Showing posts from October, 2011

Happy 9th Birthday, TM!

Today is TM's 9th birthday.  We celebrated last night.  Of course, as my children tend to do, he chose a birthday dessert which did not lend itself to candles.  A. and P. did the honors.

Here is the birthday dessert TM choose.  Owl cupcakes.  He and A. wanted to make them and had a grand time decorating them yesterday.  Aren't they cute?  (The eyes are oreo halves.)

G. waiting for her dessert
Presents came after cake.  Here he is opening a gift from A.

Laughing at a card from Grammy and Grandpa
More and more people helped with the presents as the evening went on.  He loved all his gifts.

L. and G. looking a bit worse for wear at the end of the evening.
So, happy birthday, my son.  I love you very much.  I can't believe you are 9 years old. We have both come a long, long way from where we began.  It has been a wondrous journey.
Go over and check out 4 Kids or More where I have been interviewed as 'Mom of the Week'.

Log-in date!

We have heard the news the we have an official log-in date:  Oct. 24, 2011.  This is a big hurdle and now we settle in and wait.  It would be wonderful to hear that we have our Letter of Acceptance by Christmas.  This would put us on a timeline to travel around March.  Of course, I wouldn't complain if it all happened sooner, but I've learned to expect things to take longer, so we're back to not really knowing.  (If you're confused by all these terms, here's my adoption lingo explanation.)

As excited as I am to be making this progress, I wouldn't be completely truthful if I didn't also share the anxiety I'm having as a result.  The anxiety isn't about what you would expect, either.  I know there will be challenges ahead as we integrate H. into our family.  I know there will be moments that aren't easy; moments where I wonder what we've done. But there will also be moments of joy and wonder as well.  That isn't the source of my anxiety.



I, who have no love for math, spent two hours last night calculating how big the pyramids would all be using a 30 meters to 1 centimeter scale.  And not only did I figure out the dimensions, I then cut them out of paper.  Why would a supposedly sane person do this, you ask?  Well, I am scheduled to teach the younger group of our history co-op this morning and we're all about hands-on learning.  What better way to get a sense of scale than to lay out a section of the Nile River valley on my third floor and place the pyramids where they would be found?

Did you know that at this scale the Great Pyramid is 4.9 cm tall, the Statue of Liberty is 3 cm, a person is the size of a grain of salt, and the Nile River is 8 FEET wide?  I did the math over and over, but it's true.  And somewhat unbelievable.  Since we can't take a field trip to Egypt, we can at least get a sense of the immense size of the place.  And at this scale, we really can only lay out a portion of the Nile, becaus…

Aurora Leigh

I have a newly discovered poem.  At least it's new to me, but it is not new by any stretch of the imagination.  It is the poem Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  I came across a snippet of it when I was preparing for the chapter of Isaiah we were working on and was immediately smitten.  Here is the bit I first read:

"Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees, takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck black berries,
And daub their natural faces unaware."

Don't you love it?  We were looking at Isaiah 6:3 where Isaiah is in God's throne room and the seraphim are saying, "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory."  The poem came into the discussion with the idea of the whole earth being full of God's glory.  I love the image of earth being crammed full of heaven... if only we have eyes to see it.  (Which also fits in quite well with Isaiah 6, by the way.…

Idle hands

Here is how a group of girls keep their hands busy while discussing the book of Isaiah.

Sewing machine? What sewing machine?

After a very long hiatus, I have found my sewing machine and have actually used it.  I don't know why I had gone so long.  I enjoy sewing and don't lack for people to sew for.  Really I think it boils down to that huge ironing pile I dealt with on Saturday.  Clearing that out has made me realize what a huge mental block it had become.  It was as though I couldn't do anything because I had to take care of the ironing first.  I was punishing myself for not meeting my own (too) high standards.  By giving myself permission to iron as needed, I was suddenly free to do other things.  It all sounds a bit silly to write it out, but there it is.  
And here is the fruit of my rediscovered sewing machine:

This is a knit shirt for P., who had picked out this pattern and material early in the summer.  The idea was that it would be short-sleeved and she would wear it for the warmer months.  But the beginning of summer was also the beginning of my little ironing mania-thing (as well as be…

Scenes from Saturday

It's just a normal Saturday around here... cleaning the house, running errands, playing outside.  Sometimes what people are most interested in is just what a normal day looks like around here.  I'll stop by the computer every so often to update on whats been going on.

