Look at me, posting all timely and regular and suchlike.  There must be something horrible I'm avoiding. Yesterday, the whole family went adventuring, but I took no pictures, so you may have Friday's snapshots instead.

Ezekiel Walker Owen has discovered a new favorite game.  (He's worse than a kitten.)

It is not my new favorite game.  (He's also better than a kitten.)

Two days in a row, the children soaked their bathing suits and bones in  heavy summer rains.  I took no pictures because the battery died immediately upon snapping this one of Zeke on the steps.

I love making yogurt and do so regularly.  May I suggest one should never forget one is making yogurt, though?  Instead of a gallon of yogurt, I was left with a quart of evaporated milk.  I suppose it's a useful trick to store up your sleeve if you need evaporated  milk and have a couple of hours to spare.


To serve as caboose, here's a picture of one of the elderberry bushes wrapped in fog, because Susannah requested it.


My Mother Says We Are Her Wealth


Fog blankets everything, a cover so thick it lends mystery to the stream of trills and warbles that come from creatures unseen, and through the open door a coolness seeps, welcome after so much heat.  A quiet space. 

In the last several weeks, I've gotten out of the habit of waking early, but this morning John and I were up at five so he could leave by six, and I'm remembering again why I soaked in these mornings.  I'm a night owl, or so I thought, but months ago when John began tucking in by nine and waking up at five, I discovered that early birds have their own rewards.

Living has been unpleasantly busy lately.  It's not so much the doing and working that is unpleasant, though occasionally it is, but rather the fact that work hasn't stopped since the sun began.  Finishing things is satisfying.  Planting seeds, once complete, is a reward unto itself.  Cleaning and mopping-- when it happens-- is necessary and makes our home a place of rest when work is done.  Lately, though, I haven't found time even for that!

A few nights ago, friends from church unexpectedly popped in for a five-minute visit.  Steve wasn't feeling well enough to stay, but the spilled piles of laundry that covered the living room floor and the narrow trail that led through the otherwise destroyed kitchen didn't exude peaceful hospitality, either.  I'd barely been inside the house for a week, but it took the regret of being unready for people we love to solidify the fact that too much busy is a bad thing.  Now that the garden is completed, flowers the chickens uprooted re-sown, and most of those pressing things that truly must be done by a certain time finished, I find space to write.

Work has great value, going here and there for weddings and picnics and church is a joy,  planting a garden is necessary and worthwhile, but too much leaves one feeling more like a hamster than a human.  I've said this before and again and will again, and I do so because I need the constant reminder that this is all precious.  It's all too easy for the necessary tasks of motherhood to obscure the truth-- to allow duties and obligations and chores to smother the savoring.  This time is precious.  All time is precious.  If the Lord grants me the years, will I be proud when I'm sixty about how many quarts of garden food I canned for the winter?  About the great numbers of perennials I transplanted?  Will I honestly care about how filthy the kitchen floor was when guests arrived?  About the endless string of to-dos that reproduced whenever I turned away?  Will regret for bad temper and impatience and misused time be canceled by the fact that stuff got done?

The obvious and simple answer is "no."  Of course it won't.  The accomplishments and to-dos that one can list on paper are not the true legacy.  Like rags wrapped around a bright jewel, they sustain something greater than what they are.  Their entire reason for being lies within, and if one just dumps the jewel on the ground and carts the visible rags around instead, one's a fool.

Sometimes busyness and events and accomplishments are like those rags.  A certain amount are necessary; they protect; they allow the jewel to stay unscratched and shiny, but at the end of the day, they're still rags.  As parents, the bulk of our time should be spent with those Jewels within instead of with the rags that often weave our days together.  Rags aren't eternal.  Our children are.

After I finish the overdue quarter reports today, there will be reading on the couch, there will be cuddling, and there will be a deliberate attempt to reclaim what I've been given right now.  I will have regrets when I'm sixty-- heavy and many, I know-- but I don't want the bulk of them to involve neglecting the jewels for the sake of the rags.


