Saturday, February 9, 2013

Don't Call It Luck

I've been hearing a lot of comments lately about how lucky I am. You're so lucky to stay home with your kids. You're so lucky you get to homeschool. You're so lucky you have time to make dinner every night. I've been hearing it, not from the wounded and broken who have no other choice, but from happily married couples. Christians who have all the same options that I have.

I am lucky - don't get me wrong, although blessed is the better word. I love having time to sit and knit with my daughter while the tea steeps. I love cleaning out the broom closet to the very corners. I love reading Good Wives in the sunshine. I love home cooked meals and chocolate chip cookies and whole wheat pancakes on Saturday morning. I love school days and lazy days, work days and Sundays.

But it is not a matter of luck. Once we have kids, who demand everything of us, anything we do requires sacrifice. Going back to college requires sacrifices. Or running a business or serving your church. They all require a sacrifice of something. I have sacrificed a thousand little things I could have done. I have sacrificed a thousand days I might have called my own; a hundred nights of quiet sleep. I have sacrificed a thousand dollars I could have earned. I have had my eye on a better prize, on sweeter promises.

I wish they wouldn't call it luck. Not when they could wake up in the morning and make all the same sacrifices - and discover the same joy.

Listen to Alvin York, World War I hero, genuine mountain man (yes, that's his grammar, not mine) praising his mother. After reading this, my own sacrifices seem slight.

...Father built the log house at the spring and that's where most all of us were borned and growed up. The children kept coming right smart until there were eleven of us. Mother had to work from sunup often until ten o'clock at night to keep us clothed and fed...She milked the cows, made the butter; she looked after the hogs and chickens. She made the soap and the tallow candles and fixed the grease for the lamps. She carded the wool and spun and wove the cloth and made all our clothes. She was a good mother to us, and with Father she brought us all up and we are living today. We're all strong and healthy and well and she enjoyed every moment of it. She enjoyed life much more in those days, so she says, slaving and working for us, than she does today, Jes quietly living with us with not much to do or bother about.
She jes didn't have time to worry or be unhappy. Life tried to crowd in on her and bust her up right smart and she jes wouldn't let it nohow. She knowed what she wanted - she wanted her home, her husband, and her own children, and she knowed she would have to pay for those things with work and sacrifice, so she was willing. That's a mother for you!

I know what I want. I am willing to pay for those things with work and sacrifice. I am willing, not lucky.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Glories of the Day

These days Arden and I are reading about the incomprehensible devastation that was Gettysburg. The Wheat Field, the Peach Orchard, Devil's Den: all unimaginable. Lines of men marching (men like us) under the bronze July skies, across open fields, to fall en-masse, and die alone. Arden glories in the generals, the battle maps, the strategy, the heroes.

Kara and I are reading Good Wives. Arden can't help himself: he listens too. Thus far Good Wives is all sweetness and joy. Domestic bliss, noble poverty, and twins. Today Jo winced and groaned as she dressed to go calling. She was altogether too much like Kara herself, preparing for church. I enjoyed the scene just a bit too much.

In my rare moments of domestic bliss, I am working on a pair of socks for Kara. I just finished the first sock tonight. My handmade knitting basket will join me in the quiet moments for a couple more weeks. A finished sock provides a wonderful sense of satisfaction.

Friday, January 18, 2013

To Slow and Ponder

Too often I am a speed reader. Too often I speed read the Word of God. But I think God's Word is meant to be savored. His Word is meant to be meditated, pondered, and prayed over. Though I know these are not the words of any ordinary book, I find it hard to change speed when I transition from the novel to the Words of Life.

I have borrowed a tool from the kids' school days: copywork. The process of reading, remembering, and writing the Psalms helps me to slow. To ponder. To give the Word of Christ the consideration it is due. This is a discipline I plan to continue; when I finish the Psalms I'll pick an Epistle of Paul, perhaps, and appreciate it as I ought to.

"May I learn from you, who are Truth, 
and may I put close to your mouth the ear of my heart..."

