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Friday, July 31, 2015

A Berry Sticky Day

It's 5:40 in the morning and I'm looking at two and a half GALLONS of juiced blackberries gazing back at me with ferment...err contempt after being picked last night. They need to be used within the next eight hours or we will have blackberry wine on our hands instead of blackberry jam...but we don't have pectin...and the baby is already awake...and the three year old has VBS today...30 minutes away.

So I do what any ridiculous person would do, rather than throw away the free blackberries (granted they had already incurred quite a steep bill for labor between picking and juicing time) I put a plan into action. By 9:15am I have dropped Capper off at VBS and am purchasing $38 worth of pectin at the store, who knows, I might decide to do this project again someday...when I forget how much work it is. The baby naps on the way home and wakes as I drive into the driveway foiling my plans to accomplish anything while Capper is gone. I manage to wash and sterilize all my pint size and smaller jars along with enough lids and rims. And I do math! My middle school teachers could have created an entire lesson out of all the math I do...the recipe called for 4.5 cups of blackberry juice, but that included a cup of water, but then boiled for 5 minutes...so maybe I'll say it is 3.75 cups of pure blackberry juice. So I have to add .75 cups of water for every 3.75 cups of juice...but how many cups are in a gallon?? In the end I decide to add 4.5 cups of water, 6 boxes of pectin, and...well you don't want to know how much sugar. Let's just say I was glad I bought a bag of it at Costco on Saturday! Good thing I chose the "lower sugar" pectin or even my Costco bag would not have been enough!

Alarm going off! Forget the sugar it's time for the hour drive there and back to get Capper from VBS! Again, Evie takes a short nap in the car, ruining her second sleep of the day. But Capper is thrilled to have had another fun morning at sports camp so we get home and he eats, and I eat, and Evelyn eats again even though I've been feeding her all morning to keep her occupied.

OK I MUST get this jelly made or it will ferment. It's already starting to smell a bit like beer (forget that detail if you ever get any of it as a gift). I decide to let the kids tear apart the house and pull out just about every toy imaginable so I can boil water and jelly on the front porch because it's far too hot to be doing this job inside and heat the house. But of course I don't make it long before I have to intervene with the kids and rescue a crazy climbing one year old or help a three year old set up his Legos on the table so they don't be destroyed by the monster baby. Back to my boiling jam, I have to stir constantly for the next 10 minutes so I strategically set them up with toys I think will keep them occupied...but in the end the baby is crying because she is tired and Capper is crying because he tried to help her but tripped and slammed his ear into the corner of the picnic table and I can't stop what I'm doing because I'm trying to guard the area surrounding the open flame of an outdoor stove. And my shoulder is aching from stirring with a normal spoon in a 6 gallon pot without a stepstool.

10 minutes are done, I pay Capper his two nickels I promised when I asked him to go inside and get me a wet washcloth to wipe the sticky blackberry mess off my hands before touching the baby. The reward helps him start to feel better, Evelyn gets her blankie and gets put back in bed because clearly she needs a nap. Nope, evidently it's hard to go to sleep when you create the biggest load in your diaper. Maybe I should limit her plum intake. Time to change the sheets! 

Well, the nap never happened but I've gotten a couple batches done, some of it while the kids play inside, some of it while they play outside. Boil empty jars, fill jars, wipe rims, boil filled jars. Burn myself with hot water plenty during the process.

Oops! The grief counselor is here to play with Capper, is it really 3:30 already??

I've canned before. Every time I think, "That wasn't so hard? Why are people so intimidated by canning?" I get it now. Those people must try to do it with kids helping.

The day is done, I have one last batch to boil. Capper wants to go on a walk and I agree because he's hasn't had much of my attention today. It's going well and I've prepped him with the fact that we need to turn back when my alarm goes off. The alarm. We turn around. He crashes. He cries. He insists on WALKING his bike the rest of the way home. 

Too long, one jar exploded in the water. Oh well, glad my piece of glass is in the bottom of the canner now and not earlier. Glad my water is filthy now and not earlier.

And then I hear it...CLICK! The satisfying pop of sealing lids. And it seems worthwhile. Those jars full of crimson delight. I can't wait until morning when I toast a piece of bread and slather fresh blackberry jam on top! If only we had bread...maybe I should bake some!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Evelyn Turns One

This gorgeous creature turned one year old yesterday! What a year it has been!
From this
To this
We celebrated by inviting family for carnitas, blackberry lemonade, and white cake with blackberry filling. I can't take credit for much of the cooking or cleaning, and I had to try the frosting recipe twice since the first batch came out looking like ricotta cheese but all in all I'd say it was a perfect first birthday party.  Happy Birthday Evelyn!








