Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Let them eat . . . fruit (or, adventures in bad parenting)

We are progressing on the house, and have a projected move in date of Monday!
How excited am I?
While most of the time over there is spent working on unpacking boxes and finishing touches, etc., some time is spent in the back yard ("the back 40" we affectionately call it) picking apples and blackberries.
The boys love climbing the apple tree to see how high up they can get to pick the fruit.
And the blackberries are so ripe and ready to just be plucked.
Grandpa took about 20 apples from the house the other day, and has promised us a pie on Sunday.
Daniel likes the apples.
The other day, he picked one up and carried it around for a long time, throwing it like a ball.
At some point he must have thought, "Hmmm, I bet I can eat this thing."
And that is just what he did.
Now, I know about choking hazards, and so I tried to get it away from him, but it was nothing doing! I watched him closely, and, really he ate it so nicely.
Look how cute he is, eating his apple.

And no choking.
Don't tell my mom! (Hi, Mom! =)
Can you say "skin fruit"?
While we are on the subject of bad parenting, let me do a little soul cleansing confessing here. Also, it will help you to know that not every moment of our lives are the "glossy magazine ad" moments you may think they are.
I lied in front of my kids today.
Bold face lied.
It wasn't even a good lie, and not even for a good reason (not that there EVER is a good reason to lie).
The situation was this: I dialed my mom's office this morning, to say hi and see what her plans for the day were. The problem was, somewhere between dialing and waiting for the receptionist to answer, I lost track of what I was doing.
That, and the phone slipped from my ear a bit (because I was doing something else at that point, other than just waiting for the "Good morning, law offices . . ." on the other end.
By the time I remembered that the phone was on my chest for a reason and I put the receiver back up to my ear, the receptionist, who I know quite well, was saying "Hello? Hello?"
Now, this was embarrassing to me, and I thought about just hanging up, but I did something far worse.
"Hello, Betty? (name changed to protect the innocent in this story) This is Joy . . . I'm so sorry. The baby grabbed the phone from my ear . . . you know how it is. Can I talk to my mother?"
Isaac, who was sitting on the floor, looked over at Daniel, who was across the room, playing with toys in the toy box.
Then he looked at me.
We both knew I lied.
I felt sick to my stomach, like I would throw up.
I don't even know why I did it exactly. I did not want to look foolish and so . . .
It was stupid and I haven't even done anything like that in . . . well, forever, it seems.
Anyway, I talked to mom, hung up and called the boys over to stand next to me.
I had to make things right.
"Boys, Mom just told a lie." I began, voice shaky.
They looked at me with a mix of compassion and curiosity.
"And I was wrong. What I just just did was a sin. And it was for a stupid reason! I just didn't want to look stupid in front of Betty. But I should not have done that. It was totally wrong."
I prayed then, and had them pray for me.
Not a shining parenting moment!
I projected into the future -- my boys, pathological liars, a skill they learned from dear old mom!
And then, I remembered . . . God's mercy and grace are sufficient, even when I fail and fall and don't deserve it.
It made me feel a little better.
Children know.
They know when they are seeing inconsistency.
And we -- human, fallible parents that we are -- are so prone to be inconsistent, to be poor examples at times, to act reprehensibly in front of our children (or when they are not around)!
All we can do is turn to Him in whom is no shadow of turning.
All we can do is repent (in front of our children, if that is who we have sinned in front of or against).
All we can do is cling to the mercy and grace of God, who is just and faithful to forgive us, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
And so, I cling.
I cling for all I am worth!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Gone fishin'

