Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Save the Day!

Or maybe save all the food today.  It's harvest season, which means that we are in the kitchen most of the time.  This year I'm actually canning, whereas last year I only did a little because I had been so sick.  And the year before I did nearly none, since we were moving in.  That's an interesting transition, and it tells me that this year is better than the past two have been.  Sometimes it's hard to see the improvement.  

I did a few dozen quarts of applesauce, and wrecked my right pointer finger doing all the cutting.  The apples were on the green side, so they were a bit tougher to cut through.  The applesauce is still good though, even if it is more tart.

I can't tell you how excited I was when I sent the twins outside with their big white bowls to get more apples - and they came back empty.  No more apples!  These boxes were full to overflowing - and we haven't even started on the apples from our own trees!  They won't be ripe for a few more weeks.

I'm always amazed at the wonders of our beautiful world when I'm canning.  Aren't these peaches gorgeous?  The colors are vibrant and living, sustaining and improving our lives.  Thanks, Lord, for this amazing planet!  I love, love, love bottled peaches.  And I hate peeling peaches.  Fortunately for me, my sweet husband doesn't mind, so he peeled and I made jam, rows and rows of bottles full of it.

I was poking about in the storage room for a good shelf to load all the bottles onto.  We haven't really cleaned out the storage room since we moved in, and it isn't really set up efficiently.  I moved a couple of cans, and the whole shelf fell out!  I'm glad I didn't have it full of glass jars.  So we need to fix and shore up the shelves in the storage room, but the produce won't quit coming!  I moved things around as best I could, and made room for the peach jam with the apricot jam we did earlier this summer.  

Before Trent could start shelf-fixing, the grapes ripened, and we've spent the past week doing what must be a million batches of grape juice.  I'm generous to myself here, because Trent has done all the work on this one.  The kids love the juice, and I try to not imagine it spilled on... on anything.

Our excitement of next week: tomatoes!  The pears are on right now as well, and then our apples will be last.  At least, I think they will be last. 

I opened a new bottle full of apple butter from a couple of years ago, and spread some of its dark sweetness onto a hot piece of whole wheat toast.  Yum.  Having food in my pantries makes all the hard work worth it.  And now I want another slice of toast!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The End of School

I didn't record the end of school here, but it was a happy time.  I love getting my kids home for the summer!  Check out these cute little faces.  Maybe they aren't being so cute right now!  This will be the first summer vacation for the twins, and they aren't really happy about it.  Freddie will not miss walking home after school every day.  But they think they will miss their friends, and they love going to school.  They don't understand why they have to stop going to school for a few months.  I'm glad they have had a good experience in kindergarten.

David just finished his last year at the junior high, and Eddie his first year there.  I loved just sitting back and watching the two of them flip through the junior high yearbook together.  I don't think either of them budged for hours.

I didn't get a picture of our girl, but her world is falling apart!  She is in mourning for her little friends that she won't be able to see all summer long!  You should hear her lament.  With a pouty face, it's "alllll summer loooooong!"  Like they were dying or something.  Pretty pathetic.  I'm sure she'll manage, because she's not generally looking for drama, but her friends are important to her and she loves being with other people.  Like her daddy, she is.

Here is the biggest change at the end of this school year.  Chris is done - oh happy day!  He has not been fond of being in high school, and really couldn't wait to get done with it.  I'm glad he managed to finish all of his requirements anyway.  He hates having me take his picture, so this is a splendidly pleasant face.  It will be fun to see where he chooses to go in his life.

And that is the end of the school year.  Some summers are full of goings, some are more lazy.  As much as I would love to just relax and vacation at the beach this summer, I know it will be more on the busy side.  My oldest three boys will be working, Ben will be coming home, we have a wedding coming up, and at the end of the summer, all three of them will be moving out.

This is our last summer together, and I plan to cherish every little tidbit I get.  We will have 11 people living in our house for a few months, and after this, the whole dynamic of our family changes.  Not in a bad way, but change is often fun and melancholy at the same time.  Who knows what we will look like next summer?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Announcing an Addition!

Alec has been busy since he got home.  He had to renew his driver's license, get a job, find an apartment, figure out what he was going to do for college, find some transportation...  Whew.  Adulting is a lot of hard work!High on his list of priorities was getting back to this pretty gal he hadn't seen for two years.It's a long time to be apart.

Unwilling to be apart any longer, they didn't waste any time to become engaged and start planning a wedding.  

Yeah, ring-buying is another one of those adulty things than takes some good decision-making skills and grown-up amounts of money.  I'll just be a wee bit flattered that he wanted a small amount of assistance from Mom.

I read something somewhere that said the purpose of a parent, when dealing with children, was to introduce the children to new things and help them figure out how to deal with those new things.  Short of having his own children, I don't think there is really anything new of significance to introduce to this boy.  So good luck on your adulting!  Have a happy marriage!  Be a responsible human being!  I'm pretty excited for them to learn all kinds of new things - now together.

It's fun to watch your kids grow up (especially when you get to continue calling them "my baby" in secret.  Shh!).

