Tuesday, June 30, 2009

If I Weren't So Converted . . .


I am a Christian, but if I weren't, I think I'd join one of those ancestors=gods religions.

Most of my traits come from my parents, grandparents and so forth. I love to read and garden. My mom loves those things. She learned to love reading from her mother and she from her mother. Who can tell how far back that trend goes. The other day I wanted to take a red pen to a sign that read, "So who do I do the work for?" Really. No one could proof read before posting it all over town? The grammar thing comes from my Grandpa. I especially like the Make it do line in the Depression Era adage:
Use it up,
Wear it out,
Make it do,
Or do without.

I think that comes from a lot of my progenitors, but specifically from my dad's father--whom I never met, his having passed away before I was born--because Grandpa Gene passed down his resourcefulness to my dad.

What else? How about my eye for color, my messy house, my joy in mothering, my back-talking, my freckles, my love of lightening storms and my thirst for knowledge? All from my parents and grandparents. Some of it is genetic, some of it is taught, but I am so thankful for what they each contributed.

What religion would you choose, if you weren't so sure that yours was true?

Monday, June 29, 2009

My Pods

I have nothing really great to say about this photo, I just needed to post it. I asked a new mom the other day, "Did you have any idea you could fall that in love with a little person?" I'm not sure that I comprehended that size/depth/magnitude of affection until I began raising my family. When we were expecting that first bundle, there was no shortage of advice givers: "Kids are so much work" and "(not the cheerful, but the sarcastic) Good Luck!" and "Oh, boy. Are you ready for this?" and "It is the hardest thing you'll ever do" and et cetera. There was one who said, "You'll have never had so much fun."

Motherhood is demanding, it is relentless, it is exhausting, and it is, in fact, the hardest thing I've ever done.

But it is also the most fun, the most rewarding, the most joyful.

(In a moment of full disclosure, I am choosing to ignore the whining, the laundry, the mess, the pleas for water/candy/their own bedroom, the bodily fluids and the crying/fighting/teasing. You, beloved readers, see the sweet moment captured in time, when they are all smiling, pleased with their siblings and laying in the grass on a perfect summer day. You are welcome. (:)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Another Difference Between Boys and Girls

My son is at Cub Scout Day Camp today. I still have four children here at the homestead, but it is plain that something is missing. You see, it is quiet.



From his earliest days, he has shown a great aptitude for noise. He does not know how to walk through the house. He bounces, skips, and flops his way about. He takes stairs two at a time while slapping the walls the whole way. He taps his fingers or feet, drums his chest and legs, and hums; always hums. He cannot move about with finesse--he must take a running leap to achieve Destination: Couch.

Why do I ache when I think of him metamorphosing into a man? I need my noisy boy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Turning Two Hundred


This is my 200th post and I decided it should be about something I love. You ought to know by now that I love children and flowers and running. When I have a form that asks the question What is your hobby? I usually write gardening and reading, yet I haven't posted a whole lot about books. I keep thinking that I will start writing reviews of recent reads on this here blog, but then, after I write the review, I think, There is no way my critique can stand next to the writings Ms. Austen or Mr. Dickens. What am I thinking, reviewing them?!!



So I haven't posted those reviews.



Hello. My name is Emily Sanders and I am afraid of being publicly critical of someone who sold thousands of books even after they were dead.



Today, however, I thought I would do a simple list. My book club has been meeting for nearly three years. We have tried to keep it to classics only (a category, by the way, that has very gray borders) for several reasons. Now, looking at the list, we realize that we have read some fabulous works. Reading them reveals meanings of phrases we have used, references we have made and circumstances we have referenced, all without knowing the origin of said items. I feel fuller, bigger, more substantial because the genius of these classics authors. I feel like I am in on the inside joke.



