Sunday, October 30, 2011

Coming Soon....To a Gun Show Near You

So sorry for the silence of late, but I have been busily preparing for my first gun show.  Admittedly, it will not the the first gun show that I have ever attended, just the first one that I will have a table.  In reality, gun shows and I are tight.  My dad has always loved them, and as children, my brother and I spent a considerable amount of time wandering in gun shows from table to table.

When I was growing up, my dad was the proprietor of a little country store.  He sold grain, tack, used furniture and army surplus, not to mention anything else he thought might sell.  He issued hunting and fishing licenses, rented videos and sold guns.  He built a woodstove (in the shop at the high school where he taught), which heated the building and there were tables and chairs surrounding the stove.  We had a bakery case full of doughnuts and sundry other eatables and the coffee pot was always full.  Dad's store served as the local meeting place.  The troubles of the world were hashed out around that wood stove as the coffee flowed.  Deals were made, necessities purchased and small town life was lived, all within the confines of our little store.

Going to gun shows remind me of my dad's store.  The smell, the people, the fiercely independent streak brings me back to the days of my past.  I remember digging through musty boxes full of surplus, making sure the contents were not past their usefulness.  I remember cartons full of packs, pouches and belts, some from our military and some (ugh!) the Germans.  I, of course, could spot the difference in an instance - knowing full well that ours were quite superior.  I remember wearing military wool pants to school in the winter time trying to start a fashion trend and thinking it was normal for people to wear military blouses as jackets.

When I would get homesick, after moving to Seattle, I would frequent a huge Army/Navy  surplus store on 1st Ave.  I would walk past bins full of mag pouches, feeling each one.  I would look at the dummies sporting gas masks and finger the wool blankets with the medical symbol on the corner - and I would feel like I was home.  I would bury my face in the piles of BDU's and breath deeply, and I would think of my dad.

Now, as I walk past table after gun show table, trailing after my husband, I am reminded of my childhood, trailing after my father.  I feel the mag pouches, finger the blankets and feel like I am home.

Soon, I get to have my very own table!  I am going to be at the Spokane Gun Show next weekend (11/4 - 11/6).  We will have books (The Prepared Family Guide to Uncommon Diseases), pads (Naturally Cozy) and miscellaneous gun stuff.  Yes, I know, with pads there, all of the guys will be in a hurry to hang out at my table!  My dad is coming to share a table with me (I'm so excited!) and Maid Elizabeth will help run the booth.

I would love an opportunity to meet any of you folks that are in the Spokane/Coeur d'Alene area.  If you find yourself at the gun show, I will be there Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Stop by and say Hi!

Until then....

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Origins of Ownership

As our country spirals out of control, with the masses rising up to get "their fair share", I thought we might want to ground ourselves in the truth.....

"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard.  He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.  

About the third hour, he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing.  He told them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.'  So they went.

He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing.  About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around.  He asked them, 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?'

'Because no one has hired us,' they answer.

"He said to them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard.'

'When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.'

'The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius.  So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more.  But each one of them also received a denarius.  When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.  These  men who were last worked only one,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.'

'But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you.  Didn't you agree to work for a denarius?  Take your pay and go.  I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you.  Don't I  have the right to do what I want with my own money?  Or are you envious because I am generous?'

'So the last will be first, and the first will be last."
                                                         Matthew 20:1-16 NIV

Please understand that I realize Jesus was talking about salvation and the kingdom of heaven, but it is really hard to miss the concept of ownership.  Ownership, by definition, gives the owner the right to do with his property as he will.

Generations of people have been deceived into believing that ownership is evil and that owners must be forced to meet the demands of the masses.  The reality is that God himself is the author of ownership.  Ownership is not evil, men's hearts are evil.  Ownership encourages stewardship.  When you own something, you have a desire to see it improve and prosper.  When you own something, you make the rules regarding your possessions.  That is your right.

