Janeen Brady (see britemusic.com) has this darling song about going to Grandma’s house and finding treasures. I always feel that way too when I take my children to Grandma’s house. Of course, it helps if Grandma is a packrat. Which she is. She recently bequeathed to me my book bag from kindergarten, homemade, with a colorful pelican lovingly appliqued by Mom. Honestly, I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry, as I am struggling with letting go of the stuff I already own in this house of 1700 square feet and 9 people. Anyway, I also love taking my kids to their Auntie Em’s house. Em (Emily) is my baby sister (all of four years younger) and her house is full of treasures. I always come away from a visit with her feeling so nourished. Her home is full of happy, apple-cheeked youngsters and wholesome delights. We share a love for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, great books and tending the hearth.
In her first life (before marriage and kids) she was a children’s book illustrator. You can see one of the books she illustrated here: http://lernerbooks.com/cgi-bin/books.sh/lernerpublishing.p?navaction=f6_title.w&navvalue=1575051834 She also did some picture for the LDS children’s magazine, The Friend. She spent some time in NYC where she worked at the children’s bookstore that is featured in the Meg Ryan movie You’ve Got Mail. So she tells me stories about meeting famous people in that store, like Julia Roberts or Hilary Knight. (The illustrator of the Eloise and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books- and FYI, he’s a man.) She has four little children ages seven and under and I have three five and under so they have a jolly time playing together. My two middles, ages 8, and 12, come when we visit on a weekday since they are homeschooled and not scholars and they have a barrel of fun as well.
Everywhere I turn at Em’s house a treasure just beckons to be examined. Which is to be expected since she is an artist. I found an old Polariod of our parents on her mantle from the 70s.I had to look at it twice as I did not recognize them the first time! My dad actually had a mustache and my mom’s hair was really dark. They looked almost like hippies! Em has so many fun old-fashioned books on her shelves. She has a collection of Thyra Ferre Bjorn books. I read Thyra’s trilogy last spring and summer: Papa’s Wife, Papa’s Daughter, and Mama’s Way. They are so charming and encourage faith in God. Thyra tells of her wholesome, picturesque life growing up in Sweden in the country as a daughter of a preacher, and then emigrating to America with her whole family of eight kids and parents. If you ever feel like renewing your core phase, your faith in God and fellowmen, read Thyra’s books. These books hearken back to a simpler, more delightful time in America, pre-1960s. If you are looking for a totally magical summer read, you can’t go wrong with one of these little-known classics.
My sister Em even has some autographed copies of Thyra’s books. How cool is that? (Really cool, in case you don’t know who Thyra is.) I felt like I was examining George Washington’s signature as I stared at this page.I thought I had read all of Thyra’s books but I haven’t, and Em loaned me her copy of one I haven’t read yet, called This is My Life. I am so eager to read it. I tell you, the way to capture that Christmas feeling year round as a mom is to have a never-ending list of books you can’t wait to read and recipes you can’t wait to bake. But first I am finishing Running With Angels and some others.
But I didn’t go to Em’s to look at books or her artwork. I have seven children and for years and years I have taken them to Target to get their pictures taken. For the first year of their life I used to take them every month to get the portraits. After seven babies, you can imagine that it was getting somewhat tiresome. On our last visit, my baby cried every time I plopped him down on that cold floor amidst the bright lights. It was definitely not conducive to smiles. “There has got to be a better way!” I thought. “Oh yeah,” I remembered, “I’ve been meaning to get Em to take these.” I could take my baby to Em’s house and ask her to be the smile-maker and taker. She has a fancy extra nice camera. He would be so much happier on a soft comfy couch with a simple sheet for a backdrop amidst happy cousins.We could take the digital images and print them out somewhere. So, that’s just what happened. I decided to get all the kids’ pictures done, except for the two oldest, who were away at their Shakespeare Showdown camp. Em and I are both going on trips out of town over Memorial Day so I told her she could email me the images when she gets back. I will share some of them here.
Ever since I heard about the lost American ideal of being Georgic from Oliver DeMille, I have pondered how to incorporate it into all the aspects of my life. If you want to know more about Georgics, go to fourlostamericanideals.com.
My husband become self-employed after I heard this talk, and it is definitely what kept me going through the cycle of feast and famine that is common to self-employment. But there’s so much more to being georgic than being a small-business owner, or the wife of a small business owner. It means taking charge of your life and being self-reliant in all areas. It means that you don’t just sit back and take whatever life dishes out to you. It means being like the Little Red Hen. Actually, you don’t have to do all the work yourself. It means knowing that you can do it yourself or contract with someone besides the nearest big box store, even, or especially, if it is your baby sister and it’s a better deal. Today’s technology is so exciting. It makes it so easy to be georgic. Youtube, wikihow, and wikipedia make it so easy to learn any terminology or skill.The benefits of being georgic are fourfold: you save money, you are in charge, you have less impact on the earth, and you have more fun at the same time. But you don’t always save time. There’s a trade-off, and only you can determine the balance that works for your family.
Let’s see… being georgics,
in regards to
-infant feeding…means breastfeeding, check, got that
-feeding ourselves, it means cooking from scratch and gardening. and canning, and raising our own meat, milk and eggs, WHOA… still working on that one
-birth control, it means NFP, check, got that one down too,
-education, it means homeschooling, got that one nailed,
-finances, it means being not only self-employed, but independently
wealthy, still working on that one too.
-in entertainment, it means making our own fun instead of submitting to the Hollywood conveyor belt. We don’t watch TV, but we are still working on watching fewer DVDs. But my kids do make their own plays.I would like to do more singing around the piano and reading aloud.
Vernie DeMille gave a talk at my conference last year on how to garden with little children. Just click on recordings at the tab above and you can order the download of the talk.
Check out these fun books on being a more georgic homemaker: Creative Family Fun and Handmade Home, both by Amanda Blake Soule at soulemama.com.
Don’t get overwhelmed thinking you have to make your own laundry detergent, underwear, electricity, and shoe polish all at once. It’s just fun to look at these pictures and dream about being a little more self-reliant, and then just take one step at a time. Maybe you too will find or even make your own little treasures on the way.