*FINISH! I bellow at my slow-eating daughter.

I am! she retorts indignantly. I’m chewing my cud!

*Lunch for four kids: 3 giant cooked potatoes, sliced and fried, with ketchup, a minuscule amount of corn (perhaps 18 kernels per kid), a little pile of green beans, 1 quart of applesauce, 1 roast beef sandwich, divided 4 ways, and leftover tomato soup divided 2 ways and drunk out of a mug.

*I look down in the field and see my little boy squatting in the orchard. Not till he stands up do I see the handsaw in his hands. I scream and holler wildly.

But they’re dead, he insists.

No they’re not! I yell.

They’re green inside, he pleasantly informs me.

Yes! I know! I say.

I was just cutting them up like Grandaddy and Papa did, he explains.

So this year, our fruit trees (just one apple, I think) (I hope) got twice-pruned.

*The kids are asleep and my husband and I are sitting in the living room, he on the chair, me on the sofa, going over our budget yet again. (An eraser is very helpful tool in getting the numbers to add up.) We’ll do it again tonight, and then the next night and the next. See, we’re taking a Dave Ramsey class and we’re learning a whole bunch of useful stuff. Like get rid of credit cards (I think it’s happening), and spend all your money on paper before you spend a penny, and name every single penny because otherwise it will float away. I wish I had learned all this 20 years ago. That my kids will know this—the ins and outs of managing money—by the time they leave our house is a small consolation.

*My tummy is angry at you, Mama, my little girl grumps. It’s hungry.

*It’s midmorning and I sneak two slivers of flourless chocolate cake ‘cause my breakfast oatmeal just wasn’t exciting enough. The cake is actually pretty good when it’s heated up and drowned in whipped cream.

*I’m getting more creative with money. I like to wrap it around my waist. Like so, it gives a whole new meaning to the term “money belt.”

Or around my wrist, thickly.

Or I can drape it loosely around my neck…

Or not so loosely, choker fashion.

(With this chain, the analogies are never ending.)

*I’m sitting on the sofa while my oldest son drills away on the piano. I knit and call out instructions. He works extra hard when I stay with him the whole time, egging him on every minute. Bonus: my scarf will soon be done.

*Some friends take all four of the kids to a basketball game. Each ticket can be redeemed for an ice cream cone at the local (wonderful) ice cream shop, so when in town for my dance class, I get the ice cream in cups to go and take it home for our dessert. But one of the children has to forgo, due to some name-calling earlier in the day. The theatrical sobbing is deafening, but once the ordeal is over, I’m glad I stuck it out. And I’m pretty sure that child will have a better behaved tongue (for a few weeks, at least).

*I am in my belly dance class. The instructor is teaching us how to do inner hip circles while walking forwards and backwards. In other words, our hips are making a circle parallel to the ground while our legs move up and down. I have to shut my eyes and chant to myself to stay balanced and in rhythm. It’s crazy-hard, and I know I must look ridiculous, but I don’t care. It’s fun.

*When I’m in town, I bump into a friend—ouch! (ha, ha)—who encourages me to come to a local sporting event. I can’t tonight, I say, I need to be with the children. A little later in the conversation, my evening plans come up again, but this time I elaborate: we have some reading to do. Oh, school work, she replies knowingly. No, I correct, just reading for fun. And then I wonder, do other people not prioritize fun reading?

I love our book-filled evenings. For awhile there I was reading everything—first a bunch of chapters from Little House and then a sizeable hunk of reading to the older two (from Little Women and now Jane Eyre). Thing was, my voice was giving out (I read for 1-2 hours throughout the day, as well), so now I join the kids on the sofa, my knitting in hand, while my husband reads the Little House books. Then I do part two of the evening reading. My throat is grateful for the change.

*Commentors are complimentary about my Sunday skirt, and I am flattered, so I post a full(er) body shot of me in my duds.

*We host a potluck dinner for my Sunday school class and one of the members brings a 24-ounce box of smoked salmon just for us. The kids are beside themselves with glee. Cutting into the foil, the next evening, is a Special Family Occasion. I fork bits into birdy mouths and they squawk for more (all but the youngest daughter who spits hers in the trash, silly girl). I make a cream cheese-salmon mixture to go on buttered sourdough toasts, but the kids prefer to eat it straight up. Fearing all 24 ounces will get gobbled up in one sitting, I squirrel a portion away in the fridge. I have my sights on a salmon-cucumber-dill-sour cream pasta salad.

This same time, years previous: odd ends, creamed chicken with cheese biscuits, cleaning up bad attitudes, tortilla pie


  • Jennifer Jo


    #2 I had just woken up when I took the pictures of me wrapped up in chain. I hadn't even brushed my hair, let alone washed my face or put on lipstick. Just think of me as one of those ghostly pale, waif-ish (ha) type models.

    #5 I dress up when I leave the house, or I dress half-way up when I need to strike a pose. I hate messing with clothing and fabric. It makes my skin crawl and my hair go all staticky. I think nudist colonies were invented for people like me.

  • Mavis

    #1 At first I thought you were going to say the little boy was sawing a squirrel in half…

    #2 You should be wearing lipstick in the photo of the necklace choker… and there should be a link to your etsy shop as well… I can't decide if you look like a tribal woman in a National Geographic magazine… or a New York Fashion Model (with out lipstick).

    #3 Salmon flakes go well in pasta and pea salad…

    #4 Now that we see a fuller picture of you in your Sunday skirt… I can see how you didn't notice the color of the boots…

    #5 I'm curious… how many times a week do you "dress up" all puurity and stuff? Is it just on Sundays or do you always look like this?

  • Mama Pea

    My husband and I were discussing just this past weekend that our parents taught us absolutely nothing about money management. Absolutely nothing. How wise you are (and how fortunate your children are) to think of imparting this oh-so-important part of life to your offspring. I wonder how much easier and/or better our marriage would have been if we had entered it with a sound financial knowledge.

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