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Happy Halloween everyone! Have a safe night and watch our for all the spooky, cute, and creepy kids out there! Don’t forget glow sticks and reflectors for your little ones and keep your animals safe so they don’t get startled by all the commotion and costumes!

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The other day I spend hours with SweetPea on my back in the Ergo Carrier picking blackberries in the afternoon shade; I must have picked at least 30cups. When I got home I had all these wonderful dreams of cute little jars full of homemade blackberry jam being handed out at Christmas, and everyone fawning over how incredible crafty and thoughtful I was while I modestly played down how much work went into it all.

This is not what was going to happen…

It all started off so well. I measured out 9 cups of crushed berries and added 3 cups of raw sugar, I was really excited about the raw sugar because I think it just tastes better than white sugar plus it’s so much better for you(as far as sugar being good for you goes). All of that was put on the stove to simmer while I brought a giant pot of water to boil and stirred the sweet mixture diligently. At this point SweetPea is strapped on my back and playing with the collar of my shirt patiently, happy to indulge her Mammas desire to create and can new things.

The sugar begins to melt down and the berries relinquish their juices as everything comes to a slow boil. I grab my candy thermometer and stick it in… 50° Fahrenheit… now that just can’t be right, it has to reach 220° before it can be canned as jam. I grab the instant read meat thermometer and give it a stab… 150° that seems a bit more like it. After disposing of the first thermometer I dig up another more reliable candy thermometer and stick it in, it’s reading about 10° less than the instant read thermometer, but I figure it just had to do with placement in the mutant hot blackberry lava.

I continue to stir every few moments and try to sooth my fussy little SweetPea; who after an hour or so has decided that Mom making blackberry Jam is not any fun and she would much rather be somewhere else. This process is a lot more difficult than it seems because I have to keep picking her up and putting her down so I don’t burn her with bits of hot berry sauce.

Over what seems like the next few hours the temperature slowly creeps up to 180° and I impatiently spoon a little bit of jam onto a plate and stick it in the freezer to see if it’s solidifies enough for me to call it jelly and throw it into some jars and start canning. A few minutes later I pull it out and it has in fact become jam a rather loose jam but jam none the less. Then I taste it, and it’s so good. It tastes like sweet sunshine on a warm summer day how incredible lovely it is…

But wait… what is that taste… that taste in the background that is slowly sneaking into my mouth full of sunshine……….. Noooooooooooooooooooooooo… but it’s to late, the unmistakable taste of burnt sugar has entered my sweet summer medley and it’s ruined, there is no coming back from this, no saving it, the hours I spent picking berries and the hours I spend mixing jam have been wasted and I will have nothing to show for them besides and incredible dirty kitchen. I momentarily think about canning it anyways and giving burnt jam away as Christmas presents to the members of my family I’m not particularly fond of, but I’m to proud of my housewife skills to let even them know I totally messed this up.

I sit down on the floor and pout for a moment because it’s hot and I’m tired and completely worn out. After turning off the burned and making sure nothing is going to make a bigger mess than it already has I pick up SweetPea and mope about outside for a little while, at least she’s happy (she loves being outside). After an hour outside I am suddenly overcome with the need to successfully accomplish something today, so I head back to the kitchen.

There are still several cups of fresh blackberries in the refrigerator so I decide to make a blackberry cobbler, but no… I can’t stop there… I also have to make homemade vanilla ice cream because somehow in my mind cobbler and ice cream is equal to homemade blackberry jam in the success department, and making cobbler alone would not be enough personal gratification, so I find an ice cream recipe and I totally screw it up…

My tired brain misreads at least two measurements and adds the wrong ingredients at the wrong time making a general show of how completely fried I am from my jam project gone wrong, but I somehow manage to pull it together and the ice cream mix tastes amazing so I throw it in the ice cream maker and enlist my hubby to crank it until it’s done.

Meanwhile I put the blackberry cobbler together and throw it in the oven relatively unscathed and with little to no problems. I walk over to the table to check on the ice cream and it has reached the consistency of a melty milkshake, he keeps stirring.

