Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Moms On Sunday Mornings

Groggy and blurry eyed, I focused my eyes on the clock. I'd tempted fate last night, not setting the alarm, but the red numbers came into focus at 6:45, exactly when my alarm usually goes off. Every part of me wanted to roll over and go back to sleep; I hate getting up in the morning. More often then not my mind mumbles this desperate prayer, "Dear God, I need you for this day!" I imagine He smiles down in amusement, knowing that the day isn't really the issue here, the issue is really getting me out of the bed.

As I said, getting up on any morning is not my strong point but this was Sunday morning. This was the one day of the week my husband could stay sleeping in the morning (He works until noon on Saturdays). This was the one morning the children were apt to snuggle in a little longer and the house remain quiet a little later. Oh, the temptation was strong to close my eyes to those red numbers on the clock and pretend I didn't know that I should get up.

"Why should I have to get up early on Sunday morning?" A part of me argued. "They don't always have to have sugary biscuits for breakfast." My head sank deeper into the pillow, blocking out those flashing red numbers that were already climbing relentlessly toward 7:00. "We could eat waffles or eggs or...I don't know... cereal, for lunch. I wouldn't have to get up and get something ready for the oven."

But another part of me wouldn't listen to reason; the grown up, responsible part of me that a mother of 16 years should, by now, have. "You know you'll wish you would have," it told me. "You know you'll be glad you did. Might as well do it; you'll have to sooner or later."

And then, as I pushed back the covers and slipped quietly from the cozy bed, the voice started saying some other things. "Remember how you talked about Treasure In Heaven once?" I warily eyed my bedhead  reflection in the mirror and vaguely wished the voice would mind it's own business. "What if getting up in the morning when nobody else has to is storing up Treasure In Heaven?" the voice persisted. "What if cheerfully serving your family sugary biscuits because you know it will make them smile is storing up Treasure In Heaven?"

By now I'd washed the sleep from my eyes and I found a tiny, little stirring of joy in my heart. Supposing it is, I wondered? And supposing I prepped lunch with a smile on my face and a song on my lips instead of feeling sorry for myself that my spot under the covers was empty while everyone else got to enjoy theirs a little longer? Maybe it wasn't fair that I had to get up earlier just because I was mom but, then again, maybe it wasn't fair that I had that opportunity either.

Sunday morning is tough for a mom sometimes. There are things we can do to make what is often a hectic morning more peaceful -- prepping lunch on Saturdays, laying out clothes the night before, getting up early, making sure our diaper bag is ready... But in spite of our best efforts, a mom on Sunday morning is usually a busy person. We're the ones finding people's belts and shoes and washing the spot out of someone's dress. We smooth hair and settle fusses and inspect little faces for dirt. We gather Bibles and fix casseroles and sometimes we spend a little time looking in the mirror at our own face. It's easy to feel bitter as a mom on Sunday morning, especially when the children are young and the baby got you up during the night.

I will tell you this, a smile on my face and a song on my lips made for a much happier than usual Sunday morning the other week. I arrived at church feeling somehow like I had already worshipped, instead of sighing over the marathon I'd just run to get us there. The shift from "poor me" to "what an opportunity" put a paradigm twist on my attitude and outlook.

And I'll tell you something else.

A week later the same voice came talking to me again on Sunday morning. I was tempted to wish I'd never written anything about Treasure In Heaven that could come back to haunt me. But then I slipped out of bed and made that choice again and I think it could - just maybe - become a thing for this mom to store up Treasure In Heaven on Sunday mornings.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

"Car Pants"

Years and years ago, back when Farm & Ranch Living magazine was a thing (Is it still a thing?) Anyway, years ago I remember reading one of the 'week in a life' journals in Farm & Ranch Living about a young family with four or five little boys. I don't remember much about the family or where they lived or what they did. I do remember they had the cutest built in bunk beds in their upstairs bedrooms, but mostly I remember their pants patches.

As you can imagine, a mother of boys living on a farm would see lots of pants with holes. Well, this particular mother had a very creative method for patching pants. Instead of your usual squares, she patched them by cutting out shapes of animals from iron on patches and sewing them over the holes.

I'm not sure why that idea stuck in my mind? I think it was the fact that she turned a dreaded task into something a little more fun simply by using a little creativity. Instead of old, ugly looking patches, she now had cute, whimsical ones that delighted her little boys. I remembered all this the other day when I was sewing car patches.

You see, when Isaac was little, I took the memory of that creative mother, gave it my own twist, and used car patches to patch his pants. I still do it with Charles and both of them have always been delighted to wear what Charles calls "car pants". I thought you might like to see the process.

