Showing posts from November, 2011

That will be 12 inches off the top, please

Yesterday, I took P. to get her hair cut so that she could donate her ponytail to Locks of Love.  This was a little traumatic for her parents, since she has only had her hair trimmed a little bit... ever.  But she has been rather persistent in wanting her hair cut, so I bit the bullet and we went.
Here is the result:

I think it's cute and not too short and P. is very happy with it.  She loves how much easier it is to comb.  The stylist was amazed at how long her hair was and the fact she could cut off 12 inches and still have it be below her shoulders.

Now I need to send in the ponytail.  There is a small part of me that wants to just keep it, but that would be a bit pathological so I won't.  Plus, the ponytail all by itself is kind of creeping some members of my family out and they would rather it not be around.  I agree that looking at it sitting there is a little off-putting.  Why is that?  Curious, isn't it.

Crafty Christmas gift ideas

(Hi Hearts at Home readers. One of the things we do is have siblings focus on making gifts for one another. This way the focus is more on what one is giving than what one is getting. So, in that spirit, here is an old post with ideas of things that children can make for one another.)

I don't know about you, but I am taking a deep breath and trying to plan how I will make everything I would like to before Christmas.  I think I need to prioritize and start that way, because I'm beginning to doubt whether I can really do it all or not.  In the past, my prime sewing time has been after everyone has gone to bed.  But recently, I have been so exhausted after everyone is tucked in that I really can't do much of anything, especially if it calls for concentrating on directions.  (Please tell me it's because I'm chasing two 2-year-old toddlers around and it's not because I'm getting old!)  I haven't even been able to read which tells you how bad it is.

If you are…

Advent and the liturgical calendar

Yesterday was the first day of Advent and the beginning of a new church year.  Advent marks the four Sundays preceding Christmas and is a time of expectation, preparation, hope, and longing.  In the past it also had a penitent aspect, observed with fasting, which some traditions still observe today.  These five words just about sum up (at least for me) how we should approach the coming of the Lord Jesus, whether in remembrance of His birth or in expectation of when He comes again.

If you hadn't already guessed, I am a big fan of following the liturgical calendar.  (My blog is called Ordinary Time, after all, named after the non-special seasons of the church year.  The 'everyday' Sundays.)  I love how the church calendar gives us seasons of celebration and repentance, seasons of special days and regular days.  It is cyclical just as the seasons are and gives a balance to our lives.  If we follow the calendar we walk through the life of Jesus and the church on a yearly basis…

Post holidays

I have always loved the days following holidays almost more than the holidays themselves.  All the hard work has been done, everyone is relaxed, there's nothing on the to-do list, and often there is still enough food so that no one really has to think about cooking all that much.  I do love holidays... the togetherness, the traditions, and at least in our family, an excuse to dress up and use the good china.  A little formality in life is a good thing.  But then it is counter-balanced by the informality and relaxation of the following days.  It is as if we enjoy the relaxation more because of the preceding formality.

Yesterday was filled with museum trips and time for cousins to play together.  Last night J. and I enjoyed watching our older children, a niece, and a "borrowed" child (we'll call him T.; he's staying with us since he is away from home, going to school) enjoy an uproarious game of hearts.

Today, I have a combination of 6 siblings and cousins playing …

Thanksgiving 2011

The tables were set.

(And a word of caution... if you plan on heading to your big box craft store the day before Thanksgiving to get appropriate table decorations, think again.  It is all Christmas all the time.)
We had appetizers,

which some small people liked very much,
and creamed onions.

My sister-in-law brought these fabulous roasted Brussel sprouts with bacon tossed in a vinaigrette.  I really need to get the recipe.

There was cranberry-orange relish and cranberry jelly.

Everyone pitched in to help.
There was much salad

and even more pies.

And believe it or not, everyone was up and ready to eat again this morning.
G. and D.
Truly, there is much we have to be thankful for.
Happy Thanksgiving!

