Monday, September 27, 2010

Canning Peaches

Here in Southwest Idaho, peaches just peaked. Or so I've been lead to believe. I don't really know much about these things, except that when fall starts knocking on summer's back door, people around here start canning peaches. I grew up in Alaska, we canned smoked salmon and blueberry jam and spruce tip jelly -- I know about the timing of those kind of things, but not peaches.

Putting up peaches is something that I've been wanting to do for years. So this year, when the evenings started to turn chilly (our days are still hovering in the high 80's), I got the feeling it was time. The local peaches started appearing at the grocery store, and I wondered where to get my pile of peaches for cheap. My facebook and voice-mail pleas for help or an invite to a canning party went unanswered. I decided to take the task on myself -- or with the help of my hubby.

A chance encounter led me to believe that peaches could be had at a particular orchard for $8 a box, rather than $10 at another orchard. So at least the mister had a little more direction than, "Go out to where the fruit is and find me some peaches!" When he showed up with a $10 box of peaches, I wondered if he found the right farm. I was just grateful that he brought home peaches and that he took our boys out of the house all by himself. He's making big progress on his stay at home dad days.

A bunch of reading here and here, a borrowed canning pot, and I was set!

As I was dipping my peaches in boiling water then peeling them and slicing them, and my simple syrup solution was already boiling, and I was about to have a panic attack in my own kitchen over my inadequacy as a canner, I stopped.
"This is supposed to be fun," I told myself.
"You are learning something new," I told myself.
"You don't have to be perfect the first time," I told myself.
"This is why women have friends," I told myself.

Then, I invited my husband to help me peel peaches.

My results? I have 7 quarts of peach slices, 7 quarts of peach halves, and 4 8 oz. jars of peach jam.

I'm pretty sure the jam is really a sticky mess, but I'm waiting until my store bought strawberry jam is gone to pull the new jam out of the pantry. I'm also imagining how good the jam would taste on warm home-made bread. So, if the home-made bread happens before the strawberry jam is gone, I'm sure the peach jam will make it's debut.

Looking at pictures of other people's peaches, I'm pretty sure I didn't fill my jars full enough, but lesson learned. Next year, I'll really pack them in there. Now that i think of it, it is probably why my yield was above the average yield per pound of peaches.

Up next? I think I'll put up some applesauce and apple butter.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Slippers on Sunday

I fought with him over his pants. I fought with him over his shirt. "We don't wear dirty t-shirts to church," I told him as I wrestled him into an unpressed, it was white once, long-sleeved button down shirt. When I asked him to bring me his shoes and he showed up with slippers, I quietly put them on his feet. I couldn't fight with him anymore.

On a trip to the bathroom during Sacrament Meeting, a kind sister asked how I was doing. "My boys are wearing slippers today," I replied.

"At least they're wearing clothes," she replied, "You get points for that."

Pre-nursery, I often wondered why I bothered attending church, as I spent about three hours every Sunday in the foyer. I once lamented this fact to my aunt, and wondered "Why do I even bother?"

"Chris blessed and Kyle passed the sacrament this Sunday, and that makes all the time I spent with crying or restless kids in the hallway worth it."

We don't always make it to church on Sunday at our best. Tears are sometimes involved, and clothes are often wrinkley. Faces might have jam smears and feet might be in slippers. But we go. We try to teach reverence and respect. We love and learn.

Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, and to teach them to ... observe the commandments of God... Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bedtime Bribery

My dear sweet sister in law, who is the mother of my 11 month old nephew, asked me recently, "What does bed time look like at your house?"

"Well," I said, "at around 7:30 we get pajamas on, we brush our teeth, we read two stories and say a bed time prayer. I kiss Monkey good night, but Moose always refuses. Then I put them in bed and tuck them in. Then I say goodnight and turn the light off, and crack the door. Then Moose comes out and I nicely tell him to go back to bed. Then I get up, and put him back in bed. And then Monkey comes into the living room, and I tell him to go back to bed, and he dances in the hallway, and then I put him in bed. And then I hear the door close. Ten minutes later Monkey is crying. I go into their room, and the light is on, and the sheets are off of the beds and Monkey is stuck in the window or Moose wont let him in the closet or took his toy, or the other way around, depending on the night. So I put them back in bed, and say good night. The processes repeats itself, and I'm screaming 'GO BACK TO BED!' And then, around 10 pm, they finally wear themselves out and they fall asleep." At this point I think I was about in tears, and my poor sister in law didn't know what to say.

I believe in bedtime routines. I believe that having consistent and predictable activities in the evening help calm and relax children -- just not my children. We've had the same routine since they were 9 months old. We added brushing teeth in there at about a year, but otherwise it has been, PJs, Teeth, Books, Pray and Bed. But bed time always seems to be a struggle for me. I recently added a nightly bath with lavender soap last month, to no avail.

And here's the thing that really drives me crazy. I struggle with bed time most nights all by myself. My husband works an evening shift, and typically arrives home just as the boys are falling asleep. The other night, as I was finishing up story time, my husband shows up -- he got off early. He prayed with us, he tucked the boys in. He put Moose back in bed ONCE, and the boys were off to sleep before 8:30.

