how do you want to be when you grow up?

This afternoon, a cool breeze, rain. Birds.

Downstairs, me and my 13-year-old — my younger daughter is in her room, sleeping maybe? 
and a 90-minute podcast on success.

“How do you define success?” I ask, hitting pause.
“Doing something correctly?” he asks back.

He grips a pencil and my chest puffs. My little notetaker!
But when I look closely I see
he’s only tallying
the number of times the presenters say

I make margarita mix.

Also, brown rice, with bacon grease, in the rice cooker.
Beef browning, with onions, garlic, and pepper,
and taco seasoning added at the end.

My older daughter texts that she and her brother, at Culebra, are heading out to snorkel.
Text when you get back, I tell her.
They had fun, she reports later,
but there wasn’t much to see.

“Books are the great lie that tell the truth about the way the world lives,” Verghese quotes.
“Don’t prepare the path for myself,” someone else quips. “Prepare myself for the path.”

I plan the menu for the next few days and add to my grocery list
scallions, salmon, evaporated milk.
When the kids come home (tomorrow!), we might have strawberry shortcake.
If there are still berries in the garden.
My younger son washes the dishes.

Distracted, he picks up my camera and
wanders, snapping aimlessly, until I tell him to

The podcast ends and he disappears,
probably to his room to read.

Outside it’s still raining (but barely) and
in the kitchen it’s quiet. Just me,
a grown-up.

This same time, years previous: energy boost, the family reunion of 2017, the quotidian (6.6.16), delivery, meat market: life in the raw, of a sun-filled evening, for hot summer days, three reds fruit crumble.


  • Lissa

    I have so loved your blog….I found it a number of months ago and read it straight through which is so much more like reading a book. Even though I'm 60+ and have raised my daughters I realize how much I would have loved to be raised in the way you and your husband have nurtured your children. I would have I recall the great faith you had with the kids and reading and school in general. I would have been a happy rural child 🙂 How well your intuitive sense has allowed them to flourish. It would be wonderful to be connected in a community and with the land.

  • Etta

    How do you document your menu planning? Do you have a formatted sheet or do you just write it down on blank paper?

    • Jennifer Jo

      Yesterday I was just writing ideas on a piece of scrap, but I do have a notebook in which I jot down menus (and ideas), usually for a week at a time. The margins are full of cooking ideas and notes, and I like reading back through the weeks/months/years for ideas. It's a culinary history of our life!

  • Anonymous

    You know, "doing something correctly" is adequately almost-vague as to fit their definitions of success – "doing life correctly" could easily be defined as having balance, purpose, contributing to the world, or almost any other positive outcome/structure. So maybe he's brilliant? 🙂

    • Jennifer Jo

      I know! His answer was so fast, and so straightforward, that I had to stop and think for a minute.

      And I love that he made his answer a question.

  • Lissa

    I loved the strawberry post! Kind of coveting all that red deliciousness. Weird question for you: Do many Mennonites drink alcohol? (Episcopalian here–they frequently do)

    • Jennifer Jo

      Not a weird question at all!

      Back when, they didn't drink, and many still don't, especially in the more conservative churches. Now, lots of people do, and in our circles it's quite common.

      It's not wild and crazy, though. I mean, there aren't any kegs at church potlucks…

    • Rachael

      I really loved this! At the risk of sounding a little weird, I have dreamed (more than once!) that I have come to visit your family. In my dreams, you are all so nice and the food is as delicious as it looks:) Thanks for your writings. You help me feel a little calm in the midst of the mothering storm. From a mom of six out west.

    • KTdid

      Wonderful post! I want to be like you when I grow up! (of course, I always wanted to be like your mother, too. Does your mother drink?

    • Jennifer Jo

      Rachael: Aw, I love this! I have dreams about bloggers I follow, too! They really do feel like a part of my life, even though I've never met them. And if you ever come this way, you must come see us! — wouldn't that be a hoot?

      KTdid: My mother will sample, on occasion, but she never seems to enjoy it much so I'm not sure why she bothers, ha!

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