Monday, July 26, 2010

I hate technology

I thought I would tell you all how much I hate technology.

I hate my cell phone.  I hate it so much that I leave it exclusively in my car (its a car phone!) and rarely remember to ever charge it.  I only charge it in the car because I am always afraid I'll be somewhere at midnight, on a dark and stormy night, when one of my tires blows and I'm stranded 20 miles from the nearest town (highly doubtful I know, but there it is.)

I know my kids think I'm one of those "old" people who can't figure out a cell phone.  Truthfully, I could care less about it.  Yes (duh) I know how to take a picture with it.  Do I want to? No.   Yes (duh) I know how to text.  Do I really want to spend my time typing on itty bitty minuscule keys "do u wnt pzza 2 nite?" No, I actually have better things to do with my fingers.

I hate my digital camera.  For starters, the viewer-thingy is so tiny that I actually have to get out my glasses so I can see it.  Then the button on the top is a tiny little sliver of a slant of a sort a button that you have to push 3 times to snap.  And then, where did the picture go? Well, if I'm lucky and someone left my memory card in there, I can use it, but if someone has taken it, that means the pic is on the camera itself.  Which, of course means trying to find that little cord to hook in to it and then into my computer to send my pictures to myself.  Then, to get an actual "hard" copy of the picture (because some people actually prefer looking at pictures, rather than staring at their computer) you have to go to an online site and then download (or is it upload?) your pictures again into an album to order.

Oh. my. goodness. The microwave:  some genius somewhere decided that if the power went out, you would need to reprogram the day, month, year, and time in order to make some popcorn.  It takes 5 minutes to hit all the right buttons to get it to go again, and seriously, does the microwave need to know what year it is?

In our bedroom at night, you should hear the noises (hehe): a "ping" every time my husband gets a new email (which is often), a blaring siren when he gets a text, a "dong" every time someone makes a purchase on our website (shameful plug:, a swirly-do noise when the phone powers off and then powers back on in the morning, the alarm that sounds early in the morning, the whistle when it's losing power, not to mention the bright glow from the illumination of both the phone and his computer.

And people spend millions each year on sleep clinics, sleep medications, special pillows, eye puff removal cream, and sleep number beds. Technology was suppose to make our lives easier, but it just keeps us up at night.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Summer in the country

Summer is probably my most favorite time of year. There is so much about it that I love.
I love being able to put out my garden, then bring in the vegetables, and put them up--either by canning or freezing. It can be hard work, mostly hot work, but I enjoy the idea of getting things ready for the winter--being prepared for that snowstorm that will shut us in for a week (which has never happened).
There is a bible verse about this. It's in Proverbs 6, verses 6 and 8: "go to the ants, you sluggards, consider its ways and be wise. Yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers food at harvest." Even the most inconsequential insect knows enough to store up for the winter, but most children think all the food comes from the grocery store.
I love to watch the fireflies. We always called them lightning bugs here in Illinois, and we would take out the canning jars and catch them in the jars in the twilight. I went out to look for them tonight --at the tailend of July. And they were still there, right as the sunset fell, with a big moon looking at us, my son and I sat on the porch swing and watched the lightning bugs. As long as the lightning bugs are still there, I know there is still a lot of summer left.
My rooster crows at us at dawn. I can't say I enjoy him that much that early, but since it's summer, he can sit right on the porch railing and begin his song early (very, very early). The chickens lay more eggs in the summer, so we have more deviled eggs and potato salad--which always says "summer" to me.
My flowers are gorgeous in the summer. I love to pick them and put them in canning jars (I do a lot with canning jars around here) and put the bouquet on the kitchen table. The cosmos tower high, the hyssop is bright purple with lots and lots of butterflies and bumble - and - honey bees on them. I'm having no luck with the russian sage, but the lavender is making up for it.
Our son, who is so country and loves to play outside, will run for hours (if we let him) in the sprinkler, goes without any clothes on, and likes nothing more than put on his "shades" and mow the yard with his daddy.
You might notice that I didn't make any mention of vacationing in the tropics, taking a cruise to the Bahamas, swimming or scuba diving or jet skiing our brains out. Typical summer fare. Summer for me has never been about how many activities we can do, how many places we can go, how much money we can spend on vacation, or how much we can brag about our resort/spa/club.
It's a feeling. It's a breeze. It costs absolutely nothing (if you disagree with me, take a picnic to the park on the 4th of July for fireworks and then come back and talk to me.) It's a deep breath, a hammock in the shade, the smell of field corn and seeing deer step out of the big tall stalks, a night so dark that the stars literally pop in the sky and it's holding a sleeping baby while you sit on the porch swing, with a jar of lightning bugs next to you in the grass.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