If you are needing a good read, one that will fill you up and make you more, here is our list (and a few remarks I couldn't help making):




  1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen **Can you get a more delicious story?**


  2. Little Britches: father and I were Ranchers by Ralph Moody **One of my top five books, ever**


  3. Agony and the Ecstasy: a novel of Michelangelo by Irving Stone **Note to self: Visit Italy someday**


  4. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis


  5. Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow by Opal Whitely **Weird**


  6. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe


  7. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte


  8. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald **Century old book that could have been written last year**


  9. Silas Marner by George Eliot **George Eliot is a chick**


  10. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens


  11. The Count of Monte Christo by Alexandre Dumas pere


  12. Tess of the d'Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy **I'd never thrown a book at the wall until I read this--made me mad enough to change the world**


  13. The Good Earth by Pearl S Buck **Must read, must discuss**


  14. Laddie by Gene Stratton-Porter


  15. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte **I mean, Jane Eyre. . . does it need commentary? Okay, one note. Every girl should be required to read this before she starts dating. The illustrations of different interpretations of love will protect many a girl from a sad heart.**


  16. The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare


  17. Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw


  18. Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton


  19. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy Emmuska **Completely fun**


  20. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson


  21. Heidi by Johanna Spyri ** I want to heal the world**


  22. My Antonia by Willa Cather


  23. Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs


  24. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins


  25. The Walking Drum by Louis L'Amour **Loved the example of life-long learning. Textbook definition of a Man Book**


  26. The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens **Ohhhhh, the golden thread, the power of one woman for good or ill**


  27. My Name is Asher Lev by Chiam Potok


  28. Cheaper By the Dozen by Frank Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey **Could I have done that in a more efficient way?**


  29. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque ** Raw, gruesome, should be read by every member of government responsible for deciding where our troops will go**


  30. To a God Unknown by John Steinbeck


  31. Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank


  32. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe


  33. Their Eyes were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston


  34. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway


  35. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Monday, June 22, 2009

She

Oh, please, somebody help me. How can a one year old have sass and comedic timing?
I do not know, but this chick has it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Getting Through

Today in church, my three year old's teacher asked the children the age old question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" The first little girl said, so sweetly, "A mommy." The little girl next to her said, "A doctor." The little boy said, "I want to work in a really tall building!" By this time, our girl, who was at the end of the line of chairs, was about to bounce out of her seat. When her name was finally called with a, "And what do you want to be when you grow up?" she jumped up, threw both hands into the air and exclaimed, "A Mermaid!"

I'm glad those, you-can-be-anything-you-want-to-be lessons are getting through.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

For the Love of Horses


My daughter is one of those girls, the ones I never understood. I used to think their love for horses was contrived--born out of some kind of need to be accepted by her peers. It's not that I dislike horses; goodness knows Levi and I watched Man From Snowy River enough that I appreciate their beauty and power. I've also been riding enough to know that it is fun and freeing.

But it's that whole animal thing. I just don't get it. I think I should have been a farmer--the kind who named the steer Food and the pig Breakfast. You see people who let their dogs lick their face, rub their checks all over the horses' dirty muzzle and scratch their fingers into the cats' filthy fur. Yuck. Again, I appreciate animals, I can see how they are good companions and faithful friends, but I have never had a love affair.

Now that I am raising this daughter, I recognize that it is not contrived. Her love for horses has lasted for three or four years (and she is only eight). Her blog, for instance, is covered in horse pictures. She has horse clothes, posters on her walls, when she draws, she draws horses, and she collects horse figurines.

Yesterday, despite many failed attempts, I finally got her on the back of a horse.
(She is very shy so she has a hard time showing emotion in public, but this is her I'm-about-to-explode-from-joy face.)She was quaking with excitement.
(Look how little she is--not even close to the stirrups.)
She helped brush the horses. Chrissy, daughter of the horse owner, was patient and kind as she taught my girl what to do.
I don't know that I'll ever understand her love for horses, but I know one thing for sure: My heart pitter-pats when I look at my little wonder. May all of your dreams come true.

Friday, June 19, 2009

One of the Reasons I Need Him


I think we choose our spouses for many reasons, not the least of which is that they often have talents which we lack. Take my marriage, for instance. I would have struggled with orange juice for the rest of my life, had I not chosen my man.