So, I've decided to bribe them. My mother-in-law calls it rewarding, but I still think it is bribery. I made a bed time game. Each boy gets three stars, after prayer they get to put their stars on the bed time board. If they get out of bed, I get to take a star. If they have stars left in the morning, they get a sticker. If I have all the stars in the morning, I get a sticker. If they get 10 stickers, they get to go out with just mommy or daddy for ice cream. I think if I get 10 stickers, I should get a day at the spa.

Bed Time Board
Supplies: Wooden Craft Stars and moons, magnets, 12x12 frame, 12x12 metal sheet, 12x12 piece of scrapbook paper, paint, E600

Paint stars and moons with yellow paint. Add initials or other accents.

Once paint is dry, attach magnets to the stars using E600 or a hot glue gun.

Put scrapbook paper and metal sheet into frame.

Glue moons to frame.

Hang frame on wall and wait for your two year old to say, "Why dat on wall? Take it down. I no like it!" and then start crying when you don't remove it.

Warning: Don't hang it up until the glue is dry or gravity will cause your moons to slide down and get E600 all over everything.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I Heart Faces ~ Week 37 ~ Vroom, Vroom

Monkey loved playing with the new truck Nana & Papa bought for him - even in the rain. Like always, I had to take several pictures before I got one with him looking up. I swear I have hundreds of photos of the top of his head. You can see from his blank stare that he's not entirely thrilled to have his attention drawn away from the truck that rumbled.


September 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Since learning about talk like a pirate day years and years ago, I've always wanted to have a Talk Like A Pirate Day Party, but if you know me, you know I'm not exactly a party hosting kinda person. (I like to plan parties, but please, don't come to my house, it won't be clean enough or good enough or fun enough for you, but that wouldn't matter because you wouldn't want to come anyways.)

So, instead, I'm sharing these links with you.
Visit AlphaMom for some pirate crafts and really cute skirts.
Take a look at Swiss Family Robinson Birthday Party for some awesome invite and game ideas.
I always thought these cupcakes at Our Best Bites would be great for a pirate party. Monkeys and Pirates go together, right?

Have fun me harties or I'll make ye walk the plank!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Being a Working Mom

A blog I read, Chocolate on My Cranium, is celebrating the 10th anniversary of "The Family: A Proclamation to the World". As part of that celebration, she has asked us to write about our families, using the proclamation as a guide.

The proclamation states: "By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners."

This is the part that means the most to me and is the part I struggle with every day. You see, I've been blessed with a wonderful career. I have got a great job, that pays handsomely, and has pretty good benefits. I've also been blessed with a wonderful husband -- it just happens that he has little education and less earning power than myself.

The deepest desire of my heart is to stay at home and raise my children. I want my primary responsibility to be nurturing my children. And I know it pains my husband to not be able to provide for our family and make all my dreams come true.

I struggle a lot because I know the Lord wants me to stay at home and raise my children. I often don't feel like I have enough faith because I can't just up and quit my job and depend on the Lord to take care of us. But I also know that the Lord expects us to be self reliant.

President Gordon B. Hinkley cautioned women, at several times, using several different words to be very careful about working outside the home. He said, "I hope that if you are employed full-time you are doing it to ensure that basic needs are met and not simply to indulge a taste for an elaborate home, fancy cars, and other luxuries."

My husband and I have spent a lot of time and energy this year refocusing our priorities. We've set financial goals. We've paid off all of our non-mortgage debt and started saving an emergency fund. We've analyzed our budget and decided to try and live more simply. We are trying to curtail our spending, and trying to learn to live on less money. We can't currently survive on my husbands salary, but we are trying to learn how. We are setting aside the extra money we have now while I am working so that we can ensure our financial security should the opportunity for me to stay home arise.

And in the mean time, I try to be the best mother that I can be. That means that I've given up some of my ideals about the perfect house and the perfect meal plan. I'm learning to accept that dirty dishes in the sink are okay, and breakfast cereal for dinner every now and again is fine. It means that I have more time for hugs and kisses after work and time for one more story before tucking my boys into bed.

I have to work really hard to not be to tired and too stressed to be loving at the end of the day. Everyone is tired and hungry when we get home, and we are all at our worst. It's been even harder since my husband has been working afternoon and evenings. It's just me and the boys and there is a lot of yelling and crying on every one's part.

I'm making an effort to yell less and love more. When Moose is yelling at Monkey, and Monkey is crying and hitting Moose, I try to remember that yelling isn't going to help anything. Our children deserve to be taught with love and respect.

These are some of the things I do to nurture my children when I am at home with them:

  1. Snuggle a little bit every morning, no matter how late we slept.

  2. Pray everyday for guidance in the things I need to teach them.
  3. .
  4. Pray with them every night.

  5. Pray for patience and a tempered spirit.

I pray a lot. Motherhood has helped me to realize how much help I need. I can't do it on my own. I need my husbands strength and support, and more importantly, I'm learning to rely on my Heavenly Father. Through motherhood, I'm becoming closer to my Heavenly Father. I know that will make me a better wife and mother and person.

Are you a working mom? What are some of the things you struggle with? How do you deal with your struggles?