St. Augustine 

Friday, January 11, 2013

What I'm Reading in 2013 (Maybe)

Back by popular demand: a blog post. And per special request of my mom,

2013 Reading Goals
Christian Books:
1. Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices
2. Calvin's Institutes
3. Augustine's Confessions
4. Imitation of Christ
5. Shaping of a Christian Family - Elliot
6. Desiring God
7. Give Them Grace - Fitzpatrick
8. Holiness - Ryle
9. Resolution For Women
10. When Sinners Say I Do
(Other case the above are too of Rutherford and City of God)

11. My Heart In His Hands
12. A Chance to Die
13. Passion for the Impossible: the Life of Lillias Trotter
14. Killing Lincoln
15. Becoming Dickens

16. Mill on the Floss
17. Jane Austen Book
18. Jane Austen Book (I mean to read one a year and skipped last year, this is make-up work)
19. Anna Karenina (maybe??)
20. Herodotus
21. Plutarch's Lives

22. Shelby Foote's Civil War Vol. II
23. Shelby Foote's Civil War Vol. III
24. Lonesome Dove
25. Book on keeping chickens (maybe someday?...sigh)
26. EntreLeadership
27. Financial Peace
28. Another book on finance
(I'm thinking of reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I might finally be ready.)

If you have a very good memory, or the patience to check, you'll notice there are several titles that were also on last year's list. I did not read "well" last year - at least in terms of meeting my goals. Perhaps I need fewer 700 plus page books on my list, at least during my mothering years. Maybe next year; this year I'm still planning ambitious goals.

These 28 titles leave a little room for fun. And there's always fun to be had at the library.

 You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.
C.S. Lewis

Friday, October 26, 2012

Cost Comparison

What we ate for dinner tonight:
  • White Bean Rosemary Soup (The author of this blog is a Mormon; I am not. Just so you're aware.)
  • Cabbage slaw with apples and apple cider vinegar dressing
  • Roasted zuchini
  • Buttermilk biscuits with butter and strawberry jam (these also fulfill the need for dessert!)
While we ate I did some figuring in my head. This dinner came in at around $4. It was quite cheap until I added the biscuits. The shortening and butter made the cost climb quickly. 

Last night, after his meeting, Bryan surprised me with a Decaf Grande Mocha from Starbucks. I loved the surprise. I loved the mocha.

At the table tonight one of the kids quips, "This whole dinner costs less than your mocha last night." You see, there is a certain amount of guilt in drinking away the equivalent of an entire meal to feed a family of six. Kids are very good at cost comparison.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mass Production: Cocoa Mix and Chai

We are all stocked up for winter. Applesauce in the freezer. Hot cocoa and chai mix tucked in the cupboard. The staples of life, right? Maybe not, but little pleasures certainly. I'll share my recipes for the chai mix and cocoa. I don't often have a cup of either, they have too much sugar. But the kids love them. And best of all, they keep my husband happy. The only warning I'll issue is that this is a dusty process. You might need to wipe down your cupboards afterwards and you must blend the mixture. That is the part of the process that helps the mix dissolve well in hot water.

Chai Tea Mix
2 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
3 c. powdered milk
1 ½ c. instant tea
2 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon (I often leave this out)
1 tsp. ground cloves (and sometimes leave this out too)
1 tsp. ground cardamom
In a small bowl combine sugar and vanilla and allow to dry.  After it has dried out; break up any clumps. In a large bowl mix all ingredients.  In a blender, blend the mix, 1 c. at a time until it is a fine powder.  Put the mix into containers and attach the following instructions:
            For each mug of tea, mix 2 rounded tablespoons of chai tea mix with hot water.

Hot Cocoa Mix
16 c. powdered dry milk
1 ¼ c. cocoa powder
5 c. sugar
½ tsp. salt
In large bowl, mix all ingredients well and store in an air tight container.  Run it through the blender for a smooth hot cocoa mix.
Package in glass canning jars and attach a card that says:
            For a delicious cup of hot cocoa, put 1/3 c. mix into a large mug, pour in boiling water, and stir.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Fall Garden

Lettuce -  coming in

Kale - with itty bitty curls

Swiss Chard - bugs love organic greens, especially the chard

Basil - hoping the seeds mature before frost

Lettuce -  thinnings for the salad bowl

Basil - for the freezer
The summer garden was a failure. We are thankful for our fallback plan: the grocery store. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. To date, the fall garden is growing nicely. Except the Swiss Chard. The bugs have a love affair with the chard, entire plants suddenly disappearing. Consumed so ravenously I can only find a quarter inch of red stalk pressed down into the dirt. I am incredibly grateful for the fallback.