My cell phone rang as I was hurrying to get my kids and myself out the door and on to an engagement we had the other night, and I missed the call.
About twenty minutes later, I listened to my voice mail, and there was a message on there from Butch, saying he wanted to know if the kids would like to go fishing in the morning, and would I call him back to let him know.
Would my boys like to go fishing?!?
If you've read this blog at all recently, you'd know. . . YOU BET THEY"D LIKE TO GO FISHING!
Now, you've been introduced to Butch. If you don't remember, he's the hero in my post "VBS is here" (from June 2).
Butch and his wife, Leah, were the first people to invite us to dinner when we started attending the church we are a part of now.
It was our first Sunday, we were newly married and completely new to this part of the country (we hail from New Jersey and New York) and it was our first visit to the church.
After service, Butch and Leah invited us over their house for dinner later that evening.
I was dumbstruck.
"They don't even know us!" I breathed out to Joe on our way to the car.
"I know. Crazy." he said.
It was the last thing we expected, really.
We went to their house for dinner that night, and the rest is history.
But back to the story at hand.
The boys knew something was afoot from listening to my half of the conversation (they are always listening, those little guys) and when they got the whole story, they were dancing around the room, eyes wide.
"Are we really going, mom?" Josiah asked his, voice at fever pitch.
"Yes, yes!" I chuckled and rubbed his bobbing head.
"What do we need to bring? We have to go get new poles!" Isaac sputtered out.
"Call Butch and ask," I suggested.
They did.
He had everything they would need, so they could relax and anticipate their outing in the morning.
When I woke up, the boys were heading down the sidewalk to Butch's truck, and I stuck my head out the door to tell them I loved them and to have a great time.
Of course, while they were gone, I worried, as only a mom can, that they might fall into the water, or . . . whatever imaginable terrible thing that could happen to them might.
So, when Isaac opened the door several hours later and came running into the house to tell me that I had to come see the fish they caught, I was flooded with relief, and ready to see their catch.
And what a catch it was.
Isaac caught a 6 lb. catfish (we weighed it) and a smaller bass and Jo caught a good sized bass too.
Of course, I was so proud of them, and they were so proud of themselves and happy to present their fish.
Josiah, though, still does not want to touch them. He will only touch them with a . . . well, not quite a 10 foot pole.
Anyway, Joe filleted them and later that evening, Ryan cooked them.

I do not like fish very much, especially fresh water fish. I'm pretty much a seafood gal if I'm gonna eat the stuff. But this fish . . . it was so fresh and battered and spiced up just right, and it melted right in my mouth.
Isaac liked it.
Josiah . . . ""I'm never gonna eat fish again in my whole entire life!" he said. I guess he didn't like it so much.
It was such a good experience for the boys.
I believe it is something they will tuck in their pocketful of memories.
"Remember the time we went fishing with Butch and caught that catfish it took us 10 minutes to reel in? . . ."
It is one of many.
They are building up quite a little collection of stories, memories.
And I am too.
Bright little boys eyes gleaming, smell of outdoors on their skin, voices pitched with excitement, pond-y hands pulling me outside to "come and see." Heart proud of my little fishermen.
And many thanks to Butch, who once again was the hero of the story, and will be ever after in the little boys hearts of my sons.
On a side note, my computer has been giving me fits, and it may be sporadic around here until I can get it all worked out.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Here we go again!

Josiah has bronchitis!
I knew it at 7 this morning when I cracked my eyes open and saw him standing there, hands around his throat and tears and panic in his eyes.
"I can't breathe!" he wheezed out.
We went right into the bathroom and turned the shower and faucet on full blast and high heat.
Steam quickly filled the small room, and Josiah relaxed a bit.
A few minutes in there, and then out to the cold air-conditioned air.
It worked, for a while.
I called the doctor and the receptionist got him in this afternoon.
When we arrived, he still sounded like a little seal barking when he coughed, and his breathing was rattly.
The nurse frowned when she listened to his chest and back.
"I'll get a breathing treatment right away," she said.
Turns out, he indeed has bronchitis. Severe, the doctor said.
"His lungs are tight all the way down," she kept saying.
So, now he is on steroids, which make his little, beautiful heart beat so fast.
He is taking them in a syrup and through the nebulizer.
He's all hoarse, and sounds like a six-year-old godfather when he talks. Too cute, let me tell ya, even if it is heartbreaking!
So, we will be in for the next few days, resting and recovering.
Isaac went on to family dinner tonight without us.
Boy oh boy did I miss him.
I also missed me some ravioli and chicken Parmesan.
But Isaac, being the hero he so often is, brought home a big container of it!
Not that we were suffering.
I made pasta fagoli, and Josiah would rather eat that than about anything else on any given day.
He was pretty happy.
Silence has fallen on the house.
The boys are resting, sleeping, hopefully healing.
I sit, typing, and look out at the hot July moon, rising slow and wanning, it's edges smudged and softened by the haze.
The clock ticks on the wall behind me.
I think about things to do tomorrow.
Things to do with the rest of my life.
God is in this moment.
He is in all of them, but in this one, I can see him in the quiet majesty of the moonlight as it spills over the deck and in through the sliding glass doors; I hear him calling me to spend time. . . spend . . . time.
Tomorrow will take care of itself soon enough.
And the rest of my life . . . will just have to wait.
I am off to meet a friend. . .

