Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Developing Good Family Relationships

The contents of this article will in no way do the title of it justice. These are just a few observations about keeping peace, love and respect in the home. The subject is so complicated that books can be written about it, but in general, there are some simple things that help keep strife from the family unit.

My first experience of homelife was my own childhood, plus hearing my mother talk about her own childhood. One thing that I appreciated and gained the most from, was my mother's approach to faults in the family. After stern reprimands and discipline, followed by an explanation of what she expected from us, she would never bring it up again.

She wouldn't allow us to bring up past resentments, either. She moved on, and she wanted us to do the same. If we repeated the same errors, she rebuked us, but didn't go on and on with a long list about how we never learned and we always failed and we drove her crazy. That is one thing that I've come to appreciate more and more. She believed that each day was a new beginning, and she didn't wake up mad at us all for the previous day's folly. She had seven children but that each day was brand new, with its own problems looming ahead, and she didn't believe in dragging up the past to burden the new day. If we became melancholy or depressed over quarrels or discipline, she taught us, by her own example of "starting over," how to bounce back.
It was considered very wrong to hold faults over people's heads forever. We were supposed to forgive and give them the benefit of the doubt. If the wrong was repeated, we were to refrain from saying, "There you go again."When I hear people say that today, I know they are keeping score of wrongs, and collecting bitterness; bitterness that will harm the harborer, as well.

Bitterness and resentment were not part of our mother's personality. You knew that you always had a brand new chance with her the next day. You knew that you were brand new, to her, every time she saw you, and that she had faith in your better side. She didn't tell people that you were problem or that she was having problems with you or that you had this fault or that fault, because she knew that it would be hard to erase that image in people's minds, and that it gave others an unfair advantage over us kids. Instead of clinging to a perceived evaluation of any of us, she steered us a different way when we were not doing quite right. For example, if we were picking on someone in the family, she would try to make the other person look better in our eyes, by saying, "He might not be feeling well today. Maybe you should comfort him."
(Eph 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. )
She and my father had the same kind of relationship. The forgave each other immediately when one of them erred. They overlooked a fault. They didn't nitpick or find fault with one another, and they tried to teach the children the same behavior. To overlook a fault, you can still acknowledge it, but you forgive almost as immediately as you notice it. Overlooking a fault means that you regard the other person as better than yourself (even if he isn't.) Col 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

I've known families that harbor grudges from the past. When these brothers and sisters become adults, they continue to fume, fuss and feud. There is never any peace, and someone is always mad at someone else. They have a long list of offenses which they've kept from the past 10 or 20 years. They wait, ready to jump on the next offense, and add it to the list. Then they may say, "That settles it. You are never going to change. I am finished with you. Stay out of my life." After that, all they do is talk about how they "aren't speaking" to their brother or sister. They didn't wipe the slate clean when they went to bed, and the next day they added more offenses, til by the time they were adults, they had a huge bag of dirt to carry around. Our parents didn't let us go to bed angry, and they didn't go to bed angry, either. Time was spent correcting bad attitudes so that we wouldn't go to sleep with the guilt of these things still on our consciences.
(Eph 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath)

I think it is very unfair and unforgiving to remind family members of something they have done, and then make it a stereotype of their personality, labelling them with things like, "liar, gossip, headstrong," etc. It plants the idea more firmly in their minds, and they will find it difficult to get out of that mold. These kinds of labels cause problems clear into adulthood. They should each be given the chance to have a new day and a new beginning." 2Co 2:7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. "

Sometimes, grown children are still mad at their parents for some offense that happened in their childhoods. This was the kind of childish behavior my parents forbad when we were growing up. They knew they weren't perfect, but they wouldn't let us run them down. We weren't allowed to keep score of wrongs. We were told to forgive, and if we brought it up, our parents would say, "I thought you forgave her for that, a few days ago. It doesn't exist anymore, then."

If any of us woke up the next day with a resentment from the past, she would remind us that it was in the past, and we couldn't bring it back up again. She wouldn't let us dwell on it, nurse an emotional wound, or harbor a hard feeling. She made us get on with our lives.

We had a proper understanding of forgiveness. We knew it didn't always mean that someone else was right and you were wrong, but in forgiving someone, it meant that you were free of the burden of bitterness. We had to give the other person the responsibility to change themselves, if they wanted to, and not feel that we had to change them. It would have been a terrible mental burden to take on the changing and perfecting of another person. It was much easier just to change yourself!

We developed from her a sense of people's feelings. It was better to automatically forgive, or overlook a fault, than to bring it up and cause hurt feelings. For the sake of peace, we weren't to bring up anything against anyone, but forgive them on the spot.