Everyone has been doing their Saturday jobs and they are nearly almost done.  That is except for A., whom J. is picking up from a sleepover.  She still has all of hers to do.  I've been working on cleaning up my bedroom, which is sadly neglected.  My newest brainstorm is about the growing piles of ironing which I haven't been able to keep up with.  The pile is making me unhappy and feeling as though I can't allow myself to do anything else because it is sitting there.  I have actually been praying about what to do about the ironing.

I'm thinking that for this season in life, I need to readjust my priorities.  I just am not able to only put away ironed clothes.  I've decided we are going …

Pie crust recipe and tutorial

Pie crust is so incredibly easy to make that I'm not sure how it got its reputation for being difficult.  So, instead of just giving you my basic pie crust recipe, I thought I'd take a few pictures as well to show you exactly how easy it is.

First, here's the basic recipe, this will make a two crust, 9-inch pie:

2 1/2 C. flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 C. shortening
6-7 TBSP cold water

That's it, just four ingredients.

First, mix the flour and salt into a bowl.  I'm using whole wheat pastry flour here, but you can can use white.  Then add your shortening.  For shortening you can use vegetable shortening, butter, or lard.  I'm using lard for this pie crust.

Really, you can buy it in the store.  (Or, if you've bought a side of pork, you can render your own.)  Lard gets a bad rap.  (Check out this article, if you're interested in reading more.)  I buy it in boxes like this:

But back to the pie crust.  Once you've added your shortening, use your pastry blender t…

College success

J. and I have been having a wonderful time watching M. succeed in her first full semester of college.  She is doing quite well in her classes, was cast (in one of only 6 parts) in the fall show (Hideous Progeny, about the Shelleys and the writing of the book, Frankenstein), and is making some really good friends.  All in all, she is having a ball and learning a lot.  What more could a parent hope for?

And I know the burning question in many people's minds (homeschoolers in particular) is, "What did we do?"  How do I know this is the burning question?  Because I've received it more than a couple of times and I came across it once again today.  In truthfulness, the question is more along the lines of what did we do to get our child into college.  This has always struck me as a slightly odd thing to worry about.  (Odd that is, after I survived homeschooling our first year of high school and realized it wasn't the huge deal I had made it out to be.)  Because, really,…

Saying yes

I don't know about you, but as a parent I sometimes get into bad habits.  One of these habits is a knee jerk reaction of saying no whenever my children ask me to do anything.  'No' is easier.  It requires nothing of me and makes no messes.  It is not inconvenient and I can continue on with whatever my plans were.  And while 'no' can be a reasonable response sometimes, it is often just selfishness and thoughtlessness on my part.

This has been an area I've struggled with all my parenting life, but it has really been brought to the forefront of my mind this past week.  A good friend of mine went to the Empowered to Connect conference a few weeks ago with Karyn Purvis.  I had really wanted to go, but with J. being gone one weekend a month it just didn't seem wise for me to be gone one as well.  (Plus, I could have made some more 'imaginary' friends into 'real' friends, so many people I know via the internet were there.) But, I've been hearin…

Game day

When I was making our schedule for the school year, I decided that every now and then I would add in a day where we played games together instead of doing our regular work.  I love to play games, but often don't think about playing them with my children in the busyness of the day.  By scheduling it, I could be sure to remember.  It also solved the problem on what to do with the days that I knew were going to be interrupted for some reason, such as doctor's appointments.

