Sunday, September 27, 2009

I Can Can, Can You?

Because I have a half-day Kindergartener, I've had to resort to late-night canning so I'm not interrupted halfway through the process. (As if I get enough sleep as it is.) This is part of the reason I've been so behind on my blogging. I can usually blog a little here and there in the evenings, but those have been pretty well filled up lately. I'm glad to have a little time this morning to catch up, so feel free to read here about Maggie's baptism, here about Dixon's blessing, here about Bishop Smith, here for Brady's visit and here for Bridget's preschool attempts. Now back to the canning post!

While my gardening results fell tragically short of my expectations this year, my canning outcomes were thankfully much better! For me, there's just nothing better than a home-bottled peach, so naturally that's where I started this year! Last year we only purchased 1/2 bushel, which resulted in a mere 12 quarts to last our family an entire year. I wised up and bought about 2 1/2 bushels, and paid about 60 cents/pound going through my co-op. I ended up with 62 quarts of halved and sliced peaches, and learned a couple of things along the way.
  1. Use wide-mouthed bottles for halves because my gigantor hand won't fit through the small-mouthed opening to flip the peaches face down, and it's too much time & effort to try to flip the slippery things back over with tongs.
  2. Do the canning in shifts so that the peaches don't get a chance to turn brown while patiently waiting to take their turn in the hot tub. Ready enough for one maybe two batches at a time.
  3. Because I have a "one-butt" kitchen, I don't really have room for pots & pans everywhere. Instead of using up room and making a syrup on the stove, I dissolved sugar & water in a measuring cup, then poured it into each jar. I put them in the canner with warm water, instead of boiling so my jars wouldn't break, then started the timing once it reached a boil. Worked like a charm!
  4. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS use freestone peaches!

Next was time for the tomatoes Uncle Kim brought me from his garden. {That man produces tomatoes like the Kings produce babies!} This time, we only had enough for 7 pints of raw packed, diced tomatoes in their own juice, but I couldn't help but open one the other day and --heaven, I'm in heaven--they were good! I'm eagerly awaiting the next batch he promised to bring me next week. Bridget even got in on the action while the girls were in school, making her "recipe" of tomato skins, water and dish soap. Her favorite place to be is playing in the kitchen sink!
After tomatoes, it was time for the corn! Thankfully I had a couple of eager beavers helping me to shuck all 50 ears. Katie even said, "Hey Mom, this is just like opening presents!" I may have to reconsider Christmas gifts this year...
I ended up only canning 16 pints of the corn since I ran out of jars. That used up half the corn, so with the other half, I broke the cobs in two, blanched them and packed them into dinner-sized portions in ziplocs for the freezer. I'm going to love myself come February.
I still have a bushel of apples sitting on my kitchen floor waiting to be sliced and dehydrated, and possibly made into apple pie filling. Once the harvest is over and I'm finished preserving all my fruits & veggies for the year, I hope to start on canning my meats. Thankfully apples keep for a long time because this canner's starting to run out of steam.

B & T

So Uncle Brady & Torey finally made it down to see Dixon and they both fell in love with him! It was fun to visit with them for a while, and I think we may have made them a little baby hungry.

Circle in the "Sand"

I had an earlier post about wanting to do some sand writing with Bridget for preschool, and the other day I finally tried it. She spent the majority of the afternoon doing her "homework" and was thrilled to do it over and over and over and over again.

I would draw a shape or a letter on a piece of paper and she'd try to copy it by writing it in the sugar container. She concentrates like her mom--tongue and all! I was amazed at how good she got--especially with her B.
It's a hard letter to write, but she seemed to have mastered it! She also worked on her A...
and went a little freestyle with her picture of me...

and this one of a dragonfly.

Definitely a great activity for her. And me. I got a lot done that afternoon!

Dixon's Blessing

We decided that since most of our friends and family were already gathered for Maggie's baptism, that the smart thing to do would be to have Dixon blessed as well. Efficiency rules! So after Maggie was confirmed and before the closing prayer, Mike was able to give Dixon his name and blessing. Unfortunately, they didn't use a microphone and as soft-spoken as Mike is, it was difficult to hear any of it. At least the nightmare I had about it the night before was only a dream. In it, they were holding Dixon in the circle, dressed all in white and in the middle of the blessing he had a huge blowout, coloring his white outfit a lovely shade of poop. Meanwhile, all those in the circle started laughing hysterically, and they were unable to continue with the blessing. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only mother to have had that same dream. Thankfully, the blessing went off without a hitch, but as a precaution I didn't dress him in all white!

