Scenes from Here

Sharon August 2nd, 2012

So I somehow forgot to mention when I went on maternity leave and promised to post on Thursdays that I meant I would start this Thursday, since I was on vacation last week.  Sorry ’bout that.  I will shamelessly blame the baby and sleep deprivation again.

We spent much of last week visiting family near Boston, which was lovely – the transition with K. and C. really took it out of us.  I’m not a high-stress person, I tend to be pretty relaxed, but we really needed a break after two very hectic weeks and a lot of emotion.  Among other things, we had sent K. and C. home two days before the movie theater shooting to Aurora, CO – just a few blocks from the movie theater where the shooting happened.  You can imagine the frantic phone calls that Friday morning after we read the news.  Fortunately, everyone is ok – but that only added to the stress of losing children who had become part of our family.  I’ve rarely been as tired – physically and emotionally –  as I was by the time we hit the road last week.

This transition was also the hardest one on my boys – K. and C. had truly become their brothers in the three months they spent together.  The six of them proudly built their own obstacle course, made sets for their own productions of various shows and musicals, built things and explored the woods together.  Something is missing without them – and while my sons are happy that they have gone to their loving family and things are as they should be, it takes time to reconstitute as a family after any loss.   None of us wish we didn’t love and lose, but it is a part of the process to grieve the losses as they occur.

So it was lovely to take off and visit my parents, drink wine, play with my nieces, take the boys to the ocean (they had never seen the sea at deep low tide before – the ocean in all its vicissitudes was so much a part of my childhood that I forget it isn’t part of theirs), do some thrift shopping, hang out with friends, etc….  I’ve rarely so desperately needed a vacation and some down time.  All of us came home happier and rested.  My wonderful mother even took the baby for one night so that both Eric and I could have the luxury of sleeping a full night – bliss!

I arrived home to find two boxes of _Making Home_ waiting for me – yay!  The book will be in stores by the end of the month, and is available for order here.   It is always exciting to hold your book in your hand and realize “I did this!”

Much was put off in the couple of weeks that encompassed Baby Z’s arrival and K. and C.’s departure – a barn cleaning, garden work, preserving, non-essential chores of all sorts, so we’ve come home to catch up.  I’m not caught up yet, although I’ve got back my energy and optimism, and am starting to get things done (the skill set for getting things accomplished with a baby at hand is coming back to me).

Baby Z. is uncurling from the newborn lima bean stage into a baby.  He’s a sweetie pie who rarely complains, and is content to hang out and make cute noises at us as long as someone is cuddling him.  (One night at midnight he was smiling and waving his hands at me and Eric looked at me in exhaustion and asked “what are you going to do?”  My response “I guess I’m just going to have to let him coo it out.” )  He still doesn’t sleep at night, but then, he’s not-quite-one-month, so I can’t complain about it.  The boys love him, especially Simon, who is a baby person.  I’m using this opportunity to point up the advantages of being a young man with the skills to care for smaller children to him, and he’s learning a host of baby skills (he was only 4 when Asher was born, and while we’ve had a couple of other babies during the last year of fostering, both were short term placements).

The boys are attending a wonderful camp program near us – Simon and Isaiah had taken a class on making stuffed animals there, that due to the unfortunate death of the instructor, turned into a class on patchwork and sewing. I doubt I could have gotten them to sign up for such a class, but they LOVED it – Isaiah is even talking about making sewing a career (not that this won’t change a hundred times, since he’s 8). The boys are wild for more sewing, and now Asher wants to learn, and I am doing everything I can to encourage this state of affairs.  Apparently their sewing circle included the practice of making up rude and humorous songs of the sort that appeal to 8-10 year olds – I wonder if more youth sewing circles will exist if this spreads? ;-) .

We picked 34lbs of blackberries yesterday in the heat, and have already turned them to jam.  I’ve got tomatoes ready to go next, herbs in the drying room, summer squash being frozen.  We’re trying to get the house cleaned out for our annual recertification as foster parents, and now that we’ve had some desperately needed rain, I’m going to have to get some fall crops in (the earlier attempts all died horribly in the heat).  I miss K. and C. a lot, but they are safe and well at home and I’m starting to hope for the phone to ring again and bring us a new placement.  There is blackberry cobbler in the freezer and jambalaya for the day when we are too busy settling new children in to cook.

And that’s the news from here.  In honor of the new book, I will give away 2 free copies – so sign up in comments if you are interested, and I’ll get the boys to pick names out of a hat!  Winners get a signed copy of _Making Home_ free from me!

How are things for you all?


41 Responses to “Scenes from Here”

  1. Oh, yes, please! I’d love a chance at winning your book.

    34 pounds of blackberries turned into jam? And with an infant in the house?!? I think you give yourself far too little credit.

    We’re slogging along here, getting ready to welcome yet another volunteer. We’ve had a long series of them this year. We get so much done while they’re here, but it’s a lot of work playing host and organizing the work too. Still, can’t complain at all. It’s wonderful to have willing helpers. The garden is doing mostly well, still no late blight on the solanaceae. But it looks like we’re headed for yet another crop failure with the winter squash. I just can’t seem to control the squash bugs and squash vine borers. Neem oil next year, perhaps.

