Sunday, November 25, 2012

So much to write about: Louisa, Thanksgiving, the Quiet Joy of family time together

Wednesday morning we woke to a lovely frost.

I have been falling short on my writing.  Not becasue I have writer's block, or because I have nothing to write about.  More the opposite.  I have so many things to write about that it's been hard for me to focus on any one thing.  I've been trying hard to stay busy around my home, so that equals less time at my computer.  Which is a very good thing!  But the writing has been hard.  The ideas build up and when I finally sit down at my computer, there is a glut of ideas and no focus.

One reason that things are backlogged in my brain is because I have in my head a lovely post dedicated to my oldest daughter who is studying in Italy with a highschool exchange program.  I want to include some pictures.  But that task of finding and loading images always seems to take much longer than anticipated.  I want to talk about Louisa's adventures.  I want to express a little bit of what theMom has experienced in allowing her teen-aged daughter to embark on such an adventure.  So always, when I get to the computer, I think to myself, "It's too much for today.  Later."

Louisa with a view overlooking her town of Belvedere, with the sea in the background

Another factor in this backlog is the jumble.  The convoluted nature of my mind these days.  A hundred times a day, I compose bits and pieces of blog posts.  While washing dishes or folding clothes.  Taking a shower or watching my kids play.  During all of these times my brain is busy thinking of things to write and ordering those things into sensical patterns of words.  But when I sit down at my computer, either the thoughts don't come at all, or there are simply too many to choose any one about which to write.

So today is a mish-mash.  A mish-mash of thoughts.  A digital convolution of words.

We had a very nice Thanksgiving.  The kids and I, with Joe's help too, got the house mostly presentable for company.  Joe's parents came on Wednesday afternoon.  We had homemade soup and freshly baked gluten free bread for supper.  The soup was a mix of my homemade beef broth that Joe had canned for me, and various leftovers.  Warm and good and sustaining.

Joe had a service at 5:30 at Mt. Olive.  We all went to church at Oak Park at 7:30 that evening.  Then we came home and settled in for the evening.

Joe and I (mostly Joe) got the turkey in the roaster for a slow overnight roast.  It was a free range bird.  They tend to be a bit drier and somewhat tougher than the commercially raised turkeys, so they warrant a little finesse in preparation. 

On Thanksgiving Day, Joe had two morning services, St. Petri  and Nazareth. 

I mostly putzed around the kitchen, and the kids entertained Grandma and Grandpa. 

Apron-clad Joe after carving the turkey; Donna, Grandma, and Grandpa

Besides the turkey, the mid afternoon dinner included roasted sweet potatoes (I had forgotten to buy marshmallows, so that was a disappointment to the kids), mashed potatoes with gravy, cooked carrots, stewed cranberries, and three kinds of pickles (cucumber, green beans, and milkweed pods).  We had pumpkin custard for dessert.  This is simply crustless pie.  But this time there was a twist, since I used some cooked squash Joe's mom had brought, rather than thawing pumpkin.  It was very sweet and creamy, with a delicate buttery flavor.

Jeremy's friend, Peter popped over in time for dinner.  That was a nice surprise.  Peter is kind of part of our family.  He's a friend from the charter school Jeremy attended in southern Minnesota, who now lives up here.  His late mother was Joe's prom date one year during high school.  His uncle, who helped raise Peter, was one of Joe's late brother's best friends.  The families have known each other forever.  And there are many fond memories and sentimental ties.  Peter is fun to have around.  My kids love him like a brother.

Jeremy, Peter,and Elsie washing dishes

After dinner, I set the kids to washing dishes and I sat down for awhile.

I had many contented Mom moments over the weekend.   Really, content is too weak a work.  What I experienced is a feeling of utter happiness and peace and thankfulness to God for the gift of the family He has given me.  Not any single moment, but the blessing of a great couple of days with my kids, in-laws and husband.  I love the moments when my kids play together wonderfully, and we, all of us, are happy and calm in the same room.

We don't have an extra large living room.  It's plenty big, mind you, but one of the smaller rooms of the house.  We have two couches and two easy chairs and a wooden rocker.  We have a piano bench and various other cushions and pillows.  One of the couches is currently occupied with the remains of my ongoing sorting project.  My apologies to Joe's parents for not getting that hidden away out of sight.  But I think they would agree that in spite of one occupied couch, the house is much, much more presentable than it has been for many visits.

The floor is picked up.  And vacuumed, even.

Much of the weekend, the little girls played with their princesses and ponies on the living room floor.  Joe's mom sat reading, Joe's dad did his Dad things (dozed, fixed, looked at newpapers), I crocheted, Joe napped and worked.  The middle kids were in and out, visiting or reading, playing with the littles or doing various of their own projects.  Sophie finished up a ruffle scarf she had started knitting last week.  Stella and John played Legos, and they are each working on their first embroidery project.

Stella's embroidery pattern. 

I love looking across the living room, and seeing all of the kids strewn about, but quiet and peaceful.  It hits me every now and then, what a strange thing it might seem to some, to have this number of people lying about a room.  And it seems a strange and blessed thing to me when they are all doing so peaceably.  Much of the weekend we had seven or eight or even ten of us sitting together in a room with available seating for only six or seven. 

It makes me happy, for instance, to see Clara and Matt sitting together on the piano bench, without even a second thought.  Even though a few minutes earlier they might have been bickering aggressively over dishes chores.

It brings me joy to see my kids all piled up together on the couch.  Littles and bigs and mediums all in a heap.  It brings me a special kind of joy when this occurs in a calm and loving manner.

John's embroidery.  He's starting with the square with the snagged boot.

It brings me a wonderful sense of accomplishment and peace to see my little ones learning skills.  Working with their hands to produce something functional, that will make the world more pretty or pleasant. 

I like to see my Matt in and out, working on his car, in the kitchen helping Joe process the deer that have been hanging to age since hunting season, or heading off to his job at Pizza Hut in Thief River Falls.

I even like it (on occasion) when Jeremy invites the younger kids downstairs to watch or play his many electronic devices.  Yesterday, after Joe's parents left, the kids spent all morning down there.  Quietly playing the games or watching his videos, or whatever.  It was a nice "down time" after the busyness off a holiday visit.

I am so very thankful.  Thankful to God for my family.  Thankful to God for preserving them through my many flaws and failings.  And preserving me through theirs.  God is good and faithful.  He has given Joe and me this great and wondrous gift of ten children.  There are times when the responsibility of it threatens to overwhelm.  But we need not fear.

Moments like the many I had this weekend bring a welcome balm.  A reminder to me of the many, many promises of God.  Both those promises surrounding our temporal well-being and preservation; and also the more fundamental promises of eternal life through salvation in Jesus' name.

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