To the great dismay of the girls, Moonbeam hasn't been seen for the last week.  John chased a fox out of the fallen barn a few weeks back, and since the kittens sleep in said barn, our hopes for her health aren't too high.  She was (is?) a dark calico who would look perfect with a big, pink bow around her neck.

 In her absence, brother Sunshine has to fill the bill.

He really didn't seem bothered by it all, even though men and male kittens usually spurn pink.


We decided that buttery orange pairs nicely with pink satin.



Good kitty.

Sunrise: Son Rise


A baby sleeping in morning light is a beautiful thing.

His sleep-stretch fills the deep parts.

This does, too.

I also like him after he wakes, in case you wondered. 


Last Saturday, John and I took the three Littles to a sunrise wedding by the falls while the Biggles went  to the Sunday School picnic at my parent's Meeting.  We woke up at 4-ish, with the air cool and dark, and were on the road by 4:30.  Given the fact that all three had fallen asleep past their normal bedtime the night before, I assumed they'd slumber the whole way there.

 I was dead wrong.

They stayed awake until the ride home at 3:30 in the afternoon, and only after a day brimful of busy.  I brought my camera because I thought I'd take pictures of us lounging in the gorgeous park in which the ceremony was held, but I ended up helping set up for the wedding reception, so I only took a dozen pictures the whole day.

Most of them were of Piper and Elder Jones the Younger.

John held Zeke and visited with friends while Luci and I took in the scenery-- a tall, narrow waterfall with the first light of morning dusting the top, the excitement and bustle of people waiting for the ceremony to begin, and Piper, chatting it up with Mike.  My friend Rebecca was a photographer, and I didn't want to be the Guest with a Camera Getting in the Way, but I couldn't resist taking a short series of shots.

She's getting too big for her britches, huh?  (Also, those red britches are capris I forgot to take off when we reached the park.  They were hidden under her dress, or so I thought.)

Here comes the bride.


I sneakily took this picture of the groom's sister playing her way down the path.  So beautiful.


I also sneakily snatched a picture of Anna, because she's wonderful.

And I took this one from the back of the pack, because by this point everybody and their brother had cameras out, so I didn't feel awkward, and I wanted the big girls to see how stunning it all was.

Here's a lone picture from the reception.  Piper and Luci hunted frogs while John and Matt settled into a slow conversation with pipes.   I tried to take a picture of Piper's baby toad, but it jumped away.

C'est la vie.


Planting the Pumpkins

I'm not known for my wisdom.I'm not sure what I would be known for, either, but I'm fairly certain it would be something I'd rather not have as my legacy.  This is true, and I could ramble on, but that would require dishing out juicy details about my failings, so instead let's look at pictures of children working on a Very Hot Day.

I dug a trench behind the coop to grow a sunflower fort this year.  I compulsively wanted to finally finish the last of the planting, so I waited to begin until early afternoon, when the sun was highest and the muggy heat was at its peak. (See above comment about wisdom, please.)I filled it with manure, lugged away the rocks and strips of sod, and asked the girls to line it with larger rocks.

The heat forced us to bring out Ye Olde Garden Dunking Bowl, which makes a regular appearance each year.  (They reward themselves thusly: pick up 60 rocks and you earn a dunk!  Or: weed half a row and you earn a dunk!  Or: fill the barrow with rocks and you earn a dunk!)

Piper always ignores the rules and dunks herself silly while the others are working, which drives them batty because she uses up all the water by the time they arrive.

Hopefully the seeds will actually grow to reward our sweaty labor.



Here's a bonus.  Susannah, covered in an inch-thick layer of grime, asks to "post" on some rocks.

Then, because I'd chosen to plant the Fun Thing first, I tuckered out before digging the pumpkin holes I needed to plant in that same corner due to all garden space being otherwise occupied.
I dug the holes, anyway, but I did stop at 9 instead of the intended 15.  Here's a picture after the fifth hole.  There were no more pictures until we completed them.

