Good morning from the Yoders’ quiet house. Ya, all is quiet for once. Silence is something I rarely get to “hear” these days. Too much of it would undoubtedly be boring, but in this season of life, that is not on my list of worries. The opposite is true. With a house full of little ones, it is a constant effort to keep everyone occupied, allowing plenty of action and even noise that was meant for children to enjoy, yet monitoring it enough to keep it from getting out of hand. That reminds me of the sweetest little boy who once stepped into our living room with his dear adoptive parents. Taking everything in with his big dark yet innocent eyes, he asked, “Is this an orphanage?” Ah, bless his sweetest heart. He has no idea how much the thought of an orphanage has been my dream. (Though I confess, since we have given two little ones a home, I may have a bit more of a glimpse of the “real” side of an orphanage, filled with hurt little hearts.) Let me hasten to add, though, that we are thrilled to reach out to as many hurting hearts as God calls and enables us to.
Yes, for us, wintertime is certainly a bit more of a challenge to keep everyone occupied and not get into little spats as they try to find their place in indoor activities. I am ever so thankful for our basement; the children spend hours down there on their trikes, dumping out their large storage container of balls then gathering them all up before getting out the basket with farm animals and the likes. I have found that they spend much more time occupied at their play when their toys are sorted into categories. Then they get to chose what they want to play with.
Yesterday, the girls thought they had the most entertaining time when they spied our large tote, full of stuffed animals in the storage room. After picking up the other toys, they emptied the entire container of stuffed animals, one at a time. Soon they had an “orphanage” with lots of little “children.” When Austin came along, they soon had a pen full of “pigs” instead. At the moment, Daniel is feeding 22 pigs we plan to butcher in our annual church hog butchering in the last of January. After a while, their stuffed animals were all people again. This time, they had eight sitting on the couch, each representing one of our family members, including Owen. Daddy and Mom were each holding a “baby,” and the others were all tightly clustered around us. You can only imagine how swiftly a one or two year old can take care of these perfect set-up of babies when Mama is trying to get some work done, and big sister turns her back. But then, it’s a learning experience.
The older children also enjoy crafts, painting, and things as such, especially so when the little ones are napping. Sometimes I feel like I don’t find enough time to help them with projects as such on their level, though I’m finding that as the two little boys get a bit older, I’m also able to spend more time with each of them on their level. It’s super rewarding for me as a mother to watch all of them grow, develop, and continuously learn new things. Yesterday, much to Julia and Austin’s delight, I showed them how to do laundry. I told them that next summer after the new baby comes, I’ll have them do the laundry sometimes. They thrive on trying new things, and they both did very well.
I want to pass on a few recipes I’m going to have Julia and Austin make for the birds outside our kitchen window. Over the holidays, we’ve had our fair share of lip-smacking food, so this week, we’ll focus on recipes for our feathered friends to enjoy. Birds are a highlight at our house. Daniel put up a branch of a tree that looks just like a real tree next to our large feeder. This tree graces all sorts of feeders, including several that Julia and Austin painted with beautiful rainbow colors. This morning Owen added several more to the collection, now all we need is good snow to bring more of a variety to the feeders once more.
• 1 cup lard
• 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
• 2 cups cornmeal
• 2 cups old-fashioned oats
• 1/2 cup flour
• ½ cup of sugar
• ½ cup raisins
• 1/2 cup ground corn
• 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
Melt lard and peanut butter, then mix in remaining ingredients. Place in a suit feeder or simply put on a heap on a little platform or feeder.
• 3/4 cup birdseed
• 1 tablespoon flour
• 2 tablespoons water
Mix then pack into a cookie cutter that has been sprayed or wiped with cooking oil and place onto a foil-lined cookie sheet. Now insert a hole in the middle with a straw near to the top to create a hole for hanging it up. Bake with the straw at 170 degrees for an hour or until biscuit is hard. Let cool. Remove the straw, thread a ribbon through the hole, and hang it outside in a sheltered spot.
Gloria Yoder is an Amish mom, writer, and homemaker in rural Illinois. The Yoders travel primarily by horse-drawn buggy and live next to the settlement’s one-room school-house. Readers can write to Gloria at 10510 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427