….and I’m happy about it.

For Mother
Cheeks soft from years of tears
The rolling drops, relieving fears
Tired eyes, creased with pain
Giving much with naught to gain.
Body weak, from running too fast
Your own welfare, you put last.
A life you wished for, you made sure I had
My thanks was indifference, your soul became sad.
Oh mother forgive my iniquitous slack.
Forgive me for pointing out all that you lack.
I hope it’s not too late to show that I care,
To walk in your footsteps, your mantle to wear.
To show I am grateful for all that you do,
To learn how to be a great mother like you.

© Summer Owens, 2000

* Thank you for hauling 5 children to church with you every Sunday, even when dad didn’t come. You taught me how important God and church were to you.

* Thank you for assigning me daily chores without pay and showing me how to do them. I learned how to work hard without promise of reward.

* Thank you for making cookies with me, and for letting me accompany you to take christmas cookies to neighbors every year. You taught me the value of service and how happy it makes not only the receiver, but the giver.

*Thank you for expressing your belief in my abilities when I was down on myself. Children have a way of knowing what you think them capable of and fulfilling those expectations to that degree. Thank you for helping me to exceed my own expectations of myself.

* Thank you for knowing how to balance your calling as mother and your desire to also be my friend. I want my children to be able to confide in me as I did in you.
A series of conversations that took place in our household this morning

Me: Boys, time to go pick up your bedroom
Boys: Okaaaaay mom

A little while later Ethan and Caleb run out to me

Caleb: Bedwoom aw kwean!!
Me: Honey, will you go see if their bedroom is really clean?

Hubby proceeds to follow excitedly chattering boys into back bedroom. He re-emerges a moment later

Hubby: Well, it’s about as clean as you can expect. There are some toys shoved under the crib…*interrupted by Ethan

Ethan: Yeah, hiding toys under beds and cribs is the bestest and fastest way!!!!!
True true. Very soon he’ll realize he shouldn’t tell his parents about it however.
3104 Jackie Court
I still have the address of my beloved childhood home memorized.
More than an address, it was a place where memories were created that I will always hold dear. And it was a place where I learned some of life’s greatest lessons.
Tiny frogs inhabited a large plant in our front yard. I remember catching them and feeling the warm trickle of frightened froggie pee in my hand.
I remember examining the leaves of this same bush for slimy snail trails. I loved to watch the snails ripple slowly along the leaves. I loved to poke softly at their little eyes and watch them immediately retract and pop out again a minute later.
Here, I learned about life, about how amazing each of God’s creations are.

I remember helping mom plant marigolds in our front yard. I loved the marigolds, they were beautiful, but I loved them even more for the vistors they brought.
Cabbage Butterflies, Monarchs and Tiger Swallowtails we’re regular visitors. My mom showed me how to catch them with a technique I called shadowing.
It took patience and stealth. A sudden shadow falling over the butterfly would scare them away. But a slowly moving shadow, like the shadow of a passing cloud would not disturb.
And so, in the hot, bright, California sun, I slowly moved toward the butterfly, letting my shadow gradually fall over them, crouching carefully down until I was within grasping range. With a quick motion of hand, I held a butterfly, by the very tip of closed wings in my fingers.
Whenever I caught a butterfly, mom would bring out the butterfly book and we would identify it. Then I would release it. I once, with my little 5 year old fingers, caught the smallest butterfly in North America according to that book.
One night, we had a severe dust storm. The morning sun light showed traces of it everywhere. Some branches and leaves strewn across the yard, our marigolds looking haggard. As I checked the damage, I hoped the butterflies would come back. And then I saw it, something on the pavement, gleaming in the sun. I walked over to what I thought was shattered glass. I realized I looked at shards of Swallowtail wing.

Here, I learned about death, how fragile life is, and how quickly life can be taken away from us

We had a neighbor, a woman in her 40′s and single. Her name was Norma and she was my friend. I think now of how kind she was to let a little 5 year old visit her on a regular basis, playing with her doll and doll house collection, and eating the candy out of the glass jar on her coffee table. I loved Norma.
The memories I have from my childhood home could span a novel. Maybe someday I’ll write one. But for now I’ll list other key remembrances.

