Welcome! Nuestra Casa Es Su Casa ...Our house is your house

A glimpse into the life of Daniel and Jaynee Lockwood and their 12 precious blessings. Thank you for visiting; we pray that what we share here may always bring glory to our wonderful God and Saviour. May you praise the Lord with us for the great things He has done and continues to do as we serve Him sharing the gospel here in the little town of Cuidad Insurgentes, BCS Mexico. He alone is good and faithful!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Proud to be...

We moved to Mexico in 2004 with our 7 children...Timothy, Elijah, Rebekah, Benjamin, Abigail, Isaiah, and Josiah.  
 Our son, Noah, was our first baby born here.  In the 3 years to follow, Susannah, Nehemiah, and Eliseo were born at the local hospital about 30 minutes from our home here.  
Due to a complicated pregnancy, our little Samuel was born in the USA.  

Our four children born here became Mexican citizens at birth.
And within a few weeks of their birth, we were able to register them as American citizens as well due to the fact that their parents are American citizens. :-)  

Daniel applied for and received his Mexican citizenship 3 years ago.  This was a tremendous answer to prayer as it allows him to preach freely without the need of a special visa.  And he is so proud to be a part of a people whom he loves so much.

There is a law here in Mexico that when an American child has at least one Mexican parent, he/she can become registered as a Mexican citizen as well.

 With Daniel receiving his Mexican citizenship, we were able to begin the process of obtaining Mexican citizenship for our 8 USA born children.

A trip to Los Angeles to get their birth certificates apostilled.
A trip to La Paz to find an official translator to translate each birth certificate and apostilled document into Spanish.
And finally, a trip to our local government office here in our town to turn in the documents and pay the registration fee.
We hold the record, by the way...the record here in our town for registering the most children in one day.  :)

So our 12 children now have both Mexican and American citizenship!

They no longer need visas, our older boys are excited to be now able to work, and like their Daddy, are proud to be a part of a country they call their home.

They like to tease that I'm the only "gringa" now. :)
 I think they'll keep me though.
I'm the one that cooks the beans! :)

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, 
the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 3:30

Monday, June 11, 2012

Meal Planning

If there is one thing, apart from our overall schedule, that has helped save me time, money, and much unnecessary thought/stress, it would be making a weekly menu/grocery list.

I haven't always been faithful at doing this.  But every time I take the time to think about and plan out a menu for our week, every single meal time that week (that would be 21 times plus daily snacks!) I'm sooo thankful that I did!

When I don't plan-
*I often don't know what to make
*I often make something convenient due to my lack of planning (no meat thawed, not having this or that on hand...) which is often more expensive to make and not as nutritious
*I end up buying things we don't really need or use 
*At the end of the week, there is often nothing I can put together to make a meal and I have to run to the store again.
*I often don't look forward to cooking.

When I do plan-
*I don't have to ever think about what to make.  I just look over my menu each morning.   I know what to make and I'll look over the menu for that day and the next to see what prep work I might need to do (pull meat out of freezer, soak beans, start bread etc...)
*We have better tasting, more nutritious, meals.
*I end up spending less money and we eat better!  
*I have on hand just what I need to make what I planned.  I don't need to make extra trips to the store and while at the end of the week, my pantry may be getting bare, we've had what we needed all week to make good, wholesome meals and snacks.
*I really enjoy cooking when it's been planned out!

To make our menu, I have used my computer, or I simply grab a notebook and write the days of the week, Sunday through Saturday, in a column on a piece of paper.  Across the top, I write Breakfast, Lunch, Supper.  
Then I simply fill in the meals for each day.  The less I have to think about it the better.  I know Sunday mornings, we'll need something quick, easy, portable, and light.  Quick and easy because you know how Sunday mornings go!! :)  Getting everyone ready for church, out the door early so we can do our bus routes,  and wanting the house to stay in decent shape because we try to have someone over for lunch Sundays.  Portable because often we'll grab breakfast and eat on the way to church to save time.  And light because often at church, the ladies will brings fruit, bread or another snack for the children.  
I have a list of 3 or 4 meals that fit that description, so I just choose one and write it down.  Last week it was a drinkable yogurt and a banana.  The week before we had homemade muffins (made the night before) and milk.  
I know what days of the week might be more hectic in the morning (such as Monday mornings...yikes!) and those are good days for maybe cornflakes and toast. Days where I know it will be more calm and we have more time, I'll make something more...pancakes and eggs, special burritos, french toast, etc..  

