Thursday, July 26, 2012

Little Seedlings

Last night it was time to dig up the potatoes so we could use their garden space for other plants.
Quite honestly, the potato plants weren't doing all that well. This is all that one row yielded; completely below the quota we had set. We're heartless when it comes to unproductive plants.  But then, the plants are pretty heartless too.  And bloodless. And spineless. And brainless. And...

 So we set out a bunch of little broccoli seedlings.  Our own little seedlings helped out.

Well, mostly they helped out.

Some of them were downright unhelpful.

And some of them were just there for the entertainment.

And some little Ruffer seedlings were just there to melt their mother's heart.

Ok. All together now: "Awwww." I don't know what I love more, her helpful attitude or her lovely tiara.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

According to Ginger

Food tastes better when thrown from your highchair tray to the kitchen floor.  The dirtier the floor, the more appealing the food.

Being naked is better than being clothed. If mom insists on clothing me, I will accessorize with garments pulled from the dirty laundry pile.  (Dad's underwear makes a great hat.)

If mom is sitting at the computer, it means that she wants to hold me on her lap so I can help her type.

But forget mom's lullabies, this video makes me stop crying:

Warning folks: never wear the underwear without smelling it first. Trust me on this.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Before I Run [Out]

Once on Public Television I watched a story on what runners eat the night before a big race.  I need to run a race every week.

Incidentally, I read a few lines from the website where I stole borrowed this picture.  The key words were "benefits" and "sophisticated" so I feel totally good about that large bowl of [plain] spaghetti I just consumed.  I love running for many reasons, but mainly for the ones that include carbohydrates.  Quick disclaimer: I don't know anything else about that website, I hope it's not loaded with food porn.

So tomorrow is that 5k for which I signed up.  I have picked out my little girls' [matching] outfits so they can greet me at the finish line in all their adorable sisterliness.  I'm gonna  totally fool our small town into thinking I have it all together aren't I?

Except for I've tried that matchy-outfit thing before.
And these are my kids.
I'd upload a picture except their father just made some popcorn, and I think that's another carb I should probably load.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Whether Weather

I am not going to complain about the weather.  It has definitely been Habakkuk chapter 3 weather. [Sorry, that was a Random Old Testament Reference.  I like those, but I try not to use too many of them.]
Every morning I greet the hazy dawn and secretly think that this could be The Day that the skies open.  But I have to keep these thoughts secret even from myself because I am tired of being disappointed.  Each night I put myself to bed beneath a whirring fan and say surely this heat must break soon.  See? I'm not complaining.  But I'm really close to complaining, so I'll stop now before I am tempted to talk about the fields around my house.

So it is Vacation Bible School week at our church. Interesting how the songs aimed at reminding elementary kids to trust God are doing the same for me.  My favorite?  An upbeat number that says things like "I will trust in You RIGHT NOW, no matter how I feel RIGHT NOW."
I feel hot and slightly cranky.
I feel worried.
I feel tired.
I feel overwhelmed.
Perfect.  The song also says "I gotta think, think, think, think about the goodness of You, my Lord.  Because I know, know, know no matter how I feel I can trust in You."
Do I run my mind through this obstacle course of feelings (hot, cranky, worried, tired and overwhelmed)? Or do I park my thoughts on the goodness of my Lord?  Because I know
He is good
whether the weather is or not.
I know, not really that profound, huh?  Well, it is a kid song, they're not especially known for their profundity.  Still, I'm not above receiving encouragement from a catchy, repetitive source.
 I love the VBS games leader! Her energy and enthusiasm are only outmatched by her well-placed, child-friendly sarcasm. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Take Me Out of the Ballpark

What have you been up to this summer?  Vacation? Gardening? Family Reunions? Reading? Special educational excursions? Fun, wait-for-summer-time projects? 
Or watching hours upon hours of ball games?

I may be the only mother in town who bought her son white baseball pants.

