Easy Peasy

my three baby boys

“I don’t know how you do it!”

“I could never homeschool, make my own bread, go without paper towels, etc”

“All boys…aren’t you going to try for a girl?”

More often than not, these are the things I hear when I am first getting to know someone. When the boys were little, I heard, “It looks like your hands are full” just about every time I was out.  It wasn’t my favorite thing – I was pretty sure it wasn’t a compliment… I had three boys-aged three and under and I was exhausted.  I began responding with “My hands were empty for a long, long time-so they are a blessing.”  It seemed to end that conversation.

It was the truth, though.  All I wanted to be was a Mommy, from the time we said, “I do.”  It was my goal.  We were married in 1992 and didn’t have our Taylor until January of 1998.  We waited a few years to spend time on our marriage, traveled to Europe and worked.  But then things didn’t work out as we planned. While everyone around us was excitedly making plans to decorate a nursery, I was crying in my living room every month. It was so hard.

After several years, we finally were expecting. We had just bought a new house and the thrill of our future was like no other. We lost our first baby when I was 9 weeks along. It was so hard. I had to have surgery and the recovery room was in the maternity section of the hospital. I felt forgotten.

During the next many months, I would deal with depression, anger, jealousy and much more as we continued along-just the two of us.  We began looking at adoption agencies.  Finally, over a year after my surgery, we were expecting again.  Taylor.  We would be surprised two more times in rapid succession with our other boys. I never took it for granted that we were able to conceive. I still don’t. I also didn’t want girls. I was pretty sure I might mess one up. I love my boys. They are amazing. My hands are full – but I am so thankful for it!

As the years have passed and we have all grown, I have evolved into who I am today – a work in progress with glimpses of who I will become someday.  I certainly never thought I would homeschool. In fact, I used to tell friends I would NEVER do that.  Never say never, right? We love it, though.  It’s what is right for us.  It’s not for everyone. It is hard some days. It is a lot of work and some sacrifice-but it’s what we are supposed to do, so we have grace to do it.  I love spending this time with my boys who are growing faster than I can imagine. Soon enough, they will be independent of us.  I know we won’t regret this time.

Years ago, I went to an older (than me) ladies’ home where she taught a multi-week class on homemaking, organization and cooking.  It was very Titus 2. This was my first introduction to the Bosch.  I never forgot it. I was amazed that this woman could throw some stuff into this mixer and flop a huge mass of dough onto her counter, which would be tucked into bread pans.  While we tackled some other area in the house, this amazing smell of homemade bread was drifting throughout the house.  It was awesome.  Years later, I would be able to hang out with a wonderful friend who had a breadmaking heritage, who taught me much more and I was HOOKED.  I received a Bosch and a Nutrimill that year for Christmas and they remain some of my favorite Christmas gifts ever.  I use them almost every week and I am recharged every time I do so.  In fact, I just told Mr Darcy I would bake bread for a living, if I could. 🙂  He knows that he can always get me a kitchen gadget and I will be happy.

When we knew we were making a life/job/ministry transition 3 years ago – I became more diligent about trimming our grocery list.  It was easier because “green” is in.  Making your own cleaning supplies was cool. Vinegar is cheap and works so well for so many things. My Mom started giving me surgical towels to use in the kitchen (unused, of course!) and I stopped using paper goods.  I don’t fill up my trash can (which fills up the landfill) and it’s cheaper.  I buy cloth napkins or make them for our dinner table and I feel like our mealtimes are actually a little nicer-looking as a result.

I decided to write this post today because I want you to understand that the things you think you could “never do” might just be what you wind up doing.  I wasn’t going to be able to have children – but I have three wonderfully loud boys in the room next to me.  I will give them each a spelling test today as we learn together in our home – and still live to talk about it tomorrow.  I will get a loaf of homemade bread out at lunch to make grilled cheese for my four guys and use my blue surgical towels to clean up after I spray my homemade cleaner on the counters.

It’s a good life.  It’s my life.  Yours looks different and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.  I don’t have to be the scrapbooking lady, or the one who makes french pastries (although I want to be the best friend of that lady!).  I don’t have to have the cleanest house – just a tidy one that doesn’t feel like chaos.  I don’t even have to have a wonderful blog that thousands of people comment on (but please feel free to comment whenever you would like!)

It’s my chance to be center stage. It’s all about me. The talents I have been given, the strengths and weaknesses alike.  The successes and failures and what’s in-between.

I love it. Even when I hate it- I love it.

~Janna

 

I posted this on the Heavenly Homemakers blog….Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Falling

It’s October 20, 2010 and there is no sign of fall in my future. No pretty leaves. No soup.  No Russian Tea.  This makes me a little sad. It’s hot here. We are still running the A/C every day.  We didn’t unpack our winter clothes.  What’s a girl to do?

This girl is going to turn the music up loud and dance ’til I fall over.

