Thursday, August 24, 2006

Considering Chores

Somewhere between allowing our children to be spoiled Prima Donnas and forcing them to be slaving Cinderellas, are a billion methods for teaching and training children to do chores. While methods are outside the scope of this post, we all need some method. In times past, I have wavered between the guilt (helped along by well-meaning others) induced by "not allowing them to be children", and the reality that I cannot do it all-"someone" has to help.

As with other matters that I have pondered, going to the scriptures has cleared up my dilemma. The basic gist is that God thinks work is good enough to have given Adam & Eve work before the Fall. I encourage doing your own Bible study on work (amazingly enlightening and terribly convicting for this Mommy), but a very thorough Biblical discussion about children and chores can be found in the new Managers of Their Chores book.

The best practical article I have come across lately about children and work is from KSMilkmaid. It sure backs up what Mr. Visionary always tell me when I'm having a rough day with the boys: "When they are acting like dirtbags, you have to get them doing some hard work. Forget the vacuum-get a shovel in their hands." My experience has shown that it works every time.

The most timeless lesson I have learned am learning about training my children in chores, has more to do with the Mommy than with the children. (Gulp.) Attitude matters. My attitude matters. As cliched and done-to-death as it is, the truth is: If Momma ain't happy, nobody is happy. Specifically, nobody wants to hear a nagging Momma. (Gulp again.)

So, when I mess it up in the attitude department by barking orders,  griping about the time it is taking, or expecting too much with too little training (again), I apologize to the children,  drag myself back to the Cross, and douse myself with the Word. It is good to receive mercy and a chance to start all over.

No matter how many times a day it happens to be.

Happy Kids & Chores

This is the result of a smiley Momma working elbow-to-elbow with the children. Almost Pollyanna-ish isn't it?

Sad Children & Chores

This is what happens when Taskmaster Mommy barks out orders. This is the picture under "slavery" in Webster's. (Notice the Engineer's chain?)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

My Kind of Excitement

I perhaps should have been a bit more specific in my prayers for labor to start.  Although this morning was a little too much excitement for me, the kids had a wonderful time.

I awoke to find tree guys from the power company limbing branches inside our second cow pasture. Concerned about
this particular cow, who is a little flighty, I called Mr. Visionary asking if we should put her temporarily in another pasture. He assured me that my nine-month pregnant self would not have to chase the cow, as the tree guys were "old country boys" and would be very careful and not let her get out.

Fast forward: an hour later, we finished chasing the cow from the neighbor's hay almost 1/2 mile away, and got Miss Millie safely in pasture once again. So the schedule for the day has now been tossed, but there have been a few serendipities:

  1. I got two truckloads of mulch out of the tree guys for free.

  2. We got our outside time in before it got too hot.

  3. The kids had been looking for some excitement, and now they've had some.

  4. This may be a new way to start labor. ( I wonder if I can patent it?)

My kind of excitement doesn't involve chasing cows, but when things settled down some, and I checked e-mail, I found something more my speed from our Homestead Blog.

Thanks HomesteadBlogger! And thanks to the tree guys, too.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Blind Hogs, Misery, and Grace In the Wait

I really hate the old Southern saying, "Even a blind hog can find a few acorns". Maybe because it sounds so dreadfully stupid in a southern drawl, maybe because I have heard it so many times it has lost its meaning. The worst part is that I think I'm discovering the truth in it.  I cannot bear to say that I am finding an acorn, but I will admit that I am finally learning a new truth.

The Lord has been very patient with me. I am a first generation believer, and brought much bagage for the Lord to work out of me. The fact that I have children is such an evidence of His grace. The fact that I have many is a testimony to His completely transforming power to change hearts.

In the early days, the pregnancies came so fast that I never had time to consider anything but survival. I loved my children, but endured pregnancy as a necessary evil. I hated being pregnant, and would tell you so.

After a particularly rough pregnancy (#5), I was convicted that my attitude was surely not helping matters. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" Proverbs 23:7. With the Lord's help, I put a stake in the ground, and determined to never say those words ("I hate being pregnant") again. And I haven't.  My sixth pregnancy was much, much better, and I attribute some of that to my attitude change.