Sorry, Molly!  I intended to take pictures of the girls plunking and covering their seeds, but I was slick and delirious.  Here they are with their finished holes.


And here's Millie-- pumpkin-lover-- pleased as punch to be finished, who regaled me with tales of her future, milk-fed, Big Max pumpkin as we worked.  This year's the year for a prize-winning pumpkin!



The peonies popped.

They are the brightest pink imaginable and droop heavily on their slender stems.

It's almost too much pink for this former pink-hater to handle.

But I do handle it.

Because they're beautiful.

Frugal Fancy-pants...Again!

If you're new and wonder at this post, wonder no more.


Here's another shabbily photographed Fancy-pants!  This time, we staked out a quiet part of the woods to catch a glimpse of this rare and timid creature.   

Exhibit A:

Suggestion:  Wear this outfit to church on a sweltering day.  Twenty minutes into the Lord's Service, wish that you could strip to just a diaper like Zeke but quickly give the idea up as impractical.


-Faux pearls: free (vintage strand from Mopsy; a high school gift)
-Polka dot dress: $3.79  (purchased at 90+ percent clearance from Kohl's when you were supposed to be shopping for Christmas gifts for other people)
-Vintage black belt: 5 cents (rummage bag sale)
-Black skirt: 5 cents (rummage bag sale)
-Black wedge heels: 10 cents (rummage bag sale)

Total cost of outfit: about $4.00.

Optional accessories:
-a few leaves, just because the woods is full of them
-a goofy expression, just because your face is full of them

Exhibit B:

Suggestion: Wear this outfit when a warm April thaw settles in for a week, and you have to plug all the maple tree taps.

-tank top: free (hand-me-down)
-gray long-sleeved tee: 5 cents (rummage bag sale)
-gray long john shirt: free (gift)
-black puffy vest: free (hand-me-down)
-jeans: 10 cents (rummage sale)
-rag-tag rubbers: free (nephew Ethan left them behind when he went to Alaska)

Total cost of outfit: about 15 cents

Optional accessories: 
-dowels, for aforementioned plugging
-a hand saw
-a hammer
-a jump rope on which to string a bunch of plastic jugs

Side-by-side comparison:

Wow.  What a difference a few months makes in the woods! 


Leftovers, Or, Heavy on Words/ Light on Photos

Annika sits like summer incarnate on the way home from church. (I foolishly take a picture when I should be focused on driving.)

Susannah prepares to water the driveway.  Piper deposits Zeke in a stroller and runs away.  Fruity takes her chances and crosses the lens.  (We had just garbage-picked the baby gear from the side of the  road, so it was outside waiting to be cleaned and dried. Yes, silly people put jogging strollers in the garbage; I even inquired at their door to make sure they hadn't accidentally propped them against the garbage cans in a haze of absentmindedness.  They hadn't, and now we own a jogging stroller.  So fancy.  Time to jog, Zeke!)

John's Christmas gift to me was a Hulk-man holding a scarlet glass heart...and a Bear Claw.  Since that romantic morning, a game has sprung up in which Hulk appears in the strangest places.  Whoever finds him gets the honor of hiding him again, and the girls have entered into the game with gusto now, too.   Here are two Hulk-nooks from the past week.

Millie hid him here with the following note attached: WITH REGUARDS From, THE HULK


John and Annika conspired together to catch me dipping into the sugar bowl.

And while we're speaking of that John, he made garlic scape pesto a few weeks ago, and this sandwich greeted me upon my return from the garden one day.  Iced tea + garlic scape pesto and tomato sandwich = the best Heart ever.  (Somewhat related, he also has instituted a recent practice of bringing me sweet, hot tea in the shower.  I have cold bones, so it's awesome.  You should try it, and then you'll know.) 


Until next time,