Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Homekeeper Journal 8/25/10

Fall musings with prompts provided by the Christian Homekeeper Network.  They have a new message board too.  Check them out for encouragement:

Autumn in my kitchen means ……. Comfort food! Soups, stews, pie, rolls, bread, turkey, ham. All the stuff you just don’t want to have in the oven/on the stove all day when it is hot. Plus, I think cooler weather makes me more hungry. Anyone else?

Autumn in my home brings …….breaking out the Halloween decorations and getting ready for winter. This year, I have high hopes of insulating some window sills before it gets too cold to eliminate some drafts. We’ll see how that goes, since one is behind my entertainment center.

I bring Autumn indoors by ……..tracking leaves throughout the house… Oh, this probably meant intentionally… by decorating with pumpkins from our pasture.

A few favorite Autumn activities for my family are …….we always intently watch our pumpkins grow, we collect caterpillars from the milkweed plants and raise monarch butterflies, and we always look forward to a big pile of leaves to throw around and jump in.

Two favorite Autumn recipes are …….Pumpkin pie, and chicken and dumplings.

This Autumn I would like to ………Have friends over for a big burn pile party.  Last year we cooked hotdogs over a wheelbarrow full of hot coals and had a good redneck time. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Want Some of This

“The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.” Romans 14:3

I told you our pony was a pig. This summer was no different, as he spent his days eating himself into potbelliedness and eventually into lameness. Self-control does not run in the family.

About a month ago, after I’d taken the kids to Branson, I returned to find Roany a little gimpy. The hub and I hastily constructed a stall in the barn and used a couple of rows of chains to keep Roany in. The chains did not work, as apparently Roany Pony is somewhat of an equine Harry Houdini, so I constructed a gate for said stall a couple of days later. But not to be overcome by a diet, during his time of escape, he promptly knocked over my feed barrel and ate the rest of the chicken food as well.

Hard to say whether it was the grass or all that chicken food that finally put him over the edge, but he came down with a fairly decent case of founder. He was lame for about four days and then eventually began to recover. We kept him in the stall a little over a week, then mowed his pasture short, and he’s been fine ever since.

What struck me as funny during his whole doctoring dilemma was the response I got from my horse, Scooter. He was SO jealous! He thought that if Roany was receiving special treatment, so should he!

Roany was confined to a 12 x 12 dirt-floored stall 24 hours a day.

Scooter had the run of the pasture.

Roany received minimal rations of hay and feed every day.

Scooter could eat as much as he wanted.

Roany would have to wait for me to tie him to the tree each evening for 30 minutes to eat.

Scooter had his freedom and could be outside all day.

Yet, Scooter would run the fence and snort and holler for me every time I went out to check on Roany.

Did he really think Roany was better off?

Did he really think Roany was getting something that he was missing out on?

It made me think about how sometimes we see a certain person’s lifestyle and think, “Man, I wish I could live like that.” But then in reality, if we had their lifestyle, would we think it was so great after all?

I’m pretty sure that had the tables been turned for Roany and Scooter, Scooter would have behaved much like Roany. He would have pouted. He would have looked at me like I had betrayed him. He would have looked for any opportunity to escape his circumstances. And he would have resented his current life based on the life he’d had before his confinement, even if it was for his own good.

May you be happy today with what you have and may you never founder. You never know what you might find on the other side of the fence.

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Homekeeper Journal 8/18/10

Writing prompts provided by The Christian Homekeeper Network.  Try them yourself:, or read how others have interpreted them.  This week's topic: Simplicity.  I think the tractor seat I spent three hours sitting in on Monday is a perfect example of stripped down simplicity.  Sometimes it might be painful, but it really is all you need. 

Simplicity means …. Focusing on what’s important, getting rid of the stuff that isn’t.  Like in the above example, padding. 

I could probably simplify my kitchen by …. Removing our island cabinet. It seems to be the black hole of the house where everything ends up that doesn’t really have a place or purpose. But if I took it out, we would just throw our stuff on the table, or the couch, or the floor, or somewhere else.