Learning to look on the good side of each other, was to prepare us for many things in life. One thing that it does it adult life is this: Someone tells you what a rotten, stinking, horrible person you are, and you don't respond in kind, neither do you defend yourself. You may ask them to stop, but it is up to them. You don't hound them down and insist on an apology or make them repent. Instead, you forgive them before it escalates and before you get bitter. What they do, is up to them. During their bitter outbursts, you think, "I understand these accusations. Sometimes I do that, myself. "

If you resist and fight back, the fighting only escalates. If you don't respond with the same degree of heat, and you plant immediate forgiveness, it is better for you. The next day, your own attitude is that it is a new day and the past is forgiven. The other person may not have this same religious view, but it doesn't matter. Eventually they will be won over to your side. I've seen this happen over and over again. Eventually the other person feels safe enough with you to renew communication with you.

Our parents wouldn't permit mutiny of any sort, however, and declared martial law, or all out war, on their part, in order to put the troops back in line. They were the authority and they didn't permit any enroachment on their territory or anything that would tear down the home or the family, including quarrelling, fighting or attacking. That is not to say that we did not do these things: we certainly did. They were always met with consequences.

Anger and bitterness and seething resentment only makes you unapproachable. Your goal has to be one of reconcilation, and if you keep this in mind, you'll be able to respond more peaceably. Besides this, if you were taught from childhood that you have to own up to the things you say and do, you will have had enough experience facing an apology, that you don't want to say things that will eventually require a painful apology.

One thing I noticed that this training produced was truthfulness, even in anger. When some people get angry, they bring up any old exaggerated ridiculous thing, but we were more likely to tell the real truth when we were angry. As adults we could overlook irritations and faults of people around us. Not that it made us neglectful in correcting our own children, or to warn people of danger and put a stop to things in society that weren't right, but that it prevented us from creating constant conflict around us.

One way in which she would distract us from sullenness and resentment, was to introduce something productive that would benefit us all. We did a lot of reading, and learned to write stories. We were encouraged to pursue painting and other arts. Focusing on things that were good and useful and helpful to others did us a great deal of good. Work was also a option, which our parents used liberally, saying, "If you've got time to criticise, you've got time to work." My parents themselves, did not dwell on criticism, argue or start fights.

In teaching us right attitudes toward one another, my parents did not spend hours and hours of time talking to us about it. They stated their facts, and aside from a few reminders, that was that and that is the way it was. They didn't allow us to go around and around in circles arguing with them. Some people may wonder how in the world they did that, but you have to understand that in those days, most parents were like that. It was the way they were raised, and that is how they raised their children. There were deeper reasons behind it, of course, which can be addressed at another time.

Forgiveness is a powerful tool and we learned a lot about it. Living in close quarters, it is sometimes tempting to find fault with another member of the family. Maybe they clear their throat too much, sniff irritably, or have a nervous habit. Maybe someone sings out loud and another one doesn't like the tune. Or maybe they get into your stuff. We were taught that each one of us was a precious gift from God, and when we became tempted to hate, to just imagine how sad we would be if that brother or sister were to become very ill or have a tragic accident and lose their voices or their sight. This is not to say that we didn't hit or pinch one another once in awhile, but it was not allowed to continue, or passed off as "sibling rivalry."

We were taught to feel pitiful towards our siblings, and realize that their faults were an opportunity to forgive. Warned against self-righteousness and feelings of superiority, we were able to check ourselves. We weren't allowed to complain about a brother or sister unless we were perfect, and who is ever perfect? We could not take the splinter from their eye, while having a beam in our own. This belief reduced the tendency to be critical, condemning, and judgemental.

This wasn't a perfectly faultless family. In comparing notes with my brothers and sisters, we discovered that we each had a different viewpoint of how much we were disciplined. The older ones thought they were reprimanded and lectured the most, and the younger ones, very little. This is no doubt due to the fact that once you get the cooperation of the older ones in the family, the younger ones follow more willingly. One of the younger brothers said that he learned to avoid trouble by watching the older ones get into trouble and getting corrected for it.

We did argue and fight and do things we should not have done, but our parents used these things as a springboard to teach us right behavior. I really appreciate the fact that even now, our parents do not dredge up a list of past offenses and use them to demoralize us. It is so important that children, and adults be given forgiveness so that they can get on with their lives, and not be sick with the anxiety of having someone resenting you or keeping score of wrongs.

