Hello, lovelies!  Long time, no chat!  I’m sorry if you visited in the past week or so and found the blog coming apart at the seams.  I was apparently behind on some much needed WordPress updates.  I am not very fond of the technical side of blogging!  But I think we are up and running now.

We are spending the summer at our beach cottage in Michigan.  Because Mr. Marvelous works from home, we are enjoying the giant blessing of summer at the shore.

I am working on a personal photography project documenting the boys’ summer at the beach with a photo each day.  If you are interested in following along, you may do so via Facebook.   This post will catch you up to speed with the past several weeks of photos!

Wynn and James’ favorite activity so far this summer is to flood the sidewalk with the hose and then ride their bikes through the puddles.

This little girl is our new next door neighbor, Ellie.  She lives with her grandparents and has adopted us as her summer family.  It is crazy and fun to have a little girl around for a change.  I even let her paint my toenails.

James is in that fleeting stage where he is a busy little boy while awake, but still mommy’s baby when he is asleep or snuggling in my lap.  He will turn two at the end of the summer.

ECP Week Two 1 The mommy-pile.  There is rarely a time as a mother when no one is touching you, talking to you, asking you a question or calling for you from another room! mommy pile

 

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One of my favorite things to do with the boys when there is “nothing to do” is search our property for something in each color of the rainbow. We get to talk a lot about God as creator. Today we found:

Red: wild raspberries
Orange: day lily
Yellow: wild flower
Green: grapes off the vine
Blue: wild flower
Indigo: wild flower
Violet: wild blackberries

And yes, we even found a full, intact bird’s nest to carry our treasures! I told the boys that God had the birds leave the nest there just for them because of this verse:

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

I second shot this beautiful wedding a few weeks ago.  “Second shot” means that I got to tag along with my friend Lauren, who was the main photographer, and take pictures but  I was able to leave before they cut the cake in order to tuck my boys into bed for the night.  Did you know that wedding photographers spend 8-10 hours photographing a wedding?   Egads, right?   Nevertheless I was completely charmed creating art from this kind of event.  I could do again and again and again!

I’m really just completely smitten.  Thanks for letting me share my work with you!

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Then followed that beautiful season… Summer….
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It is hot and sticky in the south.  Late May.  May races into June and the days, long and full with little ones, make for short weeks that seem to disappear before my eyes.  My boy is now 4 and my babe will be 2 at the end of the summer. rare and beautiful treasures blog 5

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I pour my life out for them, daily, like a drink offering. Everything that I have to give is theirs, from sun up to sun down.  I am a workhorse.  Their first girlfriend.  I am desperately needed.

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I am learning so many lessons in this stage of motherhood.  I am learning the art of calm in the midst of chaos-to smile and speak lovingly when I feel flustered or defeated.  I’m learning that two little boys can be upset and crying but I can be calm and attentive and smile.  It is easy, as mothers, to let our emotions mirror our children’s -if they are happy, it is easy to be happy.  If they are having a bad day, it is easy to feel bleak as well .  I’m cracking my way out of that stronghold and trying to find JOY in the very act of mothering.  It isn’t easy but it is more than worth it.  I fail everyday.  I get up and start again and thank the Lord for blessing me with the privilege of being a wife and a mother and a homemaker-all things the world undervalues but that are precious in the eyes of God.

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We are slowly, ever so slowly, making updates and changes to our big ‘ol home in North Carolina.

It is big.

It is old.

Big and old.

Seven bedrooms and 2 kitchens big.

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But it is dreamy.  One-of-a-kind.  Everything we’ve always wanted-an old fixer- upper in the country with several acres for our children to run free and have an old fashioned childhood.  Truth be told, we were most taken with the land the house sits on, just absolutely beautiful gardens and landscaping.

This is the front entryway when we bought the house.

And the whole family working on renovating and painting the staircase.

This spring, I was out pulling weeds and English ivy and chasing the boys when my neighbor stopped by to tell me that the previous owners had had to employ a full-time gardener to keep up with the yard.  I was covered in dirt and sweat and not sure whether to laugh or cry.  I am in over my head but I couldn’t imagine a life we’d rather be living.

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The boys know what it means to WORK and work together.  I hope they have memories deeply rooted in this place and the things we are doing and building here.

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( Wynn and a friend near our house at sunset )

Thank you for your patience with me during a slow blogging “season.”  It feels really good to be back.  If you’d like to follow my photography, you can do so on my Facebook page here!

