Mothers Diary
If Mrs. Renken did nothing else in music over at the grade school, she introduced our Becky to some very good music - and instilled in her the laudable desire to become better acquainted with it.
However - it has made our lives somewhat hectic around here.

Several weeks ago after Becky learned some songs from the Sound of Music, she began campaigning for the record from the musical. So that's all we heard for a while and it got a little wearisome. Then one evening early in May she discovered the record in a shop in Fort Dodge - for five dollars and her pitch for possession went up a notch.
"Five dollars is something I do not have for a record," I told her flatly.
This did not discourage her.
Finally, inspiration struck.
"I tell you what," I said cheerfully. "You save half and I'll match it and we'll get the record.”

So this was the end of it as far as I was concerned, because Becky could not save the price of a loaf of bread if she was starving. But last Thursday or Friday, she dumped the contents of her bank for a triumphal counting of $2.50. And I have been carting that bunch of change around since Saturday morning.
I have been in Fort Dodge every day but never near the record shop except once when it was closed.
Everytime we come back from seeing Nancy at the hospital, Becky eyes us hopefully - but no luck yet.
One of these days, though, when you go past our house, you may hear the Sound of Music from an upstairs window, and you will know that Becky's dream has come true.

Summer has begun.
Dale had mowed the entire yard once and it needs it again. Becky has been in swimming once and Martha is starting to learn the clarinet.
There is a certain languor in the air and it affects the girls every morning when I enumerate the chores I want done by the time I return at noon.
They have not taken too kindly to the roles of housekeepers, but with persistence and some nagging, I hope to have them thoroughly under control by summer's end. They will be glad to have school start again.

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Mothers Diary
June 15, 1961
"You'll never make it that way!" shouted one of my cabin mates. I already knew this was true.
My left foot and left hand clung desperately to the built-in ladder to the upper bunk where I was draped half on, half off the bed. My right leg and right hand were flailing frantically about for a support of some kind - any kind.
"Get your other foot over on the rung of the ladder!" called another woman.
I tried, but my left foot was in the way and I didn't dare move it. I heaved myself back up across the mattress.
The five or six women in the cabin watched me with various degrees on interest and amusement. I would probably - I thought gloomily to myself - have to spend the rest of the summer in that upper bunk. This would be a situation fraught with embarrassment and other complications. How would eager, youthful campers and counselors be expected to cope with the problem of a middle aged woman trapped in an upper bunk in cabin 5?
I had to get down.

I peered over the edge of the bunk, eyed the inadequate ladder, swung my legs over and tried once more. Amid encouraging cries of advice and much hilarity, I finally made my way to the floor. With what dignity I could muster, I collected my toothbrush, soap and towel and marched off to the showers. There I stood in pools of water and looked for a place to put my stuff while I bathed.
"How?" I muttered angrily to myself as I began to disrobe, shifting from one puddle to another, "How do I keep my pajamas from getting wet?"
"Take them off," called a cheerful jokester from the outside room.
"Thanks," I said. And finished taking them off, and did get them wet.
There, I thought as I turned on the shower getting water that was first too cold, then too hot, and never just right. There is a woman who likes standing in line to brush her teeth and who likes dressing and putting on lipstick amid a jostling crowd of women - all kinds of women, at least thirty of them, getting ready for 7:30 breakfast, and only four lavatories, three showers and two mirrors among them.
"Never again," I told the shower head, "I'll never come to a camp again."

But if I do, I'll be sure and take a glass, at least.
The night before, after I had struggled to the top bunk, I had lain awake for quite a while worrying about waking up in the night with pains in my back and arm - a usual occurrence for the past four weeks - and no glass of water for a relief-giving aspirin. As it turned out, I didn't wake up and if I had, my biggest problem would have been getting out of bed. I shall never get in a top bunk again either.

When I returned home, I bragged mightily, however, to Martha and Dale, of my deeds.
"I slept in a top bunk," I told them with aplomb, "and I climbed the hill several times from the dining hall to cabin."
Many women rode back and forth, but I had been duty bound to pant and puff up and down the trail, because my children lad laughed when I announced my trip Pilgrim Heights where they had camped in previous summers.
"You'll never make the hill," they had scoffed.

I was alone with Becky Sunday afternoon. This is a situation I try to avoid under all normal circumstances but somehow or other, there we were. She was collapsed in a chair in utter despair and bitter resentment.
She had no friends and nothing to do. She had rather depended on Nancy for entertainment, but Nancy was sleeping after the exhausting trip home for the hospital.
"What can I do?" she asked, "and not work!"

I considered the matter. All I wanted to do was to read the paper in peace and perhaps sneak in a nap. But I took pity on her and finally suggested cup cakes. They turned out to be more fun than the movie where she had wanted to be in the first place.
Becky measured the water and broke the egg for the chocolate cake mix and beat it vigorously. She greased and floured the teeny cup cake pan and poured the batter and had herself a time.
After an impatient wait for the oven to take its normal course, she began to make frosting. She wanted pink frosting, naturally, and because she had to do every little thing herself, she ended up with an extremely violent shade of pink.
This did not discourage her. She just pretended that she wanted that color, and slapped the frosting on the cup cakes with wild abandon and ate three in quick succession when the job was done.
Fortunately, the end of the job corresponded with an invitation to go to Twin Lakes, so I said goodbye to her, and then read the Sunday paper.

