Showing posts from August, 2011

Circus side shows

I  finished the peaches last night (at 11 pm).  (The tally?  Twenty-one quarts of canned sliced peaches, 11 pints of jam... or peach syrup if you insist that jam must actually be jelled, and 7 pie's worth of frozen peaches in the freezer.  Plus we still have a fruit drawer full of fruit to eat.)  I can now move on to other things.

And those other things?  Pondering why this past weekend's article in the paper about large families annoyed me so much.  It wasn't necessarily a bad article.  The mothers of the families interviewed (one of them Mary, from Owlhaven, a blog I regularly read) were articulate and normal sounding.  There wasn't even the requisite interview in the these types of articles from the 'opposition'.  (In homeschooling articles this view is routinely represented by either an upper level school superintendent type or teacher's union rep and in a large family article it would be either some child psychologist about the dangers of being one of …

Peaches, peaches everywhere

So when you bring home three bushels of peaches, you then must do something with them before they all rot.  So that is what we are doing today... and probably tomorrow.  If I get the peaches under control, I'll sit down and write something.  I have a lovely rant running around my head about the most recent article on large families that was in the Sunday Chicago Tribune.  But, you'll just have to wait for it.  Rants can wait, peaches can't!


We drove into SW Michigan yesterday to go peach picking with some friends. 
L. in the red hat and G. in the pink
K. ... they were tasty peaches
L. and A. -- We have 3 bushels.  That means 6 of these bags.
G. It was a lovely day... beautiful weather... easy picking... good company.  We went the same place where we go apple picking.  It's a very nice farm that is not very crowded.  That is one of it's benefits in my book, so I am a little hesitant to share the name.  (I don't like crowds.)  But, since I want them to stay in business, I will.  We were at Shafer Orchards in Baroda, Michigan.  If you're close, I highly recommend them.  (They have really good prices, too.  $15/half bushel.)  There were still a lot of peaches, so you haven't missed them.  Don't you want to spend all next week processing peaches, too?

Hard decisions

Sometimes being the grown-up means making the hard decisions.  As I have mentioned before, J. has started an intensive 3-year doctoral program on which he is working on top of his regular full-time job.  This is the right career move for him at this time and he is really liking the program and faculty and fellow students.  That said, it is also a serious time commitment.  He will be gone one Saturday a month as well as having to work on papers and assignments during the week.  We got a real taste of what life is going to look like for a while a couple of weeks ago when he had two fairly long papers due back-to-back.  I wish I could say I sailed through those two weeks effortlessly and was completely supportive of my husband and what he needed to got done.  The truth is not so pretty... or flattering.

One positive thing that happened was that it made me stop and re-examine what my priorities were and what my schedule was looking like.  It became clear that if I was serious about suppor…

Preschool battle plan... or don't stand still too long or Mommy may laminate you!

Sorry for the whiplash I may have inflicted on my readers... college one day, preschool the next.  Welcome to my world.  I promised you my plans as to what I'm doing with my three youngest during the school year.  At this point, knowing the chaos of which the three of them are capable it really does feel like a battle plan for getting through the morning.  My first line of defense is to put them at the top of the list for my time each day.  G. and L. will be first, followed by K.  I have found (and I hope it continues to be true) that by spending time with my youngest first, they will be happier to plan and entertain themselves while I work with the olders.  The second item on my plan is containment and distraction.  I will keep them inside the barricade with me and I have a schedule for bringing out a different "big" toy each day that can only be played with during "school".  (These would include Duplo, Playmobile 123, wooden trains, etc.)  And my third line o…

All moved in

This morning we all got up bright and early and drove M. down to her new college campus and moved her into her dorm room.  A momentous occasion for both child and parents.  (How on earth are we old enough to have a daughter in college?  Didn't I just leave my 20's?) 
Here's the whole crew inside M.'s dorm room:

Evidently, M. is the only college freshman who has so many younger brothers and sisters.  Or she was the only one crazy enough to bring them along.  Either way, ours were about the only young children around.  I figured we were doing M. and her roommate a public service, because after you've had 10 extra people in your room, even the smallest of dorm rooms feels roomy.

Since it was a little chaotic with the three littles, J. took the boys and little girls to find some food.  (Even though it was only 10:30am... I said we woke up early.)  A. and P. stayed with me and M. and helped unpack M.'s things.  We did pretty well and got everything unpacked and stow…

Two years, three months

G. and L. turned 2 years, three months old this month.  Now, to most people, this is not normally a milestone, but around here it's a big deal.  That's because K. was this age when we brought him home from Vietnam and to compare him at that age with the girls right now is eye-opening.

It's probably a good thing that even though I had already raised 5 two-year-olds, that I had forgotten what they were able to do.  It was disturbing enough to see his state and functional level without being fully aware of exactly how delayed he was. And watching the girls now, he was very, very delayed.  I can't help thinking about K. while I watch G. and L. these days.