It’s true.  When I am blue, the music is loud over here.  Okay, when I am happy, the music is loud over here. I dance and sing and dance some more. I love it. The boys shake their heads at me at first, but soon enough, they get the fever. We are American Bandstand. We are the Soul Train.  We are Solid Gold.  It’s downright awesome.

I have favorite, go-to tunes in my Ipod. I am not going to tell you what they are. You would have to be here and dancing with me to know these secrets….I will tell you I have a fondness for 80’s music.  Fondness is putting it lightly.  And when I say 80’s music, it’s not just one sound, either. I think you’d be surprised.  However, that is not the only playlist I have programmed.  I happen to believe I have eclectic musical taste.  Maybe I just think that makes me sound smarter or cooler or sophisticated.  But it’s still true.  Last week, it was Italian opera.  I sing tenor so it works for me. I also like to think I am cultured at the same time. Not cultured like yogurt – but hip and fabulous cultured.  I threw in Italian phrases all day. I wish I had known what I was saying.

So today, as I brave the elements (okay, just the one – sun) and go out to the HEB to buy the things my guys will need while I am out of town, I will crank up my tunes. I will wear my headphones IN the store.  You might even hear me singing on aisle 7…I’ll be smiling.  And wearing short sleeves. And as soon as I think you are not looking, I’ll dance.

But tell me, what’s YOUR “go-to” song?

~Janna

Me and My Mommy

*I wrote this last night but forgot to publish it…oops*

Today, my Mom and I made jam. It was glorious. Really, really, really.  We used marionberry, blueberry and raspberry all together and it was the best I have ever had.

Right before we started, we realized two things: 1) I didn’t have anywhere NEAR enough sugar and 2) we had the wrong sized lids. I was off to HEB. I didn’t even know if they would have lids at the HEB. Do people can things down here?  It appears they do as I was able to find some!

On the way home, I was imagining the jam as a finished product and how wonderful it would feel to see it all lined up in my pantry and good it would taste on my toast.  And then something happened.  I started crying in the car. Tears were streaming down my face as I thought about how lucky I was to be doing this with my Mommy.  How special it was that she was here with me. How I can’t take these moments – these experiences for granted anymore. My mind spun wildly as I wished for all I was worth that my Mother In Love and I could sit together and talk in the kitchen just one more time.  But we can’t.

I cried some more as my mind disobeyed and told me that someday I would remember this afternoon and this jam. I would remember the joy on my Mom’s face as we tasted the bubbling, sugary fruit in the big pot and we knew we had something special in there.  I knew I would smile to myself someday when I thought about the “pop” when the jam jars sealed and we looked at each other and smiled with contentment.

My Mom tapped all the lids as they sat all lined up on my counter.  I asked her what that did. Did it help insure they would pop?  My Mom answered, “No, it does nothing. But My Mom always did it.”

Someday, I hope , I will make jam with my grandchildren. I will tap the lids.  I will tell them it’s what we do. I will tell them their heritage. It will be good. I will smile and when I do, I will reflect the beautiful memories we made today in my kitchen.

the white lid is for eating right now!!

oh my goodness...can you see all the chunks of fruit and seeds and - oh my!

~Janna

What to say?

It’s Sunday night and my parents just left our house.  They have been here all day and I loved it. They are staying on the island, which is about 25 minutes from us.  I love being in the same room with them. It’s marvelous.

After church this morning, where my hubby preached a wonderful sermon on stewardship, we came home and ate a spaghetti dinner. Then my Mom and I went to Sam’s club. It was so much fun to go with her and walk slowly up and down the housewares section. We also tried on rings and tried some yummy apple cider.

Tuesday night, I am hosting my second annual Choctoberfest. I can’t wait!  Everyone brings something chocolate to share and the focus of the evening is try chocolate foods and talk. That’s it. That’s the whole agenda.  I bought my fall paper goods weeks ago. I still don’t know what I am making, though.  I wanted to have my flowered chair slipcovered by then, but it hasn’t happened. Oh well. I did get the dining room table primed, painted, glazed, distressed and poly-ed as well as the same treatment to a side table I bought over Christmas break. Happy Mama. The dining table is my favorite…I think because now drinks spilled won’t be absorbed by the very thirsty wood.

I am going to make these great casual (washable) slipcovers for the chairs. I would like to eventually paint them in crazy bright paint (maybe turquoise?) and move the whole setup to the breakfast eating area off the kitchen. I have to get Mr Darcy to build my NEW dining table before that happens, though!  It’s a good sign that he is looking at the plans right now, isn’t it?

Yes, I know these pictures are blurry. Again, it’s my cell phone camera. My digital camera is ALWAYS out of battery juice. What a bummer.

I will end this informative post with a question for you…do you buy coffee? We have wonderful friends that are in the process of adopting a child from Ethiopia. A great company, called JustLoveCoffee, has a program that pays them a great portion of each sale of coffee for people who go through their link.  The coffee is very reasonable and I can tell you that it would bless our friends. Would you consider it, please?   You will?   Thanks!    Here’s the link:  http://www.justlovecoffee.com/BlakeChristina

~Janna