Please don't get the idea that we had a peaceable family all the time. We were children, and we were immature. It was a training ground. Our parents were diligent and did not just pay attention to our behaviour. There was a lot of "war" because our parents made it very uncomfortable for us when we created problems. With seven children, you can only imagine what would have happened if our mother let us get out of control. Our attitudes had to change, also, so it often caused many a pang, and may have even taken a whole day to learn a lesson, but the next day was a chance to begin again, without the past clinging to us. It wasn't always a peaceful home.

In real life, families do fight, (children should never be given the idea that it should never happen; to do so gives them a warped view of family life, and can harm them in their future homes. They just need to learn to bounce back from serious disagreements and quarrels, not hold bitterness.) but it is the parents that should do the correcting, and the children should not be allowed to attack their parents or fight amongst each other. The parents have to take control and monitor the situation. It won't always be a pleasant, quiet atmosphere, but in the end, it brings "the peaceable fruits of the spirit." (Heb 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. )

Not all the lessons were actually learned at the time. It has been many years since I was a child, and some of the lessons I can only now understand. The ultimate goal was to have a peaceful home where members of the family stuck up for one another and stood united during problems.

I love this aspect of beginning each new day fresh, with the past behind us. It gives the family members a clean slate. It gives them hope and the ability to do well with their talents and abilities, unhindered by the burden of all their past sins. They didn't have to go around with a knot in their stomach, knowing that someone was mad at them or not speaking to them.

Pouting was not tolerated, nor holding grudges. I do not think any of us ever developed the habit of pouting or giving someone the silent treatment or being "in a funk" like people do today. I don't think we even knew how to do it. Our parents thought pouting and the silent treatment was not honest. We may have tried it a time or two, but quickly abandoned it rather than endure reprisals.

This is one of the things that I learned in my childhood that I truly appreciate. It makes me smile to know that every day we can wake up looking at each other as brand new people. It gives us a way of looking at people that is good and healthy, rather than with criticism, suspicion, or skepticism. It was good to grow up knowing that people weren't watching us, always waiting for us to trip up, or make a mistake. It gave us the freedom to develop good character. When you know someone is always upset with you, or holding a grudge, it can make you very nervous.

I was able to "live off the fumes" of this family experience (that is an expresson we use here sometimes). I tried to pass this attitude to my own family, because I believed that freedom is one of the most valued things in a person's life. If you give them forgiveness and allow them to start each new day fresh, they will also less critical and able to overlook faults.

We learned through this attitude that many things we thought were faults, weren't really faults. They were often false opinions we had formed, based on our own critical attitudes, and in themselves, not really much to get upset about.

We were a noisy family, and we did argue, fuss and fight. We didn't always cooperate with our parents at first. Sometimes we really put up a fight! Sometimes it looked like we won the battle, but we always lost the war. But because of the constant attention to our attitudes, we left that home knowing what caused trouble and what caused peace. The Bible says that bitterness "causes trouble." (Heb 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled)

I'm sure there are other families whose parents gave them something valuable like this. I've heard of others whose parents gave them the ability to endure great hardships, or whose parents passed down to them the opportunity to create work, or even wealth, from very little. You can talk about a trip to famous amusement parks, or great events, but the value of forgiveness or endurance far outshine the temporal value of financial achievement or accumulation of wealth.
Scroll down to comments to read about one of my brothers who ate my strawberry soaps, and me throwing him in the creek. While growing up, we did not allow the family to deteriorate into picking fault with one another, but we developed things to do of a constructive nature. That being said, it was understood that when a brother absolutely refuses to do what is right and if a brother was engaged in something that was a bad influence or a bad example, or if he continued to disturb others, or his nature seemed to always cause trouble, we were encouraged to be silent around him or avoid being in his presence. "Cast out the scoffer" the Proverbs say, "And there will be peace."

Eph 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice

This painting by Thomas Kinkade looks a little bit like the homestead where we grew up.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Housekeeping Site

We have closed the comments off for awhile, since we are too busy right now to monitor them.

For anyone who is interested, there is a site that has a few interesting lists for housekeeping that needs to be done, for particular rooms. after you have viewed the page, click on "daily schedule" in green.

If that link does not work, try this

Take a look at where there are lists like "Making A Home, " "Cleaning Tips" and "Organizing Tips." Most of these pages allow you to print them for your homemaking textbook.

More tips for homemaking under difficult circumstances here

Monday, March 20, 2006

Doing Your Best

If you are new at homemaking, you don't have to think that everything has to be done perfectly. However, it should be done the very best you can.

An example of this matter being confused, is the following:

A young woman who accepted an invitation to a Tea, enjoyed it so much, that she asked how she could do it, even though she didn't have the experience or the expertise.