Each of us owns something, be it a multi-million dollar corporation or our own soul.  The rights of ownership indicate that we alone are responsible for the condition of our property.  Don't allow the masses to influence your ownership.  If you own a multi-million dollar business set your course and hold firm.  If all you own is your soul, diligently prepare it for eternity.  Your life depends on it.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Wonderful Weekend Brunch

Keeping breakfast warm in the cookstove oven
During the week, I am too busy to make a big breakfast.  The most we can hope for are some quickly scrambled eggs and a few pieces of toast.  More often than not, we have baked oatmeal or a slice of quick bread lavishly spread with butter - just a little something for hungry tummies.  But on the weekends, we indulge in real breakfasts.  Saturday, filled with outside chores, calls for hearty, farm style breakfasts ranging from Sausage Gravy & Biscuits to Breakfast Burritos to Bacon, Eggs, Hashbrowns and Toast.  Sunday, being a day of rest, beckons simple, delicate fare.

This morning, we chose Crepes and Bacon with which to break our fast.  The Crepes are an old recipe, passed down from my mother.   They are light, with a buttery texture that melts in your mouth.  Our favorite way to eat them is lightly buttered, rolled, with maple syrup sparingly poured over the top.  Our final touch is a generous sprinkling of confectioners sugar, adding just the right amount of sweetness.

Although we love plain maple on our crepes, we also indulge in other taste sensations.  Fresh berries with whipped cream are a summer favorite.  A light layer of jam is a treat.  However you choose to adorn your crepes, you will be thankful you took the time to indulge.

Pouring batter onto my cast iron crepe pan
Almost ready to flip
Rolling the crepe
Onto a plate to keep warm in the oven
Let breakfast begin!

Swedish Pancakes (Crepes)
1 C. milk
2 T. butter
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 C. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Heat milk and butter in saucepan.  Beat in eggs, flour baking powder & salt until smooth. Cook over medium heat in low sided skillet.

(I tripled this recipe for the seven of us)

Our Life in Pictures

Ready for a nature walk, journal in hand
Brother and sister, picking rose hips side by side

Helping little brother reach the high berries
The long walk home
A battle is afoot
True country compassion - a gift from friends to battle our Whooping Cough

Just being together
A rousing game of Old Maid
Freshly baked cake donuts
Unloading our load of wood
Earnestly showing dad some spectacular thing
Showing off his saw chaps - just like dad's
(Big sister made them for him)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Prepared Family Cookbook....Shhhh!

O.K., so a number of you have been asking, hinting and even demanding a cookbook.  Well, your wish is my command!  I have been working on a cookbook for some time, but I have to admit, it is quite an undertaking.  Of course, I couldn't leave well enough alone and just write recipes, I had to go and expound on all kinds of homesteady preparedness topics.  So the book keeps growing.  I think I have finally come up with all of the topics I am going to cover, meaning I am going to force myself to stop.

I'm really excited about a couple of things - first of which is all of my recipes have conventional ingredients and cooking methods and also have stored foods ingredients and instructions for cooking on the wood cookstove!  I have chapters covering food storage (complete with lists, of course), hospitality/charity, canning, homestead arts (candle making, soap making etc.) home medical care (like I could leave this one out!), the home dairy (how to choose a cow, make cheese, butter etc.), off-grid living and homeschooling on the homestead.  As you can see, it has gotten a little out of hand, but I am having so much fun!

As I said, this is quite an undertaking.  Please be patient - I'll keep working.  If you have any suggestions, please let me know, and I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Layers upon Layers

As usual, the challenges that grip our nation are multi-dimensional.  However, the answers are simple, straightforward.  The answer to any problem was and always will be the same.  God.  Only when we bend our knee before His throne and conform our desires to His will, will our families, our nation and our world be transformed into a haven of refuge.  Until men bow before their creator and acknowledge their sinful lives, our world will be filled with corruption, greed, strife and envy.  And so it is - our problems are layer upon layer - our answer is simple - God.

A reader sent this rebuttal to my post entitled Once Upon a Time.

And now, we are being told that there is no longer an American Dream. Protesters are littering our streets demanding a bigger piece of the pie, but they want it given to them. They want the dream but they don't want to have to suffer for it. They will tell you that they would rather collect unemployment than work at a job that is "below" them. They will say that they are "worth" more than that. Says who? They are "worth" what someone is willing to pay them. Besides, their worth doesn't come from their paycheck - their worth comes from Christ alone.

that's simply not true, enola. none of the protestors are demanding work that isn't beneath them, they just want work. and they want the wealthy to pay their fair share, too. go read the stories. the people there are hard working and humble- and drowning. they work 40, 70, 120 hours a week and can't make ends meet, and that's if they can even find work. there are 15,000,000 unemployed people and 5,000,000 jobs. no matter how hard anyone tries, that's 10,000,000 people for whom there is no work.

ows wants fairness. it isn't right that GE paid less in taxes than you last year. it isn't right that Bank of America can layoff workers and cut salaries and benefits while posting record profits and giving its CEO millions in yearly bonuses. that is not christian, that is not democracy, that is not capitalism, it is greed, nothing more. 

