September 18, 2014

A Cookie Monster

I'm a teacher by genetic programming.
I think, analyze and teach.
I especially love to watch myself and others trying to teach a principle to see what we are ACTUALLY teaching.

My favorite teaching moment was watching a teacher of two year olds holding the plug of a tape deck up to her mouth as she explained, with her tongue out- "Do not put this cord in your mouth! No licking the cord!  No touching the cord!"  Yes- she taught them.  Silly kids- they were all quite interested in the cord after that lesson?!!

I have said it before, but I absolutely think the most important thing we can teach our children is- to be kind and respectful. Every day we are teaching our children how to handle conflict in their lives by how we handle conflict in our lives.  

In a day and age where people struggle with mental health issues, as much as we struggle with physical health issues, I am so aware of the mental health example I set for the little sponges in my home.
The feeling of my home is more important than the appearance of my home.  Although, sometimes I find both aspects to be SO very correlated.  When my home is in order, I am also at peace.

Ralph Waldo Emmerson said, "What you do speaks so loudly that I can't hear what you say."

This isn't something to beat ourselves up about.  Most normal human mothers have all heard themselves yelling "Will you just TALK NICELY!!" Or we have felt the urge to bite or hit a child that is biting or hitting us.  Acting like a 3 year old at times should only give us some empathy for them as they try to figure out their little bodies and big emotions.

Last night I was making dinner and I whipped up a double batch of oatmeal raisin cookies, I wanted to freeze half.  (I leave out all the white sugar and add chia seeds.)  I had to run to pick Jakob up from soccer and when I got home my big kids were in the bathroom eating the dough.


This was a great teaching opportunity.
I got SO upset that I'm certain I was teaching something- I'm just not certain I taught the lesson I felt they needed to learn.

I yelled.  I cussed. (Something about the nerve they had to hide and eat my damn dough.) sigh.  I was so mad and I didn't even want to chill out and make things right.  I kind of sat there in my anger justifying my immature behavior.

Perhaps my children felt remorse.
They certainly didn't show remorse.
Perhaps they realized how wrong they were for sneaking cookies.
They already knew it was wrong-- that's why they hid.

Ultimately, I think they just learned that if someone does something you don't like, you are justified in throwing a temper tantrum.  Nice.
I hope they learned from my example how NOT to teach.

When Todd comes home, we are usually all sitting at the table ready to start dinner.  He will smile, kiss me, and say "Thank you honey, this look good.  There is such a good feeling in the home."

Yesterday, we were waiting for him at the table.  (He texts me as he leaves work and so I know I have 20 minutes to get dinner on the table-- we have to eat fast because we have activities later that the kids need to go to.). Everyone was quiet and I did not tell him anything that had happened moment before he arrived.  I was waiting to see if he would say "There is such a good feeling here."  So I could roll my eyes.

He did not.  He sat down and asked with concern if I was OK.  I said I was fine.  (Smoke blowing out of my nostrils.)  He kept saying "Tell me about your day.  How are things going?"  He felt the palpable difference in our home.  It made me smile even in my contention.

We had stroganoff for dinner.  I usually make my own sauce out of cream.  I had a jar sauce that  I used last night and I was waiting for the kids to complain so I could compliment myself on my usually good cooking skills.  I laughed again, to myself, as every kid raved about dinner.  They didn't even complain about the veggie and beans I snuck into the sauce.  My favorite. Moment was-- "Yeah Mom, I thought this would be gross.  But, it was surprisingly good."
Nice.  I did NOT tell them I had used Alfredo sauce from a jar.

On the way to church last night Todd told one of our daughters "Someday you will have children and you will appreciate all your mother does for you."

She replied, "Yeah, and then I guess I will cuss at my kids like Mom cusses at us."
Yes- that's exactly what I thought she was learning.

Today I am resolved to do better.
I will apologize for my cookie tantrum and try again to teach my children two lessons--
1- Thou shalt not steal cookie dough
2-  Thou shalt love in word and deed

If we can't teach with love and kindness we are still teaching- just not teaching the lesson we want to be teaching.

I have learned--
If I can't teach kindness AND responsibility, I pick kindness.
They can learn responsibility another day.

I have learned that in most instances.  
But don't you DARE eat my cookie dough.

The best part of parenting is that there is always tomorrow to try again.

