Our boys took off this weekend for some fun at father-son camp in central Illinois. So us girls enjoyed ourselves at a sewing get-a-way right here at home. We didn’t do any cooking or cleaning. Just sewing, chatting, singing, laughing, making memories. We had a few projects we needed to get done…dresses for friends, gifts for others. But then the girls had some fun making matching skirts. Poor Jack, even he had to sew this weekend. He gets to stay home with the women-folk until he turns 5. Then he will be old enough to attend camp with Daddy and the big boys.
We love to pick strawberries! But even more, we would love to grow our own! We have the perfect southern hillside for it. Soon we would love to see it covered in long, black rows of red, juicy berries. But we have to start with what we have. Jeremie’s mom kept these runners from her own plants for us, so that prompted Jeremie to till up a short row and plant them. Because strawberries are such an early season fruit, the black plastic will really help to warm up the soil early, and keep down the weeds. Although I have seen Bermuda grass crawl right up it, we are hoping for the best. Jeremie laid down drip irrigation tape under the plastic. This is our second attempt at strawberries, so we are hoping these plants thrive!
When our friends were visiting they stayed in a cabin by the lake. One night we had dinner there and went walking along the “beach”. I say it like that because I don’t think there are beaches in Tennessee. All the shores are covered in rocks, pebbles and little shells. Well, the kids don’t seem to mind. They love collecting shells. It was a beautiful shoreline with a beautiful sunset.
Harvesting….sweet potatoes!! These tubers are HUGE. Maybe we waited too long? Jimmy has had his eye on this one for weeks. He was just dying to dig it up, but with the wet weather, I made him wait. He was sure it was as big as my head. I think he’s right! What an abundant harvest! The cows love sweet potato vines! So they got all of them. Sweet potatoes and luffa curing and drying out in the greenhouse. Thanks to Mr. Anderson for my bright green shelf! Jeremie thinks the plastic will wear better with this coat of paint. When I pulled the luffa plant out of the ground I was shocked to see that it’s roots spread out over 6 feet long! We are getting beautiful carrots and beets out of the garden as well. They are delicious with the potatoes and roast farm fresh chicken!
Today we took a field trip to visit a Mr. M. Paschall at his pottery studio. It was fascinating watching him work on his wheel. It takes a certain touch and feel to be able to mold the wet clay while it spins. He made it look easy. He sculpted a beautiful pitcher in a matter in minutes. Then he cut it in half (gasp!!) to show us the interior of the clay walls. He was an especially good teacher, making everything interesting to the kids. He was very willing for them to get their hands dirty and be able to experience working with the clay. Some kids opted to sculpt a cylinder to be used as a pencil holder, or handle less mug. Some others opted to sculpt a coil pot. If air gets trapped in the clay while being molded when the object gets fired in the kiln, it will explode! So the kids had to be very careful to work out all the air from their designs. This has been one of our favorite field trips!
While our friends were visiting we took a little trip to Land Between the Lakes. We share a love for olden times with the Anderson’s. Back at home, we had Old World Wisconsin. Here, we have the homeplace. And we just had to visit it together. It was a beautiful crisp fall day. And the interpreters working at the homeplace were brimming with information. My girls are eager to volunteer there and we have the costumes to prove it! The sheep roam freely along the walks and into the woods. We saw their oxen, hogs, barns, shops and more.
We could have spent all day there! But, on to the Bison and Elk (or elf, as someone kept calling them. They truly couldn’t remember the last consonant sound and it was so funny) prairie to hear the bugling of the elk. We didn’t see any bison there, but we did see a few huge elk. And we heard them bugling nice and clear. I’ve never heard anything like it. It sounded like an oboe, singing. I thought it would be a deeper sound and more blaring. It was beautiful. We did get to see bison at another prairie, on the way out of the park.
We have heard a special song and dance annually. It goes like this. “We will come see you this year, promise!” I think we’ve heard it 4 times. But, we will hear it no more, because, much to our delight, the Andersons finally came down to see us in Tennessee!!!! We couldn’t have been happier to welcome our Yankee friends down south. It was quite ironic because Mr. Anderson is a weather-watcher and has mentioned our proximity to tornado valley a few times. Well, Monday afternoon, their first full day down here, tornadoes struck just an hour away from us.
We had quite a few rainy days in a row. But we put that time to good use, canning applesauce together, games, baking, crafting and catching up. It was especially nice to celebrate a birthday while they were here. It wasn’t one of us, but I won’t say who it was!
We had a fabulous night with friends recently. Our choices in life sometimes call for special measures. We prefer to not have our teens “hang out” in peer only groups. We just feel that it puts our kids, girls especially, in an unsheltered position. Foolishness only begets foolishness. And in a group of peers, of any age, that can compound dramatically, quickly. And we feel that too much of that kind of socializing leads to an appetite for it, and an impatience with younger siblings, parents, grandparents, anyone that doesn’t fit in exactly to the “group”.
But just because we choose to opt out of an array of activities, we don’t want our children to feel deprived, isolated or awkward. If ‘family’ only means “no” then won’t they become resentful of “family”? So we try to replace those “no’s” with “yes’s”. Sometimes that is inconvenient. Sometimes it feels like a burden. But most often, it is a huge blessing! We have found families that feel as we do, and boy, when we all get together it’s a crowd! But we all have a blast! And lasting friendships are formed. And burdens are shared. And hearts are uplifted! It’s huge, opening your home to 20+ people. It takes time, energy and resources. But, I think the payoffs are way worth it! (Easy for me to say! This time it wasn’t at my house, lol!)