What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Monday, August 24, 2015


There has been swimming, parties and even a cheap matinee for the whole family (INCLUDING popcorn!) but by far the MOST exciting thing about this summer so far has been the PEACHES!

The fruit trees we planted just last year were beautiful this spring but we didn't expect to actually harvest anything.  Especially since the cherry trees both produced exactly ONE cherry which we took 6 teeny tiny, delectable, divine nibbles from.  But the peaches- they blew us away this spring by producing a ton of babies which I dutifully thinned (be still my heart!) and the leftovers actually ripened into beautiful fruit!

We let Papa have the very first ripe one and I love the series of pictures above if only for the nearly-salivating girl in the background.  It is a series of close-ups of Matt's face but, had you been in that moment, you would have seen him entirely swarmed with children anxiously watching his face to determine how amazingly wonderful that first taste undoubtedly was.

Since generously giving the first fruits, the children and I have had PLENTY of peaches since- don't worry.  Two a day some days!  I couldn't bear to can any of our delicious homegrown fruits so we just ate and ate.   I bought a bushel of bruised 'seconds' to make cobbler and jam with and to freeze into wedges for smoothies.

The very best part is that of our two peach trees, one is an earlier producer and one is a later producing variety...so we have ONE MORE tree to eat from!

I've never loved juice running down my chin quite this much.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The 2014 Canning Tally and A Clean Slate

The canning season has begun!  Despite trying to can a bit each day, I am still woefully behind.  The porch has a permanent fixture of squash and cukes outside the kitchen door...I finally get them done just in time to head to the garden for a new picking.  It's a happy conundrum to be in, I must say.  
The weather has been perfect for canning this past week...warm but not so warm you don't mind heating up the kitchen a bit. Rainy and cool- just right for keeping a summer-wandering Mama at home and being productive.  My flower circle is looking sad and droopy these days though, the rain knocking the Outhouse Bush into humble and languid submission.  Poor things. 
Seems like now would be a good time to begin the new Canning Tally for the year (over in my sidebar) and as is customary, I'll post last years' here for posterity.
A clean slate!!!

The 2014 "Put 'Em Up List"

~Canned~("jars" unspecified means I used a variety of sizes)

Green Beans- 34 qts
Zuke "Pineapple" Tidbits- 17 pts
* Beef Broth- 7 qts
* Dill Spears- 21 qts
* Zucchini Relish- 21 jars
* Peaches- 12 qts
* Volcano Pickles- 10 qts
* Vanilla Peach Preserves (no pectin)-10 jars
* Bread & Butter Pickles- 21 pts
* Whole Tomatoes- 94 qts
* Dill pickles- 14 qts.
* Spaghetti Sauce- 32 qts
Pizza Sauce-14 pts
Spicy Salsa- 18 pts
Pickled Beets- 15 qts
Beets- 18 qts

* Huckle/Blueberries, 23 lbs

* Zucchini (shredded)- 43 cups
Butter- so much
* Mozzerella- so much
* Chicken Legs - 25 lbs (.49 a pound)


~ Other ~
Maple Syrup- 2.5 gallons
Vanilla extract- 2 quarts
orange extract- 1 quart
Garlic- 55 heads
Batches of Soap- 2 (more than that due to the anniversary party favors.)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Pickles and Parenting

There she stood, by the kitchen counter and surrounded by empty milk jugs as Mama made cheese. She arranged the dishes just so and then declared "Well!  I just need to take a picture of that!"

I thought it was hilarious.  And then, for a moment, I was taken aback.

I wonder who taught her to take random pictures of humble things that strike her fancy?  An arrangement of dirty dishes perhaps, or shadows on the wall, or pockets full of rocks or a ridiculous number of photographs of food being prepared or immediately before we consume it?  ;-)

Our children become like we are- we rub off on them- with or without realizing it. Until, that is, one day a child says or does something that so clearly represents who we are. Tragically, it isn't always a cute or hilarious thing that they have learned.  I have a particular child who tends to be impatient with siblings...and when the words coming from within are spoken, they come out in nasty, impatient tones.  Tones that sound an awful lot like mine when I am being frustrated and impatient.  Those moments make me shudder because they have learned those things from....me.  

 Sure, I homeschool my children.  I am in charge of their education.  I 'get' that.  But somewhere along the lines I put home education in a tidy box.  Schooling here. check.  Life here. check.  The fact is, however, we parents are educating our children whether or not we homeschool.  Indeed, whether or not we even notice.

That is a weighty, weighty thing indeed.  It makes me yearn to be better, to be more kind, more generous, more intelligent, more clever, more patient, more godly...more EVERYTHING.

That is the challenge of mothering.  That is the gift of mothering.

Children make you stop thinking about what you can receive out of life and replaces it with this deep, intense desire to be better and give more.  It is a gift to the mother who becomes more glorious; it is a gift to the child who will thrive in such conditions and will, ultimately, surpass the parents' in wisdom and goodness; it is truly, a gift to the world.  A world full of people who think less of themselves and their desires and strive to do good?  The world could use more of those sorts of people.


