It feels like just yesterday that I graduated from high school, and I can’t believe Judah has graduated. How did that even happen? People say time flies–they are right. Having the big girl graduate seems like a pretty great reason to catch you all up! It’s been a super busy year. We had a baby boy Tovah was born on December 29th, and we have been loving him every second since. I was a little worried about having a baby the same year that our oldest daughter was graduating, but to be honest- it’s been good. Stretching and changing is never easy, but it is good. Judah is growing up and I’m so proud of who she is and where her heart is. She is taking a gap year to intern with Beloved a ministry to high school girls to help them develop a personal relationship with Jesus. After that she will most likely go to college, she has several great schools to pick from. I wanted to reflect on Judah’s homeschooling just for my own notes and also for you guys who are new to homeschooling- we learned a lot along the way. Here is what sticks out:
I am writing to you from the postpartum recovery sofa, with my coffee, my four-year-old and my four month old flanking me…feeling very blessed and alive. I am treasuring the little brothers and gaining so much joy from getting to be the mama. Just a few months ago though I was 32 weeks pregnant and I ran into some trouble with the law. I thought I’d share it just to give you a laugh, and more important- I feel an obligation to keep yall informed. There are these moments when you realize it’s time to take a look, and reevaluate what you are actually doing with your life. The cat- it was a canary, you know, one of those things that makes us aware of trouble- of overwhelm. A red flag. I had been running in so many directions… so fast that when the Cat Debacle happened, it alerted me to something: I was far too pregnant to continue doing so much.
Thinking back, I grew up surrounded by nature and all of God’s green earth. We felt like we were in the country- off the beaten path, but really we were on the outskirts of town, sandwiched between farmland and the local cemetery. We had neighbors who chained their dog outside. We had regular interactions with all different species of birds and learned their calls and names and migratory patterns, thanks to my biologist dad. We climbed trees with a fierce ambition that I now own as competitiveness, and would race to the top of the pines. One time my older brother, Christopher got so high he could see Cicarelli Farms over on Geddes Road. We loved our woods and had special locations within that were so known by us that we named them: the temple, a little spot where we cut away the brush and placed a cross- it was a rule to go there first upon entering the forest to thank God….the tunnels- the Horns dug a straight up military bunker filled with Doritos and Frito Lay snacks because Lee across the street had a father who worked at the plant in Detroit, an atrocity because we were good Christian kids and knew better than to steal- but we ate our fill anyhow. We valued our life and the threats were real. There was also a creek, the sledding hill, and the good climbing trees. It wasn’t strange to find an animal dropped off by a stranger who thought our land was “THE WOODS” and in this way, we inherited an angora rabbit, Cottonball, a quail- Vanilla, several cats and many dogs- most of which my father brought to the Humane Society.
But this upbringing did not prepare me for the likes of Ann Arbor where animals reign supreme. Where people treat their pets better than they treat people….
We have an old house, and so when the snow flies, we have mice unless we have cats. Earlier in April, we had kittens- four little fuzzy ones and then had adopted a fifth when a friend had found a stray. It was really cool to see our mother cat- initially opposed to the sassy youngster- decide it would be easier to lick him top to bottom and then nurse him! Such a mom thing to do. Wash up and then have dinner! We were able to find loving homes for all of the kittens except two. We couldn’t bear to part with them, little Kevin (the stray) a fat orange tabby, and Delilah (soon to be called Dill- or Samson depending on which child you asked) who was a beautiful gray tabby with brown ears. We took them and the mother called Ray into the Humane Society for shots and to have them neutered and spayed, I had to leave mama cat Rey there because she was sick and we couldn’t afford the treatment. We did however pay a 75$ ‘surrender fee.’
Several weeks later both kittens disappeared. We have no idea where they went, and we were all afraid to admit they could be actually gone. Since it was just starting to get cold I decided to go get another cat from the same friend that had given us the mother cat. Rey’s relatives were all outdoor cats and although I had never gotten an adult male cat that wasn’t litter trained, I suppose I assumed that Miso (full name: Professor Miso Tofu Scallion) would acclimate just fine. But he did not adjust well, he was pooping everywhere and wasn’t eating much. No matter what we did, Miso wasn’t a happy camper- and so when on the fifth day of his stay in our house we came home from homeschool co-op to a sofa covered in feces- I lost it. I put that poor fellow in the cat carrier and into the van, and my son and I dropped him off on a country road- rather close to the Humane Society, and in my haste to get to a volleyball game, didn’t stop even when a woman exiting the Humane Society made eye contact and pulled over just where we had left the cat.