While the protesters are from all walks of life and have many different reasons that led them to protest, they are not simply hard working Americans looking for a better way of life.  The truth of the matter is that many are there because they answered an add on Craigslist offering a paycheck in exchange for their "rightful indignation".  Even more still are camped out because there is free food and a change of scenery from their normal basement apartments.  And then, there are those that truly believe they are protesting "corporate greed" all the while being played like marionettes at the end of union strings.  Corporate America is broken.  However, they are not responsible for personal debt - people are responsible for that.  People, the same ones that are protesting corporate greed, are guilty of their own version of greed and envy.  They wanted the house they couldn't afford.  They signed the papers on a loan that was too big to maintain.  Nobody made them sign - they chose to take on that debt.  Yes, the banks are greedy, but the people are just as greedy.  The difference is, the people have the ability to "just say no".  They can say no to the high credit card rate BEFORE they apply for the card.  They can say no to the 50 year mortgage BEFORE they sign it.  They can say NO to dish TV, high-speed internet and in-store credit.

Corporations don't pay taxes.  People pay taxes.  Anytime the government raises "corporate taxes", it really just raises your taxes and mine. Corporations do, however, employ America.  Should executives be held accountable for illegal activities?  Absolutely.  Should executives be held accountable for immoral behavior?  Without a doubt.  Corporate America is corrupt.  So is our Government.  But the truth of the matter is that external controls never work.  Only when the hearts of the men and women in places of power are changed will our families and our nation be changed.  

And our protesters ARE demanding work that is "worth" their while.  They are not just demanding work.  They want work that will pay them what they think they are worth.  We live in an area not far from the vast apple orchards covering a large expanse of central and eastern Washington.  The apple farms are in dire straits.  Is their predicament due to a poor apple yield?  No.  The apple farmers are in a position to lose their farms due to the fact that they cannot find enough workers to harvest their crops.  They are so desperate for workers that they are taking ads out in local papers and on television and radio offering workers $150.00 A DAY to pick apples.  A DAY!  I don't know about you, but I think that's GOOD money.  The interesting thing about all of these jobs available for the plucking is that none of them are being taken.  And even more interesting is that the unemployment rate in the vicinity of these farms has not dropped - not even 1/10th of 1%.  So tell me now that people just want a job.  Bunk!  They want the job that they want, or they want the government (that means you and I) to pay them until they secure a job befitting their place in life.

I know that I have made a whole lot of generalizations, lumping people in the same group.  And I know that everyone has different circumstances and that there are some people who REALLY have gotten the short end of the stick.  But, for the most part, we all make our beds and the time has come when we have to lay in them.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Beauty you see


I am a hopeless romantic.  It's not my fault - I was born that way.  When the day wanes, nothing speaks to my soul like a cup of tea and a biscuit.  The first snow always elicits a flurry of cocoa making followed by snuggling in front of the wood stove reading books or playing games.  Candle light defines our winter evenings and linen curtains hallmark our summers.  I see beauty everywhere.  If I stumble upon an unlovely sight, my mind quickly puts things to rights, arranging things so their natural beauty shines forth.  The older I've become, the more I am able to find beauty in most anything, but it hasn't always been that way....

When I was a child, my family lived in one of the most spectacularly beautiful locations God created.  Forests, streams and grassy fields were my playground.  Mountains rose majestically against a backdrop of sub-irrigated alpine meadows.  Moose ate in crystal clear, glacier fed ponds and mountain lions drank from our swiftly running mountains streams.  Even the sunsets shone with the very fingerprints of God.  Unfortunately, the beauty that enveloped our lives was marred.  It was marred by people who chose to live differently than we did.