Although He forgives, the Lord wants us to hold fast to the standard that we have already attained; so no backsliding this time. Throughout this current pregnancy, I have experienced much grace even in the midst of physical issues that are not perfect. My goal this time was to add to standard I had attained (not hating pregnancy), and raise the bar a bit. This time I am determined to be patient until the end. *dramatic gasp* (Is this even possible?)

Obviously, this is not something I can do in my own strength.  This is way more than  exercising tongue-control (although that is not simple either), and keeping our schedule packed so I have less time to be bored during the wait. I am experiencing true heart change this time.

There is a mentally challenged lady at church who, every week for the last few months,  has told me that I must be miserable."Misubull, misabull, misabull..." It starts to  get to me about the fourth-time-in-a-row she says it, but by the twelfth-time-in-a-row, it becomes comical. I tell her what I have been telling myself: if I truly believe that God has ordained this child's birth for His glory and for my good, it would be an affront to Him for me to consider myself "miserable".

Large, whale-like, uncomfortable, hot, tired, anxious...a resounding yes. His


Please excuse me while I go pray for labor to start...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Who Do You Say You Are?

Ideally it would radiate from my eyes, so filling me that it exudes from my very pores. I'm not there, but I realize that this is the way it should be. I can recognize the ideal in many situations, even while being assured that in real life, the goal may not be attained. However, I'm learning there can be intermediate steps that can give Him glory on the way.

When the priests and Levites came to John the Baptist asking, "Who are you?", his answers uncompromisingly and unabashedly gave glory to the Messiah. Every part of his response pointed to the Messiah and His glory. When John mentioned his being unworthy to even unlatch the sandal of Jesus, he wasn't playing the Poor-Pitiful-Me game-it wasn't about him. John was stressing how great our God is. No pride (false or otherwise)-just Jesus, and John's relationship to His kingdom: "I am a voice..."

Who John claims to be is encompassed by whose he is, and his calling in God's kingdom. How often I have the opportunity to answer this very question, and blow it. Of course, it is not asked in these words. It is generally veiled by queries about, "How do you do it all?", because what people really want to know is, "Why would you do this all?" Knowing they don't understand could be the perfect opportunity to give my Lord glory through my answer, as I too, tell whose I am, and my calling in His kingdom. And yet I most often do not.

How I would love to be that woman who, walking in the Spirit, so illumines my surroundings that God's presence is tangible to even the casual observer! I know this would be the Lord's desire for me as well. So often this question (Who are you?) comes while I am distracted, living the moment in Martha's world instead of Mary's, and I stumble over some trite answer that does not point to Him. While I fall short, I also fall on His grace, and know that while missing the mark, I am still beloved of Him. Until I have arrived, (if that will even be on this side of Glory), and the right answers just roll off my tongue without effort, I can practice the right answer.

Will God be less glorified by my having an answer pre-planned and well-thought-out ahead of time? I hope not. My heart is to glorify Him, and if that takes spending some time in the afterglow of worship, praying over an answer for the hope that is within me, then so be it. Even though it has to be better than my current fumbling for an answer, I will still pray to be transformed into that woman from whom His living water flows spontaneously...for I know He is able to perform even this.

Until that day, I better get busy on my answer...because the question will surely come when I'm least expecting it.

Just like babies...

Just like His return...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Redeeming Lunch

Nesting seems to be covering many aspects of the daily workings of our home these days. I've been painting, cleaning, ditching stuff, and reworking systems to be more automated. Reinventing the wheel on a daily basis is not as efficient for me as reading a previously thought-out list of ideas. Read that: I don't think well on my feet. I've been working on grocery lists, chore lists, stuff-to-pack-in-the-diaper-bag lists, and any other list that will help me (and the kiddos) keep ourselves in order even when life is crazy.

The ladies at the old Choosing Home (edit: this site is no longer in existence) have inspired me to work on a What-To-Have-For-Lunch list. Whenever possible, we have leftovers from dinner the night before, or Live It Up Lunch, but in the absence of leftovers, I am sharing some of the ideas from our list.