I know what night is our date night (Tuesdays!!!!!), and so I pick a kid friendly meal that the children love and the older ones can prepare on their own...pre-made homemade pizza, nachos, hot dogs, etc...

Friday night is family night...the only evening (besides Tuesdays) that Daniel is home in the evening.  That's when we celebrate birthdays, bbq, take the kids out for sabritas/sodas, and have fun together.

I have a list of our favorite meals and I'll share a few of them here:

*Cereal and Milk
*Yogurt and granola or fruit
*Muffins/Cinnamon rolls (made the day before)
*Bean Burritos (beans made the day before)

More time:
*Pancakes and Eggs
*French Toast
*Burritos de machaca (meat and potato)
*Eggs and something (beans, potatoes, toast, tortillas etc...)
*Bistek ranchero  with beans (meat and potatoes)

Lunches (usually quick and easy):
*Sandwiches (PB and J or ham)
*Soup and homemade bread

Suppers (I divide them into categories):
Too many choices to list
*Bistek Ranchero


*Chicken Meals
*Baked Chicken
*Chicken pasta
*Chicken and Rice
*Chicken Stew
*Chicken Pot Pie
*BBQ Chicken

Beef Meals:
*Cottage Pie

Cold Meals:
*Ham, Cheese, Crackers
*Chef Salad
*Tuna Salad
*Chicken Salad
*Taco Salad

These are just a few of them off the top of my head.  I use to think I would need a hundred different meals so nobody would get bored.  But I've found that if I have just 10-20 of meals I know our family loves and enjoys, they don't mind at all eating them on a rotating basis.  
I bring variety to our meals by making different side dishes often using things we have on hand or what is on sale or in season.  
I love to find new recipes and try them out, but I usually only do that once or twice a month.  If we find a keeper, I just add it to our list.  Sometimes I find something that everyone loves, but the time/money/effort to make isn't worth it really.  

When I'm ready to make my menu, I just fill in the blanks using meals from my list.  Some meals I don't have to think about...we always have cereal on Mondays.  And for most meals, I have to think really little...I like that! :)  For example, Mondays is always Italian night.   I keep in mind our activities for the week, what days I'll have more time in the kitchen and which ones I won't, what special events we have (church fellowship meal, birthday meal, having a family over for a meal etc...) and plan accordingly. 
If we have a light breakfast, like cereal, I know the children will probably want a little more for lunch.  If we have a more filling meal in the morning, like pancakes and eggs, probably something lighter for lunch will be fine.  
Each week, I plan snacks to have on hand.   Kids eat.  A lot!  So some things I might plan to have on hand are:
Apples, oranges, bananas
Carrots, celery
Other seasonal fruit/veggies
Bread for toast
Homemade cookies
Homemade granola or energy bars

After my weekly menu is done (and this normally takes me about 15 minutes or less) I write out my grocery list.  The way I do it is simply look at each meal on my menu and jot down on my list what I need to buy to make that meal.  I know how much of each ingredient I need to make each meal, I know what I already have on hand, and so I just go from meal to meal and write my list.  This usually takes me about 10 minutes.  Then I shop and buy only what is on my list.

So for less than 1/2 hour of my time, I save probably hours in having to think of what to make each day and making trips to the store.  I save money because I have a plan and avoid spontaneous shopping.  And I save lots of stress/brain overload! :)  

Do I always follow our menu exactly?  No. 
 Do I have days where what we have planned just doesn't sound good?  Absolutely.
  Do we ever have times when I burn the beans or someone shows up right when I need to cook and the meal doesn't come together and I have to make some changes?  Of course! 
 Does Daniel ever say, "Let's go down to where they roast chicken today"?  He loves my cooking but he loves to spoil me when he can, too! :)

But like with our schedule, even if we don't follow our menu 100%, even following half the time is waaayyyy better than having no menu/plan at all.   And since we all need/like to eat, I usually stick to it pretty well :)

Do your children help you cook?
Of course!  It's fun! :)
Since I save so much time using a menu, I have more time to clean up :)

Monday, June 04, 2012

Nitty Gritty Schedule Post

Right now, it is my favorite month of the entire year.  
It has been for as long as I can remember.
With June comes summer.
With summer comes "no school".
And have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE my birthday?
I've always been told that once you reach a certain age, you won't like to remember your birthday anymore.
I guess that age must be more than 39. :-)

One of my favorite parts of summer is writing out our summer schedule.
Crafts, organizing, lots of reading, cleaning, playing, all the extra things that you don't have much time for during the school year.
Well, if you've already peeked at our schedule above, you'll see that it doesn't look much
like a summer schedule at all.
That's because we "took" our summer last fall (furlough) and didn't start school until December 1.