We moved when I was eight.  I was accustomed to mowed lawns, painted houses and tidy gardens.  People took care with their appearance - wearing dresses to church and skirts to town.  Cars were washed, hair was cut and purses matched shoes.  And then suddenly, in a whirl of boxes and packing tape, we were transported into another world.  My new world, while full of natural beauty, was rife with ugliness.  People piled garbage in their front yards, burning it in the spring and fall (whether they needed to or not).  The dress code, allowing for flannel shirts and Levi jeans only, was strictly enforced.  Shoes were considered quite wearable until the last of the duct tape wore off and hair-cuts were an unheard of luxury.  It wasn't the least bit unusual to see 20 cars lined up in a row at the edge of a property line, ensuring the owner the perfect part should the need arise.  Tarps (usually blue) regularly served as roofing material and more often than not discarded appliances provided the focal point for the garden.

My romantic sensibilities rebelled.  While being ensconced in beauty at home, I detested the lifestyle choices that surrounded our neighbors in squalor.  I equated country living with ignorance and poverty.  I longed for the day when I could escape my beautiful country home and could take my rightful place among the enlightened people of the city.  Finally, after years of pridefully living among humble country folk, I left to seek the refined, intelligent people of the city.  I drove away - knowing I was destined for much more than country life - watching the beauty of the mountains fade in the distance.

At first, I gloried in my new life.  The city was exciting - energizing.  The homes and yards were glorious and the people dressed with elegance and style.  New cars were everywhere and people cared how things looked.  The beauty that had alluded me in the country was around every corner in the city, bursting forth in manicured gardens and tailored suits.  I was home!

Then the strangest thing began to happen.  An odd longing developed.  I had the greatest desire to dip my toes in a creek.  Truth be told, what I really wanted to do was put bread in between my toes and feel the trout fingerlings nibble the bread, tickling my feet in the most indescribable way.  The longer I waited in traffic, or in line at the mall or sat behind my desk filing, the more intense the desire became.  Finally, I couldn't stand it any longer.  I had to run barefoot, splash through a creek, or wade through a meadow resplendent with flowers before I exploded.  I found a quiet little park not far from where I worked, with a sweet meadow and a bubbling creek and promptly thrust my bare feet into it's cold depths.  

From that moment, the cool mountain meadows and alpine peaks began to sing the siren's song to me.  The manicured lawns and tailored suits seemed to lose their luster.  The pretty houses and elegant clothes suddenly seems empty - soul less.  What once had seemed beguiling now seemed shallow and make-believe.  Years of scales began to fall from my eyes.  I began to see past the tarp roof's and garbage strewn yards.  I realized that although my childhood neighbor's were rough and unpolished, they were uncommonly gifted with loyalty, self-sufficiency and country wisdom.  They were the people you wanted covering your back when things got tough.  They lived life to the fullest, for themselves, not to impress other people and when push came to shove, they could be counted on irregardless of their own personal hardships.

After years of living in the city, searching for true friendship, only to encounter people too busy living their own lives, I came home to the country.  I came home to tarp roofs, junk cars and garbage strewn yards.  But this time, I came home with humility, not pride.  I came home with the realization that God gives us the ability to see His beauty everywhere.  I found I had to see past the outward appearance, into the heart of the matter.

I grew up in the country, but gained the wisdom of country life in the city.  In my pride an arrogance, I was blinded to the beauty of simple country living.  God, in His wisdom, brought me to the city so that He could gently strip my pride and open my eyes to true beauty.  He taught me that beauty is not defined by what you own, how you dress or how you keep your yard - true beauty is defined by how you see the world, and yourself and God.  True beauty is found when God opens your eyes to His creation and His children.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Once Upon a Time....

Once upon a time my Dad and Mom yearned for a better life for themselves and their children.  They dreamt of land and trees and creeks, of a place where they could step outside their door and shoot their winter's meat.  They dreamt of country roads, alpine peaks and fields white with snow.  They dreamt of a simple country life while steeped in traffic, bills and endless ferry boat commuting.

When I was little, my family lived on Vashon Island, in Puget Sound.  My Dad had been born and raised there (learning to hunt on the then sparsely populated island) and my Mom's family had moved there when she was a teenager so that they could have a pasture for her horse.  Years went by and the Island became a sought after bedroom community for the ever-expanding metropolis that is Seattle.  As shopping centers replaced strawberry fields and mansions dominated the once accessible shoreline, my parents began dreaming of mountain streams and wild woods.