My life needs simplifying in these areas …. Electronics. I think I could totally do without some of the electronic entertainment that has infiltrated my life. Although, where would I get my news without Facebook??  Oh, and papers!  Enough paper comes and goes through my house each year, that I truly wonder how we have any trees left on earth. 

I tend to go overboard with … or, I can’t seem to find a balance with… organization. And it really is a little of both. I have areas of the house that are good to go, but then some areas are just the pits. But I’m working on that. Slowly.

My favorite simple dinner is …. Grilled cheese. Or cereal. Or ice cream.

My spiritual life needs simplifying especially in this area ….. I think I need to be better about reaching out to people, but that really isn’t my personality. We all get so busy that we forget to spend time with others besides our family, yet our family could really benefit by spending time with others. It’s a vicious cycle that I hope one day to break. Maybe when I’m not so busy….

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mowing Musings

“All men are like grass and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:6-9

Mowing is the single-most destructive thing that I do. I’m reminded each and every time, when innocent frogs, grasshoppers, spiders, butterflies, dragonflies and other hopping critters fan out from my path of destruction. Mowing is mostly an aesthetic practice. I say ‘mostly’ because if we didn’t do it, the mice and snake population would most likely increase closer to the house, and that places it in the necessity category in my book to keep away the snakes and mice.

My weekly yard mowing sessions are usually kind of a self-reflective ritual that I have, but today I brush hogged the back pasture and had about three hours on a loud noisy tractor with exhaust blowing in my face to self-reflect, and it turns out that’s a little too much time for me to be introspective.

My thoughts began to wander to my surroundings. My first thought was wonder. After the heat we’ve had the last couple of weeks, it was a wonder anything was alive anyway. But I began to notice that not only was the grass alive, it seemed quite content to keep on growing in the 100+ temperatures, despite our lack of rain recently. A new baby catalpa tree had sprouted up since last mowing and was about two feet tall. I hacked it down since it really wasn’t in an ideal location. I also had a baby willow tree that had shot up by the old Christmas tree, where all the dead pets are buried, and I decided to leave it. I wondered if it came from my neighbor’s willow tree that he has by his pond. Maybe someday I too will have a pond. I want a pond. Maybe the willow tree is marking the spot.

I noticed that the different grasses in my pasture were quite distinct. The big bluestem (or what I think is big bluestem based on my plant science classes many moons ago) was nearly as tall as I was seated on the tractor. The fescue almost looked like waves of grass below. Some kind of grass with a reddish tinge to its leaves had gone to see in wild little fuzzy cattail looking bunches. The Bermuda was nearly dead. I vowed to never have a pasture of primarily Bermuda grass for fear the horses will starve to death.

I noticed there were purple wildflowers in my pasture. Some were low to the ground and looked almost like morning glories. Others were tall and purple and the butterflies seemed to be particularly interested in them. After chopping down several, I began to have second thoughts about all my destruction. Then I noticed a patch with quite a few and decided to leave it alone. Hope the butterflies enjoy their oasis in the pasture.

I also began to take notice of my tractor driving and tried to maximize each swath that the brush hog cut. My corners were over-exaggerated and I thought there must be some way to keep them from getting all pointy and hard to maneuver, but alas I was not smart enough to figure it out. I thought that a triangle must be the hardest shape to mow. I vowed never to have a triangular pasture. Or enter a tractor driving contest.

And proper tractor posture is very hard to maintain. Just so you know.

Just when I was thinking that I must be getting too much exhaust in the face, I looked up and saw an eagle. At least I think it was an eagle. It was quite a ways away and appeared to have a brown body and a distinct light-colored head area. Now I think I know where some of my chickens must have gone. Must not have been back to the mother ship after all.

As I was finishing up, I rethought the eagle episode. Maybe they were vultures. Maybe they were circling because they knew I wouldn’t last much longer. Maybe I’d really had too much exhaust.

But then I went back to thinking they were eagles because it’s much more pleasant to think my poultry gave its life for the symbol of our country instead of for a nasty old vulture.

Hope you’re having a great day today and enjoying your surroundings. And if you’re mowing, I hope the vultures aren’t circling and that you haven’t had too much exhaust!

“As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone and its place remembers it no more.” Psalm 103:15-16

Thursday, August 12, 2010

First Day of ??

