Soothing the Soul with Jam

It’s been slightly tough-going here. I spent Saturday night with a friend who is grieving the sudden death of his beloved. It is so hard to see someone I love so much in so much pain. After we cried our eyes out for about 4 hours, he apologized, “Sorry I am not more fun.” I assured him I had not expected a barrel of monkeys. Another friend just finished her last round of chemotherapy for breast cancer. Given the last seven months of surgery and treatment, celebration of this milestone doesn’t feel right –  at least not yet.

When compared to deep grief and serious illness, a rough patch of homeschooling hardly registers. And yet it all feels heavy right now – a cumulative effect I’m sure. I am trying to tease out the underlying causes to our homeschooling disharmony. Lack of planning or enthusiasm on my part? Could be. A ten year old who has been especially snarky for the past month? Maybe. A six year old growing tired of Mother Goose? Perhaps.

We are starting a new block on Monday (US Geography) and I hope to somehow shift the dynamic that has developed. During the downward spiral of the past couple of weeks, I have resurrected some of my previous (and not very pretty) parenting methods. They didn’t really work then and they really aren’t working now. The good thing is my learning curve is a lot shorter now. This doesn’t necessarily make things any easier to figure out, but I know what I don’t want to do. My short term goal is to finish these last two days of Norse Mythology, take a personal day on Friday and try to recreate what we are trying to do here.

To soothe my soul of all the big and little things that seem to be weighing it down, I have made jam. Lots and lots of jam. I think I have finally found the perfect proportions. Given everything else that feels tenuous and raw, this accomplishment feels particularly sweet.

8 cups fruit (I used frozen blackberries I had picked this summer)

1 tablespoon powdered pectin for low sugar jam

1 1/3 cup juice (I used strawberry juice)

Mash the berries, sprinkle the pectin and stir in the juice. If you are lucky enough to have a friend loan you her French copper jam pot, count your blessings as I did! Bring mixture to a boil. Add 1 cup of sugar (yes, just a single cup!) and boil for a couple of minutes. Put in half pint jars and process for 10 minutes in a water bath canner.

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