Yesterday morning was our first scheduled game day since G. and L. had a doctor's appointment first thing in the morning.  We were back in a little over an hour (because I've learned to book the first appointment of the day), which left us plenty of time for playing.  I started out with the three youngest and with P.'s help, G., L., and K. played Lollipops (what K. has always called Candyland).  The little girls were very excited to be playing a game, but they are still just a bit too young.  I move…

Sometimes insight comes from unlikely places

"Do not think of it, he ordered himself.

To forget it he began to run, almost colliding with a group of glassmakers as he turned into the main thoroughfare that paralleled the Nile.  He dodged in and out among the homebound workers, shouting greetings to Kai the baker's boy and a few other urchins he knew.  He was turning his whole attention to physical activity so that he might not notice the nagging uneasiness beginning to force its way into the conscious part of his mind.  It grew stronger and stronger the nearer he drew to the Street of the Crooked Dog, but the stronger it grew the faster he ran, refusing to let it in, shoring up the bulwarks of his mind against it."

   -from The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

As I read this at lunch (it's our current lunchtime read aloud) I was struck by the imagery of the physical motion and exertion in order to avoid thinking about things that were unpleasant and uncomfortable.  Another small piece to a very large and c…

New household job schedules

I was finally motivated to redo my children's household job assignments, mainly because I was asked to speak at the moms' group at our church about this topic and thought I should get myself in order first.  We had gotten into a bit of a slump as far as cleaning and housework, and it was beginning to show.  Everyone was doing the bare minimum and I had stopped really checking.  We needed a change to energize us all again.

The hurdle I had to face was how to make the jobs evenly distributed, especially since I had lost one very competent person (M.).  A. and B. are equally able, but it didn't feel right to just keep assigning them the time-intensive jobs just because I knew they could do it and would get it done.  I also wasn't quite ready to assign the more major jobs to the middle group because I didn't think they were quite ready to handle them on a full-time basis.  I was in a quandary.

Up until now, I had always assigned jobs for the full year, believing that …


"Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is a log in your own eye?" Matthew 7:3-4 (ESV)

It probably won't surprise you if I tell you I am a bit of a perfectionist.  I always have been and even though it is a character fault, if I am honest, I have never really been bothered by it.  Perhaps I have even cultivated it in myself  thinking that it helped me strive to do the best I could do.  Over achieving is always praised in schools and I was a student who learned to over achieve because I enjoyed the praise that came with it.  Why should I dislike something that brought me praise?

It wasn't until a became a parent that I started to see the negative effects of perfectionism.  One of my older children is very much like me.  I started to see how perfectionism stopped this child from even to begin trying som…

Pokey tails

Look how long the little girls' hair is getting!  Two pokey tails (G.'s name for pony tails) on either side of the head... one of my favorite little girls 'dos.
L.  (excuse the runny nose... it didn't get wiped before the picture)
Happy Friday... enjoy your weekend.  This is the first day I've had in a long while where I don't have to go anywhere, nor does anyone else for the afternoon.  The plans in my head as to what to do with that time most likely will fill the time three times over.  But hey, I can dream, can't I?

And, Happy 9th Birthday to H. today.  I really wish we could celebrate with her.  This is going to be a momentous year for our newest little girl and she doesn't have any idea.  I'm hoping to hear our dossier was shipped to its final destination today.   Log-in date here we come!

Sometimes parenting is hard

And while this is true for all parenting, there are aspects of adoptive parenting that are more difficult than parenting birth children.  Dealing with all the grief that comes with the losses in adoption can be really, really tough.  For everyone.  It's one of those things that you can think you are prepared for intellectually, but until you have actually lived through it, you don't really have a clue.

I can say that I know my child will have to deal with losses in his life.  That it will be rough for him to have to come to terms with the fact he was left in an orphanage and moved through two different foster families until landing half-way around the world with people he might not have chosen to be his parents if he had been consulted.  But saying that and actually knowing what it looks like to walk with a child through that process are two very, very different things.  And I'll just tell you, it stinks.  No child should have to deal with this.  No child should have to de…


"Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  Isaiah 41:10

Small miracles

K. wrote his name... all by himself.  (It's the first time one of my children performing this feat has made me cry.) -----------------------------------------
And... the 2011 Homeschool Blog Awards are starting again.  Here's the link:

Expecting too much of our children?

