wocket in my pocket

Looking for the unexpected in the mundane.

Reasons Why I Don’t Want to Be Thin

The End. There are none.

I wrote this a long time ago, but I think I finally have the courage to post it. Parts of it are joking and parts are dead serious. You can decide.

Reasons Why I Am Not Thin… Now that is another story altogether.

For starters, I got the Miller gene, the one that is short and tends to rotundity. It will be a lifelong tussle for me, and I feel quite realistically resigned to this. But the Millers are actually exceptionally nice people and I am glad I sprang from them. My uncles and aunts are the jolliest, most kind-hearted folks around and I couldn’t love them more if they were ectomorphs. (Just a little friendly advice here: if you are an ectomorph and you want people to like you, do not mention things like being able to eat anything you want and never gaining weight.)

I am a terrible dieter. My philosophy that life is better when it is actually enjoyed tends to include things like occasional toasted bagels with cream cheese or actual sugar to sweeten my Earl Grey, or bits of real chocolate. I do not even feel guilty if I choose a piece of carrot cake not labeled THM, S, off the dessert table at fellowship meal.

Also I have a problem: whenever I cut calories drastically my body wails, “She isn’t eating enough! We are going to starve. Hang on to everything you have!” This makes weight loss very difficult and it makes me so grouchy that I just want to chew stuff. My husband does not like when I am grouchy, and neither do my children. “Mama, we don’t want you to get as skinny as _______. (Super disciplined lady we know and love.) We wouldn’t even know you anymore!” Haha. Recently I posted a picture on Facebook that my ten year old son drew. He is very suspicious of diets and suspects that thin women need nourishment. Do Trim Healthy Mamas feed their children well? he wonders. Then again, there is Pudge-o-saurus, whose salad is simply too large, or maybe has too many croutons and bacon bits on it. I am striving to hit a happy medium here.

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My husband is a nurse. He talks sense to me about diet and lifestyle and how it is all about taking care of our health. If you are not living indulgently and cramming too many calories and junk all the time, thank God for the food and enjoy it he says. If you have health issues, look at your diet and make changes. I might mention also that he loves me and makes me feel beautiful, and he has always done this, even when I was nine months pregnant. This is a man worth having and a very happy place for a woman like me to be.

Lifestyle is a big deal. I stay home and in the wintertime I mean like really stay home. Sure, I run around after children and up and down steps and around beds when I change the sheets, but it is a pretty sedentary life. Every chance I get, I slip out of the house in the evening for a brisk walk by myself, thankyouverymuch, but that is more about sweeping the uglies out of the soul and restoring peace internally than about aerobics. I am grateful to be able to play tag and hike and bike with my children. What I don’t have time for is hours at the gym.

Last but not least, I have gained and lost about 120 pounds in the process of giving birth to five babies. I am not even a little apologetic about that, and I will not feel sub-par because I look like maybe I had a few babies. I refuse to bow to the popular opinion that the only woman worth anything is the woman who makes what she looks like her top priority in life. (Someday I shall tell you about the most beautiful women I know.)

So. There you have it. All my excuses. And here is a confession: Sometimes I do feel very envious and large beside ladies who manage to stay slender and I wish I had their determination. I would be happy to lose 20 pounds. I am working on it in my own private way, because I seem to be allergic to “in things”,  even diets and chevron. The more rabid the following of a thing becomes, the more stubbornly determined I become to not join in. It is a bit of a problem, I know, but please just let me go. One more thing: if  the comments stay quiet, I will never write such a thing again.

May I have some chocolate now?

Edit: I did try the THM stuff. I gained 4 pounds. This may be at the heart of my “allergy”. However I do applaud all women who have taken charge of their health by a diet and lifestyle change. I really do. Hats off to you!

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A Moment of Silence

for my flowers. My beautiful, brave petunias. They called them tidal waves at the greenhouse. This is one plant. One amazing tidal wave of pink that made me happy all summer as it clamored over the barberry and way out of its assigned spot.

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Gabe made these terraced steps a few years ago. They still amaze me, especially with trails of blooms on them. But tonight I pulled most of the flowers out. I can’t bear to see the petals blackened and ugly after frost, so I pulled them and disposed of them.