Just about the time my mom was finished making breakfast, she would call one of her children into the kitchen. "Please make the orange juice," she would assign. Out of the freezer came the frozen concentrate. The chosen child would peel the sealing tab off and pry the lid from the cardboard tube. Then, squeezing and digging, pounding and wresting with the compacted concoction, one worked until the concentrate evacuated it's cylindrical home. Add the three measures of water. Use a spatula or knife, cut the concentrate into smaller frozen bits then upgrade to the potato masher. Beat away at the smaller bricks until they are roughly the size of large gumballs. Pull out the next tool: a wooden spoon. Alternate smashing the pieces against the sides of the pitcher and stirring vigorously until there are no concentrate remains; all is reconstituted and the drink can be served. **Whew**


My husband changed everything the first time we made breakfast together. At the beginning of the breakfast preparation, he put the frozen concentrate into hot water. Within 10-15 minutes (the time it takes to cook breakfast) the frozen . . . thawed. It slid easily out of it's happy cardboard home into the awaiting pitcher. He added water then used the hand blender to mix thoroughly into a frothy, sweet, nutritious and delicious beverage.


Thank you, my dear. You've changed my life.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Classics Pass the Test of Time

When my brother and I were in the later part of our elementary school years, we had a few shows we watched together after school. This was one:



Yep. Every day. Wow. I want my 467 hours back.

But another was Leave It To Beaver. It was made in the late 50's and we were watching it three decades later, but it still made us laugh. My children recently discovered it on Netflix and have been watching it one or two episodes at a time. No matter what I'm doing, I'm drawn into the room to listen to the hi jinx of the Beav and Wally, June and Ward. The social/political aspects are quite refreshing (an episode where Beaver told compounding lies ended with an explanation of how God always knows when one is lying). There are the dominant gender roles of the 50's, but even that isn't as glaring as one might think. The biggest thing I am enjoying, watching these in my thirties instead of preteen years, is the relationship between Ward and June.

One scene has the parents discussing some pressing concern with the raising boys. I don't even remember the dialog, however, because I was caught up in the fact that as Ward placed the silverware, June followed behind, picking up the newly placed utensils and switching them to the correct placement. Hilarious! I can't be the only woman who has rearranged the dishwasher after her husband loaded it. Or, maybe it is just me.

Then there is Eddy Haskell, that rascal. As a child, I used to think, "Boy, Mrs. Cleaver always falls for Eddy's excuses and brown nosing. Why does he get away with everything?" Watching it now, I see Mrs. Cleaver's subtle body language that makes it obvious that she is not believing a word he says. I have to say that I am relieved. I always thought Mrs. Cleaver was smart, except for when it came to Eddy!

I'll leave you with one conversation that proves that boys are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

June: Ward, do you know what this is? I just found it in the
Beavers' jeans.

Ward: Oh, yes. This is a horse's tooth.

June: Well, why would he want that?

Ward: I don't know, but I wouldn't trust a boy who didn't want
one.


Amen, Mr. Cleaver.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Entrance Equals Personality

She wasn't due for over two weeks. My mother, who had been visiting, left just two days before. My mom's visit, though wonderful, literally exhausted my end-of-term, tired, and heavy body. She left on a Saturday and my in-laws were coming into town on Monday. I couldn't slow down just yet. Monday afternoon I was having more contractions than usual and I knew that after the grandparents left, I would take at least one day to just rest. The contractions became stronger as we prepared for dinner. My in-laws left right after dinner and I collapsed on my bed.

While my mom was visiting, she helped me make my bedroom habitable. With a fifth baby on the way, we needed more than the two tiny bedrooms our cottage provided. I worked through much of my pregnancy to paint walls, sew curtains and arrange the furniture in the children's new bedrooms. My husband and I were relegated to the basement bedroom in which we had a new, bigger, untrimmed window, peeling paint, torn wallpaper and a crumbling concrete floor. It was quite a dungeon. Now, it was transformed into a calming Bavarian retreat.

