May 17, 2015

Family Work Day

These two get the award for staying outside until the very end.  (Anna is showing her dirty hand, she hates dirt.)

Saturday work days are my favorite.
There is nothing better than spending the day working towards a common goal with your family.

The Professor is professing at Harvard and in Germany for the next two weeks.  I am literally moving mountains (of laundry, weeds, and mulch) here at home while he's gone.
I say, play hard and work hard.
The boys and I went to see Avengers 2 on Friday night, the girls have all been rotating through friend dates and birthday parties.  We are busy and our life is full of goodness.
My home is beautifully landscaped.  For the past 30 years a team of gardeners have cared for the property under the supervision of one of the most able homemakers I have never met but can feel the influence of daily.

This week I called the gardeners and asked how much it costs for them to do our gardens.  They told me $8000 for the year and $3500 just to do the spring mulch, clean, and prune.  Wow.
(Those dandelions were mowed by the end of the day!)

I asked the owner if I could pay her to walk through my yard and TEACH me what I should do to care for it.  I have the labor crew just not the knowledge.

She graciously agreed.

Oh my!!  For two hours the wonderfully knowledgable woman taught me about every tree, bush, weed, plant, and flower in my yard.  She poured out wisdom as I scribbled pages and pages of notes.  I feel like I took a jam packed college course just on my yard.  It was AMAZING!  It is so cool to be 37 years old and still learning so much each day.
(Before-- all crowded together.)
(During- can you see those pathways?)
(After- all mulched up with room to bloom.)

The biggest thing I realized was that weeding is only half the battle.  Gardening is keeping your plants where you want them to stay.  She emphasized over and over again the importance of pulling out Black-eyed Susans or a Daisies that were spreading.  The importance of maintaining a 6-12inch border around each individual plant.  The importance of cutting off old wood or trimming older branches so the new branches can strengthen.  

I began to see that my gardens needed to start out looking more like polka dots of plants than a collage of plants.  Weeding and pruning back plants that spread keep the garden able to grow and bloom without overcrowding.  

The song "Keep the pathways bright" kept singing in my mind.
Pulling weeds is tough!  But there is GREAT satisfaction in feeling that root slide out of the ground.  Pulling weeds is like teaching children.  We teach moment by moment, one small thing after one small thing.  There is ALWAYS another weed to pull in our gardens or in our family.  But the ACT of weeding is holy and refining.
The goal is improvement not achieving.  And somehow along the way you look around and see beauty where their once was chaos.
You cut back flowering bushes after they bloom.  There has got to be symbolism in that!
My day is full today although I wish I could write for an hour on teaching your children to work happily.  (That happily applies both to how you teach and how they work.)

It is hard.

-I always start the morning with a family council, song, and prayer.  I outline our goals and let them choose where they want to work.  (I like teams of workers.)
-I work beside them for a little bit until they have the hang if it and then I rotate to the next group.
-I try to keep a light-hearted, grateful attitude.  If someone is whining that they can't do something I try not to yell at their whining, but instead focus on what they have done.  When Leah says the rock border is too hard for her to do, I walk over to the last section of border and happily praise her for what she has done!! I touch her, hug her, look into her eyes and thank her for working hard, even if she hasn't worked hard yet.  In seconds she is back at work whistling happily "I will go!  I will do!  The thing my mom commands."  True story.  It works.

-When there comes a moment of melt-down, contention, and exhaustion right in the middle when nothing is finished and the task seems too large.  I have to
walk away.  I tell the kids to get a drink of water and I walk to a private place to pray.  You might think I'm silly and overly religious, but I'll tell you there is ALWAYS a moment when I'm so stressed I want to scream at everyone.  Usually at that moment they probably deserved to be screamed at because they are squabbling about stupid yhjngs or throwing worms on each other or refusing to help...
Walk away and pray!!!

Yesterday I prayed with my whole soul.  I start with gratitude for the ability to work and for a beautiful home and family that requires so much work.  Then I think about Christ and pray I can be more like Him.  My soul is flooded with images of him healing, loving, teaching, and calming.  I can hear his gentle rebuke "oh yea of little faith" as he calms the storm.  And I feel Him.  I know that I can calm the storms also.
It really works.

Yesterday we accomplished more than I ever dreamed we could.  We worked together happily.  We learned together.  We laughed together.  We worked hard.
We barely made a dent in our mountain, but we did make a dent in it!!

In addition to gardens we unloaded 2000 lbs of organic grains from our van and moved our baby birds to bigger stalls.
When Anna was having a meltdown because the turkey water spilled on her three times, I hugged her and laughed, "Anna!! We have the best life!  You are crying about turkey water... What a COOL problem to have."
Today I am sore and SO grateful for my beautiful life.

I love working together with my family.
Life is SO good.
Hard work is a gift.
Wow, I feel blessed and so grateful for my work crew.
(Drew is pretty good at tying those dandelion bundles!)

Enjoy your Sabbath Day friends!!
Delight in your life, your land, your home, and your God.
He is blessing you.

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