With four growing kids, our family goes through a lot of groceries. Grocery shopping is probably my least favorite task every week (second only to dusting). The retail giants call me a once-a-week big basket shopper. Every week I look at what’s on the schedule and plan out our nightly dinner menu. I throw in everyone’s favorite grab-and-go breakfast and lunch items, snacks and even consider a couple of big weekend breakfast plans as my list builds, and builds and builds.
This past month was assessment testing in our local public schools. I have carefully explained to my children these tests aren’t really tests at all. They simply give teachers (and principals) an idea of what they’ve learned over the last year. They also tell them what students still need to be taught. Every year, the anxiety is the same. Teachers send out notifications reminding parents to make sure kids get a good night’s rest, have a can-do attitude and eat a healthy breakfast. The good night’s rest and can-do attitude aren’t usually a problem.
This year we have children in first, third and fifth grades at two different schools. Each child had their assessment testing on a different week during the month of April. My children take the healthy breakfast portion of the notification quite seriously. Every year they put in their breakfast orders for testing days. I wake up a little bit earlier than everyone else on that day and fix a range of delicious achievement-test-acing meals. For three weeks in a row this year this family feasted on pancakes and sausages, bacon and eggs, and waffles with ham. This was a special treat, especially for my husband.
After three weeks, my family got a little bit spoiled. You see, I must confess, during the busy school week I am more of a Pop tart, oatmeal and/or toast kind of mother. After this run of home cooked breakfasts, my 7-year-old son insisted on scrambled eggs every day. We were eating so many eggs, our old hens couldn’t keep up. I was having two throw a couple dozen “store” eggs in my basket every week.
My husband asked me why I was buying “store” eggs. I told him the production was not keeping up with the consumption. We decided it might be time to add a few more hens to our flock to keep up with the growth spurts around here.
I went to our local farm and hardware store and picked up some 6-week-old Rhode Island Reds and a few Bantams. We really didn’t have the best place set up for them. I have the old hens in the coop now and wanted to wait until they could be properly introduced before mixing them together. I was in a dilemma as to where to keep them. We finally settled on the floor of the kids’ playhouse so we could keep them safe from dogs and raccoons. The kids weren’t sure what to think of this idea. By the time they’d been home from school for an hour and checked them all out, they gave all 10 of them names. They also made me promise to power wash the floor of the playhouse after we moved the chickens to their permanent home.
It’s probably time for us to feed out another steer to butcher. I’ve been busy tending and planting in our garden. We are already enjoying lettuce, spinach and broccoli. I’m so thankful to live in a place that accommodates our big basket shopping every week. These children of ours are growing like weeds and I don’t see it coming to a halt any time soon, neighbor.