In order to put her mind at ease and encourage her to practice hospitality, her hostess told her she didn't have to go to all that trouble, and that just a muffin and a beverage would suffice.

When others attended her luncheon, they were awfully disappointed. Why? Because this woman herself was capable of so much better. She had not bothered to do her very best or to reach for the highest possible point of achievement that she could. She was getting by with as little as she could, and taking the easy way out.

And, why do you suppose people thought she could have done more?

1. She had attended a lot of lunches hosted by others, and had plenty of time to observe.
2.She had the facility of a nice home, and the space and kitchen to do work in.
3.She had other interests which she spent a lot of money on, and knew how to do well.
4.She was of a certain age, beyond childhood, and was not helpless, nor penniless.
5.Her very best was not offered.

The hostess that advised her, certainly did not intend for her to do a lackadaisical job. She was only trying to give her some beginning steps. So, in all that we do, let us do it well and to the best of our ability, using our creative talents.

It is one thing to offer up something when you really have nothing, but if you truly are able to a little more than the basics, a little more than just to get by, or a little more than "necessary," then you should.

In judging your own housekeeping, just do as well as you can in your circumstances. There is no use getting by with a swipe and a sweep at the house, unless you have special problems. We can each put our whole heart and soul into what we do. We are generally much happier when we know we have done our best, and put our full talent into something. People who just do what they can get by with, in anything, will never be completely happy or fulfilled.

That is why I say, when you are homemaking, that you should not just clean something, you should beautify it. Your finished job should send a message. It should say "I love my family enough to provide a place for them that is lovely and comfortable."

It is the same way with what we wear. Intentionally or not, it sends a message.

One of the reasons for good housekeeping is to win others over to your side, and to your way of life. It is a way of speaking without words.

I don't want to imply that housekeeping is the main reason for being at home, or that doing a poor job is a result of laziness, but that our attitude can be detected through the evidence of our work. As stated in a previous article, there will be times when it is impossible to pay attention to details of housekeeping. What I'm saying here is that when you are able, you should do your best. You'll one day be called to account for it, and you are creating memories for your family. You might be surprised years on down the road when someone says they were influenced by your attitude toward your responsibilities.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Your Comments

Your posts are so much appreciated, but please note the following:

The blog here is designed to uplift and encourage those ladies whose dream it is to have a nice home and family, even if they have made mistakes in the past. We would like to keep it from constantly veering off into debates with feminists. If you want to debate or object, please post your feedback at on the feedback section.

Only comments on the articles that you can see on the page before you here will be posted. We can't be bothered to dredge up old stuff that has already been commented on.

We very much value you posting your blog sites. It is nice to know there are so many wholesome, cheerful blogs out there.

We are for marriage, home, family and honoring parents. We know there will always be broken homes, but we want to encourage women to try as best they can to get as close as they can to these ideals, no matter what situation they are in.

Thanks so much.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Living On One Income

I was interviewed (or roasted, depending on how you look at it) on a radio program today. The questions were incredibly boring and dumb, and they never got around to talking about anything other than the one income family. Every caller thought I was crazy for insisting that a woman, even with several children, could manage a home and family within her husband's income. I've covered this subject many times, and there are many resources on the web regarding frugal living for women who want to stay at home and manage their families, while their husbands provide the living.

Listening to the callers questions, I got the feeling that it was not the "high cost of living" that prevented women from living on their family income, earned by the husband, but the cost of high living, that prevents them from living at home on one income.

One woman who called stated that it was impossible to live on a husband's income unless he was making so many grand, a year. My reply was that it was possible, if you didn't try to have all this world's goods. The problem is these women want to start at the top, not at the bottem, where they can work their way up to a better standard of living and double their husband's income by staying out of debt, looking for bargains, or innovating and making things yourself. I wasn't able to ask these women questions such as:-

Do you make your own meals, or do you depend on ready made? This doubles your expense.

Do you make any of your own clothes, buy discount or second-hand? Buying at exclusive stores can really put a burden on your family economy.

How many vehicles do you have? Each car requires fees like insurance, tags, and licenses, plus the cost of oil, gas, and maintenance repair.

How high are your house payments? Instead of buying "up" and having to fall a long way down when your salary is cut or your job is eliminated, buy "down", fix up the house, and sell it for a profit when things get tight.

There are many things you can eliminate, which amount to hundreds of extra dollars a year. The newspaper alone can amount to $75.00 a year, and so can T.V. guide, even if you just buy it once a week at the grocery store. Cable television costs money you could save or use to pay a more important bill.