K. could sit, but only with his back curved into a 'C', and could walk.  G. and L. run and jump (with both feet leaving the ground) and climb and ride their tricycle and can almost do somersaults.  K. didn't talk... or even babble.  G. and L. talk (and talk and talk) in sentences, have huge vocabularies, have …

Homeschool schedules

I have a love/hate relationship with schedules in that I love creating them, but I'm not always so fond of following them.  Every year I think that I have found the key to homeschooling perfection, only to discover I was wrong.  Seeing as how this is our 14th year of homeschooling, that's 13 years of being wrong.  (And I so don't like to be wrong. [Quite possible that is the single greatest understatement I have ever written on this blog.])  Anyway, in the face of starting another year, I've done some hard thinking about this whole schedule-thing, and I have come to some startlingly obvious conclusions which leaves my scratching my head as to why I didn't come to them before.

First, I just have to face up to the fact that there is no perfect schedule.  Life will always get in the way and that's OK  Being the perfectionist that I am, I just have to learn that my beautiful and thoughtfully crafted schedule is never going to be followed perfectly.  Second, I'm…

In which we go on a field trip and I continue to tilt at windmills

We went spent the day with friends yesterday.  We took walks.
(L. on left and G. on right)
Played in the pond.

P. with G.
And the stream.

L. on left, G. on right --they liked the stream much better
Had lunch and let M. rest.

Looked at flowers.

Picture by A.
Enjoyed trees...

and being outdoors.

It was a lovely, if warm, day at the Morton Arboretum.  We were guests of our friends and had such a nice time that I looked into buying a family membership.  (I know my children would love to go back and spend a loooong time in the children's area.)  Well, here is where the tilting comes in.

You are familiar with my personal crusade for the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium to change their "family" membership policies to not dictate family size.  Well, sadly, I now have another institution to add to my list.  Here is a copy of the email I sent yesterday:

I just visited the arboretum today with my children, thanks to a friend whose membership allows her to bring guests. My…

No words

Sometimes I read or hear about something that leaves me speechless, which, admittedly, doesn't happen very often.  This is one of those times.

Please go read No Greater Joy Mom right now.  (For the less computer-savvy among you, all you have to do is click on the underlined phrase.)  I'm not even asking you to give money.  All the money has been raised, for this little girl at least.  But ever since I read this, I have been praying for God to deliver these children.  Please join me in storming the gates of Heaven on their behalf. 

And maybe, just maybe, one of you will discover that you are one of these precious children's parents.  If any child needed a parent's protecting and loving arms, it is one of these.

Art lesson by way of Australia

We spent some time yesterday looking at Australian Aboriginal art and listening to didgeridoo music.  Much Aboriginal art is made by dots forming animals or swirling patterns.  It is very cool looking, so we decided to try our hand at it.
I got out the acrylic paint (a rare treat), some mat boards (cut to reasonable sizes), and cotton swabs (for making the dots).  Some painters chose to sketch their design first and then paint, and others dove right in.  Even if you are not studying Australia, I highly recommend this activity.  I gave the instructions that the entire board needed to be filled in, and everyone was so taken with the method that it kept them busy for at least an hour... some significantly more.  We used the back of the mat board and it turned out to be the perfect surface... mainly because it was stiff enough to hold all the paint that was applied.
Here are a couple of the painters at work:

And the results.  These are TM's at the top, D.'s in the middle, and K.'…

The invalids are growing restless

Yes, I'm aware that the subject of my title is plural.  That is because not only is M. recovering from surgery, but A. is not quite up to full speed, either.  On Monday, she accidentally got hit across the top of the base of her thumb during a freak plastic sword fighting incident.  It sent her into spasms of pain and she couldn't move it.  After icing it for a while, the pain was less, but it was still immovable.  It was that non-moving part that caused me to call the doctor.  We took her in, had an x-ray taken, and had the doctor (not our usual) tell us, "I don't know what's wrong, we'll call."  So, here's the scoop:  It is not broken, but they aren't sure what is going on with it.  If it is not better in a few days (or gets worse), we are to take her back in.  She was able to move it a little more yesterday, but you still couldn't consider her having an actual opposable thumb on her right hand.

So, now I have M. who is tired of being cooped…

History co-op kick-off feast

Last night our history co-op had a long postponed feast.  We went the path of least resistance and everyone dressed in whatever costumes, from whatever time period we all happened to have. 
Here are all 27 children in a variety of costumes... from Rome all the way to modern times:

The more ancient end of the spectrum.  K. should have been further down the line with the more colonial American types, but he really wanted to stand next to his best-buddy, P4, who was a crusader.

The 18th/19th century types:

Heading on into the 20th/21st century... I think the ones on the end did a fabulous job imitating the teenage dress of the 21st century, don't you?

And because it's cute, here are the four littlest.  (L. is in red and G. is in purple):

The mothers didn't particularly want to pose for pictures, so they were taken on the sly.