I lay in my peaceful sanctuary expecting the contractions to slow. I kept careful track and didn't give much heed to the continuing contractions; I just knew it was because I had overworked myself. Half an hour later my husband came in to check on me. He took over time keeping. One by one, the children found their way into my room. By now, I had to breathe through my contractions. The children sat quietly at the side of my bed and watched. Between contractions, I looked out my newly finished window and conversed softly with my beloved pods. By now, I thought I was in labor, but was enjoying the quiet peace of these moments so close to heaven. My sweetheart, however, was starting to quietly panic and urged me to at least move upstairs. I did, but knew I couldn't yet leave for the hospital. A hospital stay is at least a day and could be more. I had to water my flowers.

We had a strange neighbor, in those days. His IQ was not quite normal and he did not respond to social cues. My good Justin was always patient with him. Here I was, in labor and watering while the children got themselves ready to go to a friend's house for the night, and Todd came for a visit. He would not be ignored or put off for another time. Justin hastily read through the poems that Todd needed him to read. Still watering, I had another contraction and with that contraction, there was pressure. Oh, no! I thought to myself. Pressure is last. I sent the kids next door, gathered my things and put on my shoes. When I was safely seated and buckled, Todd finally decided he would let us go.

The drive to the hospital is only a couple of minutes from our house. I needed to use the restroom, but decided to wait. Every time I use the bathroom before I leave, they need a urine sample when I get there. Up the elevator, to the Delivery Unit. The nurse brought me into a room and handed me a gown. Before I put on the gown, I asked the her if she needed a urine sample. She told me that she didn't so I hurried into the bathroom. I went inside and locked the door.

Here I was, on the toilet, not yet changed, the door locked and I needed to push.

"JUSTIN!! Oh, no, JUSTIN!! THE BABY IS COMING! SHE IS COMING NOW!"

I had to make a decision right there: do I have the baby on the floor of the bathroom or do I get to the bed? Somehow I got to the door and looked at the bed across the room. Perspective is really something, isn't it? I looked at the bed 20 feet away and watched it stretch to an insurmountable distance. I thought, There is no way! Then I looked at the hard hospital room floor. I ran for it. I fell onto the bed as a whirlwind of medical staff flew around me. Upon inspection, the resident (I don't even know his name) explained that the bag of waters was the only thing keeping my baby inside. Another contraction took care of that as the incredible pains of childbirth inflicted their torturous assault. For the first time ever, I tried to do the idiotic tiny pushes to give the staff and my husband time to get into position. When I absolutely couldn't wait any longer, out she came.

Ten minutes from the time we parked the car, to the time I held her tiny, unbelievably tiny, body. Instead of a welcoming greeting or words of love, my first words when she blasted her way into our lives wasa breathless, "Already?"

The welcoming greeting and words of love came, though. How could they not?


On our Baby Pod's first birthday, I have come to understand that her personality fits her delivery. She is full of energy and has kept us hopping from the beginning. This baby needed to be born into a big family because she loves the noise and the bustle. She took her naps in the living room for the first three months because she woke up as soon as it got too quiet.

Happy First Birthday, little cyclone. We love the happy, fun, joyful uproar you brought. We are in for a great ride.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Like Lettuce in the Teeth

Today arrived rainy and rather dark. I decided on a black dress for church since the yellows and salmons that June usually inspires felt altogether too cheery. The other day I purchased some new lip wear. (I was born with purple lips that eventually gained the added bonus of freckles. Lipstick, therefore, is an important part of my wardrobe.) When I pulled on my black dress, I thought the new Lipstain would like a maiden voyage. Ooooh. It was a dramatic red that my husband never even acknowledged, but my five year old Fancy Nancy loved. It is always risky for a thirty-two year old mother of five to try to be anything but frumpy, but I thought it was worth a go.

After three hours of shushing children, smiling at old friends and meeting new ones, drinking from the water fountain, kissing my girls repeatedly (they were hoping to get some of the red on their lips) and the other regular duties of lips at church, I sat down in the front seat of the van. I caught a glimpse of myself in the rear-view mirror as I slipped into my seat and was horrified.