Well, she called the police and reported that we had abandoned a cat and the animal control officer came to my home that evening. I openly told him I had left the cat in a moment of pregnant insolence. I was tired of cleaning up cat poop- which I’m not supposed to clean because of the risk of toxoplasmosis- and the kids were sick of being told to clean up the mess, too. I was forward and honest and when he left the cop said, “thanks for your transparency.” I was like yeah, I respect the work you do, my sister is a police officer and I know how hard your job is…He was like, “Oh yeah, who’s your sister?” I told him her name and he left. I thought it had gone well. I was happy that I was the kind of person who didn’t feel like they need to lie to the police, I didn’t feel like I had done anything wrong!
Boy- did I make (another) mistake. It turns out that “abandoning an animal” is actually a misdemanor- and the Law says: 90 days in jail or 1000$ fine. ALSO: NEVER TALK TO A COP! The interesting thing is they can take a statement from you (or record it, which is totally legal), and write it up however they feel. SO in my situation the kind young man who I thought I had a good interaction with reported that I name-dropped my sister hoping to get let off easy- as in would it make any difference if my sister is a cop? WHAT?!?! Are you serious, yes, yes I am. My sister got pulled aside by her Sargent to make sure that she knew if I ended up in jail she would have to treat me with complete anonymity.
So I got a lawyer, went to court, and plead no contest to Animal Cruelty and received fines and probation which included community service, drug testing, and counseling. The good thing is that because I completed my probation I can have this charge taken off my record. Otherwise, it would stay with me for a minimum of seven years. Every time I get pulled over, or what have you- “ANIMAL CRUELTY” is right next to my name. Mind you, I didn’t harm an animal, but abandoning an animal falls under that heading.
What about the cat? Professor Miso Tofu Scallion ended up being caught by that Humane Society worker who brought him back to the vet and had him evaluated. On top of being quite sickly, he had fleas, ear mites, and an eye infection. He wasn’t well. I wonder if he was adopted?
There are many points to learn from my sad tale- but I think first and foremost is that as mothers we need to know our limits, and be thoughtful about how much we take on. If you feel like you’re drowning, what can you do? Bow out of an obligation? Delegate? Spend a little time caring for yourself– mentally, physically, spiritually? Notice the yellow canary alerting you to danger. Take steps to somehow lessen your load. I know it feels impossible. But also I broke the law in a panicked pregnant moment when I could have just as easily given the cat back to my friend.
There is no amount of preparation we can have in our lives to be able to understand the ways of the world we live in. You can do jail time for abandoning an animal and in the same town a minor can take the life of their unborn child- legally.
I am praying that this Mother’s Day you are filled with hope. Hope for yourself- that you can make the shift to providing for your own needs on top of what your family needs from you, and in that feel positively empowered that it is the right thing to do. Part of us being great mothers is showing our children how important it is to care for ourselves. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ implies that we must love ourself.
Blessings and kitty cats.
We all know how to barbeque, and that’s a darn good thing! It can make a fast dinner and is generally uncomplicated, however, is it always time to barbeque when camping? The short answer is no, because for me and my crew – we like to mix it up!
I should also mention that we were traveling with a large group. We had 10 adults and 34 children. SO we did have barbequed burgers and brats and hot dogs and of course smores! But we also tried out a salad bar which was a huge success and a taco/soft taco buffet which also was a hit! We have also learned over the years that pancakes for breakfast work really well, and to pre-make something great (we brought tuna noodle salad) so that the night you get to your destination you only have to pull it out of the cooler and dig in, it makes for a nicer transition to living without electricity!
We have to plan our trips meticulously because there are so many people and there are many moving parts. We started this time on Monday with going to the laundry mat and getting everything ready to pack. Then we packed. That was day 1! I will always do this from now on, it made it way easier to find the necessary items and was so much for peaceful. We typically use plastic bins instead of suitcases because they are waterproof and they stack better.
Tuesday we planned out our meals and ordered an enormous amount of groceries. And my amazing daughter not only cleaned out the camper from top to bottom, but she created a spreadsheet which contained everything we needed to do, everything we needed to buy, and all the many things we needed to pack, and then made a column for who was in charge of that item and when it was completed. This is not something I would ever in a million years think to do, but it really helped a lot! Thank God for EVA!