First, some of the ideas for the days when there are "some" leftovers, but not enough to just have that alone.

~Soup: Ok, kind of a no-brainer, and not all that interesting in August, but it really works for January. We mix different veggies and meats together, and usually fill in the rest with milk. A tip I learned from Joy of Cooking, is to not mix too many types of leftovers together. Pick a theme and go with that: Mexican (corn, tomatoes, beans), Italian (pasta, tomatoes, spinach, white beans), oriental (rice, brocolli, peanut butter). We serve soup with bread, leftover muffins, or pancakes.

~Open-faced sandwiches: leftover casserole, soup, Sloppy Joes, meat and gravy, etc on top of toast.

~Omelet: a few veggies and some chopped meat make fun omelets. When we have tons of time, we make individual "real" omelets. When we are short on time, we mix all the ingredients together into scrambled eggs.

~Salad: Dad prefers Plain Jane type salads, so when he's not here, we can be a little zany with our salads. Into a base of lettuce or spinach, we toss in leftover meat, cheese, boiled eggs, weird veggies that you wouldn't find on a salad bar (corn, green beans), nuts, bread cubes , etc.
    When we are starting from scratch without leftovers, here are some of our usual (and unusual) ideas:

    ~Cheese fondue: Shredded cheese, some milk, maybe a smidge of your favorite herb, melted together. For dippers, use bread (fresh or stale), raw veggies cut up, fresh fruit cut up (apples in cheddar fondue is awesome), crackers, etc.

    ~Yogurt bar: we always have plain yogurt around , so we serve bowls of yogurt, so folks can doctor it up themselves. We add pineapple, apples, orange slices, berries, jam, shredded carrots, a bit of ginger, etc. for a sweet version. Some folks eat it straight from the bowl, others wrap it in a tortilla, or serve it on leftover pancakes.

    ~Tuna/chicken/roast beef salad: we stretch the meat by adding shredded carrots or shredded apples to the mix. (Shredded apples is especially good with tuna.) We eat this plain, or with crackers, on celery , scooped up with carrot sticks, in a tortilla, or the "normal" way: on bread.

    ~Eggs: Boiled eggs with veggies on the side, egg salad (plain, on bread, in scooped out tomatoes, etc.), fried or scrambled. Quiche is also pretty quick to throw together. Leftovers mixed in the batter, or just some salsa and cheese are yum. We just use a ratio of 1/4 cup milk for every egg, then bake it at 375' until set in the middle.

    ~Baked potato bar: This only works if I think of it early enough in the day, since they take an hour to bake. We top potatoes with leftover or canned chili, always cheese, veggies, yogurt or sour cream, green onions, etc. The kids love making their own crazy toppings.

    ~"Heidi Lunch": This is one of my kids favorites-literally a slab of cheese, and a thick slice of homemade bread. Butter the bread, and serve with lacto-fermented pickles. Add an apple, and lunch is done.

    ~"Beanie Weenies": This is one of my emergency lunches for a brain-dead-with-no-leftovers day. Saute chopped hotdogs with some onion, green pepper, and add canned beans. Add to taste: ketchup, mustard, mollasses, garlic.
    ~Mongolian Grill: The kids get ready their own stir-fry ingredients, then I saute each one individually. It is really quicker than it sounds-remember stir-fry is a quick-cooking method. We serve it over rice. When we are pressed for time, we mix everyone's ingredients (that they picked out and got ready) together and saute all at once.

    ~Bean Burritos: Another emergency food I keep on hand is canned refried beans. The kids can add whatever they want to these: cheese, veggies, salsa, etc. They also sometimes like them cold.

    We prefer to eat whatever we're in the mood for, but since that doesn't always work (i.e. life is crazy, someone is melting down, there is a newborn in the house), I have adopted Kim's plan from Large Family Logistics (scroll down sidebar for "Lunch Plans"). We have a menu set up for those less-than-perfect days, then, when things are going smoothly, we can eat a little more intuitively.