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I am encouraged!

I was encouraged to see that today's "Motivation for Moms" (see my sidebar) directly correlates to my thoughts in my post from last night.
I guess you could say it is a kind of confirmation for me.
Sometimes, I wonder if the way I am going about things is right.
I wonder this all the time, actually.
The cry of my heart is to know the heart of God for my boys, to help them know it for themselves, and to show them how to walk faithfully in everything He has for them.
God has asked Joe and I to do some hard things, take some hard lines, as parents.
Yesterday's post touched on just one of those things: we are to be guardians of our young children's purity.
I believe this with all my heart.
But sometimes it is hard.
And sometimes I wonder if it is really God, or just me who is requiring so much in the raising of our young men.
To be very personal, I second guessed myself a lot after posting last nights entry.
What if I offended parents who do not take such an aggressive stand with what their children are watching and encountering?
What if people thought we were weird or "over the top" because we monitor our children, and still seek to shield them as much as possible from "worldly" influences?
To be even more personal, you can see from my agonizing that I deal with "fear of man" issues.
When I logged on today, and checked my "Motivations for Moms" box, I was awed that God would be so faithful and quick to answer my faithless questions.
This is what I read:


Pray for purity in the hearts of your children,
and the renewing of their spirit as the Psalmist wrote,
"Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me." Psalm 51:10

Thank you , God, for your faithfulness, even when mine waivers.

Ask Me!
I encountered this book (Ask Me! by Antje Damm) during a recent trip to the library.
I had seen it before, and thought it looked interesting, but this seemed like a good time to "get into" it.
Basically, there is a simple question on each page and it is illustrated with quirky, fun art.
It is designed to get kids talking.
I asked the boys a few questions already, along with their friend Ben, who has been staying with us, and they loved it.
They didn't want to stop!
They had a great time thinking about their answers and sharing them.
Here are some of them:

Q: Who is your best friend?
Isaac: Lots of people are
Josiah: Ben and Isaac.
Ben: Several people . . . pretty much all the people in my class and then Sammy and Isaiah and Aaron. Lots of people too.

Q: What did you do in your mother's belly?
Isaac: Eat and sleep.
Josiah: Back flips.
Ben: Drum beats.

Q:What do you like to smell?
Isaac: Chocolate milk and chicken soup.
Josiah: Watermelon!
Ben: Flowers.

Q: What do you do when you are bored?
Isaac: Read, play games . . . do something!
Josiah: Play with toys, and if mom and dad let me, play on the computer. I could.
Ben: Play video games. Play outside.

Q: Where would you like to live someday?
Isaac: New England. It was [part of] the original 13 colonies!
Josiah: Texas! Ex that. Florida!
[Mom: Why Florida?]
Because they have pools there!
Ben: San Diego

Q: What pet do you wish you could have?
Isaac: A lizard.
Josiah: A cheetah.
Ben: A dog.

It's a great way to see what my kids are thinking in their 10 and 6 year old minds!
And there are no wrong answers.
It has been a great way to connect during our lunch times, or when there is a bit of downtime (which is rare, so it is good that the questions are short and simple and easy to answer).
Anyway, I really recommend it as a tool to help you make connections with your child and see what is important to them at this time of their lives.
I thought it would be interesting to do this once a year, or every other year to see how the answers may change.
More to follow . . .