{ everything i know about photography, i learned through clickin moms! }

CM Lifetime Member

 

Today I am sharing my conversation with my dear friend, Shirley.  Shirley just celebrated her 92nd birthday.  She was convinced that she didn’t have anything special to share with us-if she only knew how much love and wisdom there is in her story.  You may want to grab a box of Kleenex for this one.

 

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Q:  Thank you so much for talking to me about your experience as a mother.

A:  Well, you’re welcome dear, but I don’t know how helpful I will be.  I don’t know how much I will remember.

Q;  Well, can you start out by telling me in what years you raised your children?

A:  My oldest son, Harry, was born in 1945 while my husband was in the Navy during the Second World War.  I had three children-Harry, Bob, and my daughter Susan.

Miss Shirley

Q:  What was it like to be a mother in the 1940s?

A:  Well it was different from the time the baby was born I suppose.  Back then when you had a baby they kept you in the hospital for 10 days.  Maybe that was a bit too long but it’s not like today where they send you home the next day!

And this is just my opinion but our children got a better education back before computers and calculators.  If they wanted to know something, they had to look it up in a book.  I just think that that was good for them.

Also kids had more spontaneous fun.  They were outside rounding up their friends to play kick the can, they made their own fun.  It was not structured the way it is now.

Q:  No playdates?

A:  No.  I can’t explain it, but it was just a different world.

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A (con’t):  Neighbors are not close now in the way they were when my kids were growing up.  We had a sense of companionship and community.  Now everyone is too busy.  You might wave to a neighbor as they are coming or going, but back then we knew our neighbors and their children and we looked out for one another.  We talked over the fence, you know?

Q:  It’s sad that we don’t have that anymore.

A:  It is sad.  But everyone is too busy I guess.

Families stayed close together back then as well.  You might have moved across town but you were still close to parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles.  Now it is nothing to move across the country and be spread out.

Q:  I agree with you.  It was very important to us to live close to family once our first child was born.  We wanted our children to have the influence and love of those family members, to grow up knowing them and loving them.  I think it is one of the best things we have ever done for our children.

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Q:  One of the things I think you see a lot of today is siblings who do not get along.  They are different ages with their own peer groups and activities and they aren’t friends.  I desperately want my boys to grow up as friends.  Can you tell me what this looked like for you?  How did you encourage good relationships between your children?

A:  Well looking back it just seemed natural that they got along and were playmates.  I don’t remember that I did anything to make that happen.  Again, they were left alone to find their own fun and make their own toys a lot of the time.  They were just always playing together.  Entertaining themselves.

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Q:  Speaking of toys, what were Christmas and birthdays like?

A:  Simple.  One of my favorite pictures is from a Christmas when my boys were little and one is playing a horn and the other his new drum.  They were happy with just a few small things.  In fact I remember we had a neighbor family that always had lots and lots of toys but those neighbor kids were always playing at our house!  Although, we were the first family in our neighborhood to have a tv!  Can you imagine!  It was a tiny box, black and white of course.

Q:  I know you lost your second son, Bob, when he was still a child.  Can you talk about that?

A:  Yes (whisper, exhaling) he died of cancer.

Q:  It must be nearly 70 years since Bob passed away, and that as a mother, you must still miss him and think about him every day.  How do you miss someone for so long and deal with that grief?  How did you not let it consume you?

A:  The only way I could make sense of it is to say that they needed him up there [in heaven] to bring some cheer.  He was the happiest, smiling-est boy you could ever know.  Always so happy, everyone’s friend, so full of joy.  I knew after he passed away that I had to go on being happy for him, because if he knew that something he had done had upset me, it would have devastated him.  I still have his picture on my little tv stand at my house, so he is still there, smiling at me every day.  I talk to him.  Everyday, I talk to him and he smiles back at me.

Q:  Was it a challenge to raise good kids?

A:  Well I don’t think so, really.  Today it is a huge challenge to raise good kids.  Why?  I don’t know what is wrong with some parents.  They let the kids rule the roost!

Q:  I’m always curious about housework, probably because it is my personal Goliath, even with all our modern conveniences.  Did you have a housekeeper?

A:  No.

Q:  You just worked hard.

A:  Yes.

Q:  What advice do you have for today’s young mothers?

A:  Read to your children.  Introduce them to books.

Q:  Does it really go by as fast as everyone says that it does?

A:  It does.  It does.  I can’t believe my baby girl is now 60-some years old.

Miss Shirley today

Me, my babes and Miss Shirley, May 2014, at her surprise 92nd birthday party.

 

For more on the Vintage Motherhood series, click here for the introduction and here for the first interview with Violet.