Some favorite memories from my childhood home:
*Learning to ride a bike
*Hot pavement under bare feet
*Digging a hole in the backyard with my brother, filling it with hose water and then playing in it with our toy dinosaurs
* My mom’s tea cup and mug collection
*My neighbor friends Ashley and Mary Kay
* Playing on the Slip n’ Slide through the sprinklers on the front lawn

Some not so favorite memories from my childhood home:
*Getting splinter after splinter from the backyard fence and dad pulling them out with tweezers
*Getting my first bee sting
*Crashing my bike and getting a rock stuck in my knee

Good or bad, I cherish each memory I have from that wonderful magical place in which I grew up.
I remember once, before I had children, watching mothers adoring their messy faced little babies and thinking, “Eeeew, I’m never going to kiss my baby’s slobber, or pick boogers out of my babies nose.”

I bet you mother’s are laughing at me.

Because you know I love to get drooled on now, or that I just can’t leave my helpless baby sucking a dangling booger in and out of her nose over and over.

She’s staring at me right now from her bouncy seat, spit bubbles dripping down her chin. She’s been practicing spitting for a week now and I can’t get enough of it.

I love her so very much.

I love the way a smile at momma involves an arched back, kicking legs and flailing arms, all done simultaneously.

I love how her nose crinkles up when she yawns.

I love kissing her super soft, chubby (and even slobbery) cheeks.

I love how when hungry, she ravenously latches onto whatever part of me she can. She actually gave me a hickey on my chin. I only let her suck on it for like a minute. First hickey I ever got too.

I love how she doesn’t quite know what to do when I zurbit her tummy. Her eyes get wide and she grunts loudly. It’s almost a laugh but not quite.

I love watching her try to interact with her daddy and brothers.

I love everything about this precious, God given, little person who I am to take care of.

It is almost overwhelming to know I have been entrusted with 3 precious, heaven sent souls, but at the same time it’s great motivation to do the job right.
Brazilian Limeade
* courtesy of my husband who lived in Brazil for two years

3 cups water
1/2 cup ice
2 medium limes, whole
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1.Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth
2. Taste and add more sugar if needed.
2. Drink immediately. Do not store in the fridge. If stored, the drink will become very bitter due to the lime peel within.
So I had gotten on here to write a blurb about a happy time making blueberry pie with my kiddos just 40 minutes ago. I was thinking pleasant thoughts about the color of blueberries, my childrens eagerness to help pour in each ingredient and roll out the pie crust, how wonderful it is to bake and cook with your kids, and how we should all take some time now and again to make food the old fashioned way, when suddenly my nose detected a scent.
Is that…smoke?
I turned my head from the computer screen to see smoke pouring out of the kitchen.
“Oh no!” I yelled as I ran toward the oven.
My kids, hearing my yell, immediately dropped what they were doing. With concerned voices they asked what was wrong.
“Somethings burning,” I replied more calmly, grabbing the oven mitt.

I had forgotten that the word “burning” to kids, is code for, start freaking out.
At that moment I opened the oven door, which in turn caused a huge cloud of smoke to billow out. Ethan started yelling at Caleb not to go into the kitchen. Caleb began a series of shrill screams.
“Hurry,” Ethan said with plugged nose, “lets run to the bedroom before the smoke gets us!”
So off they went, leaving me to manage the damage without going deaf.

As I waved the smoke away I saw my mistake. I had forgotten to place a cookie sheet underneath my pie and blueberry goop was overflowing from one side of the pan. It bubbled and sizzled on the bottom of the oven.

I quickly pulled the oven rack out, grabbed a spatula and started scraping the burnt goo out of the oven and dumping it in the sink. The process was quick, and with a little hand waving and wide open sliding door, order was restored.

Now I just have to convince the kids that the presence of smoke in the oven, does not mean I burnt the pie.

Blueberry Pie

3/4 cup white sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained
Recipe for 9 inch pie crust, doubled
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2. In a large bowl stir together sugar, cornstarch, salt and cinnamon. Add blueberries and gently combine till berries are well coated
3. Line 9 inch pie plate with pie crust and pour berry mixture inside. Dot with butter.
4. Add a lattice top and seal the edges. Brush with egg white for shine.
5. Bake pie on lower shelf in the over for 40 to 50 minutes or until pie is bubbly and top is golden brown.

