Jars by the Numbers

2016 brought forth an abundant harvest from the garden once again. In fact, we ran out of jars. We had all of the jars from my parents and my in-laws, too.

  • canned beef 20 qts
  • green beans 25 qts
  • pickles 13 qts
  • sauerkraut 18 pts
  • frozen corn 13 qts
  • pears 6 qts
  • stewed tomatoes 66 qts
  • pizza sauce 27 pts
  • beets 13 pts
  • carrots 26 pts

That’s 247 jars of homegrown goodness. Come visit us, and we’ll feed you. We are well-stocked for the winter. Thanks be to God for another great year in the garden!

Where’s the honey?

We cleaned off the garden over the weekend. Hip-Hip-Hooray! The tomatoes are finally DONE. (I’ll post the final numbers soon. I’m still adding them all up.) We took out the tomatoes, cucumber vines, peppers, and all the other stuff as well. We dug carrots, big ones.

Then yesterday I broke out in hives. All over. It was not pleasant. It’s still not pleasant. I suspect this is a reaction to being in the garden with the remaining pollen. Sweetpea looked up possible causes, and this seems to be the most reasonable. However, stress could also be a factor. Who knows?

For now, I’m drinking lots of water, taking cool showers, and trying to R-E-L-A-X. What else should I be doing (or not doing)?

A Service Project

Thrivent Financial has a new thing called Thrivent Action Teams. You apply for a $250 debit card that is essentially seed money for a service project for your church or community or another entity. Sweetpea used one of her grandparent’s cards for a sewing project for the local pregnancy center.IMG_7366.JPGWith the money she purchased enough material to make 8 fleece blankets that are tied. She made 7 flannel blankets that have different prints on each side. She sewed 37 taggie blankets of fleece. (I got to help with those.) This girl loves to sew, and I’m thankful that she is willing to use her time and talents to help others in need. Having finished this project, she would like to do it again. God be praised!

High Aspirations

Our family was discussing the Christmas Eve pageant; all three of our kids will be participating this year. (It’s the only year it will happen.) Sweetpea and Moonbeam will be angels. Then it was mentioned that Rocket would probably be a shepherd… or a wiseman.

Rocket: I want to be God. [Sweetpea stifles a snort.]

Jerome: No, you can’t be God. He would be an infant in a manger.

Rocket: I want to be big God. [Sweetpea ducks her head under the table so as not to show everybody how red her face is turning from laughter.]

Me: What does big God do?

Rocket: He dies on the cross and rises again. I want to do that!

Jerome: Well, we don’t act that part out on Christmas Eve.

Rocket was clearly disappointed. Give the kid credit, though; he knows WHO is important.

I’m a SAHM

Before you read any further, I am NOT trying to get into the Mommy Wars regarding stay-at-home mom (SAHM) and career mom. Read that statement again, please.

I recently started reading a book titled In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms. This morning it was so refreshing to read that other women have left the career world and stayed home to care for their families. Many people have pooh-poohed the SAHM and made her feel less-than-human. While there are umpteen benefits to being a SAHM, I won’t review them all here. (I might later, though. This book has been quite encouraging and eye-opening for me.)

Here’s the paragraph that caught my attention this afternoon:

Take-charge women who choose to be SAHMs sometimes have a real problem with the fact that you can never really get anything under control; children are by nature unpredictable and resistant to organization, as is the plumbing and the temperature of the oven. To paraphrase an e-mail from one SAHM, you’ll have to relax your exacting standards, surrender the dream of a perfectly organized home with everything in its place, and give up your ideal of perpetually well-behaved children. You have to either assume that attitude and perspective — or go nuts! [Schlessinger:44-45]

Why has it taken me 14 years to see this as truth? I am an educated, super-organized person, who likes to keep things under control. I have high standards, and quite often, I fail to relax those. Instead, I try to keep my house clean and nice (and force everybody else to do the same) instead of enjoying my husband and children. For years I have struggled to keep the house tidy, provide home-cooked meals, play with my children, meet their academic needs, and enjoy time with my husband. That doesn’t come easily, nor should I expect it to be realistic. At times I can do several things well, but I can’t do everything well all the time. It’s just not going to happen, nor should I expect it. Still, I’ve been trying to live like my house has employed a housekeeper, a chef, a nanny, a groundskeeper, a social secretary, a chauffeur, and so much more. I’ve felt like a failure numerous times, despite the fact that my husband, family members, and friends have reassured me (many times) that I’m doing a great job.

Along comes this book, and BOOM! Somebody finally puts into print what I have been trying to do all this time. In my head I was trying to keep everything nice and pretty and beautiful and safe and organized. I was also beginning to go nuts.

Whew! That’s a lot of heavy for you, dear reader.

