When It’s Raining a Glorious Candy Mess!
I’ve never met Marianne Jantzi, but after laboring with her for about eight months to bring her first book into the world, I feel like I could be its grandmother.
The effects are long lasting. We all feel bright and refreshed and go at our work and play with more vigor.
Marianne has four children and is about the age of my own middle daughter. She has been writing stories of their life together as an Amish family in a monthly column in The Connection, a paper read mostly by plain Mennonites and Amish. Marianne’s forthcoming Herald Press book (March 29 publication date) is called Simple Pleasures: Stories from Life as an Amish Mother and covers about five years in the life of Marianne’s family. I feel it is a book many young parents (mothers especially) can readily identify with, even though Marianne is Old Order Amish.
But rather than try to retell her marvelous stories, I’ll excerpt two here (used by permission). Marianne and her family live in Ontario where, yes, March winds still blow cold and snow threatens to keep them inside. But not for this plucky mother and former schoolteacher.
It’s cold and snowy and blowy and I’m piling wood into the Pioneer Maid (our woodstove) and the shop furnace. Sewing, cleaning, cooking, and baking. I’m one of those homemakers who sends her man off to work each morning, then spends one day after the next cooped up inside with the little ones. Before you know it, you feel dull and listless and over-sugared from eating and eating the cookies you made for the lunch box. So I invented my own little day brightener: every day the children and I go outside.
That was easy to say. Now we just have to do it.
First, I always think about how much time it’s going to take and then look at my sewing, the dirty dishes, and the empty cookie jar. Then I take a deep breath and bundle children in thick coats, caps, scarves, boots, and mittens. Here we go in our trusty black ice-fishing sled that never did go ice fishing. We walk and play in the fresh, exhilarating air.
Last winter, if we lasted fifteen minutes we were doing well. But the effects are long lasting. We all feel bright and refreshed and go at our work and play with more vigor.
Maybe it even cuts down on our colds and cranky spells. At least it gives us something to talk about when Daddy comes home.
Back in my teaching days, the senior teachers used to drill and drill us to send our students outside to play. If they couldn’t go outside, we were to give them exercise indoors. Get their hearts pumping and their blood flowing! Refresh those brains! And the teacher needs the refresher just as much as—or more than—the students do. I think this advice works well for mothers and preschoolers too.
I resolved to have a go-outside schedule to further ensure that I don’t skip the dreary, rainy, or too cold days. The secret is motivation and proper clothing. During the winters that we have had a new baby, I even take the baby outside on nice days, bundled into an infant car seat. (We use the car seat primarily when hiring a driver for car trips).
Of course there are always the challenges. The year Alyssa was born, it was cold and stormy. She joined us on January 18. That year I contentedly sat on the couch and watched the snow blow while I cared for my little pink bundle.
The children and I don’t venture out if the temperature dips extremely low. But on good days, we manage to get our daily fresh air and exercise. I bundle us up and wrap a long furry scarf around the baby’s neck and cover his nose.” (Simple Pleasures, p. 27).
As a mother of little ones, a spotless room, or a quiet moment, is very precious. I cherish each of those moments whenever they unexpectedly come. Then I remember that, all too soon, my rooms might be too spotless and the quiet moments too long. That’s when I go back to cherishing the chatter, the chubby cheeks, and even the clutter on the floor.
One day when Alyssa was four, she took a piece of wood, a piece of foam, and nailed an old tea towel over everything. She even pounded the nails in by herself. In the end she called it perfect and presented her gift to her dad for his thirtieth birthday. He wasn’t sure what the gift was. I think I’ll just call the gift “love.” Love from a four-year-old for her dad.
Eric was excited for his daddy’s birthday. Dad held a completely full bag of Jujubes, and the children were ready to share a treat. When Dad opened the bag, the unthinkable happened. Jujubes rained everywhere. Eric stood, awestruck, before he danced around and shouted, “It’s a mess, it’s a mess! It’s a candy mess!”
Kyle paid no attention to the screeching. He sat in the middle of it, stuffing Jujubes into his mouth.” (Simple Pleasures, pp. 77-78).
For a free chapter excerpt, download it at http://www.heraldpress.com/titles/SimplePleasures . Or write to me and I’ll send you one by email or regular mail at Another Way, 1251 Virginia Avenue, Harrisonburg VA 22802, or MelodieD@MennoMedia.org.