Their dream, although lovely, was really impossible.  My folks were deeply entrenched in the American Dream - two kids, a house, two well-paying jobs and a hefty load of debt.  They couldn't possibly chase after a simple country life when there were bills to be paid and a lifestyle to be maintained - or could they?

After seven years of searching for their slice of heaven they came across a little tract of land in the American Redoubt.  It was 25 acres of mixed timber and meadow, with two year around creeks that intersected, forming the southern boundary.  An artesian spring bubbled out of a hillside and state and forest service land hemmed the property in from the rear.  This was the moment of truth.  Would my parents stay in their less than full-filling but "safe" life, or would they step out in faith and change their life and the lives of their children?

For my Mom and Dad, there wasn't really a choice.  They knew that God was calling them to the country and so they answered.  Throwing off conventional wisdom, my Dad left his well-paying teaching job (he had previously been an iron worker, building many of the skyscrapers in downtown Seattle) and my Mom vacated her job as a nursing home administrator.  They sold their house, paid off all of their debts, paid cash for their new land, packed all of their worldly possessions into a four horse trailer and boldly set off for their new life.  They had no house to move into.  They knew no people.  The had no job to provide for their family or even the prospect of employment.

My folks spent the summer trying to get our new situation livable for the winter.  They hand dug the artesian spring, lined it with cedar and put in a pump.  They dug lines for the water pipes, had a septic tank installed and eventually found an older single-wide mobile to serve as our home.  We stacked straw bales around the bottom of the trailer to act as insulation (never thinking that they would attract hordes of rodents) and cut wood by the cord-full.  We fenced 25 acres to provide a pasture for our horses and graveled the existing driveway.

Summer gave way to fall.  The temperature began to drop and so did my parents savings account.  Knowing that he couldn't provide for his family sitting at home, my Dad started looking for a job.  He knew, with his vast experience and skill set, that he would have no problem securing full time employment.  After all, he could do anything.  He could weld, mechanic, drive anything with wheels.  He had been an iron worker, a teacher - he was a jack of all trades.  Day after day, Dad job searched in vain.  He hadn't taken into consideration that when moving way out into the country, in a particularly depressed part of Idaho, jobs were few and far between.  Finally, after almost a month of searching, he landed a job.  It wasn't much - in fact, it was terrible.  My Dad went to work for a local saw mill sweeping wood chips during night shift.  Really.  Night after night, my Dad would grab a push broom and start walking.  It was dirty, nasty, spiteful work and he hated every minute of it.  But, it was a job.  He went to work everyday.  He was always on time.  He didn't complain.  He didn't bellyache.  He didn't miss a day.  He pushed that broom and he provided for his family.  Never once did he say "I'm worth more than this - this is below me".

One day, another job came along.  It wasn't much.  The work was harder and the hours longer, but the pay was better.  He became know in the community as a hard worker, someone you could count on.  Soon, other job opportunities presented themselves.  Little by little, my Dad became a trusted part of our community.  He was well thought of and known to be a man of integrity.  The longer we lived in our chosen part of the country, the more my dad became known for his humility and hard work, and more doors opened for him.  Not only did my Dad hold a fine job, he also started his own business, which ran successfully until he sold it.

My parents chased their version of the American Dream.  The road was rocky, the work was hard and the days were long - but they succeeded.  Through hard work and sacrifice, they secured a future for themselves, their children and their grandchildren.  They suffered, they went without and they did jobs that nobody wants to do - but they also learned, they loved and they grew in faith.  Through their tribulations, they taught my brother and I that anything worth having is worth working (and waiting) for.  They taught us that hard work pays off and that we are responsible for making our own way in life.  They taught us to walk through difficulties and not try to get around them and that happiness comes from taking responsibility.  They taught us that self-worth comes from who you are not what you do.

And now, we are being told that there is no longer an American Dream.  Protesters are littering our streets demanding a bigger piece of the pie, but they want it given to them.  They want the dream but they don't want to have to suffer for it.  They will tell you that they would rather collect unemployment than work at a job that is "below" them.  They will say that they are "worth" more than that.  Says who?  They are "worth" what someone is willing to pay them.  Besides, their worth doesn't come from their paycheck - their worth comes from Christ alone.