My "stain" had mostly abandoned the inner part of my lips leaving an early nineties look of red liner and pale lipstick. As if that weren't bad enough, the stain also absorbed deeply into the natural cracks and lines of my lips so that when I smiled I had stripes! Striped lips of fading red and pale purple with red lip liner! Oh, dear friends! Where were you? Couldn't one of you had told me to reapply or, at the very least, to go wash it off? I'm afraid I looked a bit like a 15 year old girl who was experimenting with make-up; the kind about whom you may say, "Where is her mother??"

At least it was church. They have to love you there.

Listening to a Memory

My mom drove a Ford Van circa 1834. It was more rust than blue and Dad's mad mechanical skills were the only thing that kept it's heart beating. Inside were the rows of vinyl bench seats, steel underfoot, and steel overhead. There was no carpeting and nothing was soft. With four (and often more) children and nothing to absorb sound, it was a loud ride. (Now, parenthetically, as a mother with my own fleet full of pods, I wonder how my mother did not go crazy with all the racket.)

There were several tactics she employed such as singing, whistling in unison and playing the Silent Game, but my favorite was if we arrived at a destination while it was raining. Mom turned off the engine and quickly hushed the hubbub brewing behind her. We would sit as still as our little bodies would allow to listen to the rain hitting the metal roof, unmuffled by a ceiling pad. She encouraged us to close our eyes in order to focus our attention on the sound.
Quiet.
Quiet with the rain sometimes tapping, sometimes pounding just inches above us, hypnotized.

Tonight, as I pulled into the driveway from a hectic grocery shopping excursion, it began to rain. I turned off the engine and hushed the hubbub. We sat as still as possible and while the children listened to the rain,
I thought of my happy childhood
facilitated by my patient and goodly mother.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Vandalism

I'm afraid someone in my neighborhood is a vandal. Earlier this spring, someone cut about 40 tulips--flowers that only come once a year and are long awaited. Today, someone broke about four feet off the top of my Red Maple. Why would someone do this? I try to make my yard beautiful, I love gardening and spend hours cultivating the plants. I don't think I have any enemies--certainly not among my neighbors.
If anyone has any information about the culprits, please don't tell me. I think it would be healthier for them if they are not identified.

Good Ol' John




My dad was raised on a ranch in the 50's and 60's. At the age of nine(!!), he started driving the tractor. He wasn't strong enough to put it in gear, but he could steer and pull it out of gear (in effect, putting on the brakes). That became one of his main jobs for the next several years and he loved it.

Last year, he found his tractor (at least the same make and model) on Craig's List. He bought it. My sister took this picture when he pulled it into the driveway and I think she captured that kid-in-a-candy-store look perfectly.

Over the next several months, Dad purchased three more of these John Deere's--sometimes driving great distances to pick them up. Now, my parents have nearly two acres of land which, by all accounts, does not warrant a need for four tractors. My mother is thinking of starting a tractor's addiction recovery group--or at least one for spouses of the addicts.

When I was visiting last week, my dad instructed me to get up into the seat of one of the tractors. Okay, I can sit on a fun, old tractor. He turned it on and I panicked a little.

"No, Dad, no! I don't know how to stop it! Wait, I've never driven a tractor before. Oh, what are you doing? Daaaddd!"

I could see myself plowing into a neighbor's house or an oncoming car or a 50 year old tree. Nonetheless, he wooed me by having me push this lever that raised the blade, this lever that moved some other big rusty part. Oh, I can move parts, I just can't drive the thing. He's keeps tinkering around, pushing this, turning that, and suddenly I was moving. "No, Dad, no! I don't know how to stop it! Wait, I've never driven a tractor before. Oh, what are you doing? Daaaddd!"

I looked over and realized that he was walking next to me, at a rather leisurely pace. Oh. Maybe this isn't as crazy dangerous as I thought.

I took the tractor for a spin--I even worked up the nerve to go faster. It was a hoot. As I pulled up next to Dad and turned off the engine, I told him I would buy it. I do have .09 acres that need to be worked, after all!