As I have mentioned before, our church has changed the format of Sunday mornings so that we have one service, with everyone worshiping together, followed by an education hour where everyone goes to some type of Sunday school class.  The biggest change for most people is that children are in the service for the entire time instead of being excused part-way through to go to Sunday school.

As you might imagine, this has caused a little discussion.  This is not really a change for our family, since we have always kept our children in worship with us.  (We actually end up with a shorter morning than we had with the former schedule.)  But, since we have experience with this, I was asked what tips I have for helping children sit through the ~ hour long service.

In thinking through my response, I realized that the answer lies in so much more than just that hour on Sunday mornings.  Our children have little difficulty with sitting and paying attention (more or less... they're not perfect!)…

Tapped out

It's now nearly noon and I'm not quite sure what I have to show for it, seeing as how I'm still not dressed.  In my defense, I have finished an article that was due and sent that in; tried making coffee in two different coffee makers only to discover that they are both broken (finally gave-up and sent B. to the local coffee shop to get ma a large cup); made apple cider donuts; and have done all this with interrupted sleep.

L. was up a lot last night, having difficulty breathing.  I think it was just a cold that we have all been passing around, but it sounded weird.  Not really like anything I've heard before and it crossed my mind to wonder if she was having an asthma attack.  We've never had to deal with that, so I don't know what it sounds like.  I do know, if she hadn't started breathing better, I was planning on heading to the ER with her.  She seems fine this morning, but I will be definitely mentioning it to her doctor at her physical later this mont…

When it's nice in Chicago...

especially in early October, you really need to spend the day outside.  With the thermometer going up to at least 80 degrees today, we decided to head to the Chicago Botanic Gardens to enjoy the last bit of warmth we will feel for a while.  We had nothing planned, just enjoyed walking around the garden.  We saw a pair of swans who evidently don't seem to mind humans based on how close they got.

This one got a little too close to one of the little girls for my comfort, but then turned around, displayed his(?) wingspan and walked back into the water.

A. then took my camera and played around with it.  I think she might be a budding photographer, what do you think?  (The next photos are hers.  I may just assign her the 'family photographer' job.)

And, if I have a recipe published on another website, can I call myself a 'food writer'?  Here's my recipe for Beef with Asian Greens Stir-Fry.

Nice surprises

I realize that I have neglected to brag about one of my children.  The other day I had gone out grocery shopping and had left the kitchen in some disarray.  OK, that's an understatement.  It would have been incredibly embarrassing if anyone had seen it.  Dirty dishes all over the counters and so much stuff piled on the table that I wondered how we were going to unload the groceries.  It wasn't pretty and not the sort of scene that one looks forward to returning to.
So imagine my surprise (and joy) in finding the kitchen looking like this when I walked in:

No dirty dishes out.  Clean and wiped-off table.  Empty sink.  It was wonderful.  Really, truly wonderful.  And you know the best part?  It was done by one young-ish boy, all on his own without being asked.  Just as a surprise.  Do you want to guess who did this wonderful deed?


Life doesn't get much better than that, huh?
Other randomness--

My near brush with hipness wasn't quite as close as I thoug…

Toddler hipness

I have moments of near brushes with hipness.  This is mainly due to the fact that my older children share hip facts with me and so I have actually heard of them.  Without their influence, I wouldn't even achieve that much.  (I'm pretty sure this has nothing to do with my age, as being on the far side of trendy has been a theme throughout my life.)  My little girls on the other hand, seem to take to current trends naturally.  My evidence?  This:

This is G. who along with L. decided to do a little planking.  (In the time it took to get the picture, L. had moved on to other things.)  Don't know what planking is?  Well, the best thing to do is just do a search for it on YouTube, but it seems to be people imitating planks, often while holding themselves by their toes upside-down.  No, I don't get it either.  I am rather taken with the toddler version, though.

And isn't this so much more amusing than (another) rant by me of how parents have lost the knowledge of how to t…