Wednesday, July 18, 2012

busy, busy, busy

This summer has been crazy busy for us but it has been a good kind of busy.  I doubt that any of you really want a play-by-play of our summer, but this is also my journal (of sorts) so please indulge me a little.

To get the summer started, Ronnie and I took a trip (sans kids!) for our 15th wedding anniversary.  One of these days I really should post about that, but today is not that day.

Last week, our church was in Vacation Bible School and it was a great week.  I don't think I will voluntarily repeat teaching preschool, but it was a good experience and I think I can now say that I have taught every age group in the church (not all in VBS, but including Sunday School as well) except Senior Adults.  According to my kids, the only problem with VBS was that it isn't long enough. I did enjoy the week, but I must say that I am truly glad that it is only one week!

Ronnie and I have also undertaken a major overhaul of our bedroom this summer.  Our room is the "junk/storage room" of the house and quite frankly, I am tired of it!  So, Ronnie took off Thursday and Friday after July 4th and we went to work.  We haven't finished all that we want to do, but we did get rid of more junk than I care to admit, not to mention several bags of kids' clothes and even a bag of my own clothes that are (thankfully) too big for me now!  We still need to rearrange the room, but  I am loving all the space we have since we got rid of the piles of junk!

The thing that has kept me the busiest this summer is the garden.  My Daddy planted more than 100 tomato plants and somewhere around 30 squash plants.  So far, we have put up more than 60 quarts of squash - most of it canned - and I have two drawers full waiting for me to can tomorrow.  The tomatoes have been a bit scraggly ... it was hot early, with no rain, but we'll take what we can get.  Normally we would can the tomatoes in a concoction that we lovingly call tomato relish, though, in reality it is what most people would call soup stock.  The tomatoes are peeled and diced and then we add bell pepper, celery, and onion and simmer the mixture before packing it in jars and then pressure canning the final product.  This stuff is wonderful ... I use it for spaghetti, chili, soups, and in most any other recipe where I would use canned tomatoes.  I absolutely love not having to buy store bought tomatoes with all of their questionable ingredients.  Our unusually busy summer has kept us from being able to actually can any tomatoes yet.  So far, we have just been peeling and cutting up the tomatoes and then freezing them in gallon bags until we have time to do the whole process of canning our relish.  At last count, we had somewhere around 30 gallon bags waiting for us to get our act together ... hopefully sometime in the next couple of weeks.  Oh, and I also have three cucumber plants that are late getting going (the first ones died and we had to re-plant) so hopefully I will be putting up pickles very, very soon!

Our busy summer has kept us from getting as much school work done as I would have liked, but I am just going to call it home-ec and let it go.  LB has learned the process for canning both squash and tomatoes and the boys have both spent a fair amount of time in the garden with my Daddy.  We have done a little math along with the older kids and I've worked with D on his reading, but we haven't had much organized book-work.  I am enjoying the break though, and soon, I'll begin working on our schedule for the new year ... it will be here before we know it!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

a new appreciation

It is VBS week ... and, through no fault of my own, I am teaching preschool this year.

I tried to get out of teaching all together ... I signed up to help with the food - which, at our church, is a full meal each night.  (Tonight is spaghetti night ... yummy!)  I was thrilled...I'd get to do something totally different and then, once the work in the kitchen was finished, I could float around and help in other classes or take pictures, or maybe even go to the adult class.

But, God had other plans.

One of the first teachers to sign up this year was a lady to work with the preschool class, but a few weeks ago she called Ronnie to tell him that she was going to have to be out of town this week for work and wouldn't be able to teach.  So we began to look for another teacher, to no avail.  One of the perils of being married to the VBS director is that sometimes you get appointed to do something whether you want to or not.

Please don't get me wrong, I love preschoolers!  But the last time I taught a preschool class younger than kindergarten, I didn't have any children!  I have a hard time figuring out how to relate to small children and this week has been especially challenging because the kids in my class range from one who just turned three to one who is almost six.

Now, lest you think I am just posting this as a reason to complain, let me get to the real point of this post.

I am often guilty of lamenting how fast my children have grown and how much I miss all those stages that we have flown through over the last 12 years.  Now it is confession time.

After three nights ...
of taking kids to the bathroom ...
and trying to understand what they are saying ...
and trying to show them how to use a glue stick ...
and trying to get them to listen for more than 30 seconds at a time ...
and trying to remember to only give one instruction at a time ...
and the list could go on and on ... 
my eyes have been opened.

I have a whole new appreciation for the ages and stages we have reached with the kids.  

Sunday, July 1, 2012

America, the Beautiful

We sang this song in church this morning and in light of the political mess in our nation right now, I found that the words touched me even more than they normally do.  I have no big speech to go along with this, just a healthy dose of patriotism to go with the knowledge that those of us who are Christians had better put 2 Chronicles 7:14 in practice, before this song is a thing of the past.

Listen closely to the second verse ... it gives me chills every time I sing it.

America, the Beautiful

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness, 
And ev'ry gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees, beyond the years,
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!