Showing posts from March, 2011

K. turns five today

Today is K.'s birthday and I can hardly believe he is turning five.  What's more he can tell you he is turning five!  It's been an amazing three years as we've watched this little one blossom and grow.  I wouldn't be telling you the whole story, though, if I didn't add that I do have moments of worry and panic about his future.  When I see him with other American-born children his age, it is very apparent that he is still delayed.  I wonder if he will ever catch-up and wonder what the future holds for him.  I worry I am not doing enough to help this little boy reach his full potential.  And I still have moments of anger.  Anger that he had to stay in that orphanage so much longer than necessary where he didn't grow and didn't develop.

But these moments are fleeting when I look back on how far he has come.  Having G. and L. around highlights for me exactly how far behind he was when we brought him home.  I guess I didn't fully appreciate how little h…

God's protection

Yesterday afternoon, I was calmly catching-up on the ironing, babies were napping, and everyone else was entertaining themselves quite nicely, when I heard a crash and what sounded like something shattering.  This would have been concerning enough, but when it is followed by a high-pitched scream yelling, "Mommy!", I know it is not good and is one of the few things that will cause me to run.  When I arrived in the boys' room I saw that the large window in the front of their room had completely broken when D. accidentally fell into it, both palms first.  His hands were trapped there in what were essentially glass handcuffs.  It's amazing how many different thoughts can flit through one's mine in the space of a second.  Having discarded the options of panic, worry about paying for the window, getting upset at two boys who would play so roughly a window was broken, my brain kicked into to gear and fully realized what a dangerous situation D. was in.  I settled on ca…

Indian fry bread

I don't normally having cooking disasters.  I am a pretty good cook and can follow a recipe and sometimes even come up with some of my own.  But every so often, a recipe gets the better of me.  Take last night for instance.  I had planned to have Navajo tacos, based on a recipe from Tastes &Treasures:  A Storytelling Cookbook of Historic Arizona.  The picture of them looked so good and I had sudden memories of eating Indian fry bread in grade school when a local tribe would come for the day.  This is what my mouth wanted.

Boy, was I disappointed.  My family enjoyed them, but they had nothing to compare them to, either.  At this point I'm pretty sure something was wrong with the bread recipe.  The dough never looked right and it was heavy instead of light and puffy after frying.  The whole thing was just wrong.

So, now, all my Arizona readers, I ask you, what have I done wrong?!  Here's the recipe I used, so you can see if you can find any glaring errors, but I really s…


I came across this at the end of Confessions of an Organized Homemaker:

"I have read several studies about fatigue and have learned some interesting facts:
Tiredness is emotionally induced 90 percent of the time.Frustrations, irritations and worry drain energy.The mere contemplation of work causes more fatigue than the job itself.Fatigue is not always related to the amount of energy we use buy how much we dislike the task.  Procrastination, by the way, adds dislike to our chores.  The longer we put off an important project, the more threatening and unattractive it becomes.The people who are most tired are those whose behavior and work methods demonstrate disorder.Proper diet and exercise are necessary to fight fatigue."I don't know about you, but I find this fascinating... and true.  I know I always feel better if I just start doing the thing I don't want to do.  If I sit around thinking about how much I don't want to do something, that task starts to take on huge…

Time for boys

Sometimes the young boys in the house get a bit overlooked being between twin girls and older siblings who are involved in various interesting projects.  So here is post just for them.  The occasion?  Fresh haircuts.  The situation had become dire with hair well past eye level.  Various sister's offers to pull it back in a pony tail were met with scorn.  I am probably the only mother of a large family who does not cut her own children's hair.  Or anyone else's for that matter.  I will trim the occasional ends on long girl's hair, but boys' cuts are beyond me.  I am quite happy to let someone else do it.
So here they are:  TM, D. and K. who are no longer doing sheepdog imitations and who now look as though they have parents who care about them.  Handsome, huh?  And I think TM is looking so much older these days.  Being 8 1/2 will do that to a person.