A. and P.'s new digs

The room which was our schoolroom has now been transformed and turned into the A. and P.'s room.  It involved taking down some ugly paneling and J. and B. putting up wall board and then having 'worker guys' come in and tape and sand.  The worker guy also repaired the horrible water damage on the ceiling which was a result of the leaking roof which was repaired this past spring.  The girls were moving their stuff in practically while the paint was drying, they were so excited.
Here are a few sneak peaks of the new room.  It is still in the early stages.  Some organizing needs to happen and curtains made.  But these will give you an idea.
From the doorway
The currently unbunked beds.  The girls really, really wanted to have them set up as a traditional twin pair with a small table between.  So we have it set that way for a while.  Once we get closer to H. coming home, we will rearrange... rebunk the beds, add the twin we have in storage and make room for a 3rd girl.
The desk wit…

The cost of raising a child

The Census Bureau has come out with their newest figure of how much it costs to raise one child to the age of 18 (so this number does NOT include college expenses).  Ready for it?  For middle income families it's $286,860 over the course of 18 years.  Once again I'm forced to do some math.  That averages out to $15,937 a year and $1328 per month.  Hang on, hang on!  I know most of you with larger families or those who are living on one income are feeling your blood pressure rise just thinking about how this doesn't fit with your reality.  And I agree that it doesn't fit with mine, either.  Plus, I was curious how they treated multiple children, so I looked at the report. They were figuring the cost of multiple children (and the multiple children went to 3) to be a simple cumulative exercise of multiplying that figure by number of children.  It is wrongheaded thinking.

But believe it or not, that is not what I want to blog about.  I found the link to the article on the …

Some adoption links

I'm starting in on my rather large to-do list so that I can enjoy Thanksgiving when it arrives, so instead of writing something myself, I'm going to give you a few links to what some other writers have said about adoption.

First from my real-life friend Ann at Crazy for Kids:

Remembering his Losses

The Happy Ending

Next is the excellent National Adoption Month post from No Greater Joy Mom:

Reckless Abandon

Then a great list by Lisa at A Bushel and a Peck (who also has such great information on her blog about parenting children who have experienced trauma) about how to help families who have just brought home a new child:

Six Things Adoptive/Foster Families Need When New Children Arrive

And finally an essay on why you shouldn't adopt.  I know it's an odd thing to include on this list, but read it anyway.

Don't Adopt

I can't help including one more link on my list after you have read all the great writing above.  (You did read it, didn't you?)    Here's the li…

O be careful little brain what you think

Attachment is a big word in adoption.  It is the development of the bond between a new parent and child which will cement their relationship together.  For some, this is an easy bond to create, for others, it is difficult.  I have experienced both extremes.  Even with some of the drama we have been experiencing as TM becomes more fluent in English, more emotionally aware, and consequently more verbal in his processing of his early experiences, I have come to realize exactly how attached I am to this boy.  There are so many things I like and appreciate about him.  And he's funny and makes me laugh.  Not only do I love my boy, but I really, really like him as well.

When I think about my son, I have been finding that most of my thoughts about him are positive.  Yes, he still does things that can drive me up a tree, but I find myself viewing those things more as endearing quirks rather than faults that I just have to live with.  I have been pleased to discover that this has set-up a s…

Little Women

Here's a shot from the production of Little Women which A. is in the weekend.  She is playing Aunt March.  Don't you think she is the oldest 13 year old you've ever seen?  Come see the show if you are able.  Details are available on the Thin Ice Theater website.  (For those of you who have been reading for a while, the redhead is P13 who is playing Jo in half of the shows.)

I thought I would give a few updates on some of the things I have been writing about recently.  First, I have figured out how to seat all 28 people in my dining room at Thanksgiving.  I actually had to resort to drawing it all out, but it should work.  I also have charts drawn up of what needs to happen when, and I think it looks do-able.

Next, I have started my hospitality campaign.  The week after Thanksgiving we have two couples whom we really like but don't get a chance to visit with coming over for dinner.  It should be fun.  Has anyone else bit the bullet and issued long-intentioned invitatio…

It's been too long without pictures

Some of the littles of the family:
G., L., and K.
G., L., and K., except now everyone is (sort of) looking at the camera

Bumbling after God

My young friend Molly suggested in the comments a while back that I share my testimony.  I'm 45 years old, so to share the whole thing would make for a longer blog post than even I typically write. It's still November, so I will share the part of my testimony that involves the adoption of my children.