And, luckily I have a (small) plate full of cookies to drown my sorrows in.

Tomatoes on Tuesday

I made 20 quarts of tomato sauce yesterday.  I still need to mop my sticky floor.
Ben and Eve played while I worked and listened to talks.
I love having chickens to eat the tomato skins and seeds.
All the kids took a turn helping.
They migrate in and out as I work.
Lily cut her finger a tiny bit, right after she insisted she was old enough to help without cutting herself.
Cute girl.
I kind of love those "Maybe Mom is right" moments.
We paused for a trip to the school to watch Jakob's soccer game.
It was a beautiful day.
I had one million things to do, but was glad I took a minute to be there in the stands for one of my favorites.
It was a great game!
We're still quite a spectacle here in Tully.  
Little Ben hit his chin on the bleacher, right beside me, twice!  Ugh.
This little guy is going to be busy and feisty!  I'm telling you-- he's a big spirit.
We has spaghetti for dinner and noticed the sauce was SO good, but a bit spicy (I added too many red pepper flakes).
So, we mixed two batches together before we started canning.
(Jakob laughed at this sauce and asked me if I could tell the shape of the heating unit under the pan.  An oval.  I love how his brain works.)
I don't even have a picture of the sauce all finished.  Here is me and my tomato splattered shirt.

I laughed to read this sign in my kitchen--
Things started out orderly, but got to be quite a mess in the middle.

Late last night, I fell asleep on the couch while Todd loaded the next batch of sauce into the steamer.
I really don't know where I'd be without that guy.

Today I'm cleaning counters and floors and walls-- everything tastes and smells tomatoey. 
And, it is good.

September 15, 2014

Seasons Change

After a kind Facebook comment about Ben that said, "She's beautiful", I had the motivation I needed to start cutting.
Can you believe how big he looks?
This little guy is about ready to walk-- maybe he's taken one or two steps.
We are outside often these days.
It's Fall here.
We're enjoying the beautiful, crispness in the air.
Our chickens are laying more and more eggs.

We're swinging.
We're cleaning.
We're trying to prepare for winter.

We may be getting a couple piglets that we'll butcher in February.
So, I'm looking at things like rubber flooring to put over our wood, heated water buckets, and making sure our stalls are pig-proof.
The cows are sweet and growing.  
I love cows.  (Seriously, love them.)

I love animals.
Do you realize how often people say some form of "how can you raise animals to eat" to me?  Often. 
This is usually followed up with "I could never do that."
I said the same thing to my farming friends when we first started.
I'm changing!!

I realize that I very well could be creating a negative experience for my children.  Because, we absolutely 100% love these animals we are going to eat.

Having animals has already changed us.
I saw veal at the store the other night and thought- Chuck and Tbone would be veal already if it weren't for us.  
I'm glad they're going to be steak.

I used to worry about eating an egg from a local farm.
I thought I wanted my eggs- germ free from the grocery store.
After raising chickens and seeing and tasting and knowing how healthy my own eggs are, I'm actually a bit disgusted to feed my kids store bought eggs.

You can tell healthy eggs by how hard the egg shell is to crack.
Our egg shells are tough, twice as thick as store bought eggs.
Our eggs are freshly laid eggs-- they are firm in the bowl not spread out and watery.
Our eggs are bright.  It's like eating wheat bread eggs vs white bread store eggs.
Our chickens are loved.

I almost feel like I'm becoming an animal feminist-- or a child labor/cow activist.  
What's happening to me?
Who is this person?

I guess if you have to eat animals raised on a feed lot, I understand.  I'm grateful there is enough food to feed people.  But, I'm eating store bought meat less and less.  I love local farms and local meat.  I'm so lucky I get to experience life and death with my children.  I feel this way of eating is more healthy and ethical than the way most people eat who question my ethics.

Instead of apologizing that my children will be sad when they eat a hamburger that used to be our baby cow--
I am actually proud that my children will FEEL the reality that they are eating a beloved creature who, because of us, was able to live a beautiful life.

I love these animals.
I love that we are working for our food.
I love the cycle of life.
I love feeding my children healthy food.
I love feeding healthy food to my animals so that it comes back as healthy food to my children.  
I have always dreamed of this life and I feel dang lucky that we get to experience it for this pocket of time.
I love that my kids get to work hard every day.
We absolutely have no idea what we're doing and I suppose that is a big part of the fun.