From dust to dust

Here’s what we do with sweet corn around here.
First, we cook it and eat it.  It is said that you can walk to the garden to pick the corn but you must run it back to the house to cook it.  The sugars start to leave sweet corn as soon as it’s picked.  You boil for 3 – 5 minutes.

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The rest of the corn we cut off the cob and freeze for later use.

Most folks would be done now.  Off to the trash with the rest of it!  But we are far from done.  Next, we take the cobs out to the chickens. The chickens love to peck out whatever bits of corn I’ve left or the nubbies on the end.  Eventually they will will grind it all up into the compost they are creating in the scratch pen. The corn then turns itself into delicious, brown, farm eggs.
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All the greens I shucked off the corn now go into the composter, where it will eventually turn into the best compost you can imagine to put on your garden to grow more sweet corn next year.
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And the circle of life continues.

Monday, July 19, 2010

On gardening, beans, sounds and God

You can not be a gardener and not believe in God. Not humanly possible. If you spend an afternoon (or evening like I just did) bending over, picking beans from the bush, thinking you had hit the jackpot when you come across a cluster of 10 beans, then bringing them in, washing them, snapping them and then sweating over a canner, but then seeing 8 quarts of beans on your shelf, you would understand perfectly what I mean.
Now only some of you will understand this: there are some sounds that are precious to us, like the sound of a new born baby cry, or our husbands telling us, "I love you". There are other sounds that are exciting, like fireworks in July, the end-of-the-school-day-bell or cicadas that only come out once every 7 years. And of course there are enchanting sounds - Christmas carols on a cold, moonlit, solemn evening or a 3 year old singing "Jesus Loves Me".
But then, there is the most exhilarating, most breathtaking, most hard-earned noise ever known to man (or woman)--and that is the sound of "ping" as the lid on your freshly canned jars are sucked down and sealed forever (or until you eat them). And then you line up those jars, and count them and know that all is good with the world.
You can not possibly think that the world is all by accident, evolving from some planetary goo made by a passing asteroid when you plant a seed, and exactly that thing comes up in the ground, and with minimal efforts, a plant comes forth, bearing flowers, that eventually swell and then are plucked by a gardener, who of course, is also a wonderful cook (which is a God-given miracle right there) and can render that green plant into remarkable eating.
You can not sit down to a plate of green beans, cooked in bacon grease with onions, simmered for hours in a black cast iron pot and not believe in God.

You just can't.

Friday, July 16, 2010


My handsome beekeeper enjoying a glass of tea at the American Legion.

This was taken July, 2010.

I'm not sure why we got bees to start with. I know how we got the bees to start with, just not the why of it. The bees were in a downed tree and an older fella showed David how to take them out and get set up. If it had been left up to me, I wouldn't have gone anywhere near those bees, but David did, and what started out as a hobby wiggled and waggled it's way into a full-blown business of monstrous proportions.

We have no intentions of becoming the wal-mart of the bee business (I think Joel Salatin was the first to say that about his poultry business. Do a search on him and get his book called "Everything I Ever Wanted to do Was Illegal".) We simply want to do enough business to feed us and have some fun along the way. We've met some great people. Beekeepers are generally honest, good people and it's good to know a few of those. We seem to be short on those in our corner of the world.