But it turns out that white baseball pants don't hang on to the stains the way you think they would. It must be something about the artificial fibers.

GBaby has watched been present for a number of ball games.  For her, the ballpark is a great place to catch up on her list of summer best-sellers.  Also, a great opportunity to practice her Stroller-Escape Techniques.

The primary focus of Norah's softball experience this summer has been improving her batting, catching, and throwing skills.

No, not really.  The primary focus of everything when you are a nearly-seven year old girl is hanging out with your friends.  And taking crazy pictures.

She did swing a bat occasionally. And she swings very well.  Almost as well as she talks.  But not quite.

See that incredibly handsome kiddo in the black shirt?

Yup. That's my Sammers.  I bought him gray pants because I wasn't quite sure that the artificial fibers could stand up to the stains this kiddo can invent.  He's pretty nifty.  Not cool, because he's wearing a black shirt to baseball games in 105 degree heat.  But definitely nifty. 

Here's the part where I express my unending gratitude toward all my friends and their older children. 

Thank you for having older kids and bringing them to the ball park.

I do not know how I would have survived this baseball/softball season without your really nice kids and their sharp little gadgets.

I have the best friends and friends kids.  They match up to my kids just perfectly.
Because my kids are pretty much the best.
Even if I have to schlep them back and forth to the ballpark all the live-long summer. 

I'm not really sure what "schlep" means, but I love the way it sounds and the way it looks. Schlep. Schlep. Schlep...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I Think I Am, But Maybe I Am Not

I was beginning to doubt my existence, not to mention my citizenship. It's a long story. About 34 years (I think) long.  But
I do exist. 
A lot of people can testify to this.  There are five little humans roaming about the earth (or this small corner thereof) bearing traces of myself.
I have a birth certificate.
I have a driver's license.
I vote in local, state and federal elections.
I pay taxes.
I do laundry and dishes and wipe bottoms and cook and scream at roosters.
I have friends and acquaintances around our small town, 626 facebook friends across the globe and two parents that read my blog when they can find their glasses.
What has been missing to prove I am?

A Passport.

Back in December of 2011, my husband encouraged me to apply for my passport.  Not being the type to rush into anything that involves paperwork, I waited until December 29, at 4:30 PM, the second-to-the-last possible day of the year in which to apply at a local post office (because you can't do that on Saturdays, apparently).  If you have ever applied for a U.S. Passport, you know that you need to submit a sad and ugly 2"x2" photograph of yourself, and your birth certificate.  What you may not notice is that the fine print  instructs you to provide additional evidence proving your citizenship if your birth certificate was filed more than one year after your live birth.
I was born in 1978, according to my birth certificate dated 1980.
What can I say? My parents weren't big into following the rules back then.
A few weeks after I applied, I received a really nice letter asking for a combination of "early public record created near the time of your birth" such as:
  • Hospital Certificate
  • Baptismal Certificate
  • Early School Record, or
  • U.S. Census Record.
I also received a phone call from the Department of State, (way to make your caller id read like you're REALLY important stuff) Detroit Passport Agency (ok, down a few notches in importance, I guess) to help me figure out what sort of records I might find.  Its a good thing they called because there are almost no "public records" created near the time of my birth specifically about me.  I was
  • Born at home (no hospital certificate)
  • Not baptised as an infant (and when I was, there was no certificate)
  • Home schooled (again, no record of my kindergarten in the garage).
So the lady on the phone suggested I get a notarized letter from my mother describing the circumstances of my birth.  And another one from the attending midwife.
Only there was no attending midwife, just my father. [Good catch, Dad!]
My favorite line from my mother's letter: "Due to an oversight on our part, her birth was not recorded until her brother was born in 1980."  I always did like that brother. 
I sent the notarized letter off, but a few weeks later I received another nice phone call.  Apparently they wanted a combination of documents, not just one.  Some suggestions:
  • A Life Insurance policy taken out when I was a child
  • Newspaper articles announcing my birth
  • State registry for home schools
  • Notarized letter from older sibling(s) detailing their memories of the event of my birth
  • A notarized list of my siblings birth names, birth dates and places of birth.
But my parents didn't really go in for insurance policies.  They just kept us safe by making us recite a list of rules before we went out the back door to play. [The list was by little 1980 brother's fault: No gate. No barn. No pool. No horses. No cows. True story. Separate post, maybe?]  And my parents have never really cared much for announcements in small town newspapers.  And the state registry for home schools?  Back then the State of Indiana did not record the number of children in each home school, nor their names and ages.  However, I was able to get one of my older siblings to write a letter for me.  The best line from that letter? "Not only do I remember walking in my parent's bedroom and seeing my brand new baby sister, but I remember how exciting it was to my four-year-old self that we got to eat pizza!"
Yes, folks, passports are granted based on the evidence supplied by a four-year-old child.
Not really.  The letters and the lists, however notarized they were, proved to be not-quite-enough.  So, for the low, low price of $67.00 and about 6 weeks of my life, I got a copy of the 1980 census record that shows my existence in the household of David Edward Hutchins, that great catcher of babies.  When those records came, I mailed them off in my typical last-chance fashion.