15 minutes late it’s still a melty milkshake… Ahhhhh what happened? I contemplate blaming my husband for this failure since he’s the one mixing it and would be an easy scapegoat, but I know it’s not his fault; once again my now completely exhausted brain misread and muddled directions. I guess you’re only supposed to stir the ice cream 2 times every 2-3 minutes instead of constantly for 20 minutes…. Ooops

The timer dings for the cobbler and I pull it out of the oven. The top is crispy golden brown and the berries are bubbling up around the sides. It smells just wonderful but it’s way to hot to eat so I set it aside to cool. A little while later I serve myself up a bowl, slowly cutting into the sweet biscuity crust and scooping juicy purple berries from the bottom. I grab a fork and sit down just taking in how beautiful it looks in the bowl before me. I am afraid it will be awful, that somehow I will have messed this up too, but after a few moments the glorious smell of fresh hot blackberries and sugar gets to me and my mouth is watering so I muster the courage to take a bite. I stab into the crispy golden crust and coax some berries onto my fork, holding my breath I slowly raise the fork to my mouth and…

it tastes just wonderful, like sweet sunshine on a warm summer day.

Thankfully

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So many things to do, so many little clothes to wash, tiny socks to find, cloth diapers to fold, toys to clean and put away. The crib is set, the beds been made all waiting for her special day. I’ve read all the books, and picked through the best advice. We’ve made the choices as well as we can, but what do we really know?

Now I write this as a person who has never had a child before. Never been a mother past knowing and loving the person still being created inside of me, but I do have a theory, an idea of the best way to prepare for having a baby.

Stretch… Stretch a lot… Stretch your body, and most certainly stretch your mind because nothing is going to be as helpful as flexibility, as being able to let go of those preconceived notions of how everything is going to be, and how your life is going to look as a new parent. When I think about having my child I imagine her curled up next to me and her father in bed fast asleep. I imagine waking up to her softly rooting about as she expresses her desire to be fed, of pulling her close to me and dozing as she satisfies her hunger and then the both of us drifting back to sleep. This is my dream, my perfect utopia of motherhood at night. I would love for this to be my reality and in that desire I do hold on to the possibility that that is how it may be, but I’m also prepared to throw that picture out the window for the reality that will most likely ensue.

When I ponder those first months of being the mother of a Little Girl Person on the outside, I always try to add a little bit of reality to my fantasies, to remind myself that some things (okay most things) will not go as I envision, and to remember that the very best thing I can do for my sanity and the sanity of those around me is to be willing to change, accept, and appreciate my practices as a new mother.

I do hold on to one piece of sentiment that under no circumstance shall I let go, and that is the notion that in all of my daydreaming and fantasizing about the future I have only skimmed the surface of how amazing and wonderful motherhood will be, of what sort of experiences it will bring and how it will round and shape me as a person, and the bonds of our family.

I love my husband and I love myself, and I can’t even begin to grasp the love that I will have when I look into the eyes of a person made entirely out of us.

Thank you for Reading. Please feel free to Comment and Subscribe

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There is an old rotting tree hidden in the forest of the property I grew up on, this is the story of the children that were lost there, and the photos of what they saw.

They say children used to live near here. Two to be exact, but that was a long time ago. Winters have gone and springs have come, the land has passed through generation, and almost all has been forgotten, but I remember… I remember the stories and sometimes late at night I can still hear the ghostly cries of their mother as the days came, the nights passed and she slowly realized they would not be coming home.

It began a normal day, just as everyday begins. Daylight spilled over the mountain tops as the sun slowly worked it way into the sky, dawn casting its warm glow across the world glistening like honey as the new morning light woke the creatures within. The house was alive with laughter as the children stumbled out of bed, racing for the breakfast table their mother piling heaping portions of eggs, ham, bacon and stir fried potatoes onto their plates. They squealed with delight as the salty savory aroma of cooked meats and spices reached their nostrils, and began stuffing their little faces before their bottoms even hit the chairs. If only it could have stayed this way. If only they could have woken up every morning to an inviting smile and the comforting love of their family’s home, but that is the fate of a different story, a happy story… which this is not.