The main concern that women who called the show had, was that they could not live on one income. My answer is that if you try to do it, you can. I've never seen anyone who tried to do it and was determined enough, ending up living on the street, or sleeping under a bridge. They say "If I do this, it won't work," but most have never really tried it. I believe you have to work a plan before the plan will work, but most people want to live as they please and then add more income to their family so that they can just keep on living that way. If they start at the top, living the high life, it is a long way to fall if they get sick and can't work, and if you work your way up without debt, living frugally at first, you can stay at the top for a long time, with the security of savings, investments, and income.

I know two women I've spoken about before, but I'll give you the story again.

This woman married at the age of 15. She never worked outside the home, and her husband was not skilled, being only 17, but he had a job. She still has the household management book from their first year of marriage, where she kept a record of her husband's paychecks, and the bills they paid. In a pocket she collected pictures of things they wanted to have for their home. They had children right away, and she still managed on her husband's income. Eventually he became skilled in his job, and was advanced. They had a bigger salary, and his wife put some away in savings. Couples can live on one salary if they don't insist on having all this world's goods right away. After a number of years, she was able to put a downpayment on a house, and although it wasn't a very nice house, she fixed it up, and eventually sold it, to buy another house.
The only bill they had was their house payment, because she did not use a credit card, and they managed their money well.

The other woman whose husband had nothing but a bicycle when they got married, managed the money from his salary, and combined with tax refunds, managed to buy him a farm. Today he is one of the most successful farmers in his area. When they first moved out to this piece of land, there was nothing there but an old run-down shack, with only a water spigot outside as their main water supply for drinking, cooking, bathing, and laundry. She had to clean out that old place, which was over run with vegetation and animals, and make it possible to provide shelter for them while they were figuring out how to build a real house. She was willing to put up with the lack of comforts because it meant they would not have to pay any rent. The women that I talked to were not willing to find a bargain or fix it up. They want to start out their married life living in luxury. They won't "put up" with anything. Today, this woman lives in a beautiful home with all the ammenities, but she got there debt-free.

Now let me say something about parents and grandparents in the scheme of things, particularly regarding the family income. When I mentioned the parents as a resource in helping out the family income, the radio interviewer said, "Oh yes, sponge off the parents, sure, sure." But let me tell you that now that the shoe is on the other foot, and we are the grandparents, how they feel about it.

Parents and grandparents, who love their children, and whose children aren't living a wild life, spending foolishly, will want to see their children successful. The want to help out. They want to give, especially when they see your good way of life. It is a source of great pride to them to help you in your goals of having a good home and a stable family. The want you to have a nice couch and a stove that works, and they want you to be able to pay your heating bill. The are glad to help, and it isn't sponging at all. This is what we have waited for all our lives, and this is how we want to invest our money. We would rather give it to our children than anyone else. You can also save a lot of that money, and continue living frugally, so that you'll have an investment you can depend on later. Some people save all the children's birthday money, and all the money that their parents gift them with, and buy interest-bearing certificates, which provide them with income later on. This is only one benefit of having a right relationship with your parents and your husband's parents.

Our daughter stays home and guards her husband's earnings by refusing to go into debt and only shopping for discounts. Anything you spend, or charge, beyond your husband's income, will threaten your position as a homemaker. The more you spend, and the more you charge, the closer you are to having to go to work. If you really want to stay home, you can. There are many women who are doing it. Being a stay at home woman is not so much a matter of economy as it is of philosophy. To a large extent, your beliefs will rule your actions.

The most I've ever been ridiculed is about this economy thing. "How in the world did you stay home and raise a family when your husband was making a welfare-size salary?" I would ask in return, "How do welfare recipients manage to stay home--both the husband and the wife, on a welfare sized income?" Maybe we could learn a lesson from them. If they can do it, then I can do it.

Some first steps toward that endeavor might be:

-Visit homemakers blogs to find out why and how they are able to stay home
-Learn to make a dollar stretch.
-Stay out of debt, or get out of debt
-accept help from parents, if they want to offer it.
-Learn the secrets to good economy from others who have succeeded at it. It does not necessarily mean a top-notch salary. Many people with high salaries cannot make it, due to lack of good economic practices.
-Understand the meaning of "contentment."
-Be creative in substituting things
-Be innovative and enterprising.

painting: April, by Susan Mink McColclough

Thursday, March 09, 2006

All the Pretty Houses

It is not my intention to keep busy women on the web too long, but I found a website maker called "Cottage Collections," and followed up on on their home page creations. It reminded me of my daughter's intense interest in house-drawings and floor plans, when she was growing up. She had a pad of graph paper and never tired of sketching houses and their inside layouts. If you don't have time to go into the entire websites here, at least look at the pretty drawings of the little cottages, and some of the other sketches. On some of the sites, after you click on the house, it takes you to a colorful living room, as well.

painting: fireside tea by susan mink colclough, from allposters fine art.