Flaky Pie Crust

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chilled, unsalted butter
3-4 Tbsp. ice water

*Whisk the flour and salt together in a bowl. Cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Drizzle ice water over the flour mixture and toss with a fork to moisten. Gently gather the dough together and roll out on a floured surface. Double this recipe to make a top crust.
I have many reasons for staying at home with my kids. When I say “at home” I don’t just mean the fact that I do not work. I mean staying inside. There are days, many days, that I do not want to leave the house with three children. But I strongly believe children need plenty of sunshine and outdoor play time and since we are apartment dwellers without a yard, I must take them out to play. Playtime is the least of my troubles.
Trying to shop with three children? That’s a whole other ball game. I only go to stores that have the giant carts with buckled seats for two toddlers and a place on the cart to put a car seat. Even in these carts, shopping can get harry. But I do it because … well…actually I’m not sure why I put myself through the madness. I hate going out late at night for one thing and of course I often get frustrated at those bold enough to make comments about my misbehaving children.
But more than that, I am frustrated with the reaction people often have to my having 3 children in the first place.
Whenever I go somewhere it is almost inevitable to get one of the following comments:
“Are they all yours?” – This surprises me I guess because I come from a family of five and my husband from a family of 13. Three doesn’t seem like that many kids to me
“You have your hands full, you’re done right?” – Again a comment along the lines of 3 being a lot and surely you don’t want any more children do you?
“Oh, well you’ve got one of each, now you can be done.” This one I think bothers me most. I didn’t just have my second son because we were trying for a girl. Am I happy I got a little girl the third time around? Sure, but I would have loved another boy just as much.
What these comments say to me: Children are such a hardship, don’t have anymore than you have to, especially if you’ve already got one of each.
Most of my days are busy and messy and exhausting. My hands are full, but so is my heart. Children are beautiful, innocent angels, still so close to God. The love and joy they bring me far outweighs the amount of time and work I must put into teaching them.
Don’t tell me that they are a hardship, or that I should only have them until I get the gender I want. You disrespect them by so saying.
I am so thankful for the sacred gift of my little ones. I hope those who think otherwise are far and few between.
Upon arriving at a friends house:

Count Dooku: Mom, what’s the yellow sign?
Me: Looks like they’ve sprayed for bugs, so be sure not to walk on the grass okay?
Count Dooku: Okay

after getting out of the car

Count Dooku: Obi-Wan, no!!! Don’t walk on the grass! There are skunks hiding in it and they’ll spray you!
Something was obviously lost in translation.
Oh, how often I hear that phrase in a day.
We seem to go through stages of activity and lesser activity. For me, lesser activity = relaxation, for kids it = boredom and thenceforth the need to have mom entertain in some manner.
A constant endeavor of mine is to come up with some mom free entertainment that doesn’t involve placing the kids in front of the TV or computer.
Here are some activity ideas that don’t require constant mom involvement.
1. It’s berry picking season. Two of my favorite berries, blackberries and blueberries are about ready for the picking. If you live near a pick your own farm, plan an outing. Take a picnic blanket, pack a lunch, bring some baskets, sunscreen and a book and let the kids pick berries while you read your book on your blanket.
Most pick your own farms will have many very long rows of berry bushes making it easy to restrict your children to one row for a long time and keep an eye on them.
2. Have any woodland trails nearby that perhaps lead to a small stream? Again, pack whatever you need and when you get to your destination, set up and enjoy nature while the children wade in the stream chasing bugs and fish.
Local Nature Centers will often have woodland trails and perhaps a little museum for you to explore or animals to see before you begin your hike.
3. Go to the pool. I always have a great time relaxing and playing with my kids at a swimming pool. Open swim hours are available at many recreation centers as well as lessons. If you prefer not to swim, you can just watch your kids learn to swim.
If you can’t afford the local Rec. Center and don’t have any other pool to swim at you can always buy a kiddie pool for the backyard or balcony for the kids to splash around in. Don’t like the kiddie pool idea? What about water guns? Or send the kids out with an electric bubble blower.
4. Kids don’t nap anymore? Designate their former nap time as quiet time. A time where they are to stay in their rooms playing quietly or looking at books. To help keep them entertained you could check out library books every couple of weeks, and rotate giving them a couple new books to look at during each quiet time.
5.Make playdough. It is so relaxing for me to knead dough of any kind. And the kids will be entertained in making it and then playing with it.
Basic Tips:
*I find when my kids get to make something they’re going to play with, they usually enjoy playing with it much more. Items like Playdough and fingerpaints can be made quickly and inexpensively.
*One trick to keeping kids entertained is to keep things fresh and new. Rotate through activities throughout the week. Playdough every day will get old real fast, but once a week is special and they’ll want to play with it longer.
* Take the time to waste time. Plan bigger activities on days when you have no place to be. Once you get there, don’t watch the clock. Saunter on that woodland hike. Read until the kids tell you they’re tired of picking berries. It’s great to realize that a three hour chunk of your day has suddenly gone by.