Saturday, June 29, 2013

Life in Our World - Whizzbang

This morning was a perfect Saturday morning - thundering, lightening, intermittent rain with no hail.  We slept in 'til 7:00 enjoying it.  

When it stopped we butchered the chickens.  Here is how you butcher a chicken at our house:

Step 1:

Choose a chicken.

Step 2:

Bleed the chicken (I spared you that photo) and then scald him in 145 degree
water until his feathers begin to pull easily from his body.

Step 3:

Put the whole scalded chicken into the whizzbang chicken plucker.  Twenty seconds later the chicken is
plucked clean.  (Calvin made this plucker and it's amazing.)

Step 4:

Eviscerate the chicken and cut it up.
We left half of our birds whole for roasting and half cut up as fryers.
 (Calvin is good at butchering.  He's meticulous and a real stickler for handling
and cleaning it properly.  It makes it harder to eat store-bought meat.)

Step 5:

Put the chickens in cold water

Step 6:

Eat a picnic while the chickens cool.

Step 7:

Bag the meat and put it in the freezer.

Step 8:

Sterilize the whizzbang and get it ready for the next time.

Step 9:

Start another project such as cutting down a dead tree.
 (I was sad when it died because it had the kids' initials in it.
We'll have to grow another one.)

Step 10:

Be grateful you live where you do when you do and that you have so many good things in life.

And that is life in our world.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thursday Thinking - A Ball Point Pen is a Ball Point Pen

A psychologist held up a ball point pen to the small group and asked, "What is this?"

He was expectant of an answer and didn't continue until someone said, "A pen."  

He clicked it a few times, making the point go in and out of the casing.  Finally he said, "That's right.  It's nothing but a ball point pen.  But, if I told you enough times and with enough conviction that it was a snake, especially if I had power or authority over you, many of you would eventually begin to doubt that it was just a pen. And," clicking and moving the pen as he talked, "if you had a bad experience with the pen, perhaps it jabbed or flipped you, you would believe even easier that it was a snake."

I've often thought of his assertion that if you hold a position of authority or influence and tell people something long enough, with enough conviction, eventually many will come to doubt that thing which they so clearly knew.  

I've seen it happen in our society over the last forty years.  I remember nearly twenty years ago when Gordon B. Hinckley read, "The Family:  A Proclamation to the World" to the women of the Relief Society.  It is a document defining the family and what it takes to have healthy families.  The closing paragraph invites, "We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

We had been told it was a momentous document before he read it, and I was fairly disappointed after I heard it.  I thought, "That's it?  But everybody already knows what a family is.  I thought this would be something new."

How short-sighted I was.  I had no idea that within a few years our nation would add to the argument of what is considered a living human being, the definition of a family and what constitutes a marriage.  While there are many configurations of a home in our society (some homes have a father and mother, some have only one or the other; other homes have children while some have none), a home or a lifestyle is not synonymous with a family.  The family is central to the Creator's plan and He defined it and no matter what mankind calls it or how he legislates it or what judgments the courts make concerning it, we are ultimately bound by the Creator's definition and laws of the family.

Skeptics will scoff, but that doesn't matter.  I know a family is ordained of God and that marriage between a man and woman is critical to His plan.  No matter how many ways society tries to change the structure of the family it cannot, for it is not ours to change.  Every eternal law has a consequence affixed to it.  We choose the consequence by the choice we make and if we choose to preserve the sanctity of the family we will reap blessings.   Anything we do that undermines the family will also have consequences.  A ball point pen is a ball point pen.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Homemaking Tip - Energy

We left in the middle of the night when we thought Atlas was going to be born.  I warned Calvin he'd be real sorry in a day or two if he didn't empty the chicken bucket and trash the next day, but what I forgot to tell him was to watch out for the bread cupboard.

I came home to a whopping culture.  Mr. Dykes, my 7th grade science teacher, would have loved looking at it under his microscope.  I daresn't even feed it to the chickens for fear the eggs would be more like penicillin cattle boluses.

But today's tip has nothing to do with bread or mold, it has to do with energy.

Don Aslett, the king of clean, wrote that when you get tired if you'll just change your activity you will recharge.  He said you don't have to rest to get your energy back, just redirect it.

I often think of his advice.  Today I sat down to work on a class and within 25 minutes had dozed off.  I was sorely tempted to take a nap as my change in activity but made bread instead.  In a little over an hour there were 8 loaves of bread on the counter and a roast ready to go into the oven.  Re-energized I sat down and worked on the class again.  Within an hour I had the same problem.  I got back up and folded laundry.  By the time I sat down the third time I had enough energy to forge through the assignment for a couple of hours.  It felt so good to send it off . . . and we had bread and clean clothes as a bonus.

