These once-beautiful tomatoes from our garden have met their demise. They rotted right on the kitchen counter for several days before they found their final resting place in my trash can. I had every good intention of canning this first batch over the weekend, but then.....life happened. And then life happened again and again....and again.
As a single mom of four, I often hear this phrase:
"I don't know how you do it all."
Well, these rotten tomatoes that ended up in my trash is a very good indicator that there are many things around here that don't.get.done. As much as I was looking forward to canning these tomatoes from my very own garden, it just didn't make the cut this weekend. On one hand, it kills me to see them go to waste. But on the other, it is another good lesson learned in being OK with cutting things free from my to do list when I simply cannot squeeze them in.
Truth be told, we had a lovely weekend with friends and swimming and sleepovers and soccer practice and a gourmet meal prepared by my daughter and her friend. (More on this to come!) And these tomatoes are just one of many things that did not get done around here this weekend.
But at the end of a day and the end of a weekend, I know there are four healthy children up sleeping in their beds. We ate, we played, we worshiped, and we had clean clothes to put on. We spent time together.
I am glad for all we did do this weekend. And I think that if the tomatoes could talk, they might even be OK with their sacrifice on our behalf. ;)
Happy Monday, Friends!
We've been away camping this beautiful weekend and having a marvelous, campy time with sparse cell signals and a whole lot of being outside.
As I sit in a camp chair, I see my children build a homemade zip-line and my dad read a book and I feel tired and smell camp-smokey. But I am also peaceful and happy and so glad for this little getaway.
Wishing you a wonderful Saturday, my friends!
The proof is in the pictures, folks! Every great once in a while, I manage to break away from my routine of full time work and full time mama. This particular time I met up with some dear friends to spend an evening downtown right in the midst of the All-Star game preparations.
It is surprisingly difficult for me to say Yes a night out. For one thing, I am usually just beat by the time the weekend gets here. Family movie night on the couch is just about my speed. The other reason, which might be a single mom thing or a working mom thing or maybe both, is the guilt attached with leaving behind the kiddos any moment that I don't absolutely have to.
My life is currently defined by very certain parameters. Wake up, work, drive home, see kids, start dinner, eat, drive to/from kids' activities, showers, bedtime for kids, clean-up house, do laundry, bedtime for me. This is a fairly realistic assessment, albeit the order may be changed up bit from night to night. As routine as this schedule may sound, there is comfort in the predictableness of our life and I am glad for that.
But I think a night out with the girls every so often is the perfect way to break up the way we normally roll! It usually takes me about an hour to relax and realize I am having a great time. It takes me about two hours to feel like I am 23 again without a care in the world. I do believe I'll take that.
I am always glad to return home to my loves and get back into our groove. But I am learning that every once in a while, getting out does me good and reminds me that there is still a "me" buried deep under the day in and day out.
My kids are the kind of kids that could spend every waking moment of summer in the water, wearing wet bathing suits for days on end and not being the slightest bit bothered by it! They have always been fish - all four of them. Maybe it's because we had them in water when they were each very young, and abided by the theory that getting water splashed in one's face early on makes one comfortable in water for the long haul. Or maybe they were just born with a love of water like I was and it's a generational thing.
No matter, swimming is their Number One when it comes to fun in the summer sun. (OK, when I wrote this sentence I seriously did not mean for it to rhyme so perfectly.....HA! :)
Other than a mini swim team Rylen tried several years ago, we had not ventured into competitive swimming until this summer. Rylen decided she wanted to be a part of the local summer swim team at the neighborhood pool. My other kids were also interested, but juggling the different practice times that corresponded with their various age levels was going to be too complicated with my work schedule. (I really am going to try and work it out for them all next year!)
So each morning this summer at 6:45 a.m., this oldest girl of mine rides her bike to the next neighborhood pool over to swim team practice. It has not been easy every day, and I permit the occasional "skip" day because after all, it's summer! I must say, I have been impressed by her hard work and dedication to this little team and surprised by how much she is enjoying it. Not because she doesn't love to swim, but because at the ripe old age of 13, most of her peers on the team have been swimming for years and are far faster than she. She was bothered by her slower times for the first couple of meets and who can blame her? Don't you remember when you were 13 and it felt like the whole world was watching every move you made?
Then it clicked for her that although she was not beating her teammates' times she was beating her own times, and it all came together in her mind. She then learned to compete against herself and set her own personal goals. She felt the sweet rewards of her own private victories stroke by stoke and race by race.
She did this for herself. She saw her hard work pay off. She overcame caring too much about what others around her thought. Yet she still heard her teammates cheer for her while she swam her little heart out all the way to the finish line!
That's my girl. I am so proud of her!
It is impossible for me to post any other photos right now than the ones from our garden. We just love it so much! To date, we have an overabundance of cherry tomatoes, green peppers and banana peppers, (If anyone local needs any of these fine veges, please ask...we are happy to share!)
We picked another crop of onions tonight and harvested our very first batch of broccoli! This is the first year I have ever tried broccoli and I am not quite sure what I am doing. We have a small army of bunny friends who like the broccoli just as much as we do, so that has been a mild setback. But tonight we cut what was left. So there, you bunnies you!
The squash plant is doing surprisingly well for being in an area that doesn't get as much sun as it probably should, but I'm a little worried about the pumpkin vines. They look a bit yellow and sickly to me...no?
We have had SO much rain around here this summer. I guess it's good for the garden, but I do believe even our poor plants are tired of it. A big storm that came through pulled our basil right out of the ground. We replanted it and it should be OK, but still! I love a good rainy day or even two now and then, but enough is enough.