Tuesday, July 28, 2015

New Job

The smell of my fresh latte. The cloud-like foam and deep richness of espresso. Between going back to work and a teething baby, it feels like a long time since I enjoyed my coffee alone, just the sunrise and I. Just quiet. Reflecting. Reflecting on conversations from yesterday, conversations with my patients. Thinking about the look when I tell them I won't be back tomorrow, but the way it changes when I tell them I only work part time so I can be home with my little ones. The depth of their "thank you" for a day well served. For a day of passing medications, and changing sheets, and cleaning messes, but more than that, from a day of just listening. 

The openness of a patient with a nurse, because there's something about being a nurse that makes people trust you. Yesterday I walked into the hospital talking to God, reminding myself that this is worship, this work is worship, this life is worship. I walked out with such a richness, such an affirmation that this is the job for me right now. Yes, patient, I hear what you are saying, tears well in my eyes as you grieve over missing your grandchild's wedding because you are stuck in a hospital bed. I may not have been sick myself but I know what the disappointment feels like, missing something because you are stuck in the hospital. Yes, patient, I hear you when you tell me about the loss of your husband when your three children were only teenagers. The pain you felt on your children's behalf as they grieved the loss of a loved one. My story is not exactly the same as yours but I know what you mean when you tell me your faith has brought you through. I see how your faith has given you a reason to have joy in the midst of sorrow. 

Not every day goes this way, there are plenty of times when patients are angry or feel like their call light is never answered, or I when I want to hear their story but four other patients need their morning medications. There are plenty of moments when I feel pulled too many directions, frazzled, and rushed. But even on those days, there is such an affirmation, a feeling that this is the right job, the right one for me, for right now. Working one to two days a week, still plenty of time at home, and just enough time at work to really appreciate the opportunity. 

Colossians 3:23-24 "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men...It is the Lord Christ whom you serve."

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Summer

You ask what we've been up to this summer....well how about I tell you with a few pictures.

Meat-face masking

Car swing swinging

Exhausted, napping

Mischief making

Great-Grandma Visiting

Horse Feeding

Smoothie in a squish-tube sucking

Parade Watching

Truck-stuck Helping

Box stuck escaping

Make that two

Fireworks in a jar exploding

Cousin loving

Sister smooching

Arrow shooting

Plum Eating
We've had just a little bit of fun.

Seasons

This has been a year of internalizing the concept of seasons. It started just over a year ago; we didn't know yet that we would be moving and I told a friend, "I feel like this is such a season of ease, a season of peace. It feels like a time to sink my roots in deep and savor the goodness of life. I know it won't last forever so I want to savor this time." And then, in the blink of an eye, we had a baby and we were moving before she was 6 weeks old. We started settling into this new life and then, on December 26th, we woke up to the moment we'd known might come but had hoped never would. Anellah had her first bleeding esophageal varice. As we lived through that hospitalization we knew it was the end of a season. It was the end of the "watchful waiting" season and we knew we would need to pursue further treatment for her liver. We did not know, as we do now, that it was the beginning of the end of her life, but we knew it was big.

I drove back from the hospital in Spokane in tears, I grieved the loss of the season. I told my mother in law how much I was hurting and she wisely advised me to sit with my grief. To really feel it and process it rather than push past it.

The months from January until April, when Anellah passed, never really regained the vibrance they had had before that moment in December. Of course, you may say, I see that now, but even in the on Easter my Mom mentioned, "Anellah really never recovered did she?" Something just wasn't right. She just didn't feel well and we all felt it as a family whether we wanted to admit it or not.

I have had the joy of being able to have a garden this year. I almost failed as I spent the crucial month of April with Anellah in the hospital. A month when I should have been planting and applying compost and weeding. But after I got home, the garden moved higher on my priority list than it had ever been. It is my time to think about life, my time to think about Anellah, my time to process the season. It has been hot this summer, and the days are much longer here than in California or Texas this time of year. I have enjoyed spending the evenings in the cool air when it is too hot to be inside after the kids are in bed. Daniel works on his truck, I work on the garden. It is a rhythm we've created.

This season has brought much joy along with the grief. We have a lot of freedom now. It feels odd having a family of 4 again. It feels small. But it means we can do more! I can go take a friend's kids for a day so that she can unpack after a move. We can go places at the drop of a hat as a family and not have to worry about missing appointments or medication refills or forgetting to pack something medically crucial. I don't feel utterly exhausted at the end of the day so I can garden! I have also had the opportunity to go back to work. I am so happy with my new job, it is just perfect for the season we are in right now. I will work one to two days per week and I will work with people who are at Snoqualmie Valley Hospital because they want to be, because they LIKE working there!

I think about the fall, the time when we will pick apples. I think about the winter when the days are shorter and I will do more indoor activities. And then it will be spring again. And a year will have passed since Anellah passed. And I will be thankful. Thankful that I have learned to savor the season. To live in the moment that I am in.