Today is GOOD Friday.  Sunday is COMING.

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 1 Corinthians 15:55

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“Oh Church! Come stand in the light!
The Glory of God has defeated the night!”

Thanks you for being here, beloved one.

Dear Violet’s story is our first of many in a new series on vintage motherhood . . .

Q:  Thank you for taking the time to talk to me today.

A:  {nods, humbly}

Q:  Can you start out by telling me how many children you have and when were they born?

A:  I have two boys.  They were born 18 months apart in the 1950s. 

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Q:  And what was life like as a mother in the 1950s?  How do you suppose it compared to motherhood today?

A:  Well the biggest difference was the lack of today’s conveniences!  I did not have a dryer or a dishwasher.  We had one car.  My husband was gone to work with the car during the day so I was at home all day with the children.  I also didn’t have a telephone. 

Q:  Can you tell me what your experience was like when you were expecting your first baby?

A:  My first was born in the month of July-

Q:  Wow, July in North Carolina, nine months pregnant and no air conditioning.  Sounds hot!

A:  It was terribly hot and no, we did not have air conditioning.  We didn’t even own a fan! 

Q:  Not even a fan?

A:  Well no but we sat in the basement to stay cool.  And at night we opened up all the windows and things cooled down.

Q:  You probably know this but when a mother is pregnant today, there are baby registries and 40 different options for highchairs and car seats and all sorts of contraptions like bouncy seats and “exersaucers.”  Can you tell me what things you had ready before your first baby was born?  What was the norm?

A:  Well my mama and sister were good sewers.  They sewed a lot of gowns.  We didn’t have those things you have today-”onesie” things.  And we didn’t have sleepers.  We just used gowns.  We used cloth diapers and plastic pants.  My daddy made a cradle.  I made my own bedding.  Everything else I inherited from my older sister- a highchair, a crib, a playpen and a potty chair.

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Q:  And what about your delivery? I would imagine it was a natural delivery without pain relief?

A:  My first labor lasted for 12 hours.  They gave me half of a shot of some sort of pain relief but it stalled my labor.  After that they didn’t give me anymore. So I just labored.

Q:  Thanks to our sister Eve!

A:  {laughs}

Q:  And what were your first days like as a new mother?  It is such an emotional time, especially with your first.

A:  Well, I stayed with my mama for a week and then I went home with the baby.  I realized that I was alone with a baby that I didn’t know to care for and I was scared to death!  And I didn’t even have a telephone It was a really helpless feeling and I wasn’t prepared.

Q:  That sounds very isolating.  I imagine you were lonely?  But you eventually found your way, of course.

A:  Well yes.  The girl next door, her name was Daisy, she came alongside me and helped me.  She had three little girls of her own and she took me under her wing and taught me the things I needed to know.  She became my best friend.   She taught me canning and baking, things I never learned from my own mother because I was her youngest child and babied a lot growing up. Also, my older sister was a great help to me.

Q:  Did you have “easy” babies?  Babies that slept well?  Nowadays everyone wants to know “how is the baby sleeping??,” it seems to be the benchmark in how you are doing as a mother.

A:  My youngest had colic until he was nine months old.  He just cried and cried.  I would give him catnip tea.

Q:  Catnip tea??

A:  Yes, catnip tea.  It is an old mountain remedy.  You would buy it by the can at the drug store.  Boil water, add sugar and the tea.  I remember that two tablespoons would make 2 baby bottles of tea. 

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Q:  Can you tell me about housework.  What was it like in the days before modern appliances?  I think it is hard in the day of modern appliances!  Some days at 5 p.m. I think I can’t possibly summon the energy to get dinner on the table but then I think about how mothers just like me used to have to chop wood and build a fire to wash the dishes and make the meal.  That’s humbling!  I’m always praying that God would make me stronger.

A:  Well I had a washing machine in the basement.  I didn’t have a dryer.  We had a clothes line in the basement to use during inclement weather.  Sometimes I would hang the babies’ diapers on the line outside and they would freeze before I could get them down!  It was a lot of work, yes, I don’t know, we just did it.

Q:  You said your boys are 18 months apart, does that mean you had two babies in cloth diapers at one time?

A:  Oh yes.

Q:  What was that like?

A:  A disaster!  By the time my second was born my older son needed two diapers at one time for absorbency.  That made for a lot of diapers. All the time.  A lot of washing.  Plus the rubber pants.

Q:  Did you keep a garden as part of your homemaking?