Here are some more:

--all are a joy to behold, for women who love their homes.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Family Traditions

On the left you see a table spread for a reception that we provided for a few friends. A small pedestal dish contains what we call "Papa's Mints," which are a popular tradition in our home. It began one day when I could not find a special butter-mint that my husband remembered as a child. Most of the commercial mints of this nature were not a soft, melt-in-your-mouth confection that I was looking for. I shall include the recipe for these, at the end of this article.

After making these mints, they were placed inside a clear glass container. I offerred them to members of my family, and thought nothing of it until their next visit when they went straight to the kitchen and looked for the jar. "Where are Papa's Mints?" they asked, from the youngest, aged two, to the oldest, Papa himself, age 62.

Traditions in the home aren't really something that you decide to establish. They often come as family members become fond of something. You may sing a lullabye one night, or tell a story, and the next night, behold, they all remember, and want you to do it again. This is the way the private and unique family traditions are established. These traditions are the things that bond the family together forever. While the calendar may call the population to observe holidays with names like Groundhog Day, your own family can make their own calendar with their own celebrations. This is the way that people come to say things like, "We always go to Papa's house to help make apple cider when the apples begin to fall from the tree."

There are other traditions that develop without us even knowing it: sayings that begin in early marriage, and family rhymes that happen by accident.

Two traditions I like are special foods and special songs, so here I will post the mint recipe, and after that, a special lullabye. It is possible we may be able to provide the tune for it by clicking on a place where it is sung, later.

Papa's Mints: Mix 2-1/2 confectioner's sugar (600ml) with 3 Tablespoons (50ml) butter, 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) cream, and 1/2 teaspoon (2ml) peppermint flavoring. You may substitute flavoring if you like, for spearmint, wintermint, --even cherry and other flavors. After mixing, you can divide it several ways into small bowls and add coloring. Mine that are pictured are left plain. Roll into a rope about 1/2 inch (1.5cm) in diameter. Refrigerate until firm, and then cut into slices however thick you want them. Let stand on waxed paper several hours or over night. This mixture may also be pressed into candy molds.

Slumber My Darling - a little known composition by the Stephen Foster, (1826-1864) best known for "The Old Folks at Home." This is a favorite of our family, and our son in law played the guitar and sang it during the reception. You can hear a line or two sung here and you may be able to download the entire song sung by Alison Krauss from the web. The sheet music can also be obtained from ebay, Amazon, and other locations.

Slumber my darling, thy mother is near

Guarding thy dreams from all terror and fear.

Sunlight has past and the twilight has gone,

Slumber my darling, the night's coming on.

Sweet visions attend thy sleep

Fondest, dearest to me,

While others their revels keep

I will watch over thee.

Slumber my darling, the birds are at rest,

Wandering dews by the flowers are caressed.

Slumber my darling, I'll wrap thee up warm,

And pray that the angels will keep thee from harm.

Slumber my darling till morn's blushing ray

Brings to the world the glad tidings of day

Fill the dark void with thy dreamy delight--

Slumber, they mother will guard thee tonight.

Thy pillow shall sacred be

From all outward alarms;

Thou, thou art the world to me

In thine innocent charms.

Slumber my darling, the birds are at rest,

Wandering dews by the flowers are caressed.

Slumber my darling, I'll wrap thee up warm,

And pray that the angels will keep thee from harm.

On the web are various commentaries about blogging. Some of these articles on quite prominent sites, even news sites, dismiss them as housewives writing down their daily activities, and hardly worthwhile. I would not discount these blogs, for they are more important than people think.

Since many young women these days have not grown up observing their mothers at home from sunrise to sunset, these blogs provide an insight into how life at home operates. Cleaning, organizing, meals, childcare, marriage, and managing finances are things that are learned almost unconsciously when growing up with parents whose goal is to have a happy, contented family. Some people may not have experienced that.

The Christian homemaker's blogs give the new homemaker some idea of the purpose and progress of life at home; some model to follow. Rather than being trivial, these weblogs, even in their simplicity, contain wonderful words of life. They bring hope and reassurance to many a young woman who feels she is pioneering an area that is not charted.

I know that I, as a homeschooler in the late 70's and early 80's felt, without a guide before me, frightened and lost, without direction, and the world against me. I could at least look back a generation or two further and remember that American education and economy was largly family based at one time, and they succeeded. Schools do not prepare us for this kind of life, because homemaking is not regulated by time slots, subject matter, report deadlines, bells or attendance.

