Saturday, July 17, 2010

Summer Simplicity pt 2

 Nothing says summer to me quite like leisurely sitting on the porch 
sipping a cool glass of homemade lemonade. 
In summer, our porch is our outdoor house. 
One side is the living room, chairs, side table, baby swing, flower baskets, and dogs basking in the heat.  The other spacious side is our dining room, with bbq, table and benches.  
When the summer sun warms us too much,
we retreat into the shockingly cool house.
Our log home keeps a very cool temperature, I often don my sweater.

 These hot afternoons, when children tend to get tired from heat,
boredom is a tempting inclination, but, the ever intent homeschooling 
mama recognizes an apt opportunity to educate. 
This I do daily, by requiring 30 minutes of reading or, a nap. 
Summer reading is an uplifting and soothing activity. 
I willingly admit that I bribe, no, reward sounds better,
yes, reward the children for completing each chapter book they read. 
I have also been known to begin to read a book aloud, and then put it down, unattended and lonely,
in a sneaky manipulative move to lure a hesitant reader. 
Seeing the child tentatively pick up the book and begin to peruse the pages, 
eventually getting completely lost in reading, 
sets my heart to singing.


 Classical music softly graces the house as we tie on our aprons for a day of baking to last us the week, or wash up the morning dishes.  
We clean on Saturdays, so if it isn’t Saturday, only the minimum necessary amount of cleaning gets done. Without school work to accomplish, 
each day has so much more time and margin to enjoy activities 
we just can’t seem to have time for during the school seasons.  
Sewing, baking with the younger ones, making herbal salves together, 
making a craft together to give for a Christmas gift or enter in the county fair next month, 
or playing with kittens on the porch are all just extra helpings of pleasure for a summer day.

This too, is the ideal time for me to teach the little ones to read. 
My daily load of work is lighter, we mostly spend the day outdoors rambling about at play,
yet the little ones desire that one on one hands on attention just as always. 
Reading together through my favorite phonics book,
‘Pathway Phonics”
in the kitchen filled with morning sunlight,
their eager little eyes and grubby fingers following along
create  mutual moments of bliss that doesn’t seem at all like school work, but more enchanting.  Inspired, they hop off to practice writing their letters at the table. 
Gabriel, 19 months, wants to be big and a part of everything,
so in the highchair he must climb,
grunting and urging me to give him paper and a pencil too.


 The boys are occupied building a log cabin of their own,
creating new weapons of destruction from scrap wood, 
inventing dangerous scenarios in which they must battle. 
Over heated from their industry, disheveled,
they come bursting forth into the lodge looking for the lemonade they suspect is there, 
and crash land at the table to draw or color the hero they were just imagining
with all his various weapons. 
They consult the Encyclopedia of Weaponry. 
Soon they are upstairs building Lego ships and battle crafts. 
I love summer.


Pampering my swollen ankles,
I prop my feet up for a few moments of quiet contemplation, 
which may get interrupted by a variety of small ones wanting a book read,
a shoe tied or just some lap time with mama. 
I count my blessings.
  Just to sit and relax with a little one pinching your nose and saying “beep”  is a joy to my soul. 
Each moment is one to delight in, if I so choose. 
We can do anything we want, after all it is called summer Vacation. 


It really isn’t all play though, the lawn (or weeds in our case) must be mowed . 
Our boys start mowing when they are 8.  They begin weed eating at 10. 
Also about 10, they can chop wood with the splitting ax, or a hatchet for kindling,
making kindling bundles for winter. 
The younger boys (8 and under) collect the cut weeds in the wheel barrow,
help water plants, stack the split wood, feed and water the animals,
do all the vacuuming in the house, put the dishes away, clear the table, clean out the van, 
help mama by teaching the baby how to play in the dirt,
and all sorts of helpful little jobs in the house.

Still, we keep housework to a bare minimum, and cooking less involved.  
If there is a project to be done, I aim at a few hours per day
instead of the work -till- you- drop mentality I have held in the not so long ago past. 
It amazes me sometimes that with that attitude my children still like me. 
We joked about me being the slave driver.  Now, I shudder at the thought. 
I don’t even remember what was so important to get done,
just the ever present drive to be productive.  As if productivity was next to Godliness. 
Thankfully, I have realized my mistake
and taken great measures to carve out a balanced, loving, serene lifestyle
that will become cherished memories in years to come. 
Together delighting in each other, enjoying the youth of our children, taking long walks,
with barefoot children scampering around us,
just as homespun  as a bucket of cream, 
these summer days transcend all others I remember. 
There have been so many wonderful moments, I will never be able to scrapbook them all,
and it is just July!

 Simple Summer Italian Chicken

Cook 6 cups, or so, of chicken in saucepan with a ½ onion chopped, and as much garlic as you like.
 Salt and pepper to taste.
Cut chicken into bite sized pieces.
Add a can of diced tomatoes with juice,
 two handfuls of fettuccini, and cover with water.
 Cover pan with lid and cook on medium until pasta is done.
  Removing lid, add in 1 cup, or more, of sour cream
 and 1 cube of butter,
 stir together to mix.

This is a huge family favorite, an easy one dish meal to fix.
 If you are having company, just add more pasta, and a lot of French bread.


 “A porch is an outside extension of the love that is found inside."

Front Porch Lemonade

1 cup lemon juice
1 cup sugar
2 quarts water

Stir thoroughly, chill, or serve over ice.

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