Back to the library

For much of my parenting life, frequent trips to the library to check out back-breaking amounts of books have been a part of it.  Once we moved into the Big Ugly House, it was even easier because all we had to do was load up the wagon with our books and walk 1/2 a block to our small branch library.  I rarely had to set foot in the bigger, main branch, because I just had all the books I wanted transferred to my library and I'd send a child to pick them up.  As my children grew older, they would take themselves to the library to feed their insatiable appetite for books. 

Our family library trips ended when I was expecting G. and L.  I just couldn't do it.  After they were born, we went a couple of times, but it was far easier to just send older children to collect a bunch of books for themselves and the youngers.  We might have continued this way indefinitely because toddler twins in the library in not really an improvement over baby twins.  But a small tragedy struck in that o…

Organizing books

This has been the week of organizing books for me.  Books about organizing, that is, and not actually organizing the books themselves.  The timing is serendipitous since with spring coming I always get the spring cleaning itch.  This is despite the fact that it snowed very lightly last night.

Anyway, last Monday when A. and I were at the thrift store, I found a copy of Confessions of an Organized Homemaker: the secrets of uncluttering your home and taking control of your life.  This book has been on my list of books I want to read for a long time.  But since the library's copy is listed as missing, I have never had a chance to.  (Does anyone else find the idea of a book on organizing being lost slightly ironic?)  I was thrilled to see it sitting on a shelf as I walked by and happily paid my quarter for it. 

Then on Tuesday, Large Family Logistics: the art of science of managing the large family by Kim Brenneman arrived.  J. had been given a gift certificate and had used some of i…

Dinner by candlelight

But more truthfully it should be cooking by candlelight.  Right at the moment we were about to start dinner last night, the power went out.  My first thought was, "Well, let's order pizza."  But then I thought how wimpy that was and not wanting to be wimpy coupled with the fact that the dinner I had planned was all cooked on the gas stove, I decided to keep going.  We got out our candles and flashlights, lit the stove manually, and began cooking.  It was most helpful to have B. hold the flashlight over the pan while I cooked the chicken... otherwise I couldn't see when it was done.
A. set-up on the table and put the salad together.  M. took her picture, it's blurry, but you get the idea.
Everyone was quite excited by the prospect of eating dinner in a room lit only by candles, so there was some disappointment when the power came back on just before we were ready to sit down.  Evidently, eating dinner by candlelight was the deepest desire of several children.  Who k…

New from old

Our crayon collection has become rather pathetic recently.  Most of the crayons are broken and nearly all are dull.  I hate to throw them out because they still color, but they are not very satisfying to use.  That's why I was so excited to find a tutorial explaining how to make new crayons.  I had everything we needed to do it, the only thing stopping me was that I was a little hesitant to use one of good pans.  That problem was solved yesterday when I found a small pan for $1.50 at the thrift store.  I had been wanting a dedicated non-food-craft-pan for a while so I was happy to have remembered to look for one.
It was fun to watch our crayons go from this:

To this:

And finally to this:

Aren't they pretty?  They are all shiny and pretty and look brand-new.  And who doesn't love crayons in the shapes of shells and hearts?  Since I only have two molds, we're doing two colors a day.  Today was pink hearts and green shells.
And poor, poor G.!  She was playing outside yester…

Finished with finishing... at least as far as the blog goes

I've come to some conclusions this past week as I've been pondering the idea of finishing.  The first is that I'm never going to finish everything and that's OK.  I have some craft projects that I started years ago that I work on occasionally as the mood strikes.  For those things the benefit of them is the process and not the product.  They can each live in their bag waiting for me to pull them out... or not.  If I finish them, great.  If not, then someday my poor children will have to decide what to do with them.  (In an effort to relieve any future guilt, I hereby give my children permission to GET RID of any of my unfinished projects.  You do not need to keep them.  So there.) 

Second, I realized my angst about not finishing things was really a result of my horrible habit of procrastination.  I have a tendency to either put off what needs to be done or start something that needs to be done, but only do the joy halfway.  These aren't huge, life-changing project…

Any guesses...

what all this might be? 

