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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Canning with Kids

Charlotte age 14 canning apple butter

Always practice cleanliness while canning.
Another season of canning and I realized that I have 3 teenagers and 1 preteen that all know how to can. Many adults do not know how to successfully can or don't even attempt it. So, how, in a day in age of this almost lost art, did I successfully teach my children how do this?

It wasn't a conscience decision to teach my children the art of preserving. It just sort of happened and now I realize what a great skill it was that they have acquired.

Since it wasn't a conscience decision on my part I had to think back. I also had to question my children.  How did their skill develop and at what ages did I start allowing them to do more and me less?

First, let me start with saying: allow your children to surround you in the kitchen. DO NOT KICK THEM OUT SO YOU CAN DO THINGS EASIER. Even as babies allow them to watch you and play with flour or dough or the pots and pans.

Here are a list of ages and jobs I think you can allow your children to do to introduce your children them to canning. *

2 yrs. old and up - Take them produce picking. Either in the garden or a Pick your own trip. Let your children always know where there food comes from . . . they are more likely to eat these healthy foods. Teach them the importance of hand washing.

4 yrs. old/5 yrs. old and up - Allow them to rinse the fruit out. Wipe the counter. Help you pour cool ingredients into pots. Teach them the importance of cleanliness.

6 yrs. old/7 yrs. old and up - Peeling, sorting, rinsing. Assist with stirring. Wiping the tops of the canning jars. Observe the full canning process. Teach them importance of safety and cleanliness.

8 yrs. old. to 11. yrs old and up- Cutting the produce.  Actually making the recipe to be canned. Stirring. Assisting parent with preparing the canning area. Allowing them to fill the cans. Remember you are dealing with boiling water so please take caution when allowing them to help. Remind them to be really careful. Review the importance of safety and cleanliness.



Friday, September 11, 2015

Bittersweet 9/11*

A young Rob and Mickie
at Charlotte's baptism.
Today is the 14th memorial of the 9/11 attacks. The flag flies half mast today at Sanctae Familiae Villa. But today is also the 14th birthday of my daughter Charlotte. I suppose we all have a story to tell about where we were on that frightful day. Here is ours. I woke up around 6am to my water breaking. My husband, Rob, at that time was working 3rd shift; so knowing he was already on his way home I called my neighbor. "Hey Patty, could you come over I think my water broke" She came as quick as I called. "So what do you think . . . do you think my water actually broke?" I asked. "I don't know, you've done this more than me and more recent." she replied. I told her I was pretty sure it was my water but I was wondering why I wasn't having any contractions. I thought that contractions would come soon so I suggested we feed the boys and ourselves while waiting for Rob to arrive home from work.

Rob arrived home, ate quickly, and we prepared to leave for the hospital. Patty would stay with the boys until my parents made the 2 hour journey from Massachusetts. While we preparing for another beautiful family memory, planes were being boarded for what people thought was just another ordinary day in their lives. While we arrived at the hospital, flight attendants tried to contact FAA to signal that they were hijacked. I was hooked up to a fetal monitor, my water had indeed broken, but there were still no signs of contractions. The doctor figured I should just rest a bit. So hubby and I decided to turn on the television. We were watching Good Morning America when it suddenly broke in live with the first plane crash into the World Trade Center. "What is going on?" I remember saying. Our nurse became curious as well and turned to see the t.v. I remember Rob saying "that is a lot of fuel for a small plane, it must be a commercial plane, why was it flying so low?" Since my husband works in the aviation field I considered this thoughtfully. What if this wasn't an accident? Were we being attacked? Scary. I thought about my brother who lived so close to the towers. I was just there at Christmas time the boys took a photo on Santa's lap (right in the World Trade Center). As soon as I thought those thoughts the second plane flew right into the other tower. Why would someone do this?
Charlotte was born bringing in the harvest.

I called my home to tell Patty. "Your brother just called, he sounded crazy, he was looking for you, said he couldn't get in touch with your parents. I told him they were on their way here because you were at the hospital having the baby, she's having the baby now? he blurted out . . . but he said to assure you  he was okay. I've been watching Bob the Builder videos with the boys. What's going on?" I explained to her what was going on.

My parents arrived at the hospital too sit in front of the t.v. in shock. They tried endlessly to reach my brother only feeling little assurance from the call to Patty. Things got more emotional when the pilot name was release John Ogonowski. My mother burst into tears she had watched his children for years. I had no words for her. And I still had something to do. I had to have a baby. I began pacing up and down the halls of the hospital. I knew if contractions did not come on their own they would chemically make them come . . . and I wasn't cool with that. It was a little to late for thoughts of why I was bringing a child into this crazy world. But those thoughts lingered. I finally kicked everyone out of my room, demanded the television be shut off, and that I was going to have this baby. And I did.

The little blondie, so different from her
darked-haired brothers.
I had the most beautiful, blondie, tiny, baby girl. She was so different from her dark haired brothers. She was a blessing from God.

Enjoying the snow with
her little sister Gigi.
Later on we found out a boy from school was on one of the planes, Brian Kinney. My brother lost the building where he lived. Many people lost so many loved ones. Sadness. I call it bittersweet because I had joy on such a day and actually felt guilty. This has been my reflection for many years. Why sadness for some and joy for others? A mystery. I do know this however, the world may be crumbling around us but a baby is sure to bring a huge smile across our faces. There may be sadness and death but there is also life. Choose it! One and a half years later we had another little girl and we will accept more if God wills it. And even if I knew of all the terrors I would still have my children. I will try to raise them with love and no fear. Heaven is our goal.

The amazing baker.
The newspapers did a story on her birth and every 5 years they contact us to run an article on the local girl born on that dreadful day. She is used to the looks she gets when she shares her birth date and always repeats "yes, that day". When she was younger she did not really understand, but as she grows older her understanding grows. When I asked her how she feels about being born on this day. This beautiful 14 year old replied "I think I was born to try to bring joy to the sadness of the world". And that she does. We are so proud.
Thank you God for giving us Charlotte, our little beacon of light, on such a dark day.

Here is a link to one of the newspaper articles:

Dedicated to my husband's grandfather Gerard Atkinson died on 9/11/13 and to all the victims and families of the 9/11 attacks. You are always in our prayers.

* I originally wrote this on Charlotte's 13th birthday. I edited it and added a recent photo as an update.