This is absolutely my favorite time of year!!
Welcome back Fall!!!

September 11, 2014

24- A day in my life

Have you watched the show 24?
I tried it while on bed rest, but it was too intense for my "resting" soul.
The whole season goes through only one 24 hour period (I think).  Maybe each episode is 24 hours.
Anyway-- here is my 24.

5:30 wake up and shower (as Todd leaves to take the boys to seminary 30 minutes away)

6:00 make bread

6:30 cook bread, wake kids, make 10 sandwiches and pack lunches 

7:00 do hair, make smoothie, clean kitchen, serve breakfast of warm bread and honey with smoothies.

7:20 drive Ellie to school for early morning choir

7:30 get a call from Todd saying he'll be home late because he was talking about solar panels and drove passed our exit (and the next exit) and was in Syracuse (20 minutes the other direction). Ha!

7:40 taught Lily to tie shoes, got kids out the door, cleaned up a morning whirlwind.

8:00 got dressed, got Ben dressed, wrote a blog, packed lunch, wrote a grocery list, asked Todd get cash for me at an ATM andto dump kitchen scraps in the coop for the chickens

8:30 my friend arrived to caravan with me to MOPS, got littles in the car, Todd informs me that the chickens are out and he was attacked by cows (who only lick)

8:35 explain to Todd that he is a farmer and he is bigger than the chickens, run through cow poo (with Todd and my kind friend) trying to quickly heard 15 chickens back in the coop (we can only free range with supervision)

9:00 MOPS meeting, Eve and Ben went to the nursery.  I checked Ben 4 times although he was fine.

11:30 ate lunch in the car, headed with friends to local fruit and veggie stands

12:00 went to Aldi

1:00 went to WalMart to get presents for Lily (her birthday is today which was tomorrow yesterday).

2:15 unloaded a car full of Goodwill bags at Goodwill

2:30 dropped off loaves of bread to women I love and visit monthly (who live far away in beautiful country). 
My kids slept in the car and I tried not to join them.

3:30 picked Drew up from FFA

3:45 dropped off another loaf of bread and talked to a friend whose grandfather is dying.  He is in so much pain and his death has been a long process- oh, how I wish there was more I could do.

4:00 dropped off bread to a friend whose husband is having surgery (again- bread feels so insignificant)

4:15 came home with tired tots and a van full of groceries, unloaded, put away, helped with homework, sent kids outside to play, started dinner (cabbage, potatoes, sausage, sweet potato fries and fresh peaches- kind of random dinner)

5:30 left Anna with dinner prep (reminding her to stir the cabbage/potato mixture) and ran to the school with Lily to catch the last 15 minutes of Jakob's soccer game (met Todd at the field)

6:00 returned home to get dinner ready while Todd waited for Jakob

6:15 served (a somewhat crispy) dinner to the gang- so grateful to squeeze in a family dinner on a busy night

6:40 Todd left to take the big kids to Youth Group at the church.  This is our third trip to Cortland in one day (30 minutes each way) and, if you count Todd's missing the exit, we had two trips to Syracuse (20 minutes away).  

7:00 at home I rushed to bathe Leah, Lily, Eve, and Ben and put them to bed.

7:15 I ran to a PTO meeting at Tully (only 5 minutes away, but this is my 5th trip to Tully today).  I somehow volunteered as the 6th grade parent rep, cookbook fundraiser co-coordinator, popcorn day lady, and bulletin board decorator.  

8:45 home, Eve is out of bed and my kitchen is still messy from a whirlwind dinner.  I put Eve to bed.

9:00 Todd gets home with the big kids, he puts Eve to bed (again) while I ordered a sample kit of cookbooks, emailed last years 6th grade rep, and made cupcakes for Lily's birthday.  My friend is texting me about piglets she is going to look at, asking if we want one, and wondering if I want one or two bushels of tomatoes to can.  :) Love her!

10:30 sitting on the floor exhausted waiting for the cupcakes to finish-- my house is asleep and full

(Ok-- just a little past 24 hours here...)