Wednesday we picked up groceries, put non-perishables in the camper, and everything else we attempted to hide in plain sight using grocery bags because we didn’t want it to all get eaten! Ha! We also started counting sleeping bags, figuring out tents and cots, worked on marinating the chicken and starting the tuna noodle salad. I also had the big girls “CHECK” out the younger kids bags to make sure they had all the things, including rain gear since the forecast said thunderstorms!
Thursday was the day of the kitchen, we gathered all the pots and pans and knives and cutting boards, can openers and all the added accouterments. We also found everyone’s bikes and the needed games and other minutia….. So on Friday when it was time to leave we basically tossed everything into our 31-foot camper, kind of unfair to have a rolling storage unit! And then glided off into the distance by noon! It was a wild adventure and we enjoyed ourselves immensely!
What fun things are you doing this summer? Do you have any favorite meals or tricks to share?
Thomason Family Tuna Noodle Salad
makes a boat load
2 boxes of small shell pasta
2 red onions, diced
3 lbs green or red grapes, halved
6 cans chunk light tuna
1 bottle Tastee Sweet and Sour Dressing
1 Cup Mayonaise
salt and pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS : Cook noodles as directed, drain in cold water until all the pasta is cold. Put in a huge bowl and start piling all the ingredients on top in no particular order. Make sure you make this the night before your travels so that it will be a stress-free day. Also, load up on the Tastee dressing, I always bring at least an extra bottle with me as most folks like to add more as it absorbs into the noodles!
Pro Tip: Click on the Highlighted words “marinating the chicken” above for a mouth-watering marinade that never goes wrong! Also, take a second to watch my YouTube video about Big Family Camping- there is a delightful giveaway!
Even at JennyJennyGenesis we have those days where we can’t get inspired to make food to put on the table and for that, we have take out, but even pizza places can grow tiresome and dare I say: wayyyy too expensive?
And so, frozen section: unite! I have tried some lately that were really quite delicious, even if I had to add a quick salad or some roasted veggies on the side.
Pizza is a natural choice for frozen food lovers, and we did try this Amy’s Margherita Pizza the other day and it had a really nice flavor. Hint: it’s even better if you brush the bottom of the pie with olive oil and garlic salt before you put in on that cookie sheet- and serve it with a nice arugula salad.
My children love pierogies, and they love them even more if I cook them with chopped bacon and sliced onion! The picture on the box shows them served with broccoli, which actually wouldn’t be a terrible idea, but the other day at Costco I found this:
A truly amazing discovery that I cooked on a sheet pan with grapeseed oil, and curry powder, salt and pepper. It was a little soggy at first, so I stuck it under my broiler for three minutes until it was crunchy and delicious!
I know, back to pizza again, and Amy’s again- but it’s seriously delicious. The sauce she uses is pretty close to perfect and these cheese pizza snacks are delightful- especially paired with cream cheese to dip and some baby carrots for balance.
And lastly but not least- is this amazing trick: eating sweet potatoes without cooking sweet potatoes. I like them especially with a good black bean burger and some mayo mixed with horseradish sauce and hot sauce! Yummm!
Some people say that May is the busiest month of the year, with the end of the year activities and Mothers Day, graduations, Confirmations, not to mention plays, recitals, and what have you…..be gentle with yourself and plan a couple of frozen meals into your dinner routine. Not only with you thank yourself later, but you will probably be surprised with the delicious options we have available to us!
What is your favorite frozen food? Tostadas? Burritos? Chicken Strips?
Happy Triduum to all my Catholic friends, and to everyone else- Happy Almost Easter!! It’s a very exciting time of year, and we are thrilled to share with you our traditions, and attempts at creating new traditions! This year my teenagers are participating in the Living Stations of the Cross, so we are gearing up for a marathon today! Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom for an Easter Giveaway!!
SO far we have had a Seder Meal, dyed eggs, and pieced together outfits for Easter Sunday. We were fairly successful at the Holy Thursday Mass which included a foot washing ceremony, and children (in my row) throwing oranges. It’s such a beautiful service and I’m so thankful to have these rich prayerful moments but then again seven pm with young children is never an ideal time of day for an outing that includes sitting still and being very quiet. But we did okay. It’s funny looking back, as a child I remember praying in front of a cross my neighbor constructed with two tree branches- which was at the back of his yard, and the front of ours. We would bring flowers, or little notes for Jesus and sit there crying because it was the day Jesus had died.