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The age of innocence

My oldest son is interested in politics.
I mean, for being 10, he has a lot of questions, is very curious about the upcoming elections and the candidates, and knows some good political jokes.
Now, we, as parents, have agreed to do everything in our power to protect the purity of our young children.
We do not let our kids watch a lot of the movies and t.v. shows other kids are watching, and if we do, we watch right along with them so we can monitor what they are taking in.
God's mandate to parents is to "train up a child in the way he should go," and for us, that translates in part into not letting our children watch just anything.
Train in that command is the action verb and thus requires the parents active participation in said training.
We feel that subjecting our children to hours of passive watching of movies and t.v., especially movies and t.v. shows that are generated by, endorse and saturate our children with world views and sets of values that are diametrically opposed to our own, and not just ours, but those of the Bible, at such young ages, before their own belief systems are firmly in place and before they have an ample filter with which to process the information coming at them, is downright harmful to them and is irresponsible parenting on our part. (Whew! That was a long sentence! Can you say run-on?)
Anyway, one day a few weeks ago, as we were riding around town, Isaac asked about all the political signs for local elections decorating various front yards.
"Who are these people? And who do you know who to vote for?" he asked.
These are questions I hardly have a handle on myself, as an adult, and now my 10 year old wants to discuss politics with me!
I do know that I had been recently upset about some political stances people I thought should know better had taken.
I did my best to explain that it was important to know who these people were, and that I would be researching it for myself in the near future as I am a voter who cares about issues and does not do enie-menie-miney-moe on my ballots.
I told him it was critical to choose the man, or woman, who would do the best job, and also uphold the truth and have values (hard to find in these days of no absolutes).
Had I been thinking and not just spouting, I would have just let it go at that.
I then allowed my emotions to take over, and launched into . . . well a tirade of sorts, I suppose.
A tangent, if you will.
A rant.
I have my faults, too. Lots of them.
Soapboxes is one of them, as you can probably tell from the earlier portion of this post.
I can admit that, and I am working on not having them, but sometimes . . . well, change is hard.
(It's helpful when you can see yourself, isn't it. Painful. But helpful.)
So I let my poor, captive audience 10 year old son have it.
A soapbox!
"And don't let anyone tell you you can't legislate morality! Jesus did it! People will try to tell you that in politics, morality is not an issue, but it is. Some things are never right. Abortion is never right, regardless of economic policy. There are some issues, Isaac, that you can not sweep under the rug!"
He was quiet for a moment, and then . . . "Well, with abortion, it depends . . . " he trailed off.
Oh my gosh! What was he saying? My mind immediately ran to all the things he could mean by that statement.
Was he talking about victims of rape?
Single moms who feel like there is no alternative?
Women who are forced to abort?
Where was he getting this from?
"What makes you say that?" I asked.
"Sometimes, when you are in the middle of a mission, and you are loosing men and there is nothing you can do to win the situation, and you know it, you have to abort. Otherwise, all your men will die for no reason."
It took me a minute to take in what he was saying, to make sense of it all in the context of what we had been talking about.
I was taken aback.
He was talking about abortion in terms of aborting a military mission or operation.
He had no idea that was not what I was referring to.
"Why did you say it was never right?" he asked.
For a split second I considered telling him about the process of ending the tiny hope of a life; of telling him that there are some women out there who are too scared or scarred or alone, to have their babies, and chose the alternative, and that some don't even have that choice and are forced to chose death.
I considered telling him that just as he lived in my belly, growing safe and sound, loved from the moment he was known about and waited for anxiously, some babies are ripped from their mother's wombs, unwanted.
I did not tell him.
At that moment, I saw the innocence in him. The purity.
I struggled.
He knows the world is a hard place.
He has looked death in the face twice within one year.
He heard the news story about the father who shot his three young children and then himself.
He watched with my cousin and I as the World Trade Center fell into dust in front of our eyes on the morning news.
"New Yok is fallin down, Patti!" he told her.
He is not a baby.
But, this?
I could not bring myself to share this new horror of the world with him just yet.
There is so much time for him to know these things. To know all the sadnesses and sorrows of this earth.
This age of innocence is so short.
I had even taken for granted that he would know what I was talking about.
And there will be a day, sooner than later, most likely, that he will know these things.
But not yet . . . not yet.

A small rant, but a rant nonetheless . . .