5:30 am wake up and sneak wrapping paper and tape out from under my bed to wrap presents for Lily, cut out hearts to heart attack her and decorate for her birthday

6:30 make icing, ice cupcakes, wake kids, dress kids, do hair, have the kids bring down and sort their laundry, let them lick the icing batter

7:00 answer a knock at the door- it is our good friend and our bad dog.  Someone left the gate open and Rocco was out running down the street.  Ugh!!  Thank goodness he didn't get hit!!

7:15 make tye die pancakes that were supposed to be rainbow pancakes, take pictures, find shoes, running a bit late and still cover a yogurt box with wrapping paper to hold the cupcakes (don't judge).

7:25 drive Ellie to school while other kids eat and brush their teeth

7:40 hustle all the big kids out the door,
MY KIDS HAVEN'T BEEN LATE TO SCHOOL ONCE ALL YEAR!  Put Frozen on for Eve, and lay on my bed typing this silly blog.

My life could be this busy every single day if I let it.
I guard my time at home most days.

Lately I've been pushing myself out of my comfort zone as I try to get involved in my community.  I find that being around people, and being involved, actually IS my old comfort zone.  
People are good.

Eve and Ben just crawled upstairs covered in blue icing.  I think they found the two cupcakes I saved.

I love being a "STAY AT HOME", "NON-WORKING" momma!!

Have a great day.
So grateful to be alive today!
How was your Wednesday?

How I love this darling six year old!!
(Doesn't that cute container make you smile?)

September 10, 2014


I woke up early (5:30), showered, and whipped up some bread for breakfast.

I used white and wheat flour, oats, and cinnamon to make it yummy and breakfasty.

While so many health trends are pulling away from wheat and other grains, I feel myself drawn to these grains more.  Weird?  I feel good feeding my family grains-- I'm off to a grain miller today to get some freshly ground goodness!!

My life is sliding into a gentle rhythm and it's lovely.

I have a few friends that are helping me leave my house-- I need to serve more outside my home!  It really is good to talk to other women.  We need each other.  (Why do we isolate when we need companionship the most?)

A friend I know tries to call 4 people every day-- outside of her family.  I'm not to that level, I actually feel sick calling someone who is not on my three most comfortable list.  (Does that surprise you?) But, yesterday I called three people that I've been wanting to talk to, and it was wonderful!!  Fear is so dumb!  

Finally, I'm reading a lovely biography about a mother of ten, Geraldine Bangerter.  She said "Our home is cozy and beautiful.  Cleaning and care are at a minimum as far as it can be with ten people here most of the time to wash, iron, and cook for."

Don't you love that?!!!

Today, my cleaning and care is at a minimum- as much as can be with my own family of ten to care for.
Life is about loving and serving people.
I love life because I love loving and serving people.  (Not that I'm as good at doing this as I wish I were...)

Enjoy today friends!!
Today is a beautiful day to be alive.
(My cow just mooed out my window in hearty agreement!)

September 09, 2014

We're all learning the SAME things

I absolutely believe that this life has purpose and meaning.
I believe that we are spirit children of Heavenly Parents (yes, I believe God is both a mother and a father).  I believe Heaven is about family.

I believe that this life is a time for us to learn and grow.  This life is a time for us to prepare to meet God, to learn to love our brothers and sisters.  This life is a time for us to become more holy, selfless, kind and good.

The trials and limitations of life refine us and purify our souls.
Life, especially when it's hard, is a gift.

I was talking to a friend at church the other day.  She is older than me and has never married.  She's caring for her aged parents on a retired dairy farm.  At first glance, I loved this kind lady.  But, I would assume we were living very different lives.  Right? 

I talked to her between meetings one day and asked her how she was doing.  I asked her what her hardest thing was.  I hope she wouldn't mind me sharing her answer.  She said "My hardest thing is ME."  She went on to explain that her struggling mother (I think her mom has Alzheimer's) doesn't like to go to bed at night.  I could feel the weight she carries as she loves and cares day after day.

How I loved this sister more as I realized we are both learning the SAME lessons.  I completely understood how exhausting it would be for her to try and remain patient and kind all day long and into the night as she selflessly cared for her aging parents.

Isn't this so true?
Our lives are different.  We each have different paths, different callings, different strengths and weaknesses.
But- we are all learning the same lessons.
Life's school is making us more kind, more wise, more selfless and more holy.

