Saturday, April 13, 2013

In Which I Say A Lot About Our First Farmers Market

 Spring is finally springing around here.  Gone are the frosty mornings, here to stay is the sound of songbirds.

As is my usual custom, I hit the 2 for $5 on flip flops at Old Navy and am smack in the middle of the acclimating process.  That slightly painful period of time when you have a perpetual bruising sensation going on between your big toe and it's neighbor (would you call that your pointer toe, since it's hand counterpart is called the pointer finger?) and you dread putting on the flops but can't stomach the idea of having your feet all encased inside leather or tennis shoes.

Or maybe that's just me.  I dunno.

Either way, it's not what I sat down to write about.  Not by a long shot.

Nope, I am here to unabashedly brag about my ah-mazing children.  My children who want to go to Costa Rica to visit family friends who are there as missionaries.  Joshua and I support this, but our budget isn't so supportive.  We told the children that we were totally on board and that we would help them earn their way to Costa Rica any way we could.

Which is how I found myself at our local Farmer's Market at 7AM this morning.  Me, my two oldest children, and a vast array of homemade breads, muffins, and cookies.

It all started a few months ago when the family sat down to dinner and discussed in depth the pros, cons, and the commitment we would be making as a family.  Joshua and I laid out the details and left it in the hands of Sarah Grace and Thomas to choose if they were up to the task.  They mulled it over for a couple of days and I sent in the application.  I explained to them that we might not be accepted into the market, but that proved to be a moot point.  We were accepted.

Honestly, the first week couldn't have been worse timing, but that just goes to show that the devil is really and truly mucking around in the details. The girls and I went to Montgomery Monday and returned Tuesday evening.  We spent Wednesday recovering and trying to gear up for the end of our week.

Only the resting happened.  Which is to say that I did no house work on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday.  So we didn't exactly have things set up to our advantage concerning the state of our living quarters. 

Thursday, we started our first batch of bread at 8am and shut down just after 6pm.  We'd made cookies, muffins, and a lot of bread.

 I was thankful for the countless extra amounts of patience and grace the Lord poured over me all day long as my children wreaked havoc on my kitchen.  My OCD kicked in several times.  I'd walk over to my happy little essential oil box and breath in 'Serenity' and I'd be ready for the next round of flying flour.  

Then the kids cooked spaghetti for dinner and the angels sang.  I was wiped out after a day of supervising in the kitchen.

Elbow deep in flour, sugar, and yeast!

Friday, we repeated the madness.  Only we still had bread rising when the kids were shipped off to bed.  It was then that I realized that nothing was priced, packed, labeled, or any kind of signage made up.  I was busy until 11:30.

I woke up minutes before my alarm clock this morning and willed my blurry vision to focus.  My body was tired after spending two full days standing on the hard tile floor of our kitchen and keeping myself from booting my two messy little bakers out.

I knew that we had a day ahead of us and all I could do was lay there and beg the Lord to help me put one foot in front of the other.  I wasn't unwilling, I was just nervous.  I desperately wanted my children to succeed.  They had worked so hard and were so sweet and so excited!

Finally, I rolled out of the bed, dragged some clothes on and brushed at my teeth.  I grabbed my shoes and walked out of the bedroom, ready to wake Thomas and Sarah Grace.

They were already downstairs, dressed, shod, and ready for me to say the word!  We went over again 'how to talk to customers' and 'remember your manners' and 'this isn't a game day' as we loaded the car and drove to the field where the market is held.  They nodded and asked a few questions, but it was obvious neither felt the butterflies in their belly I was experiencing.  We parked the car and said a quick prayer for our day and our attitudes together and I went to find the coordinator to tell me what to do.

We set up and were totally ready by 7:30.  Our friends from Eat Wright Farms arrived later than they'd wanted, and we helped them unload their van and set up some of their stuff and loved on their sweet little 8 month old girl and suddenly, we realized people were beginning to mill about!

The kids and I made our way back to our booth to find that the booth right next to us was also selling breads and other baked goods.  The kids both got worried looks on their faces and slumpy shoulders.  I hugged them and spoke encouragement to them while the mama bear in me wondered why two people selling the exact same things would be placed side by side. 

Turns out, it didn't matter.  By 9:30, less than halfway through our day, both booths were down to slim pickings.  The kids were ecstatic!  Their table was down to less than half the items they'd baked up for the day.

Then Thomas came over and hugged me with a sad expression.  I was totally baffled.  "But you haven't sold anything, Mommy!  I'm sad."

The kid has a heart of gold, I tell you.  I'd made up a coupe dozen bottles of house cleaners to see how they'd do.  Thomas had taken note that they weren't doing well at all.  I had talked to a few people about the cleaners and the benefits they offered, but I had put most of my energy into being supportive of the kids, helping them count money back, and answering questions they weren't sure of concerning the ingredients we'd used in our bread.

Thomas, who is quite unafraid of anyone, started talking up not only the baked goods, but the cleaners, too.  Sure enough, within minutes, he'd made my first sale!

By the time Joshua and the other kids came by to see what was going on, there were only a handful of baked goods left and about half as many cleaners as I'd come with.  By the time the market was over, I'd sold well over half my stock.

The kids brought home half a dozen muffins.  They'd sold absolutely everything else!  The booth next to us was totally sold out of baked goods and had just a few canned items and bars of soap left.  The kids in both booths were pumped!

The success was lovely.  I'm grateful the Lord blessed our first foray into farmer's market-eering.  I'm proud of my kids for the work they put in and their attitudes and the lessons they are learning.  I'm even a little excited that the cleaners did as well as they did.

But the best part?

When my daughter wrapped her arms around me, tilted her head back to look me in the eye, and said, "Thank you, Mama!  We couldn't have done this without you."

My heart will treasure that moment, that serene little face with the sun shining off her baby fine hair.  It's mine and I am so thankful for this whole Mommy-ing way of life.

Thanks, Lord!  I couldn't do this without You.

**Also, I'm a horrible Mama who only took one picture of any of this!  Not to worry, though, we have 8 full months of market on the calendar!!  And I finally got around to folding the load of laundry that has been hibernating on my couch since Monday morning. 

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