Unfortunately, Aunt Ju missed the baptism and blessing by a couple of days, but she got her Dixon/Max fill when she made a quick trip to Utah on her birthday. Dinner out with her and Mer was a blast--I wish we could do it more often. Love you girls, but we were definitely missing our other sister. Maybe next time, Em!

For then I'll be baptized, you see.

Again, I have a hard time believing that my little girl is eight. It wasn't that long ago that I was holding her in my arms for the first time. Then yesterday she was outside on the deck singing along to her boom box, pretending to be Hannah Montana and knowing every word on her CD. She's just not my little girl anymore.
While I'm realizing more and more how quickly time passes, I love the relationship Maggie and I are developing. Her capacity to understand is growing exponentially, and sometimes I'm in awe of how fully she comprehends things. For example, a few weeks ago she and I were driving to the church for her baptism interview with the Bishop. Our conversation went something like this:

Maggie: "What's an interview, Mom?"
Me: "It's when you visit with someone and they ask you questions."
Maggie: "Why do I have to have an interview to get baptized?"
Me: "Heavenly Father needs to know that you're worthy to be baptized and it's the Bishop's job to make sure you are."
Maggie: "So what will he ask me?"
Me: "He'll ask you things like, 'Do you read your scriptures and pray?' and "Why do you want to get baptized?' Why do you want to get baptized, Maggie?"

Here's where I was expecting Maggie to say something like, "Because I want to." "Because I'm eight." "Because Meagan and Bailei got baptized and now it's my turn." It was then that I was taught by my eight year old daughter. My eyes welled up with tears when she tenderly said, "Because I want to have the Holy Ghost with me ALL the time so he can help me make the right choices and I can feel all warm inside." She gets it! She really gets it, and I couldn't have been happier that her reason for wanting this baptism was right and pure.

Me: "I think that's just about the best answer I've ever heard."

The day of her baptism was a bit frantic, as we discovered that the font--that takes 3 hours to fill--had only started to be filled 30 minutes prior to our arrival at the Stake Center. Needless to say, she was baptized successfully by her dad in about 16 inches of water!
Thank you to Aunt Meredith and Grandma Barbara who gave wonderful talks on Baptism and Confirmation. To Uncle Tyler and Grandpa Paul who gave the prayers and were our witnesses. To Sister Workman who did a fabulous job of helping us fill a little time with her piano playing and leading the children in Primary songs while Maggie got dressed. And to all our friends and family who came and helped make Maggie feel so special on her big day. I can't wait to experience more milestones with Maggie, and I'm so hopeful that she will gain a great testimony of the power of the Holy Ghost in her life.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

It's Time to Bloom!

Here's a fun giveaway from a brand new blog called BLOOM that I'm already loving! I just love the idea of a reading nook--especially the elevated window seat that the little boy is reading on.
I think I've found Mike's next project!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Marriage Contract

As I was perusing blogs this morning during breakfast, I came across a post by a girl named Lori Truman (a friend of a friend of a friend, if you will). For her parent's 50th wedding anniversary, they invited all their children over, served them dinner and stated that in payment for the dinner, they needed to sit and listen to some counsel. (What a way to get an audience, huh?)When it was time to go, they were sent away with party favors. One was a document their parents had drafted together, of ideas and wisdom derived from 50 years worth of marriage experience. She shared that document on her blog, and I'm completely in love with it. Each point is simple and poignant, and made me think about my own marriage and whether I'm doing enough for it to last 50 years--after all, the plan is for eternity, right?

Marriage Contract
Dee & DeAnna Packer

I commit total loyalty to Jesus Christ, His commandments, and you--realizing that marriage and the family are central to God’s Plan of Happiness. (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)
I understand that my fulfillment as a person does not ultimately depend upon any other person, including you. Though I commit myself to be one with you, I am in charge of my personal happiness. Proverbs 23:7

I accept you as a unique and separate person who is very different from me. I understand I need to deal with those differences in ways that are not critical or judgmental. You do not have to be a carbon copy of me.