It's going to be a beehive, of course.  B., our budding beekeeper, ordered his hive a month ago and today J. and B. drove into the city to pick it up.  There's a whole lot of building that B. has to do before the bees arrive in April.  (Not to mention the city permits which have to be applied for.)

See that box on the right?  It's called a super.  (I sound as though I know what I'm talking about, huh?)  Here's a closer picture of it:

B. will have six of these and each super then contains 10 frames where the bees will store honey.  If this all works out according to plan, we could have pounds and pounds of honey.  This is all B.'s doing... J. and I really have no knowledge about bees at all.  (I even had B. proofread this post to be sure I had all my information correct.)  B. has done the reading and taken the classes and talked to actual beekeepers.  It has been quite impressive, really.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Bread baking

Can I just say how much I loved the bread I made yesterday from the book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day?  It turned out really, really well.  It was easy, tasted good, was very inexpensive, and I have enough dough in the refrigerator for about five more loaves.  I took some pictures of the process.
Here is the bread on its first rise:

The longest part of the process is mixing up the initial batch of dough, which then rises on the counter for two hours.  After that, you can either use some right away, or put it in the refrigerator to use later.  Mixing it took about five minutes, using my large mixer.  I then put the dough in an ice cream container I had in the pantry... it looked as though it was going to be big enough.  Over the two hours we watched the dough completely overflow the container.  M. said I had created the Blob.  After making a couple of loaves of dough, it all fit back in the container.  I'll keep using this one for the time being, since it's what I have.

A food post

I haven't shared any recipes in while, so it seems I should remedy that.  Last week at the grocery store, while staring at the vegetables trying to break out of our vegetable rut, I spied a bag of miniature sweet peppers.  The price was less per pound than the regular ones and knowing how much my crew loves sweet peppers, I put them in the cart figuring they'd get eaten one way or another.  On the bag was a recipe suggestion which I tweaked just a bit... and they were so good.  I'm sure we could have all eaten twice as many, small girls included.

Miniature Sweet Peppers Stuffed with Goat Cheese

Miniature peppers (I had red, yellow, and orange), figure about 4 or 5 per person
1 large log of goat cheese (or small if you're only doing a few)
Dried basil and marjoram (I'm sure it will be even better with fresh herbs in the summer)

Wash and seed the peppers by cutting of the tops, leaving as much intact as possible.  We cut around the top and peeked in to see if there we…


I'm continuing to be challenged by Nancy Campbell's 100 Days of Blessing.  This morning's reading was about attitudes, specifically about not being a slave to one's emotions, but choosing thankfulness and Christ's joy.  As so often happens, it was particularly pertinent for today.  G. and L. had a horrible night, one up after another, and it certainly felt as though very little sleep happened from about 2am on.  (This may be a second pot of coffee day.)  Then, after I thought J. had left for work, I hear his voice in the kitchen.  He had returned because the "Stop Driving Now!" light came on in his car.  The car we had in the shop over the weekend for a not-cheap repair.  He is now off to take the car back in and then slowly trudge to school on public transportation.  (I need the van to schlep the 11 children in my house around this afternoon.)  It could be so easy to let myself grumble and complain.  And we all know what happens to the tone of the househ…

Little girls

It's time to share more pictures of the little girls with you.  I can't believe how much they've grown and how much they can do.  Here's L.  (that's a blue fish she is holding):

And here's G:

G. is talking (and talking) more and more.  I think she comes up with a new word at least once a day.  L.?  Not so much.  She doesn't really need to talk, either.  While she does have some words, she is very proficient using grunting and gesturing to get her point across.  Plus, when your sister is talking all the time, there is no point in adding to the noise.

