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Helen's Mulberry Lane Farm Journal

May 15, 2010

Mother's Day 2010 is now but a sweet memory and one I will cherish for a long time. The greatest joy of my life has been my family whom I love dearly and whom I have devoted my life to. God has blessed me with 10 children and 11 grands (so far!).

The present culture doesn't put much stock in mothering, but I feel like the choice to be a full time mother has been one of the best choices of my life. It is a hard choice in many ways, and requires many sacrifices. One certainly doesn't get their self-esteem fed! Living on one income in a two income world is tough too, but I feel like the most fulfilled and richest woman in the world! I drive an old van and have my house decorated in early American garage sale. But I have a house filled with love and with "things" money can't buy. I love having my husband working nearby me, and I am thrilled to still have five children living at home.

Mother's Day started in an unusual way this year. We got up early, and all of us headed out to the garden. I know, we don't normally work in the garden on Sunday, but our "ox fell in the ditch" so to speak. But, I guess I'm getting ahead of myself.

The day before, a frost and 33 degree temperatures were predicted for Saturday night. For the average person this means maybe putting a pillow case or two on their flowers outside, but for us, with a strawberry patch in full bloom, well, you don't really want to know what work was involved in that project.

But I'll tell you anyway. We have 15 of 150 foot long strawberry rows. That makes 2,250 feet of strawberry plants. 20 king size sheets are needed to cover one 150 foot row. That equals 300 king size sheets for the whole patch. We don't have 300 king size sheets. Or twins or queens for that matter.

So Saturday I took a very fast trip to Champaign and hit every garage sale and every thrift store to buy sheets. Flower-power, polka-dotted, black, sunflowers, anything. We came home with about 50 sheets. That means we could cover about 2.5 rows. Sigh. I was already exhausted at this point from running, literally, from sale to sale, but when we got home we had to then think about strategy with the strawberry patch. We folded sheets, separating out twin, king, queen and odds. Odds were rolls of fabric and curtains I bought at the thrift stores.

Saturday evening was windy. Great. Should we wait for the wind to die down (weather man said that would be about midnight!) or should we try to put out the sheets now and see what would happen. I was for trying it now rather than getting up at 1 am and doing it. It was discouraging. The wind kept picking up the sheets. We put straw on the ends of the sheets to keep them down. It was cold! We tried to whistle while we worked, but our whistlers froze.

My alter ego with sheets in hand off to the strawberry patch.
Photo by Helen Aardsma May 2010.
Gerald with sheets in hand off to the garden.

Battling the elements.
Photo by Helen Aardsma, May 2010.
Laying out the sheets in the garden..

We covered the remaining rows with straw as best we could.
Photo by Helen Aardsma, May 2010.
Laying out the sheets in the garden..

So, Sunday morning we got up early to take the sheets off. This was almost as fun as putting them on! The kids had a great attitude about it all. I was tired and discouraged, but sang hymns to myself to keep from spreading my discouragement to the others and to keep from saying over and over, "I hate strawberries!" Gerald was his normal optimistic, "God trusting" self---as always, a great example to the rest of us. "Isn't it a beautiful day out here? It could be pouring rain!", he tells us. Too true.

Caleb surveying the strawberry beds Sunday morning.
Photo by Helen Aardsma, May 2010.
Caleb surveying the garden.

I know having a big family makes quite a bit of laundry, but really.....
Photo by Helen Aardsma, May 2010.
Laundry anyone?

The neighboring church folks were leaving their Sunday morning service and we had quite a few interesting "looks" while we hung up our "laundry". I felt like wearing a sign that said, "We do sheets for the local hotels and they had a busy weekend!", but I didn't. I just smiled weakly and waved as they drove by. Humility is good for the soul, they say. After they were all hung up we headed in for church. I tried not to think about folding all the sheets and putting them away later on in the day.

I thought I would share with you some of the rewards of being a Mother, by sharing a little of what happened between me and my family on Mother's Day 2010.

I decided this Mother's Day that I wanted to go on a picnic. So while I was gone to garage sales on Saturday (remember, to get all those sheets?) with 'Beka (who is getting ready to take her driver's test) Rachel stayed home and made fried chicken, coleslaw, rolls and brownies. So after church we packed it all up and headed to Middle Fork Park. It truly was a beautiful day. The park was not busy, the sun was shining, there were no bugs, no wind, boys fishing, dogs playing, great food and the fellowship---ever better. It was an idyllic picnic just like in a Norman Rockwell painting, only better because it was real life.

The children bought me some fruit and made me a lovely card. Actually, Matthew, busy with exams, decided to do the honors this year and make the card. I love homemade cards. They are always the best kind. Here is what the kids wrote in the card. The cover said in nicely drawn colored pencil "To: The Quiver, From: The Arrows."

Matthew, our 6th child and just shy of 20 years old, wrote the following poem.

My Mom

A seemingly endless row to hoe,
A bashed knee, a stubbed toe,
Another meal, another day,
Five kids, another on the way.

Sleepless nights, long days,
No cradle where baby stays.
Neglecting her own rights,
She rocks late into the night.

Twenty interesting years later,
I can't think of a gift greater,
And thank God He gave me no other,
Than my very much loved Mother!

Forever grateful,

Matthew, "a wise son makes a glad mother." Prov. 10:1.
Photo by Helen Aardsma, May 2010.
Matthew at our picnic.