So we were in Ohio with bees when David was called to a new job in Illinois. And he brought his bees with us. I doubt he knew whether we had brought all of our furniture, or even packed the kids, but he made sure those bees were on the truck! After moving out to the country, he collected more of them and one day built his first beehive. He sold it on ebay. We wonder who that person was and what a good sport he or she was to have bought that first hive. After perfecting things for years (it seems) he now makes beautiful hives. Hives that have been bought from folks all over the US. We joke often about those hives being sent to customers. One was on FOX News, when David was interviewed by Neil Cavuto--as soon as he got home from the studio, that hive was in box being shipped to a customer. One time he took out a frame full of honey from one of our own hives, and for whatever reason, slipped it into a new hive. I didn't know it, and shipped it off to a customer. Another time we caught our youngest son (about 18 months at the time) throwing in a new hive tool into someone's box, we joke all the time about what sorts of "surprise" gifts the customers get.
So now we get honey. And I bottle it, and label it and set it on the shelves. When the sun hits it, it looks like liquid gold. I love it when customers come out and want to buy the honey. All too often, we don't have enough, we run out of it so quickly. They step into the store, buy some honey, and a dozen eggs and I come in and put the money away, calling it what my grandmother's generation called it: "my egg money".
And it usually goes for pizza.

A funny thing happened in town today.

My husband David's parents have both passed away. His mother passed in 2004, just shortly after we purchased our farm house and his dad exactly one year later, most likely from a broken heart.

Before he passed away, David's dad worked quite a bit on our home. I don't know what he really thought of it, even today I wonder what attracted us to it 6 years ago. It was built in the late 1800's, and while most of the original character of the house is gone, we loved the idea of living in an old house where babies have been born, and couples probably married, (hopefully not in that order) and lots and lots of children played. The foundation was solid, but the inside and out hadn't been gently cared for in a couple of decades. So it was in desperate need of renovation.

We tore things down, sawed down trees, threw things away. I think we had always hoped we'd find some buried treasure in the old house, but it gave nothing up. David's dad worked on the electrical, putting in a generator, hung a few doors. He didn't seem to feel well, which probably was a fore-shadowing of his stroke to come just a few months later.

I wish he could have seen the house when it was done. We sided it, put on a new roof, added shudders, landscaped, mowed till we were sick of it, put on a deck and completely re-did the entire inside. But my father-in-law became bed ridden from the stroke, and never recovered, and so never came back. He would have loved the dozens and dozens of honeybee hives, the baby chicks and the laying hens we have, and laughed about the goat to come.

A few years ago, my in-laws came to visit us, before we bought our country home. During the visit we went out to eat in town and as we were starting to leave, it came up a strong thunderstorm. My husband David ran out and got the car and drove it right up to the door so his parents wouldn't have to run too far in the rain. Both of his parents ran out of the restaurant in the pouring, blowing rain......only to find all the doors of the car locked. David sat behind the wheel, and being unfamiliar with his dad's new key, couldn't figure out how many times to click the button to unlock the doors. His parents stood in the rain, frantically pulling at the door handles, while David was trying to tell them to stop pulling so he could unlock it. It wasn't all that funny at the time, but we laughed for years over that scene.

Today, as a special treat, because it was so hot outside, and we despise heating the house up even more with the oven on, David took us out to eat in town for lunch. While we were there, it came up a huge thunderstorm, but the restaurant was quiet, and Christian--age 3--was behaving wonderfully, so we decided to sit it out.

Only it didn't stop. We split a banana split, but it still didn't stop. So we decided to give it up and make a dash for it. David offered to go get the car and bring it right up to the door. The kids and I ran out, guessed it.....all the doors were locked. But I knew David knew how to operate the key this time, and a quick glance confirmed my suspicion...the guy had locked it on purpose. After screaming, he did quickly unlock it and while we got in, literally soaked to the skin, he, once again, told us the story of how he had locked his parents out of the car at the restaurant.

It was a good story.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Parenting Styles by the Decades

My husband and I have had children during the past 3 decades. We were married in 1980, and I gave birth to our first child, a daughter, during one of the last days of July in 1981. Then followed another daughter in 1982 and a son in 1985. Unbeknownst to us, because God had other plans - we had decided 3 was enough - another daughter joined us in the next decade - 1991, followed by what we again believed to be our last child in 1993 (We had even middle-named him "Finis", which means "finish" or "the end."). But another child, our 3rd son and 6th child, joined us 14 years later in the following century - in 2007.