And just because.  Here is L.  She had 'pokey-tails' earlier in the day, but pulled them out.  This picture gives you a sense of her personality…


That's me.  It's a nicer way of saying completely compulsive.  I have discovered about myself that when I get involved in a project, I find it difficult to concentrate on anything else... laundry for instance.  My current project is to plan out our school year with what we're reading when and what projects we will be doing.  I have spent the past couple of days holed up on the floor surrounded by books.  (And barricaded by chairs.)  It's the only place I have room to spread out where I don't have to move my piles and where someone won't either walk away with an interesting book or color in one.  Sad, but true.

So, I will continue on with my quest to get the year down on paper with the goal that one week of non-stop thinking will enable me to not have to think much (at least about school plans) for the rest of the year.  But don't feel too badly for me.  I actually enjoy doing projects like this.  I would enjoy them more if the rest of life could be put on h…

Some links so that I can let others do the writing

The Australia library books are due and I can't renew them again, so we will be spending the day finishing them.  For your reading enjoyment, I giving you a few links to take a look at.

First up is a link that my real-life, fellow VN adoptive mom over at The Adventures of Law Mommy shared with me.  It is for a blog all about books called, in so many words... .  I think I may have reading material to keep me set for at least a couple of years.  I'm excited because I felt as though I was in a fiction drought and reading only non-fiction can get tiring.

Next, a while back I pleaded for help locating books on Australia.  Christine, who happens to live in Tasmania, was a huge help (thank you!) and steered me toward the Australian bush poets.  I had never heard of the bush poets and I am so glad that I do now.  Next week we will start in on doing the art section of our Australia unit study and the poetry of Banjo Paterson will be part of it.  I particularly like the poem Mulga Bill&…

Worship revisited

I have written about worshipping with our children before, but as our church is moving into a new model for Sunday mornings (an education hour in between two worship services... all education will occur in the middle hour and families will worship together at either of the two services), it has got me thinking about it all over again.  We are pleased with this new model, but other than it suiting our family's needs, I have felt the need to ask myself why this is so.  It is one thing to like something for convenience, it's another to like something because it is Scriptural.  They don't always go hand in hand, so I try to be careful to hold my beliefs up to Scripture and constantly ask if I'm correct in my thinking.

When I go through this process, there are times when reading Scripture has forced me to readjust some assumptions, but not this time.  If anything, it has caused me to readjust my view on worship to one that is more strongly held.  Worship should be our first…

Surgery is over and we're all home

M. is now resting in our downstairs guestroom where she will be camping out for a while.  (Not only is her bedroom on the second floor, but she has a loft bed... not a good combination when your knee is out of commission.)  The surgery went well and we are all glad it is over with.  She has felt better, but was able to navigate the car ride and get into the house, but really all she want to do is rest.

The day has felt like a marathon.  We arrived at the hospital at 7am (after I spent the whole night dreaming that we were late) and the surgery was scheduled for 8:30.  It started right on time and J. and I headed to the waiting room where we kept ourselves busy.  The first hour passed quickly and since I thought we would be hearing news soon, I busied myself with some knitting.  When I got to the end of what I could do on my project I looked at the time and realized that she had been in the operating room for 2  1/2 hours.  At this point I started to get concerned since the surgery was…

Lovely weddings

Over the past year, there have been three weddings at our church that we (either our whole family, or M. and B.) have been invited to.  Each of these weddings have been lovely.  And they were lovely because they weren't over-the-top.  These weren't small weddings; many, many people were invited, but they also didn't fall into the 'princess-for-a-day' error.  I am so glad that it is these weddings that my daughters have been witnessing. 

What did I find so refreshing about them?  Well, the biggest part was that the wedding ceremonies were worship services.  The focus of each wedding was that these two people were making a pledge before God that they were now going to become one entity.  A new family.  These services reminded the congregation that marriage is indeed a sacrament.

The next thing I found refreshing was that entire families, including young children were invited.  A wedding isn't a show, it is a worship service.  If we say that children belong in wo…

Homeschool resource room

We've been doing a bit of reorganizing around here this summer.  (I know you're probably all sick of hearing about my binge of cleaning out, but be patient, this is just a lot of pictures.)  It all started because we needed to find a place for H. to sleep.  The room that A., P., G., and L. share was at capacity and was also not ideal as G. and L. are more interested in all of A. and P.'s stuff.  So that combined with the fact that I've never really been happy with the school room and ever since we redid the kitchen we haven't really been using it, we have made a major change.  Now, there is no more school room.  It will become A., P., and H.'s room once we (by we I mean J.) finish the dry walling and painting.  The school room was dismantled and either moved up to the third floor or given away.  This past couple of weeks I have been reorganizing the third floor.  The bulk of it is still a playroom, but I have also carved a limited-access (meaning I have to be w…