Here is what we ate for our Seder Meal-TheChristian observance of this ritual meal celebrates not only our tradition of Christ’s last supper but our own Jewish heritage which provided the context for Jesus’ institution at the last supper.
HAROSET: Combine: 1/2 cup chopped nuts 1/2 cup diced apple 1 Tbsp. cinnamon 1 Tbsp. sparkling grape juice (aka ‘kid wine’). This is symbolic of the mortar used by the Israelite slaves when they laid bricks for Pharaoh’s monuments. The word charoset is derived from the Hebrew word for clay, cheres.
KARPAS: parsley or another vegetable meant to represent spring and the initial flourishing of the Israelites- which will be dipped in salt water to remember the tears of the Hebrews as they suffered so many trials.
MARROR: a bitter herb such as horseradish- we used a tiny jar of Inglehoffer Horseradish sauce, and gave everyone a small amount on some pita….meant to represent the bitterness of slavery. During the Seder, a sandwich is eaten from matzah, charoset and maror. Known as “korech”, this ritual sandwich embodies the Israelites’ bitterness over their hard labor (masonry) and the spiritual affliction they suffered from being enslaved.
EGG: one slice of hard-cooked egg, (beitzah, in Hebrew) stands in for a holiday sacrifice once offered at the Holy Temple. The egg is also a universal symbol of springtime, new beginnings, and rebirth — all themes that are echoed in the story of the Exodus.
SALT WATER: a separate small dish next to the dinner plate. According to the Book of Genesis, Joseph and his family moved from the biblical land of Ca’anan down to Egypt during a drought. Once in Egypt, Joseph quickly rose to power as the Egyptian pharaoh’s second-in-command — a revered position that extended special protection to the Israelite people for many generations. However, when a new pharaoh came to power, he was threatened by the growing size of the Israelite community and enslaved them. This turn of events is commemorated during the Seder by dipping the karpas into bitter salt water, which represents the tears shed by the Israelites.
MATZAH: one piece per person plus some extra- we used store bought pita! Matza is unleavened because the Jews were in such a hurry to leave Egypt they didn’t have time to leaven their dough!
LAMB: The shank bone, or z’roa in Hebrew, represents the Paschal sacrifice offered by the Israelites on the eve of their exodus from Egypt.While a roasted lamb bone is traditionally used to represent the z’roa, any piece of roasted meat may be used. Some families used chicken or turkey neck, which they roast completely in the oven and then char over an open flame on their stoves. Unlike the other foods on the Seder plate, the shank bone is never eaten. Instead, it remains as a visual reminder of those monumental moments right before the Exodus. Vegetarians often use beets instead.
There are wonderful prayers and songs to go along with this rich and beautiful meal, also reading or retelling the story of Exodus is a good way to introduce this part of our history to the family. Check out Catholic Culture.org for a simple way to handle this in a Christian minded and lovely way. Prayers are included!
We typically bust out the hummus and tabouli as well for our Seder because it’s delicious and the whole point of these sit down and festive meals is to get everyone to enjoy themselves and create memories, as well as to pass on the faith.
I hope your Holy Week is going well and you feel blessed beyond measure.
Please share your ideas- do you do anything special for Easter?
The first picture here is psanky- the Ukrainian art of decorating eggs with the stylus and beeswax- in my dreams, it’s what I do with my children, and then the second picture is what we really do, because the kids love it and its fun.
painting by Rachel Lapinski 2000 “Lamb Led to the Slaughter”
Easter Giveaway Rules:
Every comment on my YOUTUBE latest Post is an entry that will be put into a randomizer next Thursday, prizes announced next Friday!4/6/18 Here are the three ways you can enter:
1. Leave a comment on my lastest JennyJennyGenesis YouTube Video.
2. Leave a comment after you have shared on Social Media- Comment must include where you shared, example,”I shared your video on Facebook!”
3. Leave another comment telling us what your favorite recipe was from any of our Friday Foodies videos.
It’s a beautiful thing to eat a good soft boiled egg with toast in the morning, and egg salad sandwiches for lunch–yes, please! And those big family celebrations, how about strata? It’s endless, the recipes and ways of using eggs to enrich the menu!