SO — I’m going to relax my standards and enjoy being a SAHM. Hold me to it, please. God has called me to this vocation, and I need not fight against it. Others would have me feel that I’m “missing out” while being a SAHM. On the contrary, though, I have been blessed with a husband and three children, and it is my privilege and honor to be home for them and with them. Thanks be to God!

Referral-versary #4

Four years ago today we saw the face of our little Moonbeam for the first time. It was on the computer screen, but that didn’t bother us. After SIX years of waiting, we finally got a glimpse our little girl. What a great day that was!!!

I remember the details pretty clearly. The phone call came as we were eating breakfast. Then we waited, somewhat impatiently, for the pictures to come via email. The social worker sent the paperwork in the attachments but no picture. What???? She tried again. There was our Moonbeam!

We spent the remainder of the morning on the telephone with our family members. Some were at home. Another was at a meeting. One was at school, and another was out shopping. Those are special moments to share with loved ones.

We also shared the news with some of our church family that day. They cried. They laughed. All sorts of emotions were experienced.

Throughout the long years of waiting, so many people had waited along with us. I know that I could not have endured it except for the love and care of my family and friends.

And, now, we get to share every day with our Moonbeam. She is loved by so many, and she brings such joy to us. We still have a lot to learn about each other. (Will that ever end?) Best of all, OUR Moonbeam is a baptized child of God and knows Jesus as her Lord and Savior.

As is our yearly tradition, we shall celebrate properly tonight with root beer floats.

Clothing Transition

The cooler fall temperatures are upon us. It’s the time of year where you start off with long pants and a jacket in the morning. By mid-day you take off the jacket and might even switch to shorts. By late afternoon, the sun is disappearing, and you put the warmer clothes on once again.

This all means that I need to cull clothes. The spring/summer pieces that won’t fit next year get boxed up. The next sizes are brought into the house and fitted on the kids. The process takes a few days.

While I like the changing of the seasons, I don’t particularly enjoy sifting through all of the clothing. This year, I’m hoping to downsize some of the clothes and open up some space for other things (or nothing).

Soon the heavy jackets will be out. After that come the snow boots and snow gear. I can wait a while for that to happen.

So, for now, I return to the bedroom and continue to sort clothing.

Keeping On

After a fun weekend in my college town and hanging out with my brother, this past week was back to our regular routine. We’re still figuring that out. Moonbeam (just turned 5) wants to read, so we’re working on that in small doses. Rocket (almost 3 1/2) wants to do school, so we get out the crayons and work on proper grip of the utensil. He has also taken an interest in cutting, so I decided to be pro-active and help the boy before disaster befalls his sisters. Sweetpea plows ahead with her studies; more of them can be done independently. However, there are still subjects that bring us together, and I am enjoying that. I’ve also made time to read aloud to the munchkins; now I need to figure out when I can still do that with Sweetpea.

The tomatoes have FINALLY slowed down. Can you hear the sighs of relief? The garden is basically done. The raspberries, though, decided to yield abundant fruit! We made raspberry muffins and are going to try a raspberry coffeecake next. I suppose raspberry jam will fall into the mix eventually.

So, for now, we’ll just keep going.

Play Is Natural

One last post on my weekend adventures…  Deborah took me to see Lloyd and Lauren as they were working big-time to move everything from one child development center to the new child development center. We saw Lauren on Friday night, and she was working like a mad woman — all with a smile on her face. Sweetpea took my picture with my two favorite altos from choir.img_7316On Saturday morning we ventured back to see the playground in the daylight. There’s Lloyd in the background, scurrying from place to place. Sweetpea is standing by the sandbox. Is this not cool????img_7318This is the long-shot of the playground. Lots of tree stumps and even more mulch were brought in for the kids. On the far left you can see a huge hill for the kids to climb.img_7319These stumps were piled together to resemble steps. With open-ended apparatus like this, the opportunities for imaginary play are numerous.img_7320I can hear you asking: What’s inside those plastic things? Behold, more open-ended play things. The kids can use these however they wish.img_7321The biggest item to this playground is the tunnel. It’s actually several huge planters that have been turned on their sides. The children will be able to walk and run through it and climb on the top, which has been covered in dirt. It’s genius, I say! The toddler playground also has a little hill, just for them. (In case you were wondering, this is fashioned after the Emilio Reggio approach to early childhood education. You can look it up, if you wish.)img_7322And then our tour was over. I’m so glad we stopped to check it out.img_7324Thanks, Lloyd and Lauren! (Deborah, our itinerary was perfect. Thank you!)img_7323

Brotchen with DAD

Whilst I was in college, I was blessed to be part of the A Cappella Choir. DAD Martens was the director, and on Saturday mornings he made brotchen. Brotchen is a hard roll, and it usually accompanies meals. While on choir tour in Germany, we would be served brotchen in the middle of the afternoon.