I don't remember everything from Don Aslett's books but I've been able to wring a lot of extra energy out of that one little tidbit.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tuesday Tried It - Drinking Jar

There are a hundred drinking jar ideas on Pinterest.  Since I have a lot of extra jars with lids I thought I'd make a dozen.  They looked cost effective (used jars, left-over spray paint) and cute with individual drink packets and straws.

Calvin drilled the holes in the lids for me.  He found you must drill v.e.r.y. slowly if you want a nice clean cut.  After I spray painted them I put little rubber grommets in the hole.  The grommets were $1 each at Lowe's, so that took the fun out of it because you can get a drinking container at the dollar store for that much.  And another thing that took the starch right out of the project was when I went to Costco this week and saw these for $5 each

They're insulated, bigger . . . and bright and cheery.

I'd say my drinking jar project was pretty much a bust.

On to the next Pinterest project.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday Memories - Good Night

Cali, Atlas, me, Zeph, Ande

It might have been funny if it hadn't been for Harry Potter.

My cousin had nine children without enough bedrooms.  One child needed some privacy and space so they created a little fort-bedroom for him by making a bed in the food storage room over barrels of wheat.  I thought their space solution was ingenious.  I knew I would have liked sleeping in a fort as a kid.

Several years later we were in the same dilemma.  Our kids needed space.  I suggested we turn a closet into Ande's bedroom; after all a covered wagon box isn't much bigger than a closet and Laura Ingalls Wilder's whole family lived in one for months.  So we folded Ande's clothes, organized her belongings into little baskets on the shelf, and put several blankets on the floor to make a soft bed, it was almost like the princess and the pea.  We even closed it off with a shower curtain of her choosing -- Winnie the Pooh.

We moved Ande into the closet and she happily slept there for months.  Well, at least I thought she was happy in her hole.   One day we had the missionaries over for dinner.  Cali was embarrassed that they might find out we kept a child in the closet and dismantled Ande's room in ten minutes.  If Ande hadn't been ashamed of her living space before, she certainly was when she saw Cali wanted it kept secret.  Suddenly the solution was no longer ingenious, it was idiotic.

When we found out Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia kept Harry in a closet it made it worse. "Really," we heard people wonder, "what kind of a person keeps a kid in a closet?" And even though Ande had had a real bed in a real room for a few years by then, we still couldn't talk about her old sleeping arrangements.  It made Ande mad that Cali hadn't shared her bedroom to begin with.  It made Abe mad because Ande was mad.  It made Cali mad that I even thought of the idea.  It made Ty mad because I tried to make him feel guilty for requesting space in the first place.  Calvin was the only one that wasn't mad and that was because he didn't even remember Ande slept in the closet.  I'm telling you, it was a sore spot for a few years, a real blight on the family memory.

But as you can see in the picture above that we took yesterday, that's all behind us now.  Cali has forgiven me and Ande has forgiven Cali.  And wouldn't you know, all of our kids like sharing bedrooms now that they're married.

It's as Ma Ingalls always said, "All's well that ends well."

Sunday, June 23, 2013

52 Blessings - A Name and a Blessing

Ande, Zeph, Joe

"Every member of the church of Christ having children is to bring them unto the elders before the church,
who are to lay their hands upon them in the name of Jesus Christ, and bless them in his name."

Today Joe performed the ordinance of naming and blessing Zeph.  When naming and blessing a baby, men who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood and who are significant in the life of the child gather in a circle with the baby in the center.  While they cradle the baby a name and a spiritually-directed (but non-scripted) Priesthood blessing are given.  All in the congregation bow their heads and close their eyes and listen while it takes place.  There is a sweet and sacred feeling that attends the event.  It is as Cali whispered after Zeph's blessing, "This is an incredible thing for a dad to be able to do for his child."

The bonus for us was that Joe was also one of the speakers in Sacrament meeting.  He talked about overcoming doubt and building faith.  It was a great day.

I'm grateful for the Priesthood that is on the earth.  I am a recipient of its power and blessings.  I find great comfort and strength knowing that God has allowed man to act in His behalf and under His direction.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Life in Our World - Follett Family

I'm still here in Seattle for a few more days staying with the Follett family.  Here are a dozen pictures from the week . . . in no particular order.

watching Ray teach Levin how to water the plants

Levin and Atlas

Levin and I saw this snail on our walk this morning

Is there anything sweeter than watching a newborn and his mother?