A:  Yes, we had a garden and put up beans, corns, tomatoes and sweet pickles. 

Q:  I imagine that as far as cooking went, it was very hot in your kitchen in our North Carolina heat in the days before air conditioning.

A:  Yes, it would get very hot in the kitchen, but I didn’t know any different so we just made do.  Growing up, my mama cooked on a wood stove.  I was just used to it.

Q:  You were strong!

A:  Oh, I had to be.

Q:  What sorts of games did your boys play growing up?

A:  Baseball.  They were always playing baseball!  We played outside a lot.

Q:  Did you worry about snakes?  Poisonous snakes?  I’m always thinking about snakes when my boys are playing outside in the warmer months here in the south!

A:  Oh yes, I did.  That is an awful fear.  But I only remember seeing one snake on one occasion.  I did see one last year, a great big black one, but in that case he was headed toward your house and away from mine. {Erin’s note, Violet is my neighbor}

Q:  Oh, well how lovely.

A: Yes, sorry {chuckles}

Q:  I’m curious, looking back, do you wish you had disciplined more or disciplined less?  This is a big issue in modern parenting.  There is a great concern for kids’ self-esteem but a lack of respect for authority and elders overall, I think.

A: Well, no.  I disciplined them as they needed it and that was that!

Q:  Can you tell me how your faith played a role in your days a young mother?

A:  My faith  . . .  well, my faith  I guess is what kept me sane.

Q:  Well that is something that hasn’t changed.

A:  Indeed.

Thank you, to Violet for sharing your heart and story with all of us.  Coming next is my interview with a 94 year-old mother of 3, on life raising young children during the 1940s.

If you have a question you would like me to bring into an interview, please leave it in the comments section.

{all images, unless otherwise noted, pulled from this gorgeous collection}

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I love to talk to mothers, who are themselves now in their eighties or nineties, about their experiences as mothers of young children some sixty or seventy years ago.  I am utterly fascinated by these beautiful women who mothered in the days before modern appliances and air conditioning, baby registries and car seats.

What was it like to be nine months pregnant in 100 degree rural North Carolina heat? 

How did you soothe your colicky baby?

How did your faith see you through those days of hard work and deep loving?

Image by Pat Crowe

I am so excited to tell you that I have been busy interviewing elderly mothers to record and preserve their wisdom and I am going to share it all with you here, in a new blog series on “vintage mothering.”

Paris, 1937, Anonymous

It was my hope that this series could serve as a double blessing. I could, hopefully, go into nursing homes and talk to women who would enjoy the companionship and the chance to tell their story.  Then, in turn, their stories could serve as comfort and encouragement to modern mothers.

Wasn’t it lonely to mother in the days before modern technology?

Inge Morath, Fog on the Thames, London 1954

Looking back, do you wish you had disciplined more or less?

Image by Josef Heinrich Darchinger, 1955

What do you wish you had said to your daughter?

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What do you wish you had done differently?

What if you could go back and do it all over again?

Image by Beth Forester via.

Something inside me had to know the answers to these questions.

So I asked.

They answered.

Stay tuned, the first Vintage Motherhood interview will be live tomorrow.  From one mother to another, trust me, you do not want to miss this.

 

Something seems to have shifted in my heart these past few weeks.  While I’ve always cherished being a mother, God seems to have opened my eyes to the fleeting time that is this childhood I get to spend with my babes.   My oldest is turning 4 next week.  In a blink he will turn 14, and then 40.  Tonight I snuggled my boy, still 3, and he rubbed his nose up to mine and said “mommy . . . sweet mommy.”

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Our lives seem to be following the rhythm of the seasons.  As winter works to fade to spring, my camera and I have become magic-seekers.

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Recording what this childhood feels like, in this magical beautiful place at the foot of God’s mountains in rural North Carolina.

 

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Delight.

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Tiny wonder.

James January Sky

God sent us the most amazing “pet,” my boys could imagine.  Meet Humphrey, our eastern screech owl.  He took up residence in a tree in our yard about 2 months ago.  We love to watch his comings and goings.

Humphrey

My Boy baked a birthday cake for Humphrey several weeks ago and I stood in the rain, under an umbrella with him, singing happy birthday to this poor owl who was scared back inside his tree trunk.  Thank you for being such a good sport, Humphrey, we love you. Please stay!


My Baby in the backyard at sunset, going on 17 months.

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My Boy and his lost balloon at daybreak.

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Wagon ride with daddy.

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I’m looking forward to capturing and sharing the first signs of SPRING!!  C’mon spring, you can do it!

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