the day we did everything

Saturday felt like the first real day of summer. Full of projects and people, it was the sort of day that meandered and stretched, leaving us enough time to get things done, but not so much time that we were tempted to throw in the towel before it was over.

It started with a three-mile run, just me and my husband, followed by a quick trip to town to deposit our little black car at the recycling center (my husband dumped our old van there the day before) (yes, for a few weeks there, our place looked like a used car lot). On my way to retrieve my husband from the dump, I dropped my older daughter off at the farm. She would spend the whole morning there, working and riding, and getting sunburned.

Right after breakfast, a “fend for yourself” affair (I had two bran muffins with butter), we jumped into some kitchen projects. My younger daughter made meringue cookies, I made a fig-walnut couronne, and my younger son, with my husband’s help, made two loaves of Cuban bread. Melissa washed dishes. While I cooked lunch, my older son and I listened to Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me!, vigorously shushing anyone who walked into the kitchen and dared speak.

After lunch—sausage, spinach, and black lentils over brown rice—one of my older son’s friends came over. The two of them decided to have an apple pie-baking competition and jetted off to town for the ingredients. Melissa walked over to my sister-in-law’s house for a visit. I lounged about for a bit—coffee, chocolate, a thick slice of couronne—before finally hoisting my butt off the couch and heading outside where my husband and some of the kids were building a dog kennel under the clubhouse (and my younger son had the chance to drive the truck by himself, o the thrills).

Seeing as it was so sunny and warm, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to do a little weeding. One thing led to another and soon my by-chance foray into the strawberry patch had exploded into a full-scale gardening project. The bakers were instructed to put their apple pies on hold, and Melissa, back from her visit, was ousted from her reading chair. Rototilling, weeding, mulching, planting, plus some visiting, even—we did it all.

After several hours, I called it quits, much to the minions’ relief. The kids put away the tools, and we took turns washing our feet in the bathtub. My older son tossed a couple packs of hot dogs on the grill, and I pulled leftover potato salad from the fridge. My younger son sliced a loaf of his fresh bread. My younger daughter arranged her meringue cookies in glass mugs, layering them with strawberries from the freezer and whipped cream. With the leftovers, she made a special “cake” and stuck a candle in it in honor of my dad who was celebrating his birthday out of state (Happy Birthday, Dad!). We ate our food on the deck, looking out over the valley and luxuriating in our accomplishments and exhuastion.

After supper my older son and his friend went to see a play and the rest of us got showers and cleaned up the kitchen. My older daughter shaved her horse. I read to the two younger kids before shooing them out the door (they had decided to camp out in the dog kennel). I made popcorn, and my older daughter and I binged Parks and Rec while my husband worked on taxes.

This same time, years later: the quotidian (3.28.16), seven-minute egg, our oaf, the visit, on being together, warts and all, breaking the habit.


  • JNoell

    i LOVE that your kids are kids; they play outside, they get dirty. They cook, they bake, they have chores. Refreshing!

  • Unknown

    These are my very favorite types of Saturdays. I love ending the day feeling accomplished, but not overwhelmed. Unplanned accomplishments with lots of helpers is the best. I grew up with Saturdays as 'chore' days, but my husband sees them as 'play' days (sometimes a source of conflict for us), so this sounds like the best of all worlds.

  • mommychef

    how's the Madeleine L'engle book? My oldest is 8 and we're always on the lookout for good reads…currently reading "Young Fredle" by Cynthia Voigt which is so far, a big hit. Have you ever read any of her novels? I think you might like them.

    • Jennifer Jo

      This winter I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn to the kids, but I haven't read her other books (I don't think).

      This is the 2nd time I've read Meet the Austins—this time, just to the younger two. It's a story of the ups and downs of a family, satisfying in its ordinariness.

    • Jennifer Jo

      NEVER MIND. A Tree Grows in Brookly is NOT a Voigt book (thanks, Mom). I think I HAVE read Voigt's books, but I'm not sure of ANYTHING right now.

    • Athanasia

      Have you tried THE CHRONICLES OF PRYDAIN by Lloyd Alexander? They're from the 60's but libraries should still carry them.

  • Becky

    It was gloriously summer like Saturday, wasn't it? I was completely unproductive, but drove down winding country roads to visit friends, sat on the deck and enjoyed the afternoon with another friend and went to a concert. It was good.

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