P.S.  I'm not dealing very well with the idea of becoming a mother-in-law.  I have two of the sweetest, kind-hearted women for my mothers-in-law, so that helps.  But it just sounds sinister, doesn't it?  It seems only a small step down from "wicked step-mother."  I hope I can be a reasonably good mother-in-law.  I do like my future daugher-in-law - I think she's just what my boy needs!

And I miss my mom, who could help introduce me to this new thing and help me figure out how to deal with it well.  We never outgrow our mothers.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Mission Monday

I've saved Monday for missionaries for over two years now.  Here we are, at the end of these missions, and I'm not sure what to think about it.  I'll not miss staying up late on Sunday nights and writing letters to them.  But I will.  That was a constant time I could spend on loving my boys.  I look forward to a hug and getting to see a smiling face.  I am enjoying watching the constant growth toward responsible adulthood.

Here is Ben's next-to-last letter.  He has been working in the mission office for the past few weeks, helping with the administrative responsibilities of running a mission.  He has also been able to still work with some people in his area, as well as traveling to the different parts of the mission with the mission president.  He has loved it all, and I'm sure he will miss it dearly.

Wednesday was back in my area with my companions. I went with Elder Covey and we went looking for families. We found one. Then we taught our fantastic recent convert family that got baptized last week. They are doing great! They have their baptismal certificates framed in their living room and they were raving about the blessings of the Gift of the Holy Ghost. There's nothing like that.

On Thursday... we (went) to go pick President Foote up from the airport, he was coming back from Fort Dauphin and Toliara. So we drove him home and talked to him while we waited in traffic. For a very long time. I love President! He's the coolest guy in the world!

Sunday we went to church. I love church. Then we taught and tracted and found a new family. J. is from Fianarantsoa and is a retired soldier, then his wife, M.L. is from Toliara. They were so inviting and brought us into their house before we could even introduce ourselves. Then they felt terrible that they didn't have any food to give us. People are so GOOD.

Yes, people are so good.  What a beautiful lesson to learn.

Read the rest of his week here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Colorful Blessings

It's nice to have good food.  Sometimes, I open my refrigerator and I suddenly morph into Mother Hubbard.  Even if there is lots of stuff in there, it often is food I cannot eat.  I feel like I'm dying of thirst in the middle of a waterfall, where there is plenty for everyone else, but not for me.  And it's easy to feel just a little shade of grumpy about it.  It's also easy to get an awful lot grumpy about it and melt into a poor-me pity party worthy of a toddler who didn't get an extra piece of candy.

In reality, we have plenty.  Of everything.  And getting the food I need to keep me from getting stomachaches, or feeling bloated, or having to spend the rest of the day in bed is as easy as going to the store and picking it up.  I don't have to special order anything.  I don't have to wait for it to grow.  I don't have to go great distances.  We are so blessed, really.  It's easy to forget that.

I went to the store and went bananas in the produce section.  I should get one cart for my produce and another one for everything else.  Getting enough fresh things to feed a large family takes up lot of real estate in the cart.  I like unpacking all the bags when I get home and seeing all the colorful fruits and vegetables lines up on the counter.  They look so delicious!

How lucky we are to have so much good food so easy to get!  I need to remember what a blessing that is.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Track and Field

Our lives are running along faster than I want them to.  Maybe I should tie on some good shoes and try to keep up?

My three big boys were in track this year. Sidenote: I amuse myself with how the family grows and how I refer to my kids. For years, the oldest the boys were "the big boys" and David and Eddie were "the little boys."  Then the newest little ones were "small fry."  Then we had "the missionaries" and David joined Chris in the "big kids" group while Eddie and Angel were the "elementary kids" in 6th grade and kindergarten, respectively. This past year, Eddie went up to the junior high and we again had "big boys" in high school and junior high,  while the "small fry" were all in elementary school. Next year, I guess Eddie and David will be our "big boys," and the older the will be our "college boys. "  Life keeps moving along, doesn't it?   'Scuse me for a moment whilst I dab at my eyes and sing "Sunrise,  Sunset."

Ahem.  Back to track. Chris is partial to the hurdles. David did the 100, 200, and 400 meter races, as well as the 400 relay and shot put. That boy had always had tons of energy!  I remember watching him run up the street, his little chubby legs blurring to keep up with his older brothers. Eddie tried out the long jump and high jump for his first year.

It's fun to watch them run,  but it's hard to sit through hours and hours of a track meet, trying to entertain my small fry while waiting for the few minutes or even seconds of the event I wanted to see.  I go to a few meets, but not all of them. I didn't get any pictures of Eddie or Chris, but these photos came from David running in our regional finals. I love his intense concentration.  This boy has focus!

But no, I won't be running.  I don't have it in me to do physical things that energetic or require endurance.  Jay did.  He liked to go running every now and then, or do something to just push his body to its absolute limits.  It felt great to him.  For me, if I'm running, you'd best come see what's wrong, because there must be a bear or something chasing me.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

On the Computer

We're not always on the computer, but when we want to be, we can sure load them up. We have three desktop computers in the office, plus a few tablets and phones. 

I have a laptop that doesn't live in the office because I like to sit on my squishy soft couch. And the office floor is to cold. But I digress.

It was fun to walk by the office and see all my at-home boys piled in there, playing games with each other. The room is sometimes quiet, then erupts in cheers or exclamations or groans. I'm glad they play together!