When we collide—because of our differences—I will negotiate with you, invite you to meet me half way rather than insisting you think, act, or believe my way. “Learn to listen, listen to learn”… "With all thy getting, get UNDERSTANDING." Proverbs 4: 7

I will not relentlessly complain about you. If I am constantly unhappy, I will look inward for ways of changing me so I can feel better. Proverbs 21:19

When I do need changes, I will ask for them, using kind language (“Would you be willing…,” etc.). I will take responsibility for inviting rather than demanding changes from you.
I will allow you to say no, and will also exercise that right when I do not feel good about giving what you’ve requested. However, instead of a flat “no,” I will make counter-proposals to try to find a solution that will meet your needs and mine. If I say yes to you, I will give what you want without resentment.
I recognize that when I get angry with you, it is because I am creating anger in myself. I realize, too, that I am responsible for expressing my anger in ways that are not destructive to you.
No matter how angry or upset I get, I will never threaten to, or actually harm you or myself. If I tend to become harsh or abusive when I get angry, I will take immediate steps to learn how to avoid such behavior.
I will not use anger, or sulking, or continuing to be hurt as methods of controlling you. Neither will I use criticism or pin pricks to pressure you to do what I want. I will not call the relationship into jeopardy if we quarrel by threatening to leave you or to end the relationship. “Church callings are temporary…family relationships are permanent.” Dallin H. Oaks Oct. 2005 (What is the difference between admonition and criticism? D&C 6:19)
I give highest priority to my loyalty to you. I will not reveal confidences you have shared with me without advance permission. I will not embarrass you by airing our differences or by drawing other people into our conflicts.
I will not make you the brunt of jokes.
I will not flirt or give ‘come-on’ signals to others that will humiliate you and undermine our relationship.
I will put your needs before those of outsiders, and I will protect you from criticism by not complaining to these people.When I am happy with you, I will tell the world. When I am unhappy with you, I will tell only you. If I genuinely need help, I will confide in someone who can give aid rather than someone who will just agree with me.
I will consistently give you feedback concerning your positive qualities, actions and growth.
I will keep my negative feedback to a minimum and my positive feedback to a maximum.
I will keep my body healthy and attractive. But, realizing that perfection is unrealistic, I give you, and myself, the right not to be a perfect “10.” I will also find challenges to keep myself mentally alert. D&C 89

I recognize I do not “own” or “possess” you. Because of this, I will refrain from using words like “allow” or “let” or “can’t” in reference to your activities. I ask that you extend the courtesy of coordinating your schedule with mine, but I do not expect you to ask permission to do the things you wish.
I will not try to control or manipulate you with sex or money. I will share equal responsibility with you for planning our mutual finances and for making joint decisions about major expenditures.
I place high value on our love and will be open to you sexually. If at times I may not feel available, I will tell you kindly and directly.
I give you the right to “private” time—time to pursue individual interests, to enjoy solitude, or to do nothing. I will give you that time without complaint or penalty.
I give high priority to creating “we” times that bond us together. I will often reach out to talk to you, to be affectionate, and to work and play side by side I will remember that truly, "two are better than one." Ecclesiastes 4:9

Great stuff, huh? No wonder this couple has been together for 50 years...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My Best Idea So Far...

Okay, so I'm a little behind on my blogging. I still have pictures to upload and at least four different posts that need to be written about Maggie's baptism, Dixon's blessing, peach canning and a funeral, but I REALLY wanted to post about my best idea so far.

See, Mike and I used to be big note writers. You know, notes left on the kitchen counter, in a lunch box, on the white board or on the seat of a car. It was always such a pick-me-up to get a little love note written by your sweetie. Then somewhere between Mike's business, the mortuary, our callings, the housework and our five children, we stopped being note writers.

It's so easy to lose yourself to all your responsibilities and have nothing left at the end of the day to give your spouse, and being in one of those slumps, I started thinking that we NEED to be note writers again. That's when what I can only call pure inspiration flowed into my mind and I decided to start yet another blog. Yes, really. This one's entitled, Letters To Each Other, and that's exactly what it is. A blog completely privatized, just for Mike and I to leave notes to each other on, and one day for our children to have a record of. Brilliant, I know. Now stop wishing you'd thought of it and go start your own note writing.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bishop Smith

I wish I had the capacity to adequately relay my feelings about Nick Smith. I've never met anyone who personifies the message of the gospel more than he. He would, and very often did, give the shirt off his back to anyone who may have stood in need. I learned much from this man who served as my Bishop and my friend at a time when big decisions were being made that would alter the direction of my life forever. At his funeral, one of his daughters said that his final words to her were, "Be faithful. Stay close in your marriage. Stay close to your testimony. Be faithful." I love Bishop Smith. I miss him. I hope to grow up to be like him one day.