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

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Best Kind of Field Trip




The other day, the children and I scratched words and colors on posterboard to join the many who have been braving the biting winds and nasty looks of naysayers this past month in an effort to proclaim LIFE in a world that, sadly and amazingly, doesn't value it.

I had never done this before, even though I am very passionate about it, because I thought it would be too hard for children to do, too scary, too boring, too....and I've had little children ever since I have felt passionate about it.  But let me just say- the children got right into it!  They decorated their own signs...except Andrew who stole Corynn's cool Cat in the Hat one ;-)  And you know what?  What better testament to LIFE than to see children who have been given life, in the flesh, and what a gift they are.  Even when they are climbing on mounds of snow instead of sign-holding or can't stand still for hours at a time.   These precious souls are not a choice.

Some friends joined us, making our time out there that much better.

 Had the weather been warmer (why is 40 Days for Life in February/March again?  Why not May/June?!?!?) my littles wouldn't have withered so quickly- and we would have been able to stay longer.   Corynn has asked to do it again...she felt pretty passionate about it.

And that is just about the best learning experience there is.  To discover something about the world around us and become passionate about it.  To stand up and declare Truth and Light in a world so dark.

That is what I want for my childrens' education.

(You can see from my sign, I was hoping for a baby.  Didn't happen.  Whaaaaa.)

Afterwards, to thaw out a bit, we headed to the Science and Discovery Center.










It was a busy, full, exhausting day. It was worth it.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sunshine and Snow









 







  










I suppose I took down the quilt a bit prematurely... the lion of March has returned.  It must have been the first robins I saw scratching at last years' picnic area that did it, or the driveway turned enormous mud puddle, or maybe the fact that my wire duck in the kitchen is full of our own lovely shades of egg instead of piled high with store bought ones, even the sunlight seems different somehow...it warms and make vibrant whatever lies in its' path.  The freesia by the couch positively glows.  How could I not think spring had arrived?  Sure, snow is still piled high is spots, that happens when all winter you are dumped on.  But there was the hope of spring.  The feeling that it was nudging closer, almost here.

But, this morning a new shimmer of white diamond dust covered everything and more snow is expected this weekend.

We were able to split a few logs we had lying around for some extra firewood since we officially ran out two weeks ago.  I am thankful for those logs lying around.  I am also a little bit thankful (if I have to admit it) that we are scraping by on just a little bit of wood, as it got me out of making syrup this year!  Putting in the pasture where we did, we essentially fenced ourselves out of our syrup trees so the gathering would be a bit more of an issue...and this year being so frigid, I don't suspect it will be all that productive of a year anyway.  No matter- I had treated last years' supply of homemade maple syrup as liquid gold and cracked open just a few of the many jars I put up.

I have to say, I appreciate the break from one more big responsibility- the rest of March and April are already so busy and then the busy-ness of country living/garden season really sets in.

 My sister and I are planning a wedding reception for my parents in the beginning of April, who never got the 'wedding' when they got the marriage 40 years ago.   I do love throwing parties, especially fancy ones.  But with 100+ guests and a VERY frugal budget, it is going to take a bit of doing!  Before that, I'll have two extra children to take care of for four days...and of course, there is Easter.  As if these things were not enough, Matt declared April to be the month to gut and re-do the boys' room.  The electrical work needs to be replaced (the poor boys have had no working electricity since last summer) and the walls need to be insulated.  We must get it done, for safety and warmth if for no other reason, but when the weather turns warm, Matt is going to have other work to do outdoors (the porch!)...so at this point it is a 'now or never' sort of thing.  And the kitchen is in a state of disrepair at this point as Matt is finishing up a tile job he has been working on too.

So yes.  I'm thankful there will be no syrup-boiling responsibilities to add to that list!