There's just something sacred about a baby pressed to your heart.

Cali is an elegant mother.

Calvin and Atlas in the hospital.  He's an incredible grandfather.

I forgot how much help two-year-olds can be when it comes to emptying the dishwasher.

These are not shards, they are sprinkler drops.  We do not play in the glass. 

These guys have good pizza and good signs.

I think this is the sweetest picture.
Levin can keep his eyes closed the whole prayer . . . almost.
He's most successful if it isn't a blessing on the food.  

Ray's best friend is his older brother Johnny.  He is so excited that Atlas has a Levin.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thursday Thinking - Security vs Freedom

In light of all the government phone and internet surveillance, wire-tapping, and drones spying on Americans as well as subsidies, entitlements, and gun legislation, I keep thinking of these two quotes:

“If you want total security, go to prison. There you're fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking . . . is freedom.”
-Dwight D. Eisenhower

"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."
- Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Homemaking Tips - Making the Practical Pretty

One of the best things of visiting our kids' homes is getting ideas for our home.  

Cali uses cake plates to decorate in their home.  This one is by the kitchen sink and, as you can see, holds dish soap, hand soap, and lotion.  It looks so . . . well, so . . . I don't know what word to use here . . . it looks so fine.  

There is a milk-glass cake-plate on the mantle with a plant.

And then this crystal one is in the bathroom.

And if I thought the kitchen one was fine, this one is very fine.

Yes, yes.  You are correct.  She does have a two year old.  But, he doesn't bother them (now the drawer that holds gum is a whole different story, but the cake plates are safe) because he knows they are pretty.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tuesday Tried It - Clothes Pins

I'm sharing two pins from Cali's pinterest boards this week:

Laundry Soap

Cali is a great laundress and keeps clothes looking unstained and new so when she said she liked this laundry soap recipe I trusted her.  It's good and smells fresh.  It is a little too harsh on Levin's very sensitive skin (everything is too harsh for him except Dreft [the liquid in the bottle next to the homemade laundry soap]), but she is really pleased with it.

Ironing Board Cover

This is Cali's sewing room.  She made me an ironing board cover out of fabric that matches my room as well as made this one for herself.  You wouldn't think that such a small detail would make such a difference in a task (or a room), but it does.  

These are two great pins if you're interested in improving your laundry!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday Memories - A Day with Cali and Ray

I've been staying with the Follett family for a week now to celebrate Atlas' arrival.  Here is what today looked like . . .

6:00 am

I woke up to this banner that is stretched across the mirror propped on a shelf near the foot of the bed.  I read the scriptures, sent a few texts, made a few phone calls, and waited to hear Levin's feet patter on the wood floors upstairs telling me he was awake . . . and hungry.

7:00 am

I still hadn't heard Levin's feet.  He was sleeping in, so I took a shower and got ready for the day.

8:00 am

Levin was awake and helped make bran muffins for breakfast.

9:00 am

Took Levin on a walk in the stroller.  He always points to this rooster.  The owner said he gave it to his wife for her 17th anniversary and told me where I could buy one if I needed one.  

10:00 am

Levin played in the Sound and sand in his rubber boots while I sat on the bench and watched.

11:00 am

Ray met us on our walk so that he could take Levin with him for the afternoon.  I pushed an empty stroller home and walked by this house that has well over 50 plastic tubs in the yard and a car full of Target shopping bags.  Its a conundrum and we wonder about it every time we walk by the house.

12:00 pm

Gave Atlas his bath.  His hair is so soft and fine, his breath so sweet.

1:00 pm

Helped Cali take pictures of Atlas.

2:00 pm

Folded laundry.

3:00 pm

Ate lunch on the deck with Cali.  It feels so good to soak in the sun while looking over the monochromatic blue Sound, mountains, and sky.

4:00 pm

Held Atlas.

5:00 pm

Ray returned home with Levin.  He found the sprinkler in no time.

6:00 pm

Ate supper and held Atlas.

7:00 pm

Had family scriptures and prayers. Levin knows all about right and wrong.  The other day I told him no and he said, "Grandma, obey."

8:00 pm

Dishes and dinner are over.

9:00 pm

Everybody's getting tired.

10:00 pm

Ande stopped by on her way to the airport to pick up Joe.  She came with fresh bouquets of sweet peas for Cali and me.

The Lord's plan of the family is absolutely brilliant.  It is wonderful being here with the Follett family watching Ray be a father and husband, Cali being a wife and mother, Levin being a son and brother, and Atlas soaking all that love in and reminding us of what is pure, simple, and most important.