Charles' poor pants were in sad need of repair, so I decided to tackle them all at once.

I got out my iron on patches and my little car patterns that I free handed once upon a time. Since the point is the cute patch, it doesn't really matter if the color matches the pants perfectly.

Next, I traced three cars -
two big and one small,
according to the size of the holes. 

I cut them out...

And ironed them over the holes.

I've tried leaving it at that, 
but they tend to come loose in a hurry. 

So, last but not least,
I hand stitch around them
with an applique stitch. I've also
used a zig zag stitch and 
done it on the sewing machine. 

And there you have it!

Charles wasn't at home when I sewed these patches. I purposely laid them out so he would see them and I wish you could have seen his face -- "Mom! Three pairs of car pants!!"

Patched pants were never so fun ☺

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Show And Tell

At the church where I grew up, the first Thursday of the month was The Quilting. On that day, someone opens their home for church and neighbor ladies to gather and spend time together quilting, eating a delicious potluck meal, visiting, laughing and sharing together. One of the fun things is a Show and Tell time.

I miss The Quilting.

Today let's pretend you're all gathered here in my house and it's show and tell time. We may have to set up a few folding chairs and squeeze together on the couch, but we'll manage. At The Quilting there's always room for one more!

I've got three things I want to show you today. If it were real life show and tell time, I'd probably try to choose just one so I wouldn't take up too much time. But this is pretend, so I'll take as much time as I like.

Do you remember a very long time ago, when I said I was going to make quilts for my girl's beds? They are finally done. We won't go into any details about why they took so long.

The original plan was to make the whole quilt with the chevron pattern. Well. It didn't take me long to figure out that if I actually wanted the quilts done so the girls could use them before they left home, I needed a different plan. It was my sister who suggested using a couple rows of chevron and a solid. I really like the way they turned out and it was so much more doable!

The girls each chose their grey material so each quilt would have a personal touch.

My next show and tell has a bit of a story behind it. Early this spring, through two different giveaways, I somehow managed to score a total of five dahlia tubers. Jasmine and I were beyond thrilled, as we've been crushing over Root Design Co's dahlias for the past year or so.

We planted them carefully, desperately hoping our amateur growing skills would do them no harm. Alas, it rained and it rained and the place we had chosen for planting turned to a mud hole. As dahlias prefer direct sun, this was not a good thing at all. Suffice it to say, after our rescue efforts, we ended up with one thriving plant.

Sad, sad.

But the plucky little plant grew straight and tall and at long last developed buds a few weeks ago. With baited breath we've watched them slowly swell and open.

My daily progress report...


Last but not least is, perhaps, my favorite show and tell of all. I got the idea somewhere that I wanted a picture to put behind my old window. Then, I had the brilliant brainstorm that Jasmine could paint something for me!

With a cheap piece of poster board and Root Design Co as her inspiration...

She obliged with a fabulous watercolor bouquet. I absolutely love it!

And that's all I have. Thanks for coming! We have a little time left, what would you like to show or tell me? I'd love to hear...

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Not One Person

"If something were to happen to the two of you, who would take care of your children?" The lady across from us shuffled her papers as she waited expectantly for our answer.

Chris and I shifted in our chairs and turned to look in each other's eyes. We'd never really sat down and had this conversation or put any plan in place, exactly. But the answer was so obvious in our minds, we hardly considered it a question at all.

"Well, we've never actually had the conversation with them but it's pretty much a given that my parents would. They live close to us and are a big part of our lives." Chris put into words what both of us were thinking. "In fact, taking care of our own is so much a part of our culture that if, by some freak coincidence, something were to happen to both us and my parents, there's no question in my mind that our church would step right in and take care of everything."

I nodded quickly. "It's so much a part of our lives, we don't even stop to think about it!"

We were seated at a large table in a quiet room at Guernsey County Children's Services and the question asked was one in a long list as part of the home study required for our foster care license. The lady asking us questions listened quietly as we went on.

"Oh, yes. Our culture is such that we could call someone up in California who we'd never met and say, 'Hey! We're friends of so and so and she said you could maybe give us a place to sleep on such and such night' and they'd say, 'Oh sure! No problem. We'd love to have you!'"

"Not only that," Chris had a sudden thought.  "We could probably tell them you were coming to California on business," he pointed to our friend across the table, "And they would likely give you a place to sleep just as readily, because you know us!"

At that point our listener's eyes filled with tears. In a choked voice she said, "You have no idea how many people have not one person they can ask to take care of their children."

