I am working, painfully slowly, on my home making plans for this year.

  We’ve talked endlessly about moving into a bigger house sometime this year, originally it was to be this spring, but we have a new baby coming now!  Not sure how that will work out but if God wants it to happen it will, and wholly according to His will.  Still not sure at this point if I start packing up garage stuff and the endless bookshelves for storage so we can properly “stage” this house to sell, or if we just sit and wait a bit and see what happens.  We’ll be doing any necessary painting NOW before baby comes, just to have it done.  I want this place to be beautiful for this little guy!  Not sure about anything else though.  Still praying.

I’m hoping to begin a long and successful life of preserving our own foods this year as well.  I didn’t grow up in a household that did that with any regularity and I seems to be missing the intuitive part of it all, but I think with time and research I could get it going fairly well.  I do intend to start small, there are places near(ish) here that are famous for their peaches in the summer and apples in the fall.  We could go and pick them off the tree!!  I’ll be doing that and canning peaches and making jellies and canning applesauce and apple butter and apple pie filling.  I really, REALLY can’t wait!  We used to live so much closer to those orchards and used to go every year (not once thinking to preserve our treasures!  Duh.) so we’ll be making the field trip this year.  Maybe use it as an excuse to visit with family…

I’d also LOVE to try my hand at my own pickles!!!  My kids love them, I love them, it seems like a good idea.  Not sure where the best place to get pickling cucumbers is, so I’m thinking I need to try to grow them myself.  Cucumbers grow nicely here, like weeds really, so it shouldn’t be too difficult a task (says the woman who can’t keep aloe alive). 

I’d also  like to get back to baking again.  Breads, pies, cookies, what ever my family needs.  I need to get back to taking care of them, really taking care of them.  I think that’s all, on the home front, that I am trying new this year.  We will still be doing the homeschooling and day-to-day living that seems to eat up every waking moment.  I have other goals, spiritual goals, that I’ll be sharing as I have time. 

as a quick update, I’m 32 weeks pregnant and everything is going fairly well.  This bugger will be a big one, he’s already huge and getting quite heavy to carry (although I have a sneaking suspicion that could just be because my back is old, but we won’t go there…) and the constant kicking is becoming more painful than sweet.  Time is closing in on us and he’ll be here before we know it.  We should get cracking on that whole naming thing soon!!


Angels, at the big box store??? naaaa

Normally a trip to the grocery store with all four boys in tow is a daunting task that would intimidate the most seasoned of mothers.  There is never a guarantee that things will go smoothly, heck there’s never a guarantee that you won’t leave frazzled to the point of tears.  However, there are moments, glimpses of God’s  Grace, that shine down through the clouds and bless your daily activities.  Moments that remind you that there is holiness in the day to day.

I took the boys to the local warehouse store to buy parts of our grocery list (they never have everything I need, but the meat can’t be beat!) while the girls were at co op.  I was gearing myself up for a long and exhausting trip, trying not to get too psyched out before we made it through the front door.  The four year old was his typical unhappy self, mad at the world for who knows what all the way there.  Great.  We’re off to a winning start!  We get to the store and everyone walks so nicely in, 9 yo holding 4 yo’s hand, 6 yo walking beside me and me holding the near 2 yo. 

We get situated in a cart and flash our membership card when the door greeter/bouncer starts talking.  I really just wanted to run into the store, don’t talk to me, don’t smile at me, just let me do what I came to do before the natives get restless!  Door greeter had other plans.  He wanted to know why my boys weren’t in school.  They’re homeschooled.  “oh” Then he does the dreaded “quizzing”.  The thing everyone who doesn’t know you personally, and some who do, feel the need to submit your children to. (either to prove you wrong in your education decisions, or make themselves feel less guilty about not turning you in for neglect, I’ll never know)  I really just want to get in the store and get done.  They’re boys, there are four of them, it’ll be lunch time soon.  Please!!!  He asks “if two’s company and three’s a crowd, what’s four and five?”  My sweet and wonderful 6 yo replies “Nine.” with that tone that 6 yo’s use with adults they think are utterly useless.  Man is totally impressed, gushes for minutes about how impressive that was.  Not kidding.  Six year old says ” I’ve been subtracting for YEARS”  Hee hee, got the operations  mixed up but he knows what he’s saying (wish he wasn’t as good as his mama at eye rolling!)  At that we were released from our impromptu interrogation with the words “great job mom!” and an admiring look!!!!  Thank you God for filling my tank just before the trip begins, thank you for showing me the blessing that can come from the most unlikely and unexpected of places.

We’re not in the store five minutes when I’m approached by an older gentleman.  He asked me if these in front of us were all my children “well, no, I’ve got two girls at school”    “and one on the way?”  “yes, yes, sir another on the way”.  This sweet and kind old man then proceeds to tell me about his mama.  “she had eleven children, God bless her, 45 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren”  “oh my, what an incredibly blessed woman!!”  He had tears in his eyes, “Yes ma’am, yes, she was blessed, truly blessed, and I thank God every day for that blessing!  Praise God!”  “yes sir, Praise God!”  “You keep doing what you’re doing mama, you are so incredibly blessed and doing an incredible job”.    Once again, Thank you God for showing me what an incredible blessing you have called me to!  Help me to always remember it and remember that the path you have set before me, while often mundane and stressful, is such a holy path!