In the meantime, my son was learning to work another tractor. He had to put the entire weight of his body to brake and turn, but, boy oh boy did he have fun.

I may have to get one of these.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I'm Also a Runner

The baby woke me up at 4:45 AM. I took care of her extreme and urgent need of milk NOW then snuggled my nose into her neck to fall back asleep. Ah, sleep can be elusive when it is actually sleeping time. About 3:30 in the afternoon when one should be considering dinner, cleaning up spills, responding to e-mails, paying bills and weeding the flower beds, sleep is trying to butt in. Afternoon sleep tries to convince my muscles to relax, pleads with my eyelids to close and makes me be grumpy--all at a time when the children are awake (children who like to leave doors open so toddlers can escape into the freedom of the middle of the street)! Why then but not at 4:45 AM when everyone in the house is safe and snug in my their beds?

For some reason, I decided it was a perfect time to go for a run. Now, when I was young, I was the fastest kid on my block. That's right--the whole block. I won a race when I was in the 6th grade and from that time forth, I became The Track Star. This title was pulled out anytime anyone needed something that would require someone to go a long distance to retrieve. Dad needed a tool out of the garage that was half a mile away, "Hey, run and get the wrench, Track Star!" Oh, yes, sir. I'm delighted to offer my talents for the betterment of mankind and world peace. Brother left his shovel in the midst of the potato hills he just finished digging, "Will you get my shovel for me, Track Star?" Absolutely! I know my skills will save your day and possibly prevent you from getting cancer. I fell for the Track Star line a lot . . . a lot.

I pulled on my yoga pants that have never experienced yoga and tied on my shiny, white running shoes that are two years old and have rarely experienced running. It was a perfect morning for a run.

I ran around one block. One.

Then I came home and landed on the couch in a fit of Oh. My. Word. I. Think. I. May. Die.

I feel a bit like Bob: I run. I run now. I'm a a runner, with the street and the shoes and the wind in my hair. You know, a runner.

Undercover

Shortly after my husband and I were married, he became convinced that my two Down's brothers were actually spooks. He began a series of stories using the boys' commonly used phrases and actions to prove that they were embedded FBI agents. The scenario is intriguing. They were placed in an average, white, Christian home in a mid-sized city nestled among the pine trees of the north. Curious. Their disguises as mentally retarded people are perfect. It gets them in to highly sensitive areas without question; places like special ed classrooms, ARC dances, and the day-old Hostess outlet. Hmmmm.

They are awaiting orders during a time of crisis.

Because my husband is in on the Great Secret, Daniel can tell him things to which none of the rest of us are privy. Even the baby is surprised by what she hears.
I was able to capture some of their scheming on film, though I couldn't hear anything.

They were having a rather intense discussion.

And you would never know this kid's rank. You wouldn't believe it because he can only write the first two letters of his name, still thinks he is nine years old, and 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 16 is considered counting.
I hope they're on my side.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Camping


I grew up camping and expected to raise campers myself. We took the boy camping for the first time when he was five months old. That trip was the biggest you-are-a-parent-now reality check, I have ever experienced in my now ten years of being the Mothership to this fleet. I kept sitting down to read my book, but just as I'd pull the bookmark out of it's place, the baby would need something. Sit down to dangle my feet off the dock and . . . nope . . . up again; the baby needs something. Take a doze on the mossy forest floor, er, just kidding; baby needs something. Add to that the regular tasks of cooking, fire building, house keeping and warding off UV rays and mosquitoes and you have, well, not the camping of my childhood. I came home from that trip completely exhausted--and we still had to unload, wash and stow all of the gear. I called my mother and asked if she ever enjoyed camping. She just laughed (probably in glee that I finally recognized how doggone hard she and Dad worked).Baby Pod, eleven months old and an old hat at walking.
Today, I offer instructions on how to camp with a site full of pods (in no particular order):
  • prepare as much of the food as possible before you leave your kitchen (wrap the apples in foil, mix the dry ingredients of the pancake batter, cut up the vegetables, etc)
  • don't forget anyone's shoes (including yours and the baby's)
  • leave your book at home, but be sure to bring several for the little people (packed in a Ziploc, of course)
  • bring along a case of baby wipes
  • mentally prepare to spend a lot of time with various pods in the stinky pit johns
  • make bacon or sausage every morning--there is nothing like waking up to the smell of frying bacon
  • don't look at your water before you drink it or you will likely become quite dehydrated
  • cut everyone's fingernails short so they can't scratch mosquito bites that turn into bloody pits that won't heal for months
  • expect to do all of the work so when you get help, it will be a delightful surprise
  • learn the names of wildflowers, trees and wildlife so you can point things out on the trail (after a while, the kids will wander away from your annoying chatter and you can have a lovely quiet walk alone)
  • remember propane, matches, Off!, and a comfy pad or mattress for your postpartum hips