"We go into these situations," she went on, "Where someone has called in the authorities. There's a report of drug abuse or safety issues or whatever and our goal is always to not take the children into custody. We ask them - who do you know that could take care of your children?  Do you have family members? Who are your kids familiar with that could keep them?"

Wiping her eyes, she continued.

"You would not believe how many of them shrug their shoulders and say, 'Nobody. We don't have anybody.' Or maybe they say, 'Well, there's Grandma Josephine over here.' But it only takes us a few minutes of running some background checks to see that there's no way she's an option."

"What you're describing is just amazing." She shook her head sadly, "Our kids don't have any of that."

I don't have to tell you I had a hard time swallowing around the lump in my throat.

And just where would we be, I asked myself, if we had no one? Not one person we could count on; not a soul we were sure we could fall back on? The thought was so preposterous my mind couldn't even begin to wrap itself around the idea. Would my life look so much better than theirs if I were all alone with no support, no help, not one person who had my back?

I have many days when I desperately don't want to keep pursuing this journey toward foster care. But it's in the solemn moments like the one I've described above that I wonder, how can I not do this? How is this not the very least I can offer? If, in the process, I could somehow be that one person for someone, how can I succumb to my selfish heart and say 'No, this might mess up my life'?

"There is a difference 
between being too scared
 to do hard things, 
and doing hard things scared." 

~Shannan Martin 
Falling Free

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Packing Lunches

Well. That was a long, unplanned silence. Summer is over and school has commenced. Hopefully I'll slide quietly back into blogging...


School is back in session, and so is the job of packing a row of lunches. I think one of the biggest things I dreaded this year about the new schedule was facing that morning scramble of packing lunches. And making sure there are things to pack in those lunches.

Chris couldn't understand my anxiety and had a simple solution for the problem. "Make them fix their own lunches! There's no reason they can't fix their lunches instead of you doing it."

I say a simple solution.

Except to me, that solution is anything but simple. The idea of four children in the kitchen every morning, scrambling around, searching for food, bombarding me with questions, squabbling over who gets what, fills me with more dread than doing the job myself. I know a lot of families take that route. I know there are probably ways to streamline the process. But not this mother! I just don't think I could deal with it.

Still, as school time crept closer, I kept thinking there has to be a better way. What could I do to take some of the stress out of my school mornings? Other than getting up at some ungodly hour. This mother doesn't deal well with that, either.

First day of school!

And then, I hit on a creative idea. An idea that would make the children do some of the work without the bedlam I feared in the kitchen. An idea that just might be the perfect fix and an actual simple solution. Can you tell I'm kinda proud of myself?

I'm not good with sticking to schedules and elaborate plans, so we'll see how long this lasts. For now, I'm loving it. While it's working, I thought I'd go ahead and share in case any of you other moms are like me and need a lunch packing solution.

Every night after supper, the children each have a job to do -- put away leftovers, clear the table, empty the drainer, wash dishes. I decided evening lunch prep would be just the ticket. Since everyone was doing jobs anyway, it was easy to include in the routine.

The girls lunches almost always include something to warm up. Jasmine, who puts leftovers away, is responsible to make sure there are 3 containers filled and ready to go.

Or a stack of pizza
as the case may be

 Lillian and Jennifer rotate between washing the dishes and the new job -- filling bags with chips and containers with cookies for lunches.

We have a basket designated 
for these items. 

In the morning, I make a sandwich for Isaac and a sandwich for Chris. The rest of the lunch items can be grabbed from what was prepared the night before. Add an apple or a bowl of frozen fruit, spoons where needed, and we're good to go! Now if I'd just spend some time making up a stash of these for those days when there are absolutely no leftovers, packing lunches might be almost fun.


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

A Recipe And A Problem

The two have nothing to do with each other,  just so you know. They were just the two random things I felt like sharing this morning.
I don't often try new recipes. I was going to say that's because cooking isn't my thing but I think it's actually more because I'm married to a man who likes the same tried and true dishes every time. Every once in a great while I try a new recipe and it ends up in the tried and true category. 

I went looking for a different recipe for chicken one night and found "Man Catchin' Oven Baked Fried Chicken". I didn't need to catch a man, but it did turn out to be pretty good chicken!

1 1/3 C Flour 
1 T Garlic Powder
2 T Seasoning Salt
1 tsp Paprika
  --Whisk together in medium sized bowl
2 Large Eggs -- beat eggs in small bowl
1/3 C Butter
8 pieces of chicken (I use boneless skinless breasts but you could use any pieces)

Dip pieces of chicken into flour mixture, then into egg mixture, then back into flour mixture. Place on greased baking sheet. Do not cover. 