We were walking through the store, 9 yo pushing the cart with the youngest two seatbelted in and the 6 yo and I holding hands grabbing what we needed and filling our cart.  We had made it to the soap aisle and were picking up another 20 bars (or so) when I was approached by yet another stranger, this one with something in her hand.  She just walked up to me and said “I feel called by God to give you this, do something to take care of you”  and placed a ten dollar bill in my palm.  I didn’t know what to say.  “Thank you.  SO much, really, thank you”  She just walked away saying “Thank God, not me”.

As I was checking out, another young (not that I’m a young mother, but give me this delusion!) mother asks if I’m expecting yet another boy, all I could do was smile my biggest smile and respond with a resounding “yes!!, Yes I am!”. 

I left that store so recharged and walking on air.  I know that God gives you nothing more than you can handle.  I get it.  I just forget sometimes that he’s not kidding.  He will give you what you need, to do what He is calling you to do.  Every. Single. Time.  Even if it takes angels in human form just giving you a pat on the back and reminding you what a gift your vocation is.

and yes, my boys got a HUGE hug and lots of praise for blessing so many people

and a trip to the “treasure box”

man’s heart

Our 23 month old is having trouble sleeping at night.  He’s more up than down most nights and we can’t quite put our finger on why.  What that translates into is often waking up to him in our bed, snuggled deep in the covers, often with an arm around my neck. 

This morning was one of those mornings.  He had both arms wrapped around my head/neck and was fast asleep, so sweet!!  He started stirring much earlier than I wanted, before the sun came up, and through our eastern facing bedroom windows he could see the sunrise.  It was beautiful this morning, very pink and rosy (although, from what I understand a red sky in the morning is NOT so good, precurser to the horrid arctic front on the way?  Maybe.) and I got shaken awake by a “mama, mama!  Look!  Pretty!”.  So sweet.  So innocent.  So early!

I fell back asleep after awknowledging that yes, it was pretty.  Then just a very short while later I get shaken awake again, this time the little one had a hand on each of my cheeks, making sure I was facing him (yep, he’s number 6!) and with a voice of an angel he said “Mama!  mama! Eat!”

Because he’s a boy and the old cliche is so true, a man’s heart and stomach are attached!  I of course got up and started breakfast, it was such a sweet request, but I am also saying a short prayer for whomever he marrys.  Please dear Lord don’t let that be the first thing he thinks about when he sees his wife in the morning!

winter’s promise

When I was young I used to dream of snow, and often got it.   Not a sure thing here in the middle where roads meet, but something that would probably come, at least once, before winter’s end.  As I’ve grown older and had children to dream for themselves the snow has become less of a dream and more of an annoyance.  Probably partly because we’re not incredibly prepared for it, we don’t have snow pants and snow boots and warm, waterproof snow gloves so going out to play can be daunting and painful. 

There has always been a wonderful aspect of snow here that people up north aren’t blessed to get.  Our snow is usually gone in twenty-four hours.  Yep, one single day.  We get the beauty and the fun and when we wake up the next morning it’s melting.  Not days or weeks of gray, wet, cold, dirty snow.  Nope, one day, absolute beauty and then *poof* it’s gone!   I’ve always loved that about snow here, it’s beautiful and then gone.

Not this year.  Nope.  We got the “great blizzard” on Christmas Eve and it’s STILL on the ground.  A week later, it’s still here.  It’s gray and ugly and muddy and icy from melting and refreezing.   It’s still here.  No sign of  it going away anytime soon either.

It’s hard to be cheerful when the world around you is gray and icy and melty and muddy.  It’s hard to be full of the Light of Christ when the world is full of gray and icky muck.  I am sitting here gestating this beautiful gift that we were given 30 weeks ago and trying so desperately to be happy and joyful and embrace the spirit of the season.  All I see are lost opportunities for many boys to go outside and run and fill their lungs and exhaust their endless energy.  I see the never ending pregnancy go on and on and on and my belly swell more and more, wondering how much larger it can go. 

If I can just keep the Christ Light burning, if I can just remind myself of the hope, the promise of spring.  If I can just get myself to look past the gray and muddy mess and into the warmth of Christ I would see that maybe snow isn’t such a bad thing, and even if only gotten once a year might be good to better prepare for so it can be enjoyed more easily.  Maybe if my heart could better prepare for the boggy, muddy, mucky times they would seem more cool and crisp and renewing, reminding me of spring’s promise

This babe that I am carrying, this nameless boy who is so anticipated, is due in the midst of spring’s emergence.  Ides of March.  World waking and stretching and growing and warming, Easter such a short promise away.  This boy will be coming in the light of spring and so close to the most beautiful promise of The Resurrection.  This never ending season will end at such a beautiful time of warmth and joy. 

I just have to get past the winter.

Through the mud and the muck.