The girls got back from camp on Saturday and had a wonderful time. No broken bones and only one shirt came back with mildew on it. Success, I say! I love that for the the past 2 days, they have both spoken a mile a minute about the games, inside jokes, how gross the showers were, free-time activities, the songs, cabin clean-up, skits, blah, blah, and BLAH!
Do you remember coming home from camp and trying to put a week's worth of words into the first five minutes of the car ride home? I do. I'm pretty sure that camp memories are forever memories, folks.
I think my favorite quote was from Marianne -
"Mama, it was the BEST! One night, I had a Klondike Bar in one hand and a Nutty Buddy in the other!!!!"
(You Go Girl!)
Every season....every garden....every first harvest...every tomato, squash, pepper......
...they remind us that there will always be beautiful new life and vibrant color,
...that there will always be goodness that comes up out of dirt...out of nowhere,
...that every day there is something to look forward to when you can go pick a crunchy cucumber right off the vine and chop it up in the very next minute,
...growing things = finding hope in your own backyard.
Happy, peaceful Friday to you all!
It's church camp week! For my two big girls, that is. For me, it's a work week (sigh) and the littles are hanging out during the day with grandma.
I realized that with just Hans and Lena here with me this week (and no big sisters who are too "big" for kid's meals) we can take advantage of some various "Kids Eat Free" nights at some local restaurants! Nice. (You see? It's clearly the little things for me these days, folks.)
I do miss my girls already and I am not the only one. If you look closely at the picture of the goodbye hug between brother and sister, there are real live crocodile tears in the boy's eyes. Imagine that!
Oh, and back in my day at this very same church, we as campers rode in hot, sweaty old church vans all the way to camp, which was about four hours away. We were lucky if the vans made it the whole way without breaking down. Nowadays the kids go to a camp that is only about 2 1/2 hours away....and they take a luxury charter bus? What's up with that???
Hope you are all enjoying this post-Fourth week!
I must admit, summer has thrown me off kilter a bit. No sooner did I get used to working full time and managing school schedules and activities than it all ended just like that! All of the sudden we have a new routine to settle in to.
One of the biggest questions I've had from folks is "What are the kids going to be doing this summer?" Translation: "How the heck are you going to fill their long, summer hours and keep them stimulated and happy, the 13 year old down to the 3 year old, while you are working all day long?" (They know we're new at this working mama thing!)
The answer to this is my new favorite mantra.... we roll day by day and week by week. Every week will bring something different. Various family members will stay for a stretch here and there and grandma will be around a lot. The two oldest will do a sleepover camp and they all have some day camps and activities scattered in the mix. Friends have offered to host them from time to time. I will have a few days off around the Fourth followed by a glorious week of vacation later in the month. We're working it out....and finding more and more pieces to this puzzle called summer.
I can attest to the fact that this change in season has brought a whole new meaning to the word weekend! (That beautiful word that I really didn't grasp the full meaning of until this year!) We cram a lot into the two days where I can be with my kiddos from sun-up to sun-down. This weekend, we spent Saturday on a boat with friends, skiing and tubing and having a plain old good time. As one who grew up water skiing, I was hugely proud that my three oldest got up on skis! (So did yours truly, I might add..for the first time in about 15 years! I wish I had the kids take a picture for proof....:)
Great fun was had by all and I was so thankful for this lazy, hazy summer Saturday.
Happy Monday, Friends!
Now that I am in the work force again after a 12 year hiatus of birthing and raising babies, I can stake an honest claim to the popular belief that motherhood is the toughest job ever.
By contrast, the more knowledge that I gain from my day job, the more productive and reliable I become. I like learning new skills and performing to the best of my ability. I enjoy my co-workers and actually spend a lot of time with them...all day, everyday! But work, as much as we may enjoy it, is a necessary part of life that most of us create a healthy detachment from. We can leave on Friday afternoon and come back into the office on Monday fully embracing the weekend respite but ready to jump back into the work week nonetheless. I know there are always exceptions - perhaps a small business owner who works around the clock or farmers or those who work in jobs that have irregular schedules. But my point is that work is something we all need a break from!
Being a mama, however, is different. Unlike my day job where I sharpen my skill set everyday, I feel like the longer I've been a mama the less I really know about how to do it! Our children are constantly growing and we struggle to keep up. We think about their well-being all of the time, yet wonder the best way to meet their changing needs. There is never a true break from being a mama...never, ever!
I fail miserably each and every day. I make wrong decisions, I am too strict and I am not strict enough. I forget to sign permissions slips, I mix up water bottles in backpacks, and I don't have the tie-dye t-shirt clean when it is tie-dye t-shirt day. They rummage through the dirty laundry to find it...again.
I do not always know how to keep everyone happy with the broad age span of my children. I am definitely not experienced with teenagers (and I have one) and I am very rusty with preschoolers (and I have one!).
I raise my voice more often than I'd like and maybe I get too grumpy and sarcastic. I routinely lack patience and wish I were gentler.
These are just to name a few. But, something a friend said recently to me really struck a positive and encouraging chord.
I have made many parenting mistakes, she said. But do you know what? My children love me!
This has to be one of the most brilliant things I have ever heard!
I thought about this statement after a stretch of feeling especially down on my mama self and it makes complete sense to me.
Being a mama is by far the most challenging thing I have ever done. But it is also by far the most meaningful. I get to teach them about Jesus and kindness and things that are far bigger than we are. I have had the privilege of watching them grow from teeny, tiny babes into the people they are today. They amaze me and I adore them.
I tucked them into bed last night full knowing that 3 of the 4 are in desperate need of a toenail trim. But they were tired and I was tired - a dangerous combination for toenail trims. And as I felt the mama guilt creeping, creeping in the way it so easily does, I reminded myself of this small yet powerful truth.....my children LOVE me!