Place in fridge for half an hour. (According to the lady sharing the recipe, this is the whole key to this dish. Do not skip this part.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Melt butter and drizzle evenly over chicken. 

She said to bake it 30 - 40 minutes. I do more than 8 pieces of chicken, perhaps that is why it takes mine at least an hour to get done. 

It truly is delicious! All seven of us love it, and that is quite an accomplishment. We've even used the leftovers for cold chicken sandwiches on a picnic. Sadly, I have no pictures to share. 

I do have pictures of the problem. 

I'll give you three guesses....
1) A tornado went through our area?
2) This is a drop off spot for toys for the homeless?
3) Someone has too much stuff?

If you guessed #3 you are the winner! The winner gets to come cart off all our junk. ☺

Seriously. How? How does this happen? 

I think, in the dark corners where they get stashed, the toys breed like rabbits. They divide and multiply and spill out everywhere until finally someone says "Enough!"  Last week that someone was a tall, dark haired girl in this house and we spent an entire afternoon on the painstaking process of elimination. And that was just the girl's stuff. Meanwhile, upstairs....

How do you do it? Do you have an organized process of only a certain amount of toys? A monthly system for purging? A 6 month program for switching out toys? How do you handle having older ones who are fed up with the mess and younger ones who think every scrap paper is a treasure? What about a grandma who gives toys liberally? Or gifts someone gave that aren't particularly one's taste? You can't very well donate your eliminated stash to Goodwill where the wrong people might see them! 

And then you have the mother herself who contributes to the problem *occasionally*

Only last week she bought the large rug pictured above because it was only $4.99 and she couldn't stop thinking how fun it would have been to play with..... Sigh. 

At least it can be walked on.

We currently have quite a pile of boxes and bags to be delivered to some thrift store far away. We might be sick of going through stuff but it sure does feel good. Even the treasure hoarders agree. 

Thursday, August 2, 2018

A Little Something of No Great Inspiration

I keep waiting for some great writing inspiration to strike but it doesn't seem to want to. And it has to want to, you know? Even Pooh knows that, and he only has grey fluff blown into his head by mistake.

The great dilemma is this -- Do I listen to the noble advisors like Pooh Bear and wait until it wants to? Or do I brush all wisdom aside and write about things without any great inspiration? Sometimes one can dawdle around at great length over such dilemmas until one is forced to just do something because surely, after all, something is better than nothing. Or something like that.

Perhaps you would like to hear about the weather? It has been quite pleasant in Ohio of late. Last week we ate supper on the porch one evening because it was ju-u-u-st cool enough that I thought I could get by with it.

On a side note, 
that old table was a lucky
find at a local yard sale and
I am just tickled pink with it!

Sunday evening we took advantage of the lovely weather and hiked some trails at Barkamp. Everyone enjoyed the 2 mile trek, even the ones who generally complain about tired feet.

We managed to document the 
event with this blurry picture. 

This week there has been some beautiful rain showers and overcast days.

Maybe, after all, you were wondering how my canning is going? Real well, in fact. All I want to do yet is frozen peaches for school lunches.  I'm not quite sure what the Lord is preparing us for this year. For one reason and another, I have more corn and green beans stocked up than I ever have in my life. Then again, maybe He just realizes how much more these growing kids will eat!

It is truly amazing the amount of help my children are these days when it 
comes to these projects!

On the other hand, it could be that you're wondering if I'm learning anything new these days. Let's see, I could probably think of a few things.

* Ever hear of the Betsy-Tacy books? One of my girls was gifted a copy at the end of the school year and her mother kinda got into them too and ended up ordering the whole series from the library and reading them right along with her bookworm.

* Wise advice is much easier to give, than to take oneself. The glib counsel I once gave a friend who was teaching the adult lady's Sunday school class is not so easily believed when I am the one in those shoes. 

* When cleaning out the freezer uncovers old food long forgotten, the fact that some of it was shredded zucchini makes it a good day. 

* School shopping can actually be a fun time when you take your time and include places like Goodwill and Hobby Lobby... And you linger over treasures like these --

I played with a pan like this 
when I was little!

We could hardly tear ourselves 
away from this aisle; 
all the doll houses and accessories!


I need this in my laundry room. 

* Sometimes you read things that resonate immediately like this blog post by Rosina.

* Also, most of the time the littlest, most ordinary things are the things that bring the most joy.

Maybe kind of like blog posts
 without great inspiration......