One week ago today, Deborah, Sweetpea, and I ventured over to Dad’s house for brotchen (always at 10:00). Even though he has been retired for a number of years, there is a standing invitation on Saturday mornings. Dad got up at 3:45 to start this batch. His starter dough is 10 years old; that’s young, considering the starter batch before it was 40 years old.img_7326Cut the brotchen in half. Add whatever you like: cheese, sausage, honey, jam.img_7325My favorite topping: Nutella. I tasted it first in Germany and have loved it ever since. Can you spot the nutella in the picture below?img_7328Mom and Dad Martens have opened their hearts to so many college kids, and many of them return with their own families now. Mom and Dad taught ESL classes to many people, and those have become like family, too. In this picture, we were visiting with a family from Cameroon.
img_7329 It was finally time to go. Dad will be 88 in November, and he hopes to continue making and hosting brotchen until he’s 90.img_7330We love you, Dad Martens! Tschuss!img_7332P.S. Thanks for a great weekend, Deborah!!!!IMG_7333.JPG

When the Uncle Comes to Town

Since there was some serious volleyball to be watched, we invited my brother to spend the remainder of the weekend with us. He did!!! And we loved having him here. (I loved being able to cook for him.) He was able to see Moonbeam open some of her birthday presents.img_7336He was here to encourage Rocket as he went to Sunday School for the first time. (It was a pretty big moment for the little guy.)img_7337We played games. Duck, Duck, Goose quickly moved to Drop the Hankie. Sweetpea didn’t run quickly enough, so Uncle Kirk got her….while he was still seated!img_7342There were good-night hugs to give. I think wrestling is more the thought here.img_7338The time with the uncle passed all too quickly, and then he had to leave. Come again, Uncle Kirk!

Deal of the Day

My husband stopped at the big library today to pick up some books for Sweetpea’s writing project. He found this!!!

It’s 12 volumes of My First Brittanica. (The 13th volume is the reference guide and index.) Amazon listed it for $58.45. He paid just $5.38 for it. That is a purchase we can handle. Moonbeam (age 5) paged through one of the books and loved it. This set will be another welcome addition to our home library.

Score one for the principal. Or should I say 13?

Go Big Red

The Husker women were playing in a volleyball tournament at Lincoln last weekend, and a dear lady offered her tickets to us for both matches as she was unable to attend. Well, I jumped on that offer. Sweetpea was pretty excited to see the 4th national championship trophy. We got to see that team play in the 1st and 2nd rounds of the tournament last fall when they were on their way to the title.IMG_7313The game was great! Our seats were up in the nosebleed section, but we never sat there. We got bumped twice and finally settled into some vacant VIP seats for the remainder of the match. After the game, we saw the coach giving a post-match interview. A picture was quite necessary.IMG_7315The following day my brother made the trek up to Lincoln. He and Sweetpea took in the afternoon match. I love these two pictures that he captured. There truly is no place like Nebraska.20160903_134135My brother is also the Ace like Nebraska.20160903_134150

She’s 5 Now!

Last week our Moonbeam celebrated her 5th birthday. How is that even possible? We decided to celebrate with a trip to the zoo, and the day was a great one for her. She got to ride the carousel, not once but twice.IMG_7296For her birthday treat, she requested white cupcakes with chocolate ice cream. When asked what she wanted on the top of her cupcakes, Moonbeam replied, “A pumpkin.” Nothing more, simply a pumpkin. I can do that.IMG_7301We had our little birthday party in the back of the van and ate cupcakes and ice cream first, so that the ice cream didn’t get any softer. Everybody liked that idea. Then came time for presents. IMG_7304Moonbeam wanted her picture taken with the giraffes, and I’m quite pleased with the way this one turned out.IMG_7306However, we got even closer to one of the giraffes as there was a giraffe feeding station. For $3, you can purchase a huge lettuce leaf and feed a giraffe. For free, you can watch up close as other people pay $3 and watch them feed the giraffe. We chose FREE.IMG_7308Finally, we took a kid picture.IMG_7291Happy Birthday, Moonbeam! You are one of God’s very excellent gifts to our family!

Gone Fishin’

My husband’s family gets together for a few days every summer at a Lutheran camp, which is located on a lake. We took the kids fishing this year, and they loved it. The fish were really biting well. At one point, four of the kids had a fish on at the same time. That has never happened.

Moonbeam caught the first fish!IMG_7233Then Sweetpea caught a fish. Moonbeam noted, “That’s not a very big one.”IMG_7238Even Rocket got in on the action, although he could have done with more snacks than fishing. In time, he’ll catch on.IMG_7239