From Rachel, who is almost 16.


Happy Mother's Day! As you can tell from this card, you are very loved! You are an amazing mother, grandma, and mother-in-law. We couldn't ask for more than what you have given and sacrificed for us all. You do an incredible job at mothering us all and also showing us what an excellent wife looks like. You make it all look so easy! I can only hope that when I am married and have those 15 grandkids for you :), I can be as good a mother to them as you have been to me.

I love you much.

Rachel. xoxoxoxox

Rachel, "hear, my daughter, and receive my sayings,
and the years of your life will be many." Prov. 4:10
Photo by Helen Aardsma, May 2010.
Rachel at our picnic.

From 'Beka, a woman of few but always well chosen words,

"Thanks for always going up to bat for us. I love you. 'Beka"

Rebekah, "Hear, my daughter, and be wise;
and guide your heart in the way." Prov. 23:19
Photo by Helen Aardsma, May 2010.
Beka enjoys fishing as well.

From Timothy, 13 years old.

"There are 2,000,000,000,000 mothers in the world and not one is a bit better than you! Happy Mother's Day. Tim."

Timothy, "My son , hear the instruction of your father,
and do not forsake the law of your mother." Prov. 1:8
Photo by Helen Aardsma, May 2010.
Timothy scores!

And Caleb, 11, wraps up the card nicely with,

"Thanks Mom."

Caleb, "Let your mother be glad,
and let her who bore you rejoice." Prov. 23:24
Photo by Rachel Aardsma, May 2010.
Caleb, the youngest of 10!

While we were on our picnic, I really enjoyed watching the geese with their little goslings.

Devoted, 24 hours a day, on-the-job parenting.
Photo by Helen Aardsma, May 2010.
Parenting, a full time job!

Buddy enjoyed chasing balls and competing with Matthew's other dog Farley.
Photo by 'Beka Aardsma, May 2010.
Buddy, picture perfect!

'Beka found this cute painted turtle and snapped him!
Photo by 'Beka Aardsma, May 2010.
A cute painted turtle.

God's handiwork along the shoreline of the lake.
Photo by Helen Aardsma, May 2010.
God's handiwork.

After the picnic we all went to the Dairy Queen for ice cream cones, a treat for the kids for their extra hours spent in the garden covering and uncovering the strawberries. Then we headed to the greenhouse to buy flowers, our yearly tradition. The kids bought me some plants for my kitchen window box and for "the hill" as we call it.

My jewels, my reward.
Photo by Gerald Aardsma, May 2010.
Helen's jewels and rewards.

On the Thursday before Mother's Day, I received these beautiful flowers from our fourth child, David and his wife Kathryn and daughter Kailyn.

David is living out this verse.
"Honor thy mother, that you may live long on the earth". Exodus 20:12
Photo by Helen Aardsma, May 2010.
Flowers from my son David.

From our oldest child Jennifer, mother to four:

"For all the ways you take the time to show how much you care,
for sunny smiles and good advice, for always being there.
Thinking of you with so much love, and appreciation too,
and wishing you the kind of day that's wonderful just like you.

Dear Mom,

Happy Mother's Day! Thanks for being such a wonderful mother.

Love, Jennifer."

The card came along with a CD with beautiful music for Moms called "Mothers - Heart to Heart" by Bible Truth Music. On this CD is a song written and sung by Jennifer called "Little Hands".

From our fourth child, Laura, a sweet card with artwork by her daughter Kelsey. When I saw my grandaughter, Kelsey, a few weeks back I asked her what she was learning in school and if she could spell any words for me. She spelled the word cat and now she has written it out for me. I love you too, my darlin'!

Kelsey and Brooklyn
"Grandchildren are the crown of the aged,
and the glory of children is their fathers."
Proverbs 17:6.
Artwork from Kelsey.

I enjoyed a sweet card from my dear friend and local "adopted" mother, Eldora. I wish you could know Eldora. She is my mentor, my example, my Titus 2 woman, my friend, my counsellor, my "rejoice with" and "weep with" older woman.

"Dear Helen, You're loved a lot, even more than you could know...For the caring and kindness you take the time to show. So here's wishing you all the joy that today can possibly hold! Happy Mother's Day. You are such an example of a Biblical woman! Enjoy a wonderful day! May God's grace be sufficient for all your needs. Much love, Eldora."

Eldora and me celebrating Mother's Day
about eight year's ago.
Eldora, "I thank God every time I remember you." Phil 1:3.
Eldora and Helen.

A precious time was had with Eldora over the phone, rejoicing in God's goodness in our lives, sharing our deepest heartfelt pains, weeping and laughing together as only best friends can do.

Phone calls were made to our mothers, both in Canada and in New Hampshire, sharing our thankfulness for all they have done in our lives.

I'm glad for Mother's Day because it gives us a chance in a very busy world to pause and express our thanks to our mothers.

Receiving the thanks from my own children is just icing on the cake, the cake being a life full of hugs, watching first steps, wrinkled "I love you" notes, sloppy kisses, nursing infants, late night talks, gigglin' teenagers, smashed dandelion boquets.....

Thanks for listening to my ramblin' about the icing.

Strawberries comin' around the fourth week in May ~ reserve now for either U Pick or We Pick! See you soon!


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