2 to everyone!) and then anything we could find….like King Corn and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead ,to name two.

****I would like to challenge EVERYONE reading this to pick just ONE of the documentaries/episodes I mentioned above and WATCH IT. ****

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From that point, we knew one thing: WE HAD TO MAKE A CHANGE.

The changes were a little at a time.  We would pick one thing, like meat or milk and we would research it TO DEATH until we knew what we thought about that ONE thing and how we felt like it needed to change, and then we would CHANGE IT.  So, here, at this point in our lives, it is still a learning process.  We are still changing things little by little (for example, we just recently changed the water we drink.)

Here are a few things that we do:

*our main goal is to eat what is real.  we read labels.  If it has an ingredient list that takes an hour to read (you know what I mean!), we  don’t buy it.  If it has ingredients that we can’t pronounce, or don’t recognize, we don’t buy it.  If it has corn ANYthing (and it’s NOT a NONGMO product) as one of the first 5 ingredients (and we try to stick with things with 8-10 ingredients or less) we Don’t buy it.

{like apps?  Fooducate is a great one!  Scan any item and it ‘grades’ it for you!  My kids LOVE seeing the grades of their food! It’s free–get it!}

*We follow the dirty dozen/clean 15

{{If it is on the dirty dozen, it comes into our house organic or local (naturally) grown.  **for instance, the fruit stand right down the road from us does not want to pay the huge amount of money it would have to pay to officially become ‘USDA certified organic” but they grow their fruit without the use of harmful pesticides.  This is local food that is naturally grown.  This is my favorite kind of food to buy!**}}

*We stick to a low gluten/gluten-free diet

{{this is simply because it is better for your digestive track.  We have a couple of family members with celiac sensitivities and it’s just better for all of us.  We have also done a 30 day Paleo challenge, and still eat quite a few grain free meals.}}

*We DO NOT buy conventional chicken or beef.  We will go quite a bit into detail with this in a later post, but it is a no-compromise issue for us.  If we are tight on money, we incorporate more meat-free meals.

*We drink unhomogenized, lightly pasteurized  milk (We prefer raw, but don’t have a supplier at the moment).  We also use almond milk and coconut milk to cut back on our dairy intake.  We do not drink soy milk at all. (we will talk more about milk in a later post).

*We try to avoid sugar to the best of ability (it’s everywhere isn’t it???  And super yummy, to boot!)  We try to stick more to sweeteners such as local raw honey, maple syrup, molasses and sucanat.

({Fake sugar including aspartame, splenda and the like are OFF LIMITS.  We avoid them like the plague.  It’s just NOT REAL.}}

*We care where are eggs come from!!  We care about antibiotics and hormones given to chickens that our eggs come from, we care about how those chickens were raised and we are willing to pay a little more to make sure the eggs we eat are SAFE to eat!

*we try not to eat corn products that are not NON GMO.  This is not always possible, because….we live in America, but we try.  (watch king corn)

Those are the MOST important food issues to us.  Not the only important issues, but the MOST important.

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Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

We spend $400 a month on groceries.  This includes all of our food, toiletries, laundry supplies, diapers.  I don’t know how this compares to your grocery spending,  but I can tell you how it compares to the rest of America.  According to this gallop poll, the average american family spends $151 a week on food.

I love Publix.  There it is.  Out in the open.  Publix is clean, the people who work there treat you like you’re their long-lost sister….or daughter.  The aisles are nice and wide and they give you free cookies (and free dinner, if you time it right).  There cake is delicious, their pharmacists are the best and they practically BEG to push your cart full of cranky kids (and groceries) to the car and unload it all for you.  All of that being said, unless you are buying a few certain things OR using coupons, Publix is expensive.  I do get some things there.  They are the only place around that carries some things I occasionally feed my 11 month old.  I do shop there, I think they are a great company, but, unfortunately, when staying on my REAL budget for REAL food, I do better elsewhere.  We do most of our shopping at 3 stores.  Below I have tried to explain the system….

Dekalb Farmer’s Market

We do a great deal of our shopping at the  Dekalb Farmer’s Market. It is quite a hike for us, but it is worth it.  If you are looking for things they just don’t have at the grocery store, it is worth it.  And if you are trying to eat real food on a real-life budget, it is worth it.  We try to go twice a month.  Nope, it doesn’t always happen, but that is the goal.  This is where we get most of our produce.  Organic produce is hard to find  on the south side of Atlanta, and if you do find it, they want you to pay for it with body parts it’s so expensive.  There have been times when I have been in a bind and had to compromise, but it nearly kills me.  We also get our flour (whole wheat pastry, spelt flour and several different gluten-free varieties), spices, unhomogenized milk, I’ve just started buying lunch meat there and don’t think I can ever go back to the overly processed stuff, now.  We get almond butter and peanut butter (they grind it fresh right in front of your eyes!) there, maple syrup, coconut oil, dried fruit, nuts, sucanat, apple cider vinegar, and more.

Kroger

I also shop at Kroger.  They have great deals, they have a great natural food department and they have started carrying their own organic line of food called Simple Truth.  I always do well at Kroger (money. wise and health wise)!  I buy chicken at Kroger.  They have boxes of  harvestland chicken breasts (they also sell this brand at Wal-mart), and I have also bought Simple Truth Chicken.   Sometimes I buy eggs at Kroger (simple truth) if I can’t get them fresh from a farm.   I buy cereal there quite often, yogurt (I usually buy stoneyfield farm) if it’s a good price, and a few other things here and there that I can’t really remember.  I do buy butter there, usually.

**for those of you that don’t know, Kroger has a ‘clearance’ section that I LOVE to shop!  They almost always have some organic/natural food cereals and snacks back there.  It’s a great way to save!**

I also shop at Aldi.  They have a few good options at a low-cost, and my kids love putting a quarter in (and taking it out) for the cart.  It’s a great time. At Aldi, I buy cheese, tilapia and salmon.  That’s pretty much it.   Their salmon and tilapia are NOT farm raised (which is really important….I even ask at restaurants if it is farm raised before I order.  If it’s a yes, I pass).  The cheese is just regular cheese.  We have not made the switch to raw milk cheese yet and I will admit wholeheartedly that it is because of the cost.  There are other things that are more important to us.  I will say here that we do try to limit our dairy intake.  Some weeks it works, others it doesn’t.  I would love to be completely dairy free (except for maybe yogurt), but we are just not there yet.

So, there you have it.  This covers what is important to us, where we shop, what we buy where we shop and how much we spend.  Coming up in part 2 on Monday: HOW we grocery shop–as in WHEN we do, WHO does it and how all of that fits into our busy lives.  Also… an update on our weekly goals, and NEW WEEKLY GOALS