Me- I needed 8 kids, lots of moves, and some intense health challenges.  These life experiences have helped me become.  I'm so grateful for life lessons.  I'm better today because of yesterday.

I believe there is one God and one truth, no matter how you find it-- life is teaching you to know Him.  Life is teaching you to be more like Him.

It is so good, this life plan.
It's tough, but it's fun (sometimes) and worth it (always).

Have a great day friends!
Enjoy your life-school!!  
(Listen to your teacher!!)

September 08, 2014

Just Sitting Here.

I'm just sitting here trying to plan my week, trying to get the gumption to get up and at it.
(Actually, that picture is from last night.  I've been stuck since yesterday trying to get rid of my cranks.)

The laundry is folded and ready to be delivered to rooms.
I want to make up a job list for the kids, put my laundry away, make bread, and make a few phone calls.
I can do this!!

I'm reminded of a friend who told me that her theme for the year is "No dumb stuff."    
Today, I have dumb stuff that is clogging my productivity and I'm cranky.
I need to "Let it go!!!!"

Honestly, in life there is always going to be something I'm not doing well and someone to point it out to me.  My defensiveness creates a perfect justification to be angry.  I need to forgive and move on!  Right now.

As a mother, this is what I've learned--
My kids are basically good kids who really want to be good.

If they are not doing something well, it's because they don't know how, they are struggling in another area of their life and feel overwhelmed, or they are struggling to prioritize many good things.
In every situation encouragement, love and help are the best responses.  They need me to see them as good and they respond as good.  Our kids need us to SEE the good in them!!!  Kids need us to acknowledge what they are doing with gratitude and they will do better.  Love or charity NEVER faileth.

The absolute worst thing I can do to a struggling child is tell that child they are not good enough.  They are already struggling with being good enough.  They need one person in the world who sees the good and inspires them to be better.
Anger and contention and pride ALWAYS faileth.
Make sense?

I have a few children who don't love dishes.  When they complain and drag their feet we can respond two ways.

First, we can be mad that this child "never" gets their dishes done, say that's it's ridiculous that "every single night" we have this same discussion.  We can bribe (with carrots) or threaten (with sticks), but we know that carrots and sticks simply don't work.  This whole approach only 100% creates a home environment of contention.  Contention and pride and anger (enmity) always faileth.

Or, we can smile, be light-hearted, and pretend we are talking to our friend.  We can treat our child like we would treat someone we respect who might be struggling.  We can agree that the dishes is a task that often looks overwhelming, but then remind them of how well they've tackled big projects in the past.  "I know you're tired!  You've been such a great help today.  Thank You!  How can I help you get started?  Let's get this done really fast so you can enjoy the rest of the night."  Love and service and kindness and charity NEVER faileth.

It works.  We all want to be seen as someone who is good- especially when we are already beating ourselves up.

A friend told me once--
Satan will tell you that you are a failure.
Heavenly Father will tell you that you are so good you can be better.

I can promise you something-- I am 100% more motivated to help and serve someone who is grateful for my service than I am someone who is ticked off I'm not doing more.  That's human nature.

Feeling like a failure only creates more failure.

Feelings of failure are "dumb stuff".
I'm a good person who can be better.
I'm trying, you're trying, they're trying.
Let's be grateful for each other.
Let's do the best we can.
Let's not use another person's weakness as an excuse to be cranky.
I'm done being cranky.
I just have too much to enjoy today.

Thank you for reading this blog.
Thanks for all you do each day for your family, for your neighbors, for God.
I know there are 100,000 things you aren't doing- and that's ok.  Just keep doing simple things.  Keep trying.  Keep loving.  Keep moving forward.
You're good- you can be a little bit better today than you were yesterday.
We all can.
I love you.
God loves you.
Life is a gift-- we are here so that we can be happy!!
Feel the joy!!

Today, I am content in my childhood.
I'm content in my children's childhood.
I'm content in your childhood.

Today, I'm not going to think one whit about what I should of or could of done differently yesterday.  I'm just going to make the next right choice.
I'm going to DO GOOD.
I'm going to serve and love and smile.
I KNOW I'm not perfect, you're not perfect.  I make mistakes and I'm glaringly incompetent sometimes.
But- I'm trying.  I'm becoming better.
God is helping me to be a more profitable servant-- and that's good enough for me.