The boys chopped off the tough stems of our zinnia row in the garden, now that the butterflies are gone. I dug my calla lily bulbs and uprooted the blue salvia. All the herbs are spent and scrawny. There is only one doughty dahlia and a couple of confused lavendars still putting out fresh blooms.

I don’t like the bottom end of fall. It is so melancholy. I want to go to sleep too, or at least live with minimal effort, just kind of sipping tea and being quiet. Instead, the approaching winter requires me to dig down deep and put out fresh shoots of creativity to keep my little household happy. It requires more than usual patience and diligence in weed pulling or nasty habits and attitudes choke us altogether.

Maybe if I think of the challenges of a [mostly] housebound winter as another sort of gardening, it will be easier. Through faith and patience we inherit the promises! (But I still feel sad about my flowers.)

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How to Have Breakfast in Bed

And Other Stories of Small Consequence

Today would probably be as good a day as any to have an emergency around here. They have apple dumplings in the local ER. I know because I got up early to bake them so I could send them with my husband when he left for work. Then I brewed coffee and took the extra apple I had baked for myself and went back to bed to eat it. That was wonderful.

How to Have an Impromptu Sleep-out

“Wow, it’s so warm, we could sleep in the backyard tonight,” I mused out loud. The problem with saying impulsive things like this in front of the little people is that they do not forget. I started to say how tired I was from cleaning like a maniac for days but they were sure this was just excuses from the real burning desire of my life to crawl into a sleeping bag for a change from the usual mattress and blankets routine. I slept in the playhouse that night, at least until 4:30, when I was getting a little tired of my 3 separate  couch cushions and the various snufflings of sleeping children. I sneaked into the house, bringing Addy with me so that she would not waken and be frightened, this being her first time to sleep in the backyard.

How to Make a Small Boy Happy

I have mentioned Gregory’s happy place in the kitchen, how he hums and dusts flour and dispenses chocolate chips with benevolence. Recently he has discovered food coloring. It takes me right back to my childhood days when my brothers and cousins put coloring in things like potatoes or eggs. Did I unwittingly pass on this gene as a Schlabach thing, or is it inherent in every small boy? At any rate, we have red and green and blue and orange chocolate chip cookies in the house just now. “They look fantastic!” he said as he pulled them out of the oven. Behold the blue batch.

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How to Clean Like a Maniac (as in, Overly Zealous Person)

When we got back from our anniversary jaunt, I looked around my house and knew with surety that the time had come. I strive to remain sensibly calm in regards to children living life fully and the ravages that puts upon my house, but there are seasons when I feel that every area is dirty and every corner is disorganized. The thought of spending winter in this is much more daunting than the thought of attacking it with zeal and getting it all ship shape. Why not just do it all right away, day after day, every afternoon when we are done with school? Why not just shampoo the rugs and wash all the bedding and wipe off the fingerprints and be done with it? So I did…All but the main area in the basement. I didn’t read for days. I was Productive Martha. I wish cleaning nourished my soul. I know some people like that, but for me, it is definitely just a means to an end.

Epiphany While Cleaning

While I was going through the girls’ room with a large trash bag (they were not present at the time) I suddenly realized what it is that is so odd about Pinterest children’s bedrooms. There are no treasures. The rooms have been carefully designed and decorated by a loving adult with gorgeous taste, who then takes photos before they allow the kids into the room. I sincerely hope that within a few weeks there will be rock collections and fronds of beautiful leaves and gigantic handmade paper dolls or fantastic Lego cars on those Ikea shelves. I hope that the tattered, most loved books can come out of hiding and the funny lumpy pillowpets that will not stay clean can return to the beds after the mama has taken the pictures. I felt better after I thought all that out.

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Look around two days later. It’s a joke. It is beating back a swiftly returning chaos. But it isn’t wasted effort, surely. Surely?

How to be Late for Church

Stay in bed too long with the apple dumpling and the coffee before starting the process of dressing and polishing the crew. Bonus points for having a clock that needs the battery replaced. Bonus, bonus points for having lost shoes. Walk into church during the singing  and smile as if no drama has happened at all in the last half hour.