Yesterday, a little more than six months after I applied, my passport came in the mail! Yay!

 I am so glad my parents took part in that census and that they did not have any more oversights concerning me.
I know that the Detroit Passport Agency of the United States Department of State was waiting on that census record to issue my officialness, but that was just formality, I'm sure.  I am confident it was those notarized letters from my crazy family that convinced them I am who I say I am.  Now I just need to convince myself...

I ran across this article in April, and I realized that my start in this world could have been much tougher.  I mean, my parents may not have thought public records were that important in 1978, but at least I didn't have my death certificate filed before my birth certificate.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

In the Library of Bad Drama Confessions

I have come to realize something about myself that I don't like, not one bit.
I create drama.
Not the performance kind. Not the theater major song-and-dance kind.  Not even the VBS skit kind.
Nope.  Not any of the good drama.
The ugly kind.
The interpersonal relationships gone amuk kind.
The I'm-offended-so-who-can-I-talk-to-about-my-angst kind.
It's not nice.  I'm not proud of it.  I'm pretty sure I have to change.

Now that I've made you all uncomfortable with my True Confession Stand and stated a problem the solution to which I have not yet arrived, I'm going to talk about something else.

Being Monday, yesterday was Library Day for us.  While there, I contemplated a conversation I had with one of my voracious reader types.  A conversation where I did all the talking with a little moralizing liberally sprinkled throughout.  It wasn't so much of a "conversation" as "Lecture Lite."  I had been discussing my child's great love of reading at the expense of doing anything else.  This, I informed him, he inherited from me.  I love to read.  I love to read way more than I love to work or exercise or sing or help people or be creative.  I really love to read.  I don't get books from the Library any more because I will stop everything to read.  Reading is important, but other things have to be more important.
I don't know if the kid in the back seat was impressed with my admission of zero self-control or the great sacrifice that I have made.  But I was.
And sitting in Archbold Community Library, waiting for story hour to end, this conversation refreshing itself in my mind, I thought: "This is ridiculous.  I love to read.  I can control myself.  I will prove it by getting a book out and only reading a little bit of it every day.  Lunch and bedtime.  That's all I will read.  But I better get a biography, because it's easier to put a boring book down than something designed to be entertaining."
So I marched over to the biography section and made two selections.

Unfortunately, one of them was about one of the better-known Drama Queens of the 20th Century: Nellie Olsen.
Yeah, I didn't accomplish all that much yesterday.

Disclaimer: The little girl behind the blond curls in everyone's favorite Prairie TV Show had a terrible real life.  And she uses some bad words in discussing her terrible life.  So don't go reading this book in one afternoon and then be mad at me.  Because I'm not saying I recommend it.  I'm not un-recommending it either.  I'm being ambiguous.  OK?