“For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath.” Deuteronomy 4:31

During the school year last year, I wondered what I would do with the kids all summer long. I dreaded the last day of school because at that moment I would become their own personal concierge and I felt responsible for keeping them entertained.

Today, my job is done, at least from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm. Today is the first day of school.

All the swimming, playing, museum visiting, zoo tripping, road-tripping, fun of summer is over. They’re back to school and I’m left sitting, feeling somewhat empty.

After spending a large portion of the day yesterday at a water park and getting the sunburn to show for it, we had “meet the teacher” last night. We dropped off all the school supplies for my older kid first and saw that four kids from his previous class would be his classmates again this year. Then it was over to the Kindergarten center with my youngest. He has the same teacher as older brother did (in fact, older brother has taken it upon himself to plan out the rest of younger brother’s school career), so it was more a formality than anything.

This morning, we dropped Mr. Second Grader off at the curb and he jumped out of the car with a “See Ya!” and ran off. Then it was over to the Kindergarten center where parents and families were all walking their “big kids” to class. My “big kid” didn’t want me walking him in! I had to make excuses and tell him I HAD to walk him in since it was the first day of Kindergarten. He obliged. We saw one girl that he knew from 4-H was going to be in his class and I introduced him to a couple of kids whom I knew as babies. He had been bouncing off the walls all week with excitement about Kindergarten, but now reality was staring him in the face.

His face fell.

I knew how he felt.

So, I did what any good mother who wanted to retain her composure did, and gave him a quick hug and kiss and ran for the car. I’m sure he was fine, and I was extremely glad he was not the little girl at the front door, whose mother had just left, throwing a fit that was making the windows rattle.

As other parents clung ever more tightly to their children.

My reality is staring me in the face today. I have no one to entertain but myself. I bought chicken food on the way home from dropping them off, but really, I have no other obligations today. I’m sure I’ll get used to my new routine very shortly, but today has me thinking maybe I should clean the bathrooms just for fun.

Or take a nap.

Or clean the carpets.

Or make a quilt.

Or paint the bedroom.

Wait a minute…

I can do whatever I want!

I don’t have to answer to anyone.

Or get them to put their shoes on.

Or ask them what they want to do.

At least not until 3:00 pm.

Better go, time’s a wasting!

Maybe I’m not so empty after all.

“… my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Things We Do

“From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” Psalm 8:2

My 7YO started Tae Kwon Do classes about a month ago after his Pa Pa took him to see The Karate Kid movie and he declared, “I want to fight kids!” We figured it would last about a week, and after one good whack, he’d be out. Now, several whacks and some gut punches later, he’s still in and is convinced he just needs to learn how to block. We go three times a week for a total of four hours and it was suggested by my hub that maybe I should join in as well, instead of just sitting there with the other mothers.

“You’re mean enough. You ought to be good at it,” he said.

So I whacked him.

Not with the trained skill or correct form of Tae Kwon Do. I guess that will come with practice.

So last night, after weeks of putting it off, I joined in the class of punching, kicking, and stretching. We line up by rank based on belt color. Since I’m brand new, I’ll eventually have a white belt, but I’m putting off buying the outfit until I determine if my hip will hold out. I’m at the end of the line with a 5YO and my 7YO.

During the stretches, they told me I needed to keep my legs straight. I told them I was trying, but that I was old. They didn’t buy it.

Then we had to practice moves across the mat. The flying leg kicks almost did me in, as I felt little electrical impulses traveling up and down my spine. I figured this morning I’d be bed-ridden. At the end of the class, we practiced self-defense moves. I blocked a punch and knocked one little boy to the mat while I tickled him to ward off his attack. I also took a pretty good shin kick from the 5YO who complained about my legs not being straight.

Aside from pain in my hamstring this morning, there was one side effect that I had not counted on. My 7YO was so PROUD of me. He thought I did great and told his dad all about my throwing the little boy down. He told me I was a great Mommy and gave me the biggest hug.

So, even though Tae Kwon Do was not my idea and I’ve never met an exercise that I liked, I’m pretty excited about going back tonight for round two.

And I must admit: knocking down kids on purpose is kind of fun.

“My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart.” Psalm 7:10