Most young people experience leaving the home as soon as they wake up. After many years of this kind of conditioning, it can be quite a challenge to stay home and pay attention to the tasks at hand. These daily homemaking blogs can be quite informative and motivating to new homemakers. It is help available at your fingertips. They can get a lot of ideas about the traditions of home life from opb's--other people's blogs.

If you know of, or have a homemaking blog, please post it in the comments.

Click on the dining room picture for a larger view.

Home: The Great Society

The following is a true story of several families, but combined, to protect their identites:

Our family visited a married couple in their eighties, who had raised 7 children. I intended to ask the man about his life and career, but he distracted me quite a bit by telling me about his family. Throughout our visit, he would hold up seven fingers every chance he got, and remind us that, "I have 6 sons and 1 daughter." In this declaration there was something beyond personal pride, that was an affirmation of a lifetime achievement.

At 82, he could hoist a canoe on his back, and was as strong as an ox. We followed him down the steps of his steep incline to the lake, where he launched the vessel. While on the short canoe trip with him, he spoke quite a bit about the experience of raising children.

Having grown up in a family of 7 myself, I was drawn to his perspective. Like us, throughout this endeavor, they had endured a lot of sarcasm and ridicule regarding their large family. I wouldn't want to repeat here some of the unkind remarks levelled at us when I was growing up. Listening to this man's description of his children and their life together as a family, renewed my pride in my own childhood.

While the society around him scoffed and sneered and wondered what in the world that family could be thinking, by having "all those children," he and his wife were busy about getting those children taught and prepared for life. They were always home as a family at mealtimes. Evenings were spent somewhat noisily, together creating their own fun and recreation. His house bore the marks of an active bunch who liked to do everything from playing table tennis to drawing pictures.

One of his sons learned to repair things around their house and eventually earned his living as a carpenter. He helped a neighbor build a new house. Another son who was interested in plumbing, developed his own plumbing business, and was hired by another neighbor to install all the plumbing in a downtown business. A third son became an electrician.

The fourth son always loved working in his family's yard, and gained a keen interest in plants. He grew up wanting to have his own gardening business. He eventually became the owner of a gardening center and an expert on plants and gardening in his area. His business provided landscaping for many new and older homes.

Two of the younger sons, who were born later in this man's life, and were more acquainted with the new technology, became accountants and business managers. They later joined forces with the other sons and helped them manage their businesses. The daughter? Well, she became an interior decorator, and when she married and had children of her own, they all helped their uncles decorate those beautiful homes they were building, wiring and plumbing.

People around them had no trouble accepting a classroom full of 30 children, with only one teacher, yet could not understand how two parents could manage 7 children, yet these parents accomplished a great deal through these children just by their rich home life. They created their own society within that family and that home, which generated benefits to the larger society. Those who made snide remarks or doubted that this family could survive, were brought to their senses as they observed the inner workings and the relationship of this family, which year after year assembled at their parents house for family celebrations, sharing both joy and sorrow.

Although this man had worked for many years in a lumbering company, our visit with him that day never yielded any information about his brilliant career. He would only talk about his children.

Today, the pride of this man is his children, and the pride of his children is their father and mother.

You may not be married, or even have children, but still, home provides the best opportunity for good society. Its influence flows outward into the community and the impact is always felt in the world.

Painting by Myrick, from

Monday, March 06, 2006

Nothing Has Changed

It seems like nothing changes in our lives at home, and therefore nothing of significance about which to write.

I still spend most mornings catching up on correspondence, because I don't like to start the day with anything too dramatic, too loud, or too sudden. I sip my of tea in a favorite old china cup at the dining table and work my way through piles of papers. I still can never just write a "plain" letter; it must have glitter and stickers and artwork all over the page, so it still takes me twice as long to write a thank you note as it could, and makes ten times the mess to clean up later on.

The church still meets in homes for mid-week services on Tuesday nights. Our teacher, an elderly man, from whose mouth never comes a word that is not packed with wisdom, (he is no idle talker or jester) assigns a word to study from the Bible each time. This makes excellent use of concordances. One week, it may be the word "wisdom," and the next "understanding." This week, our word is "heart." On Mondays, the phones begin ringing with people trying to find any member of the class who remembers what Tuesday night's word is, without having to actually call the teacher and admit they have forgotten and haven't studied it til this late date.