I did reorganize the upstairs office to make space to empty all the furniture in the boys' room.  I also recovered very stained stool cushions in the kitchen with some passed along fabric that had been given to me.  I have been tackling my mending pile and I've been crocheting and knitting a bit here and there in the evenings too...  all little things, but little accomplishments are, in a way, big accomplishments.

Has your spring sprung?  What is keeping you busy these days?

Friday, March 13, 2015

A bit of spring cleaning













This past week, Matt had to go out of town, thus leaving me on my own to do everything and be everything to everyone.  Weeks like this are hard- I am not sure if it is the physical demands or the emotional ones that are more difficult to endure...probably the mixture of them both are what make it so difficult.  But it is hard and I hate it.

I wake up at 5:30 (it should be 5 to keep Penny on Matt's milking schedule, but it never is) and go out to do chores.  Milk the cow.  Muck a ridiculous amount of poo.  Haul 20 gallons of water from house to barn.  Bed the animals.  Give 'em all hay.  Strain the milk.  Wash the equipment.  Start the fire.  By this time the kids are up and wanting a hot breakfast.  Do that too.  Up until this point it is slam bang- hurry, hurry.  One thing right after another.   Only after all this does the day begin and I can have my own breakfast.  Then it is school. Help with the math that infuriates and brings tears. Read. Listen to how roosters fertilize eggs and the length, width, gestation age, living conditions of whales/eagles/house flies/cows. Tell the kids to get along. Talk.  Delegate.  Intervene. Tell the kids to settle down. Lunch. Haul more water.  Do all the above again until dinner.  Then it is haul more water, muck more poo, throw more hay.  Make dinner.  Get everyone settled down for bed.  Stay up until 1 am because I can't sleep in an empty bed, all alone without having talked with a grown-up at all the entire day, knowing more of the same is in store first thing in the morning; without the nightly snuggles, jokes and comfort of being in my Mister's arms and the slow and hypnotic breathing of his that eventually lulls me to sleep.  I close my eyes and in a moment, the alarm blares and it is back at it.

I did something I never do this week.  I asked for help.  I am not the 'ask for help' kind of person, I'd much rather trudge through and not let on that I may not be able to do everything...but I did.  I asked my mother in law if she would take the children for the day on Wednesday, giving me a break halfway through this no good, horrible, very bad all alone week.  And you know what?  She was happy to!

Wednesday morning, I woke the kids up early.  We did all the schoolwork I wanted to fit in (plus some!) and then, at 10 am I dropped them off.  They didn't come home until 8:30 that night.

I had big plans for the day.  I wanted to relax.  I wanted to read.  I wanted to sew and crochet and I even thought about how luxurious it would be to watch a movie right in the MIDDLE OF THE DAY. (I hear people do this...watch tv in the middle of the day...which seems to me the ultimate relaxing thing in the world.  Can't even imagine it.)

But you see, my house was a total wreck.  I had been given a van full of fabric over the weekend to sort through and which I did, creating (and leaving) piles of fabric to be kept or donated all over the living room floor.  I had been sorting through my bookshelves with piles of books for the book barn, piles to sell at my yard sale this summer and a pile of books my nephew might like.  Because I was on my own, I had been less diligent at getting the children to right the house and put things away before they went to bed.  I hadn't kept up with the house.  The mudroom was a pile of shoes, dirty socks that had been pulled off wet after playing the snow, bags of apples and winter coats.  It was bad.  It was very bad. I hadn't mopped the floor in the dining room for pretty much the entire winter- it was pointless given all the back & forth to the basement water valves with barn  boots on.

 (Incidentally...all your kind words on the last post are put soundly to rest, I hope.  *see comment on last post*)

So instead of taking a luxurious day off for myself to rest my weary bones (and spirit), I spent the day working particularly hard, righting a very wrong house.