Someone else has little "dramatic" moments.  She's no Nellie Olsen yet...

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mommy Dearest

N.Belle is helping me write today's post.
My beloved Norah Belle
 So what should we write about, now that we have a great picture?
How about if we describe each other?  My turn first.
Norah is very smart, sociable and silly.  She has eyes that used to be blue but grow more green every day.  Right now they seem to be settling into a dark, marbley, mossy green.  Is there an official name for such a color?  Norah loves to draw, color, write stories, dance, SWIM, play with her brothers (mostly thwarting their teasing) and sisters (mostly telling them what to play).  She is a feisty little girl, but with a good measure of sweetness mixed in.  Norah loves Jesus, her mom and dad, her siblings, her cousins, her grandparents, her friends, her uncles and aunts... Norah has a lot of loving going on!  And all these people love Norah back.  She's quite lovable.

Now, it's time to turn it over to Norah, and she will describe me.
With my beloved little girls.
So what should we write about Mom?  She likes to drink coffee.  And she's drinking it right now.  My mom acts like a screaming little girl {what?} and she yells at me sometimes. {Gee, thanks.}  She makes me have to do my own laundry {Hey! I don't make you do the laundry!} I mean, put away my laundry, but I don't.  She watches us swim sometimes - but not mostly, my dad usually does this.  I cook with her.  She makes yummy lasagna.  She loves Jesus. {even though I yell at my kids?} She loves her daughter, Norah.  She loves her husband.  She loves her boys and her little girls.  That's all. {Actually, I love a lot more people than just these, but she's right: they're the ones I love the most.}

Mother issues much, Norah?  I'm including this final picture because she wanted me to.  And maybe it can remind her that what goes around comes around, in braids and life.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Love & Death at the Homestead

How do I know my husband loves me?  He shot the Menacing Rooster.

I hope Doodle (he had several aliases, but I don't want my mother to see me type those names out because nice girls don't use that kind of language) does not rest in peace, for his offences were many.  He pecked and taloned (Please don't mind if that is not a verb) my children repeatedly.  He ripped a hole in a new coat last winter.  He rendered my nephew afraid to go outside.  AAAANNND. He chased me around my own car once.  And I never ever antagonized him like the children did.  True story.
October, 2010

So he's gone.  We're all a little happier for it.
Well, not the hens, obviously.
Feel free to address condolences to them.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Quick Selections

I'm supposed to be taking a nap with my Willa Beans right now.  Shhh... she already fell asleep before I got there, so I'm sneaking these few moments to myself while my older kids have 18 minutes of "quiet time" left.

Seeing as I'm trying to conserve my mental energy in this heat, I really do not have much to say.  Which means of course, that I will ramble on unedited for a while.  And then I will stretch my arms above my head and wonder why I didn't snatch at the opportunity for 18 minutes of sleep when I had the excuse.  Then I will spell-check and goof around on the internets reading about Brad Pitt's mother and her Republican leanings.  Yup. I love quiet time.

This has not been a very productive week around the Ruffer Homestead.  Bummer that.  My housework has pretty much peaked out at laundry and dishes.  But really, what else is there? With the kids camping out in the living room each night, there's not a lot of sense in running the vacuum.  Or maybe there's more sense in it, but I've never been accused of having too much sense.

Ok. Enough about my under-achieverness.  That topic bores me.
GBaby is obviously a little bored too.

We're going all rural around here and using the clothesline exclusively.  Yes, the underwear and towels are scratchy.  No, I don't prefer them that way. Yes, the house is much cooler without the clothes drier running. No, I will not hang my household's underwear and socks on the side facing the road.  Or the side facing the fields, because Mr. S. and Mr. S. Jr., who own the fields surrounding our yard are out there practically every day. So our unmentionables are safely hidden in the center lines.