But I am still wiping up chocolate batter and shocking pink frosting and drifts of powdered sugar from the wall, the stove, the cupboard and the floor.

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Mothers Diary
June 22, 1961
Peonies and stew! They make a house smell wonderful - and the combination on a perfect cool June afternoon is irresistible. Juicy pieces of beef mingling flavor and aroma with the carrots and onions; and peonies in bowls and vases in every room - are homely scents of contentment and home.

Ham sizzling in the frying pan is almost as nice. Especially, it's pleasant at the end of a warm working day when Becky is preparing the meal.
After her experience with cupcakes, Becky fancied herself in the role of cook for the household and it was all right with me. Her enthusiasm lasted all of three days, but while it lasted, I didn't have to lift a finger.
I'll admit I lifted my voice a time or two, but on the whole she did very well with ham, soup, pineapple salad, hamburgers and pork steak. And I know now what she can do if I need a meal started when I can't be at home.

Meanwhile, Martha struggles with the sewing machine and, except for a lofty disregard of turned hems and fine details, shows every sign of becoming a good seamstress. But she views the kitchen and all its implications of work with an active dislike.
However, if Becky becomes a good cook, and Martha learns to do all the sewing and mending, I may have an easy old age after all.

I guess I have tried all the short cuts to cooking there are - some acceptable to my family and some not. But the best shortcut I've run across in some time is the roasted chicken at the Dairy Treet.
We ordered some Friday evening to eat at home, and it's absolutely delicious. We hope to make it a regular habit this summer - especially for warm nights after I've been at the office all day.

I am glad, of course, when my girls are learning to sew and really making things. But I tell you, there is nothing in this world that makes more mess for a long period of time than does a sewing project.
Martha cuts patterns all over the living room floor, and from then on for days, the sewing machine occupies, the dining room table and boxes and baskets of equipment fill all the surrounding chairs. Snips of material, thread, needles, buttons, snaps, zippers, scissors, and all sorts of sewing machine attachments strew the tables and chairs from the living room to the bedroom.
And you dare not to throw away a scrap of material or to move the scissors, or to touch the machine.

Sometimes I pick my way through the mess with resigned despair. Sometimes I stand at the door and roar, "Now when I get back home, I want to see that dining room table all cleared off!"
And sometimes I think of the house I used to visit in my home town when I was a girl.

It was a big house - still is, of course - the house of a girl friend, an only child. And upstairs in this house was a sewing room. I used to marvel at this and go home to my mother who would be in the dining room at the sewing machine surrounded by material, scissors, pins, buttons, snaps, thread, and children; and I would tell her about the sewing room.
Sewing rooms were in novels and magazine stories but never in real people's houses. Everybody sewed in the dining room - except Mrs. Sumner, of course, who owned the only sewing room upstairs that I ever saw.

I have thought of this often. I have dreamed of transforming an upstairs bedroom to a room in which to sew and write, and I still may do it someday.
But I have a suspicion that it may turn out just like play rooms which I have experimented with.
Children simply don't stay in playrooms. They spill out to the kitchen and the dining room or wherever the rest of the family happens to be.
So who would stay in a sewing room to sew? Not Martha or Becky, I'll bet!!

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Mothers Diary
June 29, 1961
I read in the paper the other day about a club that had their Christmas party just last month. The club is the Procrastinators Club of Philadelphia and they had Santa Claus and everything for a Christmas celebration because they didn't get around to it last Dec. 25th.
Of course, I don't really need to go to Philadelphia to join a Procrastinator club. I have a pretty good one going right here with myself as charter member. I always have belonged to it as my policy has always been "never to do anything today that can be put off until tomorrow."
As a general rule, this policy is not the best in the world for getting things done. But once, I remember, it paid off handsomely. I had postponed preparing a program until the day before the meeting when I was to present it - and just as I was getting to work on it - the meeting was postponed before I had to give that program.
Ever since then, I have operated on the hopeful theory that if I put something off long enough, I may never have to do it.
Like dusting the living room, or sewing the button on my housecoat, or dieting off 10 pounds!

Nancy went off to summer school last week without a care in the world except her recovery problems from an operation - leaving us with her aquarium full of tropical fish and guppies, on of whom is about to become a mother, she thinks.
This is indeed a responsibility. Babies of guppies are very small indeed and very apt to be eaten by the older fish in the tank before they are big enough to defend themselves. I don't know just how we are to control such a barbarous custom among the fish in the tank, but I think Nancy would like us to try.

Last summer I worried while Nancy's plants all died. And this summer, it is plants and fish too.
I don't know just what impels Nancy to have all these projects going, but it makes her third grade room in Early a very exciting place to be.
Last year when they experimented with hatching eggs, they were the talk of the grade school crowd. And when a chick actually grew to the point where it started to peck its way out of the shell, I tell you, the rood nearly flew off the building.
Nancy said that all the youngsters from kindergarten on up had to file throught her room to witness this miracle, and her 3rd graders were as proud as any new parents. She was more relieved than otherwise, however, when the chick died. It ended the confusion, though the mourning was considerable, and they went back to reading A. A. Milne's poetry for excitement.

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