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Someone, please help me!
I am looking for a book.
It is not an obscure book.
It is a fairly famous book, in fact.
They even made it into a movie (well, okay, in the 80's).
But still.
I have been to the public library, which, by the way, is quite a lovely spot, twice now in search of this book.
A note about our library: it really is one of the more beautiful libraries I have known. Very inviting and cozy, yet sleek and intelligent. A lot of Frank Lloyd Wright influences.
And still, for all that, each time I have been there to obtain this book, the only copy . . . ONLY COPY, I say, has been mysteriously "checked out."
I have been to the bookstore in town, which, God help me, needs to hire some people who have read a book or two in their lives.
It was not there either.
Enough said about that, or this will turn into a larger rant than I intended.
I even went to the almighty Wal-Mart.
I should have known better.
Enough said about that, too.
I have not yet sought out the musty, dusty, tightly cramped aisles of the used book store in town. It's a great place to peruse if you have an aromatic cup of coffee, and an hour or two to yourself. It is not the place to take three energetic boys who pretty much live in a state of perpetual motion.
However . . . I suppose that will have to be my next stop.
I don't suppose there is any reader of this humble blog out there who happens to own a copy of Out Of Africa by Isak Dennisen, and would lend it to me fairly soon for a short period of time?
It is the next book on my bookclub reading list, and I would really like to attend with something intelligent to say about the selection, or anything to say about it, really, at all.
I love living here.
I really do.
But when you can't find a copy of a classic book in the whole town . . .
Ah, but wait!
Am I forgetting?!
Gee whiz.
Why bother with libraries and bookstores?
The Internet.
Making the world a better place, one book at a time!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Catch o' the day

Yesterday was Sunday, and you know what that means.
Yup. Pasta at grandpa's after church.
And there were probably more people there than I've seen in a while, and we've had a crowd every Sunday for weeks now!
Let's see, it was something like 14 adults and and 9 kids!
Crazy in gramp's little house! But so much fun!!! It always is.
Here are some pics of the day:
Good friends, Kerri and Phillip.
Andrea and Henry.
Zach and Owen.
My little monster!
Isaac laying down while brushing his teeth. Ten-year-olds!
Daniel says, "what'sa matta you?" (and me making a crazy face in the background. Ugh!)
Of course, where could the boys be found?
Out by the pond. . . fishing.
Isaac, Josiah, Peyton and Ben pictured here.
Josiah was the star of the day, though, when he caught this bass! (He didn't want to hold it, however. Look at his face! He made Isaac hold it, who was only too happy to do so!)
I am so glad my sons have this place. This growing-up place that will shape them, that will live in their memories, larger than life.
They will become men who will long tell stories of fishing at grandpa's pond.
Or about the time they fell in.
Or rowed on it for hours in a yellow rubber Coleman raft.
Or the time they panned for gold.
Or found a piece of stone with cave drawings on it?!?
Or saw a large water snake.
Or maybe . . . something else.
And when they return to it as those men, they will be amazed at how small the pond has become, this pond where they caught giant fish, and rowed rafts across, and panned for gold and treasures, and scooped frogs out of the shallows.
This slice of their now wide world will shrink.
And they will shake their heads and breath out a "Huh. It always seemed so much bigger . . ."
This is how it goes when we grow up.
Our perspectives change, sometimes unfortunately so.
But their children's eyes will glow when they see it.
They will recognize the bends and boarders from their father's stories.
The other bank of it will look like a far off country . . .the depth of it unfathomable, the contents of it fantastic and fearsome, the possibilities of it . . . endless.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Just life . . . snippets from the crazy fray

Some lovely things my kids have said recently . . .

Josiah, the other day, after riding lessons. He was sitting in the truck, drinking water, legs dangling out of the open door. He took a swig, wiped his mouth and said (out of the blue). . .
"Now, when I get my own horse, that will be a whole other story.
I have two cats and a dog.
Now I need some chicks and some chickens so we can get some eggs.
And maybe more dogs.
And some cows? Or Goats?
We need to get these animals for our farm, mom.
And maybe a lizard."

Today, upon seeing that the kittens food dish was empty, Josiah said,
"They will get foodrated, like they get dehydrated if they have no water!!"

Tonight, as Isaac was praying before bed, he prayed,
". . .And be with Daniel as he roams this wide world, discovering things. . ."
I cried when he said that.