So, we have had children in the 80's, 90's, and 2000's. Not many can boast of being married 30 years to the same man, and having 6 children in several different decades with him either.

I have thus been awarded the unique pleasure of seeing many parenting styles come and go and are aptly appointed to speak on some of them.

I, like most everyone, set out to raise my kids as differently as possible from my parents, only to realize, 30 years later, that I pretty much raised them exactly as I was raised. But I did take a few detours along the way. Some detours were suggested by books, some suggested by influential people and pastors in churches that we were in, still others by the local christian radio station, or by popular websites and forums and by "parent pressure" (it's just like peer pressure, but by other parents who want to bully you into raising your kids just like them). But mostly we just did what seemed best and natural. I think we did okay with our kids, although we certainly are doing some things differently with this last "late-in-life" child we have now.

The 80's were a time when parents put their children on schedules. Only feed them every 4 hours --in the hospital I could only have my first daughter at 12:00, 4:00 and 8:00 --6 times per day! Imagine that. Now with rooming in, birthing rooms, and in-and-out deliveries, babies pretty much set the pace. Babies were to sleep a certain number of hours, have a certain amount of outdoor time, have a certain amount of social time.

In the 80's, if we needed real help, we'd go to the library and get a dog-earred copy of Dr. Spock, in the 90's it was Dr. Dobson. Or, gasp, we'd ask mom. Starting in the mid 90's, but crazy wild now, if you want parenting advice, you go straight to the web and enter forums for discussion and debate. There are some "highly "regarded parenting "experts" now - Michael and Debi Pearl (To train Up a Child), Gary & Anne Marie Ezzo (Babywise), Nancy & Colin Campbell at Above Rubies. org, as well as popular websites like and

I have never understood a parent's desire to read a book or take a class and begin to raise their child according to that teaching. Outside of the bible, I can not imagine taking some man's (or woman's) advice on how to raise my own child. A book written by a fallible, inperfect human being, for pete's sake. But, having said that, I have read a book or two. In recent months, my youngest child has had sleep problems, and out of desperation, I purchased a book called, I think, the No Cry Sleep Solution. And in potty-training him, again out of desperation, I got a book called somethinng like How to Potty Train in One day. Neither book had anything wildly out of the ordinary that any normal, rational person couldn't figure out with a little common sense, but these authors had had enough brains to put it down in a book and get some money for it.

But in this decade, it seems to be the thing to enter into a parenting style and be known by it's moniker -- I "attachment parent", or I "babywise" or I'm a "cloth diapering, homeschooling, homebirthing, child sling carrier, tandem nursing, non-vaxing, non-circing son-of-a-gun mom". Women debate, denounce, and deliberate over whether it's right, biblical, or p.c. to nurse in public, the pros and cons of the "family bed", spanking versus "gentle" correction. And then get mad if someone disagrees or has a different parenting style. Many authors, teachers, and leaders moralize their standards of child rearing to the point where if we don't hold their same extra-biblical view, we must not be "real" Christians.

Raising happy, healthy children that you are emotionally attached to is what we are all trying to do. I don't believe one particular style, person, or book is going to lead you to that place. Those things could all be helpful, and certainly some debate --done in appropriate, thought-provoking, and kind ways--is called for. I even think that most of these books, people, and websites mentioned could have a few gems in them--if you have the patience and maturity to weed through it all.

In our virtual world, where nearly all our communication is now done via media appliances, people don't connect anymore and that's why young parents don't know how to raise their children. We get short blurbs of advice or wisdom on facebook, get tweeted a "good luck" on twitter, or handed yet another book by that week's authority. Listen to your kids, stop being so busy, talk to a wiser, older parent, and try to be happy. Slow down, be patient, talk with your kids, have good times. Discipline when necessary, but be full of grace and slow to anger.

Wait, I'm giving you more advice, aren't I? :-)