Speaking of words, has anyone noticed how popular words and signs are these days? Just about any shop you enter, or any catolog you receive, has words for sale. Many of them are cut out of word, letter by letter, to hang on a wall as you would a picture or painting. Others are written with paint on old pieces of wood or ceiling tiles, and any other surfaces that can be found, from rocks, stepping stones, drift wood, and even discarded household items. The most popular words are "dream" and "inspire," but I have seen "grow," "bloom," "plant," and others. One particular sign that amused me, said simply, "Be nice." How often have you mothers said that to someone? Next to it was one that said, "Grow Up." Since our word study classes and my exposure to the words for sale all over the place, I've become enamoured with words. If you are one of those who correspond with me, don't be surprised if I send you a word. I've got quite a few favorites:


I'd be glad for you to list words you like in the comments section. I've been making words myself to hang up in various places in my home.

My husband still likes to relax in the evenings with a Dickens classic --he likes Chuzzlewitt, Our Mutual Friend, The Old Curiousity Shoppe, or Bleak House, for some reason. Although I don't really relish them as well as others, I sit in the same room with him, with a little heater at my feet and cut out words: contentment for a little girl, made with card stock and pink glitter, relax for a stressed out woman, or hope for someone in uncertainty..amazing how the things you learn as a child can fill your time later in life: letters, cutting and gluing..

My kitchen still needs an extreme makeover, but I manage to cook some gourmet meals with the one skillet and saucepan I have, (refusing to buy anything new til the stove is replaced and other things refurbished), and the bare chimney from a previous stove hanging meaninglessly from the ceiling, along with the old watermarks from leaks, and the peeling ceiling tiles. In spite of these defects, people insist on following me in there and won't stay seated in the living room til dinner.

Our family conversations still begin in the morning and end in the evening, as we like to explore every aspect of whatever subject has come up, usually about marriage, home and family. One of our sons bought us all cell phones, and we use this wonderful technology for these off and on conversations. While we are quite keen on new things, we like to remind each other that it all should be based on the values of the old paths, in order to get the best use of them.

Our youngest son, who lives at home, still has a room packed with every imaginable man-thing. I still check on it regularly and make sure everything is picked up and cleaned up. He has every imaginable tool for constructing a house, and every nail or bolt, flashlights, camping gear, landscaping books, and every book and video available about the outdoors and country life, anywhere from Alaska to Australia. I recently decorated this room in avocado green, a color I had detested for years, but found went so well with his collections of wood and rocks.

The dog, Molly, a companion I reluctantly accepted, which had been passed from owner to owner, still resides under the desk where the computer sits. Since we live in a country area, it seemed only humane to let her live out here with us, as long as she didn't bother anybody and kept out of the main part of the house. When her owner, Master Stevie, left, her habits changed quite a bit, so I suspect that deep inside of her was always a basic instinct to do whatever she wanted, despite her training.

When Stevie was here (our son) he was in the habit of giving her a treat after she had been outside in the cold chasing off wild animals and "protecting" the property. Almost as soon as he left, she figured out that these two old folks in charge of her, were a real soft touch. After being let out, instead of doing her job to earn her treat, she began to turn around and beg to come back into the cold room where she resides, but still perched expectantly for the treat.

Over time, she managed to just go to the door, whine to get out, then, without even leaving, turn around and ask for the treat. Now, just days before Stevie returns home, she does not even bothers to ask to go out to earn her living, but just begs for the treat. A simple lesson in welfare, here, folks.

I still have a daily routine which, if not followed, leaves me a little disoriented. I begin at the furthest end of the house, making beds and putting books away, and work my way to the kitchen at last. Personal experience has shown me that if I begin with the kitchen, I will never leave it.

The living room still faces the beautiful view of the farmlands, and the furniture is arranged just the same as it was years ago. I decided that although variety is nice, this is one room that cannot change. Every time I threaten to change the decor, the family says that there are too many memories connected to the way it is. I love to see the grandchildren come into the house and look around to see that every object and piece of furniture is where it was the last time they visited. The familiarity of it seems to settle them.

My aged Auntie still phones me once in awhile and still asks, "What's new?" and I still say, "Nothing much," as I hold the phone to my ear and iron my husband's shirt. In this world of rapid change and uncertain loyalties, I think it is nice to be able to tell someone that everything with us is the same. It must be awful for old people to be constantly hearing of the younger generation's upsets and heartaches. And don't young people ever long to go to an old family home where things will always be there, and the old folks will always be the same?

The crack under the door still remains, where the mouse comes in and out as it pleases, and we can still hear a frog in the bathroom. I've never been able to catch either one of them, and think it is less trouble not to do so. They can both take care of themselves, but if I go to the trouble to get them, I shall have to put them somewhere, and that would be one more thing to do on my list.

picture: "Coming Home" by Susan Rios