  2. Sarah F. says:

    You amaze me with the sheer amount you manage to get done in a day. Will the book give me some tips? If so I sorely need it.

  3. Sister X says:

    I would LOVE a copy of your book!
    I’m glad you were able to get the necessary help to make the transition bearable.
    Also, thank you for your posts on berrying. It’s just about blueberry season here (AK) so I’m gearing up for days spent bent over the small, wild plants to pick the gallons I need to put away for winter. I never do seem to pick enough, though…. :)

  4. Toby says:

    I’d love the book if I get picked. :D

  5. Patty says:

    I can’t believe you accomplish so much with a baby in the home! We did foster care and the amount of time that goes into visitations, paper work, etc. can be overwhelming in addition to caring for the kids. Plus, you’re canning and cleaning, and writing a blog. You deserved that time off!

  6. Sarah says:

    Impressive on the blackberry picking- I haven’t been picking much this summer because of the heat. I did get a lot of pick-your-own blueberries last weekend; the light rain actually made it pleasant!

    I’d love a copy of the book; can’t wait to read it.

  7. Mary Ellen says:

    A free book to share with all my friends in Interior Alaska would be a special gift! Thank you for the opportunity. I really enjoyed all your previous books.

  8. LisaZ says:

    Thank you for the update. I can’t imagine the heartbreak and transition period when children move on, but then I know you are providing them with something so very needed and it is an amazing calling.

    I’d love a copy of your new book!

  9. Lee says:

    I only found you and your work very recently; I’m fascinated and would love to learn more. Thank you!

  10. Jennie Erwin says:

    Go Go Sharon! You are an inspiration. I have a baby in hand as well, boy #2, he’s 3 months now, and just as sweet as he can be.
    Congrats on getting your book in hand. I imagine that feels great.
    I’d love to win a copy. :-)

  11. JRB says:

    Ooh, pick me! Pick me!

    My garden has suffered a great deal and I have no excuse nearly as good as yours for not better tending it. I positively hate the heat, so the veggies have been on a “who will survive?” program.

    I have to echo Kate’s comment about jam?! with an infant?!

    (And Kate, I have squash bugs too. =( I wish I could let the chooks in to pick them off, but they’d decimate everything.)

  12. Pat says:

    I would love a book. And baby Z sounds adorable. :)

  13. Rita says:

    As a classroom teacher, my students always love to sew. I have them embroider their initials on napkins in the fall, and they get to use that napkin all year long when they have snack or even for lunch. It is intensive work and only a couple can do the work at a time. They are all begging to do it. And when the project is finished, they want more, more, more!

    They each have a napkin ring with their name on it. They can keep their napkin in the ring and reuse the napkin. If the napkin gets soiled or wet, they can wash it and hang it up to dry. They love it!

    We have a snack table where children can have a snack during classtime, a couple of them at a time. We use glass plates and drinking glasses. We have a set up with soapy water, rinse water, and disinfectant. They LOVE to wash their own dishes.

    Children love using their hands to be participants in life. Too many of them are relegated to playing, gaming or television.

  14. Babs says:

    I think you are doing a brilliant job, well done you with the littlies that you have been caring for !


  15. Frogdancer says:

    I would LOVE a signed copy of your book! The link you gave only ships to Canada and the US, not Australia. :(

  16. Kristen says:

    I would love a copy of your new book! Thanks for the opportunity.

  17. I would love to have a copy of your book! Please include me in the drawing.

    I’m thrilled that your boys are interested in sewing. It’s a skill that all youngfolk should be taught. How many times a few stitches can save an outfit, or save money by making things for the home or for wear. Even just understanding how to sew can make a person a better clothes shopper, by looking for quality in their purchases. Please keep us updated!

  18. AnnMarie says:

    Loved the Lima bean language! How adorable….

    Hoping to win the book….but if not will purchase soon!

  19. dixiebelle says:

    I’ve already got mine on order! I hope you get some rest, the jam sounds delightful, even if the picking isn’t so. (I just used up the last of our wild blackberry preserves in making ice cream the other week… will def. be doing more blackberry foraging this Summer!)

  20. Jenn W. says:

    Our gardens, what is left of them after a month of construction around our home, are full of tomatoes just coming to color… can’t wait to start canning them. I would love to win a copy of the book, but will definitely buy a copy if I don’t.

  21. Heather says:

    You sound like you’re refreshed and that’s wonderful. It is such a busy time of year anyway, with all the fostering issues added in, I’m not sure I could handle all that you have . Would love a copy of the book. I have it on pre-order, but will do a giveaway if I were to win it as well. Thanks!

  22. Jessica says:

    I’d love a copy of your book!

  23. sarahll says:

    I would love a copy of this book. I was rereading depletion and abundance today and thinking of how much good I get out of your writing.

  24. Elizabeth says:

    I don’t know how you do everything. I have 3, the youngest just over a year old, and it’s all I can do to cover the basics (3 meals a day, bare-bones laundry). We didn’t even PLANT a garden this year.

    Can you throw my name in the hat?