How to Count Grace

Many years ago a mother taught her small boy that God speaks kindly through not just good and easy times, but through painfully grueling life lessons and this morning he relayed this message to our children. It struck me with the simplicity of Utter Truth. It is all around, the grace of God, the gifts of God, the favor of God. Providence, the foreseeing care of a wise and loving Father, may be an outmoded term, but it is all around me and I am grateful. I will never get finished counting grace.

 

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Life is Like That

I feel like the train derailed on this blogging thing, and now I don’t know how to hitch it back up. Oh well, maybe I will just start with this past week, in which we had our thirteenth anniversary. We believe that the best thing we can do for our children is to have a vibrantly happy marriage. So we went trotting off without any children. Do you want to know how it felt?

It felt really, really strange. And it was so much fun. You could even say relaxing. Five children seems a bit much to drop on one person, so we left the girls with my parents and took the boys up north to be with Gabriel’s parents, which was close to our destination at Watkin’s Glen. We have never camped without the children, so this time we decided to go all minimalist. One kettle to boil water for hot drinks, some cheese sticks and power bars. Apples. Ramen noodles, just in case we got too hungry before we hit a restaurant. I am not kidding. And high quality chocolate, of course. A duffle bag for each of us and bedding to sleep in the conversion van we borrowed from my folks. That was it.

We hiked the Glen and biked all the trails at the campground, then needing a little something, we shared a grape pie sundae. A few hours later we went out for Chinese. This is something you don’t know before your tots come along… Very quickly they will take up your hands wherever you go, or else you will be clutching at them to hang onto them in parking lots and stores. Taking your children to a buffet style restaurant is so… involved. The luxury of just having each other for a few days is just that, a luxury, only one hand to hold, and it isn’t trying to run away!

We slept as long as we wanted, which means that when Gabe asked me if I was ever going to wake up and it was 10:30, I actually wanted to get up. Did I mention that we relaxed? I missed the children like everything. It was so odd to read and read by the campfire and nobody complained about being hungry. Campfire cooking is really fun, but it is also kind of exhausting, keeping ice in a cooler and washing greasy pans in lukewarm water, so this was a nice contrast. On the second day we traveled north along the Seneca Lake to the vineyards, stopping enroute for dessert and coffee at  a funny little cafe, just because.

We picked 10 boxes of grapes to bring along home in just under 2 hours, then found the home of our friends, Nelson and Amy, who graciously served us a lovely supper and gave us a gorgeous guest room for the night.

The next morning it was time to collect the children in a 6 hour process that involved picking up the boys, stopping at an orchard and picking 3 bushels of apples, then coming on home for the girls. Life felt so do-able again, crazy schedules, complex responsibilities, needy people and all. It was good to get away, but it was even better to come back.

Remember the bit about the grapes and apples? There was no option but to don the apron and get to work. Half the grapes were for friends, but even so we steamed 58 quarts of juice. That should last a while. 🙂 While the steaming process was going on, I peeled a half bushel of apples for pie filling and to dry. It was a fun project, not one that I really had to do. By the end of the day, I was a little tired.

Early the next morning I lay in bed trying to decide if I had the stamina to make applesauce that day. It was a toss-up between wrapping up the canning all in one fell swoop or leaving it for another day when I wouldn’t feel like doing it either. I decided on the fell swoop, whatever that is. Alex got a day off school and we applesauced away. When the last batch was simmering on a cooker on the deck, I asked him to check on them while I ladled the sauce into jars. He thought they looked “almost ready”. By the time I checked on them, they were scorched into a brown mass on the bottom of the kettle.

It was the last rite of canning season… a hopelessly scorched kettle to scrub and soak and scrub and soak. I started in on it and quickly realized that this was the worst, horriblest scorched kettle ever. Google brought up a solution that turned on light bulbs in my head. I share this with you because I surely am not the only person who wants to throw kettles into the trash and slink away.

Just in case you ever have apples permanently stuck to your sauce pan, here is what you do: Pour peroxide into the kettle to about ½ inch depth. Sprinkle in a few teaspoons of baking soda and simmer it on low with the lid on for about 20 minutes. Touch the scorched spot with a wooden scraper and watch in delight as it lifts off the stainless steel bottom and floats gently upward.

Then you thank Jesus and pass the word along. Because nobody should spend hours scouring pans when they are dog tired from canning. Amen?

It is cold outside and the hot drinks are waiting. They are calling me to come play Settler’s. Cheerio!

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