Maybe I'll pack my book in about ten years.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Home Maker



I've been away from my home for ten days. That is a long time for me. We purchased our home nearly four years ago--and it needed us. We have put in a lot of time, elbow grease and thought into making it a comfortable, workable home. When I wander through my house after having been gone for so long a time, I notice things I hadn't for a while. It is an inviting place, I think.


My job is home maker. I love that title. The job of protecting the family is often relegated to the husband and father. I agree with that arrangement, but there is also a great deal of protecting that I do as his help meet. When anyone enters my home, whether it is one of my children or someone I have never met, above all else, I want them to feel that they have come to a refuge. Here, I can protect inhabitants from the world; here, I can fill their bellies with familiar food, cover them with a hand made afghan, and warm their hands and hearts; here, even those who are unused to feeling the presence of our Father, will feel him near.

So, though I can use power tools and bookkeeping software and surgical tape, my favorite tool is love. I am a home maker. My furniture may be worn, there will likely be piles of laundry awaiting attention and my sink is rarely empty, but when you come to visit, I hope you will want to stay. I hope that you will love being here and maybe not be able to quite put your finger on what it is about this place that makes you love it. And I hope that you will come back.


As my children say whenever answering the door, "Welcome to my home."

Monday, June 1, 2009

Peach Jam

My blog is small. My site meter does not register enough readers to earn any advertising dollars, so my writing is for purposes other than the money. Sometimes I write so that I can understand myself better, sometimes it is so I can flesh out my understanding of the world around me. The writing organizes my thoughts, explains my emotions, allows me to vent my frustrations, and connects me to others. That last point has been one of the most rewarding. My time is limited so I haven't been able to "advertise" my site effectively. Therefore, it is the most exciting thing when a fellow blogger (especially someone I read and adore) mentions my name! Thrilling! Not that it happens often, but when it does, my heart leaps into my throat and my pulse quickens. I feel famous, if only for that 13 seconds.

Katherine at Raising Five recently mentioned my name in connection with some correspondence about canning peaches. Being in the frigid north where we've only just had warm enough weather to put out tomato plants, it is hard to imagine that in our same country people are harvesting peaches. Katherine is in Texas, however, and requested jam recipes. Here is our family favorite:

Peach Marmalade
5 c mashed peaches
5 c sugar
1 c crushed pineapple (partly drained)
1/4 c lemon juice

--combine and boil 2 minutes--

add
6 oz orange jello

--boil 5 minutes, stirring, always stirring--

Skim off the foam, pour into pint jars and seal.


Now, the pectin boxes always instruct you to process in a water bath. I never have, my mother and grandmother (and who knows how far back), never process jams in a water bath. The liquid is so darn hot when you pour it in the jars that they are plenty sterile. After you have softened the sealant on the canning lid, put on the ring and tighten. Turn the jar over on a towel and wait until the jam is cool. The lid will not "pop" when they are sealed.


For those of you who do not live 4500 feet above sea level, I hope you can enjoy this recipe now. For the rest of you, it'll be more like late August or September!

And, thank you for reading. It is wonderful to find soul mates living, quite literally, all over the globe.

Yours Truly,
Emily