Last week we were walking through a day at our house. Come in and join us as we pick up where we left off.
Now that half of the children are off to school, I feel like half of my responsibilities have gone out the door.
Turning to the little boys, I check to make sure they combed their hair when they got dressed and picked up the number of toys matching their age. Recently Elijah emphatically informed me that he doesn’t ever want to turn 20. Much concerned, he explained that he didn’t want to pick up 20 things. I assured him that by that age, he’d be helping Daddy, and no, he won’t need to pick up 20 items daily. Now I wince; no, we won’t focus on the fact that Daddy is no longer here to teach the boys the work ethics of a Daddy taking charge of things at home. Indeed God will care for Elijah’s needs one at a time.
Next comes making their beds and Elijah washing dishes with Jesse rinsing them, then we all head to the basement to do laundry. “Are you strong enough to help me carry this basket load of laundry?” I ask. Amazing how competitive four-year-olds can be on who’s the strongest. Two-year-old Joshua is convinced he can do anything the older boys can; I think he’ll be a little Daniel with all his motivation and zest to accomplish things.
After the wash is flapping in the sunshine, we practice good habits such as how to sit quietly, how to share, or obey right away.
Now for their favorite part. Some days I tell them they can go outside to play while I squeeze in several phone calls, or the best times are when I can go with the boys on the trampoline. After mom’s energy is spent jumping and chasing, we end up in a heap of tussling. Since Daddy’s not here to tussle, I’ve discovered that moms can also do it.
By now it’s 10 a.m. and my mom, a sister or a friend is here to watch the children while I head for the cabin for an hour of quiet time. Here is where I have experienced grief to the point where I felt like I was splitting in two and the world would cave in on me, and here is where God has shown himself faithful and has ministered peace and wholeness in ways I never knew possible.
Coming back to the house, I’m greeted by little ones with big hugs.
I serve them a simple lunch. Yesterday I sent the boys to the can room in the basement for a jar of chili soup that Daniel had helped make last summer in our kettle over a fire. One boy came up with a quart of homemade ketchup, and the other had a jar of pizza sauce.
We all enjoy the next relaxing hitch of the day. They each pick out a story from our large array of books. (Thanks to those of you who have sent books for the children, I had been wishing for more Bible story books and was surprised by the ones which came in the mail.) We all sit on the couch, and the one whose story we’re reading sits on my lap.
Elijah and Joshua do well napping, and Jesse, who can’t fall asleep as quickly, doesn’t take a nap anymore. This is my opportunity to relax a little, then catch up on desk work and spend some extra time with Jesse, which he thrives on. To Elijah, it didn’t seem fair to nap if his brother his age didn’t; I told him each day when he’s done napping, he gets an energy ball, which makes everything OK.
By now, the children are coming home from school and as hungry as I used to be when I was a girl, and my school work was completed. While they empty their lunch boxes and enjoy their snack, we chat about their day and catch up on the news. By 3:45 p.m., it’s time for after-school chores. Their chart with alternating jobs covers a variety of duties, such as cleaning bathrooms, washing Sunday shoes and doing laundry.
They also enjoy free time until our 5 p.m. supper. Our summer suppers stay relatively simple, afterward we all pitch in with the dishes. Last night we all went outside and enjoyed the pleasant evening and ended up all walking to the mailbox, then sitting in the yard opening mail and relaxing together. The boys like the times we play ball or go on drives with our wagon and horse, Sapphire.
Usually, we wind up the evening with something like, “OK, everyone, pick up five items from the yard, then head for the house and sit on your spots in the living room, then I’ll bring you a little bedtime snack.”
While they sit on their designated spots on the couches and recliner, they take turns getting ready for bed and doing a few evening jobs.
Next comes a Bible story, prayer and reviewing memory verses.
Getting everyone settled down is a challenge. My to-do list for today has “practice how to sleep.” Any tips, anyone?
Last but not least is a quiet house and innocent little heads snuggled under the covers, fast asleep. Indeed we are so blessed. And yes, even mama is ready for some sleep herself.
Here is a recipe that is a family favorite and you might enjoy on some of these cooler fall evenings:
Taco Rice Casserole
1 pound hamburger
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 package of taco seasoning
1 16-ounce chunk tomatoes
1 cup rice, uncooked
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded cheese
2 cups Bisquick mix
3/4 cup milk
Fry hamburger with taco seasoning until hamburger is browned, add onions last minute of browning. Drain juice from tomatoes, add enough water to make 2 1/2 cups liquid. Add tomatoes to burger. Cook the rice in the tomato juice and water mixture. When the rice is soft, mix with hamburger mixture. Pour into 9 X 13 inch pan. Mix together mayonnaise, sour cream and cheese and spread over hamburger mixture. Make a batter of Bisquick and milk and pour over top of sour cream mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Serves 15.
Gloria Yoder is an Amish house-wife in rural Illinois. She is the third writer of The Amish Cook column since its inception in 1991. Yoder can be reached by writing: The Amish Cook, P.O. Box 157, Middletown, Ohio 45042.
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