I took my children to Sauder Village yesterday. We had one hour to visit before we had to hurry home, slap some sandwiches together and get the boys to piano lessons.  The real reason we went was because I, the Mom, (and thus the Boss of my Children) wanted to pick up some nice fabric at the quilt shop.  In an effort to minimize whining and maximize cooperation among my children, I struck a deal with them: 25 minutes for mom in the quilt shop and the remainder of the time for them to see one attraction.  It seemed like a good plan.  While I made my selections as quickly as I could, they poured over the map.  When I came out, they told me that they'd all agreed on what they wanted to see:
Arguing over checking out the Sauder Village Map.
With purposed steps they led me away from the quilt shop...

...Straight to this!

Of course.
Clever children.  They know how to work all of my systems. 

GBaby, a little less bored without the stroller.

Since the ice cream took care of our pre-lunch appetites, we had extra minutes to see some animals.
Some animals are pretty ugly.
Time is more than up...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hot, Irritable and Blessed

I'm afraid that I have been letting This Heat wave to negatively affect my attitude.  Everyone is out to irritate me.  I don't feel like cleaning up after my children in this ever-stickier house.  I'm tired of not sleeping well. Whah, whah blessed whah...
Remember how much I love lists?  Well, this morning is obviously the right time to make a "Count Your Blessings, Honour" list.  I recruited my oldest three children to help me and we sat around the kitchen table with the littlest wandering around our legs.  I think the setting may have influenced our list a bit, but here are

25 Blessings
(not listed in order of importance)
  1. Food - we have plenty to eat!
  2. Shelter - our house
  3. Sauder Village membership
  4. Piano Lessons - we can learn music
  5. Money - we have enough for our needs
  6. Jesus - God the Son who paid our sin debt
  7. God - who loves us completely
  8. Friends
  9. Air Conditioner
  10. Syrup - to make pancakes & waffles even better!
  11. Dishes - we don't have to eat on our bare hands or the bare table
  12. Toaster waffles - breakfast can be fast & yummy
  13. Family
  14. A Kitchen table - that moves around easily for cleaning the floor
  15. Cupboards - to hold our dishes & food
  16. Babies - to reproduce us (so the human race keeps going on)
  17. Refrigerator - to keep our milk cold
  18. Pitchers on the ball field
  19. Mommy - she gives us food and reproduces
  20. Teeth - to eat with
  21. Milk - to give us strong bones
  22. Daddy - he is fun
  23. Fans - to cool us off
  24. Books - help us learn
  25. Dolly our puppy

Can you tell which person contributed which item? 
 Hint: I don't use the word "reproduce."

Monday, July 2, 2012

Like a Spoiled Goldilocks

Our little scrap of homestead suffered some storm damage yesterday evening.  We were at our friends' house, not having a pond party while we watched a summer storm blow through.  We need rain in this neck of the woods, so this storm was welcomed as heartily as a sibling that lives too far away.  It was a nice little storm at their house.

At our house, the storm behaved like a spoiled Goldilocks.  She claimed one attic window (left open to catch the slightest breeze) for her own, shoved down a tree in our front yard, and chose our new trampoline for a game of fetch.  Only our neighbor fetched it, not us.

The window needed to be replaced anyway.
The tree had already been disfigured in a storm long ago.  We were planning on taking it down before it took down something else.
The trampoline was about 3 weeks old, a mother's / father's day gift to ourselves, er rather, our children.  At least two of my not-so-little people cried over its loss.

"But look," we said. "We're all ok. No one was hurt.  Not even the puppy."  [Poor little puppy was mighty freaked out, however.]

As bummed out as we are about this {very} minor catastrophe, it is a good reminder that the stuff that decorates this life - houses, trees, yards, clothes, cars, trampolines - is passing.  Sometimes at gusts of 60 miles an hour.  If all of our efforts are focused on that which can be taken in an instant, we are guaranteed disappointment at some point.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21

So the question is, what is treasured in heaven?