If you come to my house, you will see dishes in my cupboards that have hardened food on them.  (Probably from the by-hands that I washed.)  My kids are NOT quality control dishwashers (well, the slow ones are and that is SO annoying).  But- my kids try!!  They are so helpful!!  They are learning!!  And, I'm proud of them.

I'm ready to get up and try again today.

I'm sorry that I'm not a better visiting teacher, sister, accountant, wife, daughter, meal planner, patient mother, house organizer, toilet cleaner, doctor appointment scheduler, smiling happy food faster, wedding present sender, carpet cleaner, healthy eater, barn cleaner, garden weeded, activity attender, drama calming, invite people over-er, meal bringer, dog trainer, lunch maker, shirt ironer, family history doer-- I'm trying!!!!  

I want to be better.
I'm grateful I have another day to try.
Let's ALL be patient with one another as we try!!!

September 06, 2014


We had a joyful, beautiful, exhaling Friday afternoon.
It is officially Fall in Upstate NY.
Our Easter Egger chickens started laying eggs (the green one).
The wind is blowing and the sun is shining.
We spent half of the day cleaning up and doing laundry (Eve loves to play Cinderella as much as my other kids did-- it's soo fun to give her a rag to wipe kitchen chairs, talk like the wicked stepmother, and sing pretend songs with her while she helps me clean).
We were outside the second half of the day.  Swinging on the tire swing, crawling in the dirt, reading in the grass-- lovely.  The boys beat me pretty bad at Bocce.

I think Fall is my favorite time of year!
This year, I'm LOVING back-to-school.
I love having kids surrounding me.
I LOVE time with my littles.
Do you ever make Monte Cristo sandwiches?  They are French toast with ham and cheese inside, sprinkled with powdered sugar (optional), dipped in jam.
Easy, yummy Fruday night dinner.

Oh, life is good!!

September 05, 2014

Leah got bapitzed!

Leah got baptized on her birthday, September 1, 2014.
I can't believe this favorite child of mine is EIGHT!!

Just yesterday she was...

And now...

(Grandpa Ionno carved some watermelon baskets for us.) 

Leah's baptism was a perfect mix of friends and family.
Bishop Scanlon conducted the baptism.
Drew played prelude music and Jakob conducted the music.
Bryn Carr played the piano.
Leah asked her cousin Patrick (8) to give the opening prayer.
Ellie gave a talk on baptism.
Todd, David and Eric (Leah's uncles) sang Jesus Came to John the Baptist.
Leah was baptized by her father and her uncles David and Eric were the witnesses.
Anna gave a talk on the Holy Ghost.
Leah was confirmed a member of the Church and given the gift of the Holy Ghost by her father.
Leah's cousin Gabe (10) gave the closing prayer.

We ate fruit, skittles and doughnuts with chocolate milk.
Simple and sweet.

I think eight is a perfect year to be baptized.

Leah is an active, happy, smart little girl.
I love her kindness and her cute freckles.
In some ways Leah has been my most active kiddo (the child who was most wiggley at church), 
but I have just never doubted her goodness.

At age eight, Leah loves to read books about animals.
Almost every week she checks out a different non-fiction book about the new pet she is trying to get me to buy her.  For her birthday she wanted a horse, a bunny, or a donkey.
(She got Jungle Legos- but she almost got a bunny.)
Leah can make Ben laugh better than any other child.  
She is GREAT with little kids.
Leah's favorite thing to do is play with BOYS.
She loves to race, run, and wrestle.
Leah is Drew's best helper in the barn.  
She was by his side every morning and every night helping to bottle feed them.  
Drew and Leah are special friends.

How I love this bright, shining child of mine.
She read her sweet testimony before she was baptized-- 

When I have scripture time I feel happy inside being with my family.
I know the Church is true and that Joseph Smith prayed and his prayer was answered.
I want to get baptized because everyone else in my family did.  I'm excited to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I feel happy when I go to Sacrament Meeting and listen to the talks, when I see the temple, and when I say a prayer and it gets answered.
When my cousins were coming, I prayed that they would get here safely and the did!
I know Heavenly Father is real because He hears and answers my prayers.
He made the world, he made the church, and He made me.
I love my family.
I love the scriptures.
I love this Church.
I am grateful to get baptized.

Leah Jenifer Moss
1 September 2014

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