I mopped.  I dusted.  I choked on the dirt and grime that swept into my nose from the mudroom floor.  I discovered a broken egg behind out nature table which had fallen on a borrowed book. (no!)  I changed the linens and doilies that hide the scratches and ruined wood from tables gotten from the side of the road.  I got rid of some extra coats and shoes that no longer fit.  I restocked my wheat and corn meal jars. I took down the quilt that protects the dining room from a frigid winter mudroom (joy!) and hung clothes on the line for the first time this year (though I had to trudge through a foot and a half of snow to do so.) I did all of this while listening to Gilead, uninterrupted.  For hours.  Which was just as luxurious as a movie in the middle of the day, by the way.

My favorite thing (besides taking down the quilt) was when I restored my stained glass lampshade (bought at a yard sale several years ago) to the living room.  It had been put upstairs after falling off of the rickety, broken side table in the living room too many times.  It is now wonky and a bit cracked- but on a sturdy table and a sturdier base so I get to enjoy it once again!  Yay!

That night, I lit candles and soaked my feet in a hot lemon rosemary foot soak and lamented a bit, the fact that I had wasted my one day of 'freedom' and spent it cleaning.  WHY would I have done that?!?!  I mean, it felt good to be sitting in a genuinely clean living room (not just tidied up) and it felt liberating to be free from worry at the state of the mudroom, should a visitor pop in unexpectedly.  But I wasn't rested at all.  And I didn't sew, or write or crochet or do any of those things I consider 'relaxing'.  Was I dumb to do it?  I wondered.  Was I dumb to waste my one chance on cleaning?

And then, about 10:30 pm, to my great surprise and delight, in walks a very tired Matt!  He had gotten done a weeks' worth of work in the space of three days and had come home two days early!  At that moment, when he walked in to a supremely tidy mudroom (the bane of my existence in this house), and a house to match it, smelling sweet and fresh with candles lit and my long missed stained glass lamp glowing bits of colored flowers, well, my tired feet and weary bones and 'wasted day' had not been wasted at all.  All was right as rain, in fact.

For the record, the very next morning, it looked like this:




That's life for you.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Milk Making





















I set out yesterday to take care of the milk that had been accumulating from our jersey cow.  There were 15 gallons in the house.  I worked all day, often without even a square inch of freed space on the counter top and very often feeling like I was buried alive in dirty dishes but by the end of the day, I had made...

  • Mozzarella... 7 large balls or about 7-8 pounds.  (I found a bag of mozzarella curds from a few days' before and finished them off while I was at it.) (6 gallons)
  • Vanilla yogurt... 4 3/4 qts (1 gallon)
  • Cottage Cheese... 2+ pounds (1 1/2 gallons)
  • Garlic Queso Blanco- a large round (1 1/2 gallons)
  • Onion Dill Queso Blanco- a large round (1 1/2 gallons)
  • Hot Cocoa for snack (1/2 gallon)
  • Mac N Cheese for lunch (using whey from the mozz making) 
  • Cream Cheese- 2 batches (1/2 gallon)
  • Butterscotch pudding for dessert (>gallon)
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Ice Cream for the weekend(>gallon)
  • Drinking (1 gallon)

Making the grand total 14 gallons used!  

As an aside- isn't it crazy how much of a difference a few hours make in photo taking?  The last few photos were taken after the sun went down- and boy, can you tell!  This is why I never update my food blog- because I can never take a nice picture of the food before it is snarfed down- and these days there is no chance of taking a picture of leftovers the next day.  

My children seem to all be going through growth spurts all at the same time!

Yesterday, I answered the phone while I was making breakfast and without realizing what I was doing- cracked 18 eggs for scrambled eggs while chatting on the phone.  18!!  I laughed and said I would have to refrigerate some for the next day but the children all begged to just eat them.  And they did!  18 eggs between four children!  Can you believe that?  And then, a few hours later, I suggested that they just skip lunch since they had such a big breakfast and oh, you would have thought the world was coming to an end.  Skip lunch!?!?  They'd hear nothing of it.  So they ate lunch too.

My little bottomless pits.