Speaking of crying . . . my grandfather's sister, Josie, died today. She was 89 years. old.
We heard about it at dinner when his niece called with the news.
My mom cried, and grandpa was quiet and sad.
Isaac cried too. "I miss grandma and pop so much!" he wailed.
Every new death opens up the old ones for Isaac, for all of us.
Death is hard for him, and he expresses that well, which I think is good for him.
I remember my Aunt Josie in snatches. Her laugh, her deep voice. A faint recollection of a scent. Seeing her at funerals, weddings, family gatherings at Aunt Mill's when I was a little, little girl.
She walks the very edge of my memory, but she is there.
Grandpa had a big family.
Seventeen brothers and sisters.
I am sad to say that I do not know very many of them well.
My heart breaks for my grandfather, at that age where brothers and sisters and friends and wife are passing from this life, watching them go, staying behind . . . for now.
It makes me appreciate today. Makes me appreciate the breath in my lungs and the people who are here with me, breathing.
Today, I woke up early, went grocery shopping, dropped Daniel off with my mom, went to the new house and painted and picked berries, went and had dinner with Gramp and mom (the boys went fishing in the pond and Isaac caught two bass!), went to Starbucks with mom and the boys for shaken iced teas (mom and I) a frappuccino (Isaac) an organic chocolate milk (Josiah) and apple juices (Daniel and Ben, who is staying with us for a few days).
The day was so busy and full of hard work and small frustrations.
But there were moments too. Good moments.
Like when Josiah shot an arrow 50 feet with no help, a big feat for a little guy like him.
Or when Isaac caught two bass while fishing with his brother and his friend in the late afternoon sun.
Or sitting in the truck, the warm prairie wind blowing through the open windows as we all drank our cool drinks and talked about the excitements of the day.
When we got home, the boys showered and played so nicely at the table, building forts with their log cabin sets piecemeal with other toys, or whatever they could find to hook their forts up.
Isaac's fort.

Ben's fort.
Josiah's fort.
Playing so nicely.Handsome brace face.

Running with the big dogs.Daniel, God love him, will eat anything from anywhere at anytime (Did I write about the eating of the pond mud? I think not. Hmm. Probably just as well. It's too gross to recount!).
Sometimes I would swear he is the grossest baby on the planet.
Today, instead of pond mud, or his own poop, or crackers that had been swept up into a pile of dirt on the floor, or the bottom of his shoe (all things he has, in fact, eaten), he actually picked a better grade of garbage, and licked a discarded foil lid of a chocolate Jell-o pudding cup until it shone and reflected his grimy little face.
Wondering where mom was?
All the while I was obliviously putting groceries away.
I thought he was just toddling around the kitchen, happy as a clam for no reason.
Yeah, right!
He's a stealthy little fellow, when he wants to be.
So, today had it's ups and downs, like most days do, I suppose.
Now, all the boys are asleep.
Daniel is laying here beside me, clean as a whistle and cute as a button.
And for a moment, I wish it were always like this. Everyone safe and sound . . . and clean.
But that's just not how life is.
I will enjoy it this little while though.
And I will be ready to face the fray . . . tomorrow.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Back in the saddle again: more tales of our adventures on the ranch