Long before we had begun our adoption journey, I read the book L'Abri by Edith Schaeffer.  This is her account of when she and her husband, Francis Schaeffer began L'Abri Fellowship in Switzerland.  It is a powerful book and one I recommend.  But the one thing that struck me most forcefully while I was reading it was the part where their son, Frankie, contracted polio.  Francis was out of the country and Edith was left alone to deal with the situation.  A doctor informed her that he had developed a new treatment for polio, which if they acted quickly enough could save Frankie's ability to walk.  The treatment was not without risks, however.  Edith didn't have any…

Lists, lists, lists

As we begin our gallop into the holiday season, I have been thinking about ways to keep life under control while still having fun and enjoying the holidays.  Some holiday craziness is unavoidable.  At Thanksgiving there is a lot of cooking involved and if you are the host, some cleaning is probably in order as well.  This is the holiday I am focusing on right now (though always running through the back of my head are lists, lists, lists of what needs to be done for Christams.)  It is the easier of the two holidays, though for us, Thanksgiving is a lot more crowded than Christmas. We are hosting this year and there will be a minimum of 28 people sitting down (somewhere!) for dinner, with 17 of those being 18 and under.

So here are the things I am working on to make the holiday pleasant:

Food lists.  What we need for the actual dinner as well as for other meals.  I plan to make as much ahead over the next week as possible.  It would also be fantastic if I only had to make one grocery sto…

Doing a little advocating

As I have mentioned, H. is at a wonderful place called Shepherds Field Children's Village.  This home houses ~100 special needs orphans at a time and provides love, stability, and health care for them while they wait to find permanent homes.  For some this will not happen, either because they are not eligible for adoption or because the orphanage which holds their paperwork is not able to do adoptions or because the children reach the age of 14 before being adopted by a family.  A vocational center is being built in the village to train these children and give them a place to live.  I have been so impressed over the past year as I have become more familiar with all Shepherds Field does and look forward to being able to visit when we travel in the spring.

But along with getting to know about this wonderful place, I have also become aware of the children who continue to wait for a family.  These are children who have their paperwork completed and are available for adoption.  Current…

Read-alouds and the large family

I was asked a question yesterday about how we manage reading aloud to such a wide age group.  That is, how do we find books that interest children between the ages of 16 and 2.  (Can I just pause and say Hooray!  I don't have to think up a topic to post about?)

The simple answer is that we don't.  We don't really worry about finding just the right book that will appeal to everyone.  I look at choosing books about the same way that I look at choosing meals... I cater more to the oldest and let the littles come along for the ride.  More often than not, they rise to meet my expectations.  But also like meal planning, this is not true 100% of the time.  There are some times we will choose a book because it is good and we know the younger ones will like it, just as sometimes I will choose meals that I know appeal more to the younger set than the older one.  More often than not, the older children end up enjoying it just as much as their younger siblings.  Either because it'…

She is not afraid of snow for her household

That line would be from Proverbs 31.  And might I just mention that she didn't live in Chicago?  Where each child needs coat, boots, hat, gloves, and snow pants 

You would think I would know by now, having lived in the Chicago area for ~27 years, that the weather here is a little unpredictable.  Yes, we have been having a very mild autumn, but really that was no excuse for pretending that snow was not going to fall at some time.  As in falling yesterday afternoon with only light jackets hanging in the mud room.  All the winter gear is stashed in bags in the basement and I have yet to match each child up with the appropriate coat/pants/boots... that is assuming I have them.  There was a flurry of activity when children went running down to the basement to see what they could find to throw on to go outside.  I have a not-so-funny feeling that I am going to be needing to find some boots and pants.

A. and I are planning to pull everything up today after our history co-op and get it s…

Young thespians

Yesterday was the class performance of the acting class P. and D. have been taking.  They were working on an abridged version of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  P. was Susan and D. was Fenris Ulf, the head of the White Witch's secret police (who is also a wolf).  They did a nice job.

D. was particularly excited about performing.

P. removed her costume before I could get a picture of her.  We are now heading into an intense week of theater.  This weekend is M.'s final weekend of Hideous Progeny, about the Shelleys and Lord Byron and the writing of the novel, Frankenstein.  (I would hound you all to go to it... since they have received rave reviews... but it's sold out.)  Next week is tech week for A. in Little Women with her performances next weekend.  I hounded you yesterday about attending that show, so I'll hold off  'til next week to hound you again.

After an intense month of rehearsals and performances, the holiday season is looking more manageable!