I try not to share funny things my children say and do too much, because really, no one else thinks they are as interesting and funny as I do.  But, I'm going to break my rule this once.  I was reading both girls a bedtime story the other evening and there were pictures of apples on the page.  G. loves to say 'apple' and she did... over and over and over.  It was a little difficult to continue to read …

Show business

It's tech week once again in The Big Ugly House.  That means my two older children are gone for a big chunk of day.  It also means I have 5 additional little people here.  My contribution to the rehearsal process is to watch the small P family people so that their mother can go and work on the amazing costumes.  The small people bring their schoolwork and join us in whatever project we are working on.  I bet they don't know they will be heading to the South Pacific with us each day.  Tech week also means (recently) that at least one of my children will change their hair color.  Yesterday, M. changed from blond:

To light brown:
It's not permanent, but we learned from B. in the last show that it does take a few weeks to fully wash out.  The reason behind the change of hair color?  Well, it seems that ever since B. grew taller than his older sister, the two of them look remarkably like twins.  Over the past year, this is a recurring question for the two of them.  For the direct…


I have been reading through Nancy Campbells' devotional book, 100 Day of Blessing.  (Highly recommended, by the way.)  While I am always challenged and encouraged by her, I have been particularly convicted about her thoughts on finishing.  Finishing a job, what we set out to do, just completing things.  She points out that God never leaves things half done... He always completes and finishes what He sets out to do.  Even if we think He is taking too long, He still completes everything in His own time.  We also want our children to be people who complete things; who are reliable and can be counted on to do what they say they will.  This is where I need to look carefully at my own life.  If I want my children to be this type of person, am I modelling this type of behavior?

If I'm honest, I have to answer with a great big... sometimes.  And this has been a struggle for me even as a child.  I'm great at starting things.  I love dreaming up big projects, but when it comes time …

How can I possibly be the mother of an 18 year old?

It doesn't seem right, but since today is M.'s birthday and she turned 18, there it is.  And a particularly nice 18 year old she is.  I think I would be just a little more angst-ridden over it all if she were going far away to school (sorry Mom, I know that's what I did) or heading to Africa (I've watched P18's mom deal with that) next fall.  Instead she will be living 25 minutes south.  Just close enough to laundry, but not so close that she will bump into me everyday.  (Though she might bump into J. on a regular basis.)  I want to go on the record to say I will still miss her.

We will celebrate tomorrow night since her day is pretty booked up, what with mid-terms, papers, presentations, and concerts.

Happy birthday, M.!
Giveaway winner (and yes, Sandwich, you were entered) is Sara who wrote:  I like the little pencil used to make the little book :) And I did some research on the book you're giving away, it sounds great!

But Sara... in order for me…

Yet more randomness

I have high hopes for a coherent, well thought-out post for tomorrow, but it isn't going to happen today.  Instead, you get a little bit of everything.

Yesterday K. had his cleft-team appointment.  On the whole it went very well.  Because he is small, the plastic surgeon wants to put off the bone graft surgery for another year.  He also saw the cleft-team speech therapist.  Currently he does not need speech therapy.  (Hallelujah!)  What's more the therapist confirmed my pet theories as regards K.'s speech development.  That is, he is doing just fine if we subtract two years from his age to adjust for the two years he was in the orphanage.  She was quite pleased the with progress he has been making and sees no reason to change what we are doing.  Lastly, it looks as though we will need to do a sleep study on K. because of the amount of snoring that he does at night.  He could have pediatric sleep apnea and not only is severe sleep apnea dangerous, if the brain does not get …

Ash Wednesday

It's a crazy day today what with cleft team appointments, class performances, and children's choir, but it is also Ash Wednesday.  Every year we do the same Lenten devotional as a family, so at least I'm prepared in that department.  The pussy willows even managed to survive the year.

For something of more substance, you can head to my post about Psalm 32 that I wrote for our church's Lenten blog.
Don't forget to enter the giveaway for a copy of The Hole in our Gospel.

Books... some little and some to giveaway

We've been reading the book, Kon Tiki, to continue with our study of the South Pacific.  What a fascinating book!  I had been wondering what we should do as a project and came up with making a library of little books.  (Using the directions for little books in my favorite, Big Book of Books.)  We are making a little book about each of the sea creatures that is mentioned.  So far we have done jellyfish and the Gempylus, or Snake Mackerel.  Here are TM and D. working away.  When we're done, each child will have a little library of little books about sea creatures and I think we'll make a little bookcase for them as well.