Quiche For A Crowd
(makes four quiche)
4 pie crusts
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half
salt, pepper, and nutmeg
2 lbs cheese shredded ( we used dill Havarti,
sharp cheddar, and goat cheese)
2 heads broccoli diced
1 huge onion small diced
16oz mushrooms small diced
1 lb ground sausage, cooked
1 lb bacon nice and crispy and chopped
place chopped broccoli on a sheet pan with oil and salt and pepper and bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until there is a slightly crispy edge to the broccoli. Set aside. Cook bacon on a sheet pan as well- 350 degrees for ten minutes or until fully cooked. Chop when cool and set aside. Brown breakfast sausage in skillet and when cooked through take meat out and place in a bowl. Keep the drippings in pan and add mushrooms and onions. Cook on medium for 7-10 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl combine 36 eggs and two cups whipping cream and one cup half and half and salt, pepper, and nutmeg- roughly a teaspoon of each and using a whisk, whip it up making sure all yolks are broken and well mixed with cream.
One by one place items in pie crusts, first onion and mushroom mixture, then meat, then broccoli, then sprinkle on the cheese and lastly pour egg and cream mixture over the top until crust is full to the brim. Bake on center rack until firm to touch. About 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool and eat. If you are crazy egg lovers like us, double or quadruple this recipe and share some egg pie with your friends or put some in the freezer! They keep in the freezer for three months, and all you have to do is defrost them and microwave each slice for one minute.
On our YouTube Channel we also made omelets! I’m not going to write out a recipe for an omelet- but do watch the video as the trickiest part about omelets is cooking the egg through without overcooking! We found using a pot lid to “steam” the omelet is perfect!
Many blessings to you and your families as we approach Holy Week! And keep your eyes peeled for a giveaway next week! How does your family use eggs?
I mentioned HD- Homestead Dad in my video- check him out, it’s really fun for the kids and I to watch him do his farming and also being a Homeschool parent!
I also mentioned Jen Buckley’s outstanding Apron that I wear in the video it says ‘blessed mama’ and it’s made from hearty denim! Check it her awesome goods at Grace and Grit Design!!
Over here at JennyJennyGenesis we are big fans of pumpkin soup. We have made the curried version as well and truly dig all the pumpkin. Which I guess is weird because I kind of hate pumpkin pie. I was a little tentative to try the Mollie Katzen version of pumpkin soup with a southwest flare- but I will tell you: just do it. Its fresh tasting while still being a warm comforting soup. We served it with nachos one night and then the second night combined it with some taco seasoned chicken my son made at the homeschool co-op. I know, I know we’re vegetarians, but this past week has been our unraveling. We had completely gone veggie for Lent, and then about a week ago my husband confessed that he felt weird, like he wasn’t getting enough food or the right kind of food- but also he has way more self-control than I and without sharing with my family I had been sneaking foods like fish, and even beef on the side. Sigh…..I really was having a difficult time surviving without meat.
So. Now that our secret is out and we have come clean that we are no longer true vegetarians I can say that having a couple meat/fish options a week is perfect! Even so, I don’t mind being pretty much a veggie, but every once and a while the protein found in meat is irreplaceable!
Jenny’s Veggies in Your Fridge Soup
2 cups worth mirepoix- carrots, onion, celery, small diced
3 TBS olive oil
1 tsp each salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, dill
2 bell peppers diced
as many mushrooms as you can find!
1/2 cabbage sliced
Cook these ingredients until transparent and beginning to caramelize.
15.25 oz can black beans
15.25 oz can corn
28 oz can diced tomatoes
4 cloves garlic smashed
2 32oz containers veggie or chicken stock
1 large TBS Better than Bouillon Mushroom Base
1 bay leaf
After veggies are caramelized add garlic, beans, corn, tomatoes, and stock, Mushroom base (I like to mix the base with a 1/4 cup water so it combines with the soup easier) garlic, and bay leaf. Let cook on low heat for up to 1 hour or several hours in a crockpot on “warm!” Eat with a toasted baguette with cheese or simply on its own! A satisfying and flexible dish, feel free to substitute vegetables as necessary! Whatever you have in your fridge is wonderful! Enjoy with friends…. Good food is always better with friends!
If you want to watch us make these yummy soups please watch our YouTube channel Here! We also talk about a vegan dairy- free coffee drink and this is what it was:
Lisa’s Fancy Dairy Free Latte!
1 TBS coconut oil
1 TBS toasted almond oil
2 cups coffee
Sweetener if desired
Blend coffee and oils on high in blender for two minutes. Pour into mug and enjoy! You will never miss Dairy again!! ❤️
I hope you enjoy our wildly imperfect vegetarian recipes! What’s your favorite soup?