    Also, when things are going smoothly, or more importantly when they are not, and we need something refreshing to change the direction of the day, we throw something easy into a basket and head out to the yard. This doesn't have to be involved-just think Heidi lunch: toss in a loaf of bread, a block of cheese, some apples, and a jug of water. When the weather is yucky, I'll let the kids eat under the kitchen table, pretending they're camping for a change of pace.


    Two birds, one stone: another quick note about our lunches is that we do Science during lunch. No, no, no... not because we pull out the green hairy stuff from the fridge during lunch. We listen to science audio tapes during lunch. Currently we are enjoying the Jonathan Park creation science radio shows. They are a little hokey for the mommy's taste, but the scientific stuff is awesome! The fringe benefit is that lunch has to be eaten by the time the tape is done (thirty minutes), so we don't hang out too long and blow naptime.

    Priorities, you know.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Men Cooking Breakfast

The once-a-month opportunity for a morning of calm, peaceful "girl time" is not my favorite part. Compared to what we are used to, the quiet is actually a little disconcerting. As much as we enjoy our time alone for all things girly, we secretly (shhh...) are glad when our guys get home from their monthly Men's Prayer Breakfast and Workday.

Many men come up to me at church the next day, praising "how well the boys worked". I smile politely pretending not to notice the surprise on their faces when they mention it. While I am pleased to hear it, unfortunately, I am not able to put much stock into the opinions of those men. I have no way of knowing to which standard they are comparing my boys. Were it compared to the last lazy teenager they saw glued to a video game, I would not be impressed. The praise from the men at church is also not my favorite part.

My favorite part is hearing Mr. Visionary's account of how the boys fared on their workday with the men. Dad knows our boys and the standard to which they should be compared. His reports delve into their hearts, and their struggles against their own flesh. These guys are being compared by Dad to their past: did they work harder than last time (even a little)? Did they learn ever-so-slightly-more what it is to discipline themselves when they wanted to play instead of work, or be served instead of serving others?

As the Momma who is with the boys every-second-of-every-day, my view is far too microscopic to be accurate. I often wonder not only if my guys will grow to be doers of the word, but if they will ever be hearers. The picture I get from Mr. Visionary's balanced macroscopic view, however, is always encouraging. Dad's praise of the boys is definitely my favorite part.

I think my second-favorite part is that my guys get to see men cook breakfast once-a-month. Maybe they will learn that men cooking breakfast is a good and natural thing. Maybe they'll want to try it sometime at home.

Or maybe they'll just appreciate my cooking more. Either way, I win.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

They Really Do Exist

I would not have believed it if I had not experienced it first-hand today. No offense to Doug Philips, or any of the other speakers and writers I had heard expounding on the merits of the practice. I was beginning to think the whole idea was merely a product of their own optimism with no basis in fact.

Over the past few months, I have been frantically searching calmly investigating my options in finding a young lady to come to help the week after I deliver our newest baby. My rose-colored dreams involved a young lady, finished with formal schooling, who lives at home, a mature believer skilled in homemaking and childcare. I prayed for someone who would have enough margin built in to her life that she could be free to answer the Lord's call to come and serve at our house for a few days at a moments notice. Granted, it was a pipe dream tall order, but I was hopeful.

I think I am in love. This dream lady came over today and spent most of the day getting to know the children, experiencing our routine, and fellowshipping with the children and me. Miss Bekah is better by far than I even imagined-a gift to our family from the Lord. I had forgotten how thorough the Lord is when He bestows gifts. Not only was this young lady homeschooled and raised on a farm, (nothing inherently righteous there, just that she "gets" us), but her Momma was a La Leche League Leader, and she appears to know more about childbirth and nursing than the average first-time mother. Apparently they do exist.

The more I know about this young lady... the more I want to sit at her Momma's feet and learn from her.

The more I know about this young lady... the more I want to sit at my Lord's feet and thank Him for sending her.

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights..." James 1: 17.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Blogger In Labor…Please Pray

I'm in labor...please pray. We'll update soon...