Now to the book(s) I am giving away.  Do you remember when I read The Hole in our Gospelby Richard Stearns?  Well, I think other people should read it as well.  In order to make that happen, I am giving away a copy of the book as well a 6-week personal journal, a small group guide and a DVD that goes along with the small group study guide.  It would make an …

More birthday

Why is it that there is always at least one weekend a month that acts as a magnet for all activities?  This was one such weekend.  (Actually, it's just one of those months.)  Besides A.'s birthday, other events included our Families with Children from Vietnam group's Tet party.  This year the lion dancers came early and everyone could get a close-up view of the lions.  K. loved them in the past, but wasn't so sure of them this year, especially up close.  He did want to see them dance and kept asking when the monsters were coming.
G. and L. also enjoyed the party.  G. was transfixed by the girls performing Vietnamese folk dancers and I probably paid more attention to her and watching her try to copy the hand movements than I did the dancers.  L., on the other hand, perked up when the drum started and the lion dancers came out.  They are just very different girls.
And here are a couple of pictures from A.'s birthday which we finally celebrated yesterday.

She chose choco…

Thirteen years old

Today is A.'s thirteenth birthday.  How did that happen?  How did my cute, adorable, and very strong-willed little pony-tailed girl become a lively, charming, and determined young adult?  Well, however it happened, that's what she did.  And what privilege do 13 year old girls have in our family?  It is the age where they can get their ears pierced if they so desire.  And A. desired.

A.'s good friend, P12, waited for A. so they could get their ears pierced together.  (The P. family allows ear piercing at 12.)  So this morning, P12 and her mother and A. and I went to have the deed done.  After signing more forms than you would think necessary, earrings were chosen and ears were pierced.  To make it more celebratory, we all went out to lunch together.  For how often any of us eat in restaurants, this definitely counts as a treat.
The celebrations will continue, and I'm sure there will be more pictures to share on Monday.

What else is there to say?

Some of you may know of Katie in Uganda... the young woman who moved from the US to Uganda to care for orphans and now lives there full-time with her 10+ adopted children.  She is an amazing young woman, though I have a sneaking suspicion she would brush off the compliment and say it's not her, it's Jesus.  Read one of her latest posts and be challenged.

Behavior and consequences

A while back I asked if any of you would be interested in hearing a bit about our behavior expectations and consequences... and I had some takers.  And since I am drawing a complete blank about what to write, this is what wins.  This is not meant to be a definitive list, and depending on circumstances we may not follow it to the letter.  It is more some examples of our practices and general thinking.  I also don't mean to imply that ours is the only way to raise children, but I often find useful ideas by hearing about what other parents do and perhaps I can do that for others.

In general, J. and I are far more concerned about our children's attitudes than by any specific outward behavior.  (And one very often follows the other anyway.)  For that reason we try to focus on consequences which deal with the underlying motivation than just the outward behavior.  At least that's what we try to do... if only we could parent perfectly.

We focus on obedience... doing what we ask wh…

A surprise present

G. on left and L. on right
Last week a dear friend surprised me a pair of spring dresses for the girls.  It was a bright spot in an otherwise bleak day.  I love that they each have a matching sweater.  As far as pictures, though, this is the best of the bunch.  G. and L. were particularly uncooperative for this photo session... I have crying pictures, and blurry pictures, and pictures of girls showing off tummies, but none of smiling girls.

I can't wait until they can really wear them and not freeze.

Stopping to be thankful

Yesterday I felt so much better and consequently, the day went smoothly complete with happy children.  (Funny how that works, huh?)  I have been overwhelmed with thankfulness for my life and children.  I thought I'd share a few examples.  I'm thankful for...
how well M. is doing in the two college classes she is taking this semester.  She has been so diligent and responsible about them.for the all the different interests my children have and how they teach me things I would have never thought to learn.  For example, B. has taken a strong interest in bee keeping.  He has done tons of research, taken a class, and has paid (nearly all by himself) for a new hive a colony of bees which will begin arriving later this month.for how well my children can get along.  Yesterday, A. and P. and D. and TM decided on the spur of the moment to have a room cleaning contest.  Not only did it keep them happily occupied for most of the afternoon, but it's been a while since those two rooms hav…