I am not foolish enough to believe that there is not greed in this world.  I know there is evil.  Our country is being led by people hell-bent on padding their own pockets at the expense of you and I.  But, in the end, I am still responsible for me and you are still responsible for you.  And that is as it should be.  Only when we are responsible for ourselves will true progress be made. You and I still live in a great country and we can still follow our dreams.  But only if we are willing to suffer and to do the hard things.

We have become used to a standard of living that is untenable.  Our appetite for more and more and more has become unchecked and we have now sold our souls to the devil.  We are at a point in time when we are willing to steal from our neighbors rather than support ourselves.  We would rather steal than work.  What have we become?

To all of my readers who do the hard things, who suffer yet hold their heads high - thank you.  You are my heroes.  You are the real Americans this country so desperately needs.    Lets spend our time making our families, and in turn our nation, a better place, rather than bellyaching about our "lot" in life.  Lets direct our own lives instead of reducing ourselves to nothing more than victims.  Lets change "Once Upon a Time...." to "This is how Americans do Things".

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Case for Men

I am a mom. I am my son's teacher.  I teach him responsibility, work ethic and compassion.  I teach him the value of a dollar, how to put others before himself and how to respect his elders.  But there is one thing I cannot teach my son.  I cannot teach him how to be a man.

We live in a world that has ceased to value men.  They are a throwaway commodity - a necessary evil.  Men are viewed as little more than overgrown children, seeking their own gratification, rather than the providers and protectors that God created them to be.

Over the past couple of weeks, as Sir Knight has battled illness, I have come to realize the true value of a man.  Men provide.  Men protect.  Men leave the home so that their wife can make the home.  Men do the hard, dirty, undesirable jobs so their wives' don't have to.  Men provide an infrastructure of support so that women can tend to the business of family.  Men do the jobs of men so that women can do the jobs of women.

Whooping Cough could have threatened the perfect balance of our family had my husband not been about the business of teaching our son to be a man.  The reality is that it is much easier to do things yourself rather than teaching your children.  Changing the oil in the generator is quick when you are working by yourself, but can be more than a little time consuming when you are teaching your son.  It takes twice the time to troubleshoot an electrical system when your son is working and learning by your side, as you show him how to read a schematic and splice wires.  But, when a crisis arises (and it will) your investment will be handsomely rewarded.

Working on the generator
The guys working together
With my entire family out of commission, I've felt as though the weight of the world has been on my shoulders.  There are meals to be made, a house to keep clean and school to be done.  Bread must be baked, sheets must be changed and sick children attended to.  And the air has begun to have a distinct chill.  Winter is on the way.  Typically, fall is my favorite time of year, but this year, the change of the weather has done nothing but increase my anxiety.  You see, generally we spend the sunny, crisp days of fall sawing and splitting firewood, but this year, my sawyer is bedridden and the length of his convalescence is undetermined.  And even when he is feeling better, his broken ribs will be painful long past the first snow.  I was beginning to panic - and then I remembered - Sir Knight has made it a habit of taking every opportunity to teach Master Hand Grenade the necessary skills of a man.

Learning to saw
Over the past couple of years, Sir Knight has been putting Master Hand Grenade behind the chainsaw.  He began small, teaching him how to start the saw and how to fill the oiler.  He taught him how the saw works and how to sharpen the chain.  He had him take the saw apart to disentangle a piece of baling twine that had gotten sucked in and taught him how to change bars.  Soon, Master Hand Grenade strapped on a pair of saw chaps and helped limb a tree and then took his turn on the log deck.  Little by little, log by log, Master Hand Grenade has become a skilled handler of the chainsaw.

As I watched Master Hand Grenade cut into the first log on the log deck, I realized that he had taken his place among the men.  No longer a little boy, he had become a provider.  He was providing our family with warmth - protecting us from the elements.  And he had become a man because my husband had taught him.  Sir Knight had mentored his son and in that mentoring he had produced a man - a man who will take up the mantle of masculinity and guide the next generation of men.  Sir Knight did what I am incapable of - he raised not just a son, but a man.

The weight of the world is no longer on my shoulders.  In His wisdom, God has provided me with not one man, but two.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tea, Whooping Cough and Toast Soldiers

After a night of coughing, broken sleep and restless children, tea is what gets us up in the morning.   The promise of a cup of hot, soothing tea pries the exhaustion from our sleep deprived bodies and encourages us to gather, one by one, in the welcoming confines of our little kitchen.  As each person filters in, we learn how they and their Pertussis are fairing.  So far the results are mixed.