So we have quite a few lessons to go to finish our books, and we continue to plug away.
We do have some fun plans this summer...
Trip down to see a missionary in Cabo San Lucas,
Church Family Camp,
End of summer camping trip with Daniel's family,
and, of course, a few trips to the beach, lots of running through the sprinklers, popsicles, cold fruit, sleeping outside, and hopefully, little by little, getting my normal organizational/cleaning summer projects done.

But our summer schedule this year is really just our normal school schedule.

And while thinking about another school year might be the last thing on your mind right now, it might be some of you are thinking about it or are going to be thinking about it soon as summer always seems to fly by so quickly!

"How do you do it all??!!!"
If I only had a dollar for every time I've been asked that, I just might be able to hire a few maids to do
everything that I don't get done! :-)

But each year, our schedule has helped us to meet our goals and accomplish the responsibilities and desires the Lord lays on our heart.

I know many people shudder when they hear the word schedule.  They think of being tied down, no flexibility, or failure.
But for our family, it has given us order, peace, better meals, MUCH more getting accomplished in far less time, and bottom line, EVERYONE likes it!
We've had times when you could say we were just "winging it" day by day.
And when we finally get back to our schedule, it's like a collective sigh...Aahhhhhhh! :)  Much better!

While if you've never used a schedule before, it might look daunting... all those little squares and different activities...you might be surprised how quickly it just become second nature to everyone.  Even my little ones know what to do when for the most part.  It takes us a week or two to work out the bugs and for everyone to learn what to do and when, but after that, all the work to make it more than pays for itself!

And if you think there is no room for flexibility, well, I assure you, when you're in the ministry and live with 12 children and a man who is very much my opposite...spontaneous..."Hey, let's take the kids camping today!" ;) ....no day is the same!
Being mommy and having made our schedule and knowing our needs, it's easy for me to make changes throughout the day as needed.

And for those who think failure..."I could never do that"....let me be the first to tell you, I don't think I've ever had a day where we have finished all our schedule just as it is written.  Ever.
Because our schedule is simply a tool to help us accomplish what we need to each day, I don't see it as failure.  And this I know....we get waayyy more done and are waaayyy more productive even on our "worst" day on the schedule than we are when we aren't on one at all.

Plus, the little ones aren't in near as much trouble!! :) They love having their special times each day with their brothers/sisters/mommy.
Each of the older children chose what to do with their half hour with their preschool age siblings.
The older boys chose to do exercise/sports with them in the back yard.
Rebekah is teaching them school- letters, numbers, sounds, writing, etc...
Benjamin does a mini Sunday school class with them during his time...story, verse, craft.
Abigail's half hour is spent teaching them songs, poems/verses, and games.
Isaiah chose to do art with them.
Josiah an activity...playdough, bubbles, clay, paints, blocks etc...
And Noah chose "recess" :)....backyard play time!
Where did we learn to schedule?
Managers of Their Homes by Steve and Teri Maxwell came to me at just the right time.
I had 7 children ages 6 and under.  Two first graders, 2 preschoolers, 2 toddlers, and a baby.
The Lord knows just what we need just when we need it.
My schedule back then, 8 years ago, looked a lot different than it does now, but it continues to be such a great blessing in helping me do what the Lord has called me to do...
Care for my hubby, my children, and my home!
And make sure everyone has clean, matching socks. :)

So this is a glimpse into our days here at our home.   :-)
If you have any questions or would like me to post more details, just ask.
Or if you just want to think about popsicles and ice cream right now, I don't blame you.  :-)
I just love to help and encourage anyone I can.
The Lord is so good to give us the strength, wisdom and grace we need each day!

You can find some great preschool/K4 materials and ideas here.