With full bellies and clothes for playing their mother pushed them out the door sternly warning them to stay out of the forest before heading back inside. They raced down the old dirt road that lead towards the meadow, laughing, shouting and stumbling the whole way. Rocks flew and a cloud of dirt rose from the path as the boy came to an abrupt stop, shushing his little sister’s joyous sounds as she caught up with him. He craned his head towards the forest and listened…

“Music!” the little girl squealed her voice full of delight. Her brother reached out to stop her but was too late; she was already headed for the trees. He ran after her calling out for her to stop and wait, but she only looked back for a second a naive smile spread across her face. When she reached the edge of the forest she barely slowed as she began pushing and crashing her way through the underbrush. He paused at the edge of the grass heeding his mothers warning, but knowing he could not leave his younger sister alone. He crashed into the forest after her calling out for her to stop and turn around but she did not listen, she only pushed through the trees and farther into the shadows.

The forest began to close in around them, the trees to thick for the honey glow of the morning light to shine through. The little girl stopped as the music came to an end. The only sounds she could hear was the crunching of leaves under her brother’s boots, and the panicked beat rising from her chest as the cold darkness wrapped around them. She began to shiver as they look for some way out, but the darkness grew thicker until nothing could be seen. Her brother grabbed her hand as they frantically strain their eyes against the growing blackness, helplessly searching for some source of light to lead them home

And then she saw it… the warm glow of a camp fire not more than a few moments away. She lets go of her brother’s hand and points him towards it, a wave of relief splashing through her voice as she laughs at their good fortune. A path through the forest seemed to open before her as she easily made her way to the old hollowed out tree where the fire had been laid.

The makeshift home had jars and candles perched on every surface while a pot bubbled over the coals. The smell of the cooking and the warmth of the flames drawing her to her knees as she warmed her chilly hands. The sharp snap of a twig pulled her mind away from the comfort of the fire and she looked around, her breath catching in her throat as she saw she was alone. Her head jerked from left to right as she searched the woods for her brother but saw nothing. Another twig snapped as a woman stepped out from behind the tree. She smiled down on the little girl her green eyes sparkling as the reflection of the flames danced across her gaze, and as she opened her slender lips to speak the girl recognized the light enchanting melody that had brought her all this way.

The young girl was entranced by the calm even melody and fell deep into the persuasive stare of the forest woman’s emerald eyes. The melody shifted, and the little girl felt the heaviness on her eyes as a lullaby began. So tired was her little body from ambling through the woods, so warm was her skin as she sat near the blaze. As exhaustion rushed over her she slumped on to the fire warmed earth and slept to the enchanting sounds of the forest woman songs.

When she awoke all was quiet, the sweet lullaby had ceased, and the fire was beginning to burn down. She reached a hand up to wipe the sleep from her eyes but it did not budge, looking down she saw the ropes binding her wrist together. Raising her head she looked around for her brother hoping to see him nearby, but all she saw was the bottom of the forest woman’s long dress. She looked up into the still smiling face of the young beautiful woman and felt comfort once again, but as she continued to stare into the woman’s eyes the spell was broken, and fear began to tingle in the base of her spine crawling up through her shoulders and filling her mind.

She looked down on the young helpless girl as she released her from her spell feeling the fear as the child watched her change. The forest woman’s eyes began to glow and, her teeth began to sharpen she could see the trust draining from the little girls face just as the beauty was drained from her own. The young girl’s petrified scream pierced the air, but there was no one left to hear her cries. The witches dry and flaking lips curved into a smile around her jagged broken teeth as a white bony hand reached from beneath the dark cloak. The screaming stopped and the little girl was left alone in the dark dampness of the forest a now hollow vessel filled with nothing but fear…

Her spirit still wanders these forests, forever searching for her brother, and on cold dark nights like this one you can still hear her soft cries calling for her brother as she trips and stumbles through the trees terrified by even the faintest of sounds…

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