I hauled the children to the blueberry patch twice last week in order to get stocked up on blueberries. We had just finished our stash from last year, so it was perfectly timed.  We picked 34 pounds total and I froze it all.  I hope to get out there one more time, using those berries to eat fresh and make something elegant out of.  Matt loves himself some blueberry pie...

It is getting very late in the season and I am not sure if I will get the opportunity to do it...the weeks fill up quickly and the garden work is shifting from outside work to kitchen work which is keeping me busy.  But I hope to.  Even just an hour or so would be a fair amount of berries when picked by 10 hands, albeit mostly little ones.  On a sidenote, having a berry bucket taped to your belly when in your 2nd trimester is a very odd thing. Awkward.

A few weeks ago we picked our first zucchini...and it was ginormous.  It is a bit disheartening to have the very first zucchini be the size of a baseball bat.  I know it usually ends up that way toward the end of the season- that is the way of zucchini's, after all-but in the beginning?!?  Sheesh.

Naughty Ruby dog made another hole in the chicken fence and the chickens found it...and then escaped to the gardens and feasted on my beautiful tomatoes.  The plants have been hanging on after a very rough go with all the rains we have had in early summer just for the chickens to ruin many of the beautiful fruits!  It is going to be a depressing tomato year for us this year.  *sniff*

On the docket this week is cucumbers, squash and beans.  We may not have many tomatoes but we won't starve.  There will be pickles and squash.  LOADS of pickles and squash.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

A Flurry of Days


~Science and Discovery Center~

I apologize for this picture.  I really do.  The children made me do it.


~ A Renown Rock and Mineral Museum ~

~ Creek Splashing ~

A Mermaid table for feasting

Too many treasures for a pocket
 ~ Walks 'round Hopestead ~

~ Free Carousel Rides ~

~ A new batch of Corynn-projects ~

These have been a flurry of days; full, busy days of going or doing or even, just being.

There is much to do at home~ the beans fill to brimming the largest bowls of the kitchen, the squash skins get thick with neglect, the clutter of summer freedom piles in every corner, every moment and the new school year planning sessions loom heavy...but how can one be forced inside, in these gorgeous, wonderful days of summer to do those things?

We've been out and about, here and there- every week there is some place to explore, some place to put wandering and splashing, discovery and freedom in front of slaving in the kitchen or around the house.  It's a very odd thing for us homebodies to be so often out and about, but a really, really pleasant sort of thing too.  Probably the real reason behind all of this going is that I just want to put off the things I need to be doing...or maybe I am not really as much of a homebody as I would have thought.  I think, mostly, this person I become in summer is a natural result of being so shut in during the winter months...this is me, staying sane.  ;-)

The chalkboard was in desperate need of an update and Corynn challenged me to draw an elephant; she has declared this to be her favorite board so far.  With a few of my Amazima beads as garlands and a grouping of paper balls (.50 for two at  Michaels!) in the corner, a trip to the kitchen feels a bit like a trip to India.  Love.

The quote seemed perfectly fitting for summer and I loved it, though really, boredom has never been a struggle with my children.

When the olders were little and they happened to hear someone say "I'm bored" they immediately tried to use that phrase themselves.  Right away, I made it clear that the word 'bored' was an illegal word and not allowed to be said in this house.  Said matter-of-factly and with conviction, and with my children just being 4 or 5ish, it was very easy to convince them.  I told them that children who were bored were not creative enough to see the opportunity all around them (and they shouldn't want everyone to know that fact if it were true!) and I also told them that if I heard one of them say they were bored- I would give them something to do so that they wouldn't be bored.  They understood immediately that the something that I was referring to would be hard, probably mundane, work and not at all creative or pleasant.  They never said it again.

Nipping that in the bud when the children were 4 and 5 years old was probably one of the most helpful things I've done for my own sanity (particularly in summer!) because they grew very easily into individuals who always saw opportunities for creativity because there was no other option.  As my littles have grown, they have seen the olders making every use of the opportunities and world around them, thus the thought of being 'bored' has never even entered their little minds.

Now, my children all scoff (as I do) when we hear children say "I'm bored."

Some people say that 'boredom' is healthy and healing in that the moments of boredom can provide quiet opportunities for fascination, exploration and discovery to alight upon an individual in an otherwise hectic and harried world.  But I say it is not boredom that does this, but time...free, empty moments of time where one has nothing to do and nothing filling their minds with clutter.  One needs quietness, freedom, space and time to have these moments of wonder open up to them...but having nothing to do is not the same thing at all as being bored.

There is no cure for curiosity.  There is no cure for creativity.  And this world is so full of experiences waiting to happen, discoveries waiting to be made and opportunities for the taking that we will never be full of them.  Summertime- oh, summertime, with your open and free days and non-existent lesson plans and the whole wide world waiting right outside the door...all we have to do to be overcome by wonder is step outside.

And, we do.