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A. has been working on algebra, and while I really like the VideoText program I have her using, I realized that she was having difficulty with equations because she couldn't picture what was going on.  I remembered that I had heard of a manipulative program designed to teach algebraic concepts and went on a search.  I came up with the Hands-On Equations program.  A. and I have been working through it together, and I really like it.  (I can't say the A. 'really likes it'.  She is tolerating it and humoring me, but she can do it.)  I think the way they have devised for helping students see what is happening when they are solving equations is genius.  I know that A. thinks it feels babyish, but once we complete all three levels, I'm pretty confident that her abilities will take a giant leap forward and she will have no more trouble with what she is doing in her other program.  Besides, how can you not like a program which allows your child to easily (A. got it the fir…

A few thoughts on Pinterest

My children have been teasing me a bit this past week because of the amount of time I have been spending on the Pinterest site.  I know I'm a bit late to the party, but I'm kind of used to that by now.  I really have been doing research, though I'm sure my children won't believe me.  I've found some interesting projects that could be potential gifts and it is providing a place to store other projects and ideas I've found that I didn't want to lose.  It is definitely proving useful, but, you know what?  When it boils down to it, Pinterest is a little dangerous as well.

I think that anyone who spends any regular amount of time on it will be far more prone to envy, greed, and general dissatisfaction than those people who do not.  As I search for ideas to go on my Christmas lists, I also see what other people are interested in.  It's an interesting mix.  There are a lot of obscenely large and ornate houses.  There are a lot of really big closets filled with…

National Adoption Month... again

You knew it was coming, right?  My annual post about adoption and National Adoption Month?  I wasn't even sure I was going to write anything this year.  Ha!  I made it all the way to the 7th.

It was our pastor's sermon yesterday morning that changed my mind.  I liked the sermon, but felt that perhaps he didn't go quite far enough.  (Don't you find that sometimes you wish sermons were more of a discussion format?  Or is that just me?  I'm sure my children are thrilled that it's not.)  Anyway, he started out by mentioning the incident in China about the little 2 year old girl who was run over by the truck and no one stopped to help her.  (I know the video is all over You Tube, but I just can't bring myself to watch it... just knowing it happened is bad enough.)  Our pastor challenged us to not be bystanders when people are in distress.

That's all well and good, but I wonder if we are really aware of the distress around us.  I'm sure most of us would …


After doing some research, B. decided he could take the honey from the top super of his hive.  A fellow church member also kept bees at one point and had a honey extractor which he allowed B. to borrow.  What?  You've never heard of a honey extractor?  Here is what one looks like:

It is a hand operated machine which helps to separate the honey from the comb using centrifugal force.

First B. had to remove the wax caps from the top of each little cell which was filled with honey.  He started out using this scary-looking tool which heats up and melts the tops off.  That proved to be fairly tricky, so he ended up scraping off the caps with a fork.

The frames were then loaded into the extractor.  You can see it sitting in the basked waiting to be spun around and around.  The honey is thrown out of the comb and against the wall of the extractor where it then drops down the side, through a screen, and into the collection tank in the bottom.  It is a fairly time consuming process.  And st…

Dear New Mother,

Congratulations on your new little one!  You have just been part of one of the greatest miracles there is... bringing a brand new life into this world; a life that is completely unique and never seen before.  What an exciting time is in front of you... getting to know this new little person, being amazed at how perfectly she has been formed, smelling that 'new baby smell', and being overwhelmed with feelings which you never knew existed.  Caring for a newborn is truly a wondrous time.

But, it is also a time of immense change.  We who are already mothers tend to focus on the pleasant parts of the journey.  Having survived, perhaps multiple times, caring for a newborn (or two), there is a happy amnesia that seems to occur so that our memories are mostly pleasant when we think about those early days.  We remember how wonderful it was to nurse our babies, watch them sleep, hear the fascinating sounds they made, and watch  their funny and adorable expressions.  This is what we coul…

The Return of the Twelves

One of our favorite read-aloud books is The Return of the Twelves by Pauline Clark.  It is about a young boy who happens to find the set of small wooden soldiers which turn out to have been owned by the Bronte children.  Of course, there is much more to the story than that, but I don't want to ruin it for you.  It's a great opening to learning about a famous family as well, because the Bronte children did have a set of soldiers which they wrote stories about.
Why I am bringing this up?  Well, if you're like me, you suddenly realized that the gift-giving season is bearing down hard upon us and are starting to panic think about what your plan is.  I make a lot of the gifts I give my children, but there is a fine balance to be achieved between budget and the realities of time.  Since I have been trolling the internet these days searching for interesting ideas, I thought I would share one of my past ideas with you.  
I made these for B. about 11 years ago when he was five.  We h…