(Some photos were added since first posting)
Well, it's been a few weeks since I've been consistent at updating this blog.
We are working at getting the house ready to move into (what is it Mike always tells me . . . "A month from today . . . you'll be in that house . . .").
We are hitting obstacles every so often (today it was that the granite counter tops we ordered and picked up were not cut right in several places!!)
There are lots of little things to do, and to this point our philosophy has been to get everything completely done before moving in so that it, in fact, gets done.
At some point, though, I will need to realize that it is never done, and just move the heck in.
It is looking good, and I am excited . . . and stressed and exhausted and . . . and . . . and . . .
Also, I am trying to prepare for the next school year, and we are just summer-busy these days.
We have spent quite a bit of time recently picking blackberries at our new house.
Have I mentioned the blackberries at our house?
Um,Yeahhh. We don't have a few blackberry bushes. We have a blackberry forest!
There are so many bushes, and they grow thick and deep around the edge and to the back of the property. There is no way to get to them all.
And have you seen the briers on these things?
Not to mentions the chiggers (ever encounter one of these little buggers? Actually, it's not so much that you encounter them as they invade you and make you itch like mad for several miserable days!) and spiders and other creepy crawlies that love blackberries too.
But the berries are worth every prick and stab and scratch. Every ugly bug mug we come across.
They are so fat and juicy, and one day soon, they will make excellent cobblers! Yum!
And it is fun to pick them, especially when we are all doing it together. The boys like to have contests to see who can pick the most.
Picking them with friends is fun too.
I did want to take some time, however, and write about our last few trips to the ranch.
The Tuesday we returned from Texas (July1), we headed out to the ranch (which helped with the home-from-vacation blues quite a bit!)
It had been a couple of weeks since we had seen Bounder, and we were happy to see him!
He really is such a beautiful animal.
Rachel started out by having the boys clean a saddle that had gotten moldy, and talked to them about the importance of keeping your riding gear clean and taking good care of it.
Then they got Bounder and brushed him off and got him ready to ride.
The boys had a great time up on the gentle giant, as always.
And then, Rachel asked me if I wanted to ride.
Me? Want to ride? It has only been the deep dream of my heart since girlhood to be up on horseback, riding wild and free, wind whipping my hair across my face, the land under me lapped up by horse's hooves pounding, running, flying . . . screech.
Reality check.
I got up on Bounder, (with a little help from Rachel) and nearly fainted.
He is one big horse.
I gained such a respect for my boys sitting up there, high above the ground, with such a powerful animal beneath me.
And then, we started walking.
I was so nervous.
All those romantic visions of me on horseback, riding into the sunset, disappeared in a quick hurry.
The more we walked, though, the more comfortable I became (except when Bounder would bend his head to take a snatch of grass. I felt like I would plumb fall off his back!) and I even trotted just a bit (can you say sore bum?) and I began to imagine again, one day . . .
After lessons, we went back to Rachel's house to pick up the new "members" of our family.
Meet Tigger and Jaguire.
They are Isaac and Josiah's charge, and they will hopefully be mousers extraordinaire.
Rachel has been working with a wild mustang mare named Tia Morningstar.
She is a gorgeous horse! But wild.
Rachel is trying to tame her, get her to be ridable.
She had learned some things about working with wild mares, and wanted to show us.
It was so interesting.
After corralling the horse, if Rachel paid any attention to her, she threw a fit; but if Rachel ignored her and talked to me, the horse would stand behind her, looking for attention.
Rachel also showed us that if she looked at the horse's hind quarters, the horse ran and ran and ran, but when she dropped her head and looked at the ground, the horse would stop running.
It was amazing.
She explained that horses communicate with body language; it is something they learn from their mothers and if you want to communicate with a horse effectively, you have to learn what body language to use.
We went to dinner after that, to a new little pizza place down the road a bit from them. We got pepperoni and chicken bacon ranch pies, both very delicious, though both so different.
We had a great time.
Ridding lessons last week were great too.
Rachel showed us all kinds of tricks and the boys learned how to stand in the stirrups while riding.
Here are some pics from around the ranch that I like.

We had another lesson again today, and the boys are becoming real pros.
At one point, when Jo was riding, he had Bounder in a trot, and instead of steering him where he was supposed to go, they headed right for a jump about a foot off the ground. Bounder, thinking this is where he was supposed to be heading, and being the champ he is, took the jump at full trot.
Josiah came off the saddle and landed on Bounder's neck, but he was okay, and regained control of the situation.
Rachel told me later she really thought he was coming off that horse, but he stayed on there!
Josiah told me later that it was so much fun.
"Weren't you scared? I asked, my own heart pounding at the thought of what could have gone wrong in that situation.
"Nope!" he said, just as happy with himself as could be.
I was so proud of him for hanging on.
Again, I say, my boys have some chutzpah to be up there in the first place.
They are learning, and each week they do a little more then they did the week before, and they love it so much.
One day, they will fly.

(Psssst. There is another update following this post on Isaac's surprise birthday and braces. Didn't want you to miss it. I'm getting ambitious again!)