  25. Lisa H. says:

    I would love a copy of your new book! I’m so impressed with what you and your family accomplish! I’ve been trying to get a thornless blackberry planted for over a week and it’s still waiting!

  26. Robin Works says:

    I’d love to have my name in the hat. Thanks!

    I’m glad to hear to had a rest. You keep telling us you are not, indeed, a super-hero. Maybe I believe you now. :)

  27. Jamie says:

    It was great to read your update.

  28. Brad K. says:

    Yes, I would like to read the book! Pick me! Pick me!


  29. Kate Rowbot says:

    I’d love a free copy of “Making Home” — I already pre-ordered my copy, but having an extra to gift to a friend would be wonderful!

  30. Mos Stef says:

    Please add me to the name hat! Sounds like a lovely summer for you.

  31. NM says:

    Lima bean baby! Too cute. And what a sweet offer. I would love to enter the drawing. Glad you are getting some preserving done; sorry to hear about the crop loss.
    Just made prune-plum butter and tart yellow plum jam, and am feeling enormously proud of myself for getting winter crops planted, on time (well … mostly …) for the first time. They’re all sprouting, and looking gorgeous, but quite tiny — and we’re supposed to have a sudden, short but intense heat wave this weekend. Yikes. Hoping that enough water will keep them alive.

  32. Sam Jones says:

    I don’t know how you do all that you do, especially with 4 kids and a lima bean! You inspire me, and I want a copy of your new book sooo badly. I’ve just this week started to re-read my copy of Independence and am loving it again. Thank you Sharon for herding all us cats.

  33. emmer says:

    me too! i have your other books and am looking forward to this one.
    i am too decrepit these days to do big lots of canning, but little ones i can manage. here is my microwave don’t-overheat-the-kitchen summer berry jam recipe. this is not canned–tho you could can it. but it is quick and easy and the 12 or so oz you will get get eaten very quickly:
    in a glass loafpan (mine is 4×8 in–yours may be a little diff) place 2 1/2 c berries. strawberries or raspberries are my favs for this–you use your favs. you can slice or semi-crush if you wish. or not. add 1 c sugar. let sit until juices form. add 1tsp butter to prevent foaming up. add a spoon of lemon juice if you are using a low pectin fruit or very ripe fruit. stir. put in microwave for 8 min. stir well. put back in microwave for 6 min. stir well. look at your fruit mix. put some in a spoon and let it pour off the edge. see how it is runny? put mix back in microwave for 3 min. check again. if it is sheeting, you are done. if you aren’t sure, put a spoonful on a chilled plate. put plate in freezer for 5 min. is it thickened? you are done. not–back to microwave for up to 3 more min. you can, of course, check the temp with a quick read thermometer. any canning book will tell you the exact temp it needs to jell. and of course, it will continue to set up for the next 24 hours, so it will be a little thinker than what you see now. if, tomorrow, it is a little thin, i’m sure you meant to make fruit sauce for ice cream. it too think, well, heat it and use as a glaze on chicken or pork. and remember what it looked like so you will get it perfect next time.

  34. Amanda says:

    We have a long term foster kiddo leaving next week and are then taking a one week camping trip, hoping when we come home, we ill be refreshed and ready for our next call:)

    Congrats on your book:)

  35. Mitty says:

    I am making pesto for the freezer, and need to get some herb vinegar started. I need to find a source of wild blackberries! Congratulations on the new book! I would love to win a copy.

  36. Cath says:

    We live on a main road in a major city and have just become urban farmers- we bought two chickens home last Monday. :) No eggs yet but they should start laying shortly. Spent this afternoon clearing out the fruit tree area (overgrown for the past 4 years) so there’s now enough room for the coop as well as the bees I’m planning on. :) So feeling pretty good right now.

    Would love a copy of your new book; your others have inspired me no end.

  37. gael says:

    good to hear from you once again, put me in the hat for a free book, blackberry summer time with tomatoes right around the corner, a great time of the year.

  38. Andrew says:

    Add me into the draw! My daughter and I are busily sewing up clothes as a summer project – my son is more into the kitchen tasks (making jerky, putting up preserves, etc.).

  39. Claire says:

    Please toss my name in the hat for a copy of the new book! If I don’t win, I’ll buy it, but it’s always fun to win something.

    We are actually getting storms and some rain today in the St. Louis, MO area, and the next week’s highs are supposed to be in the low to mid 90sF, considerably cooler than last month. I can probably not water for a few days for a change. I can also harvest potatoes, weed, and start some fall crop seeds. The surprising thing is that despite the heat and drought, my gardens are quite productive. Anyone interested can go to my blog to find out the latest.

  40. Jyotsna says:

    Sharon, Congratulations on your new book. My daughters and I would love a copy of the book. We are trying new ways of living and loving. Please pick us! : )


  41. T says:

    Hooray for vacations that soothe the burned out! My partner and I are about to do the same. At least one of our job searches is now over. :)

    I’d love to hear your advice for doing things with a tiny babe in arms. I hope to get the opportunity one of these days here…

    And I would love to win a copy of your book! Pick well, boys!

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