Master Calvin, Princess Dragon Snack and Master Hand Grenade are doing remarkably well.  Each still suffers fairly regularly from spasmodic coughing fits, but they deal with them very well and seem to have no other ill effects.

Maid Elizabeth has remained perfectly healthy and my case of Pertussis has been extraordinarily mild.  I cannot tell you how thankful I am that we have been spared.  It has allowed both of us to care for the rest of the family, providing nutritious meals and physical and emotional support.

Miss Calamity and Sir Knight have fared far worse than the rest.  Miss Calamity regularly has coughing fits that are difficult to recover from.  We have begun hearing crackling in her lungs indicating the early stages of pneumonia.  She has a hard time taking deep breaths (although we encourage her to breath as deeply as she is able because deep breathing discourages pneumonia).

Sir Knight has had serious complications of Whooping Cough.  After spending an excruciating weekend, we finally sought medical help yesterday and learned that Sir Knight had developed pneumonia in his right lung and had fractured two ribs from coughing so hard.  Now, on top of coughing horribly, he has been enduring I.V. antibiotics and pain medication to lessen the effect of broken ribs.  Are we having fun yet?

Getting ready to flush Sir Knight's catheter
Cleaning the port
Opening the gate
Beginning the flush
Because of the upheaval in our home, we have simplified our day to day routine.  Our meals have become very simple - chicken soup, fresh bread, grilled sandwiches.  We also have brought out the fine china - paper plates.  While I detest paper plates, bowls and cups (they aren't the least bit romantic), they have a place in a sickhouse.  Maid Elizabeth and I have our hands full keeping up with 5 sick people, so not having to do dishes very often is a tremendous blessing.

Being sick is hard on little ones.  They are not hungry and their little tummies don't need anything heavy, so we rely on tried and true favorites to coax an appetite.  So far, everyone's favorite afternoon tea repast is toast soldiers.  It is light, filling and perfect with tea.  Toast soldiers are simply toast, with the crusts removed, buttered, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and cut into four rectangles.

Toast Soldiers and Tea
As we journey through Whooping Cough, we are learning to care for one another.  We are learning to be patient, encouraging and full of grace.  Being sick is no fun, but most often when things are at their worst, our character is being shaped and molded.  What looks like a lump of coal is really being turned into a diamond.

America's Super Heros

Are we sure we need them????

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Families - The Original Captains of Industry

Maid Elizabeth working for our home business
Yesterday, as I watched my children buzz around the house, completing projects assigned to them, I realized what an industrious group they are.  As each task was completed another brick was laid on which the foundation of our home is anchored.  Without every industrious member of our little band doing his part, the whole of our family would suffer.

For the youngest of our clan, duties range from practicing their copywork to feeding and watering the kitties.  Beds are made and bedrooms tidied.  Socks are paired and the wood box is filled.  As the children get older, their responsibilities increase.  Master Hand Grenade saws and splits firewood and Miss Calamity makes and cans the years supply of Raspberry jam.  Maid Elizabeth busies herself sewing for our home business, baking, cooking and helping me school her younger siblings.  She organizes our nature treks and does craft projects with the kids.  She braids bracelets, zipper pulls and rifle slings from para-cord to sell at gun shows and makes quilts as Christmas gifts for the people she loves.

Princess Dragon Snack working on her copywork
Putting carmel on apples
The finished product
Master Calvin and Princess Dragon Snack helping stack wood
Master Hand Grenade and Princess Dragon Snack snapping beans
I love to see industry.  It warms my heart to see our children working together to complete a job that none of them really wanted to do or come together to work to make someone else's load lighter.  I love seeing children engaging their minds and bodies in productive ways that serve people other than themselves.  I love to see industrious little people bent on completing a task, finding a way to do a job better or trying an innovative approach to a mundane job.  I love to see children engaged in life rather than simply absorbing whatever mind-numbing tripe is funneled their way.

Miss Calamity and Master Hand Grenade splitting wood
Maid Elizabeth making fettucini
Families are the first, best place to teach and encourage industry.  We can't expect to plop our children in front of the television or game console and reap the benefits of industry and ingenuity.  As parents, we have the privilege of mentoring the next generation of industry's giants.  But first, we ourselves must be Captains of Industry.