Showing posts from December, 2011

Getting ready for the New Year

Just a quick post to wish everyone a happy new year.  We've spent most of the day cleaning and organizing and putting away.  It's just nicer to start the new year with a clean house.  On top of regular cleaning, the boys rearranged their room and we put up the third bed for H. in A. and P.'s room.  (It desperately needs some organizational help and I can't really see what room is available without all the beds up.)  It feels so good to walk around the house and see clear, empty spaces.  Ahhhhh....

Another reason for the cleaning is that we host a party every year for some of our friends and their children.  If you guessed that there will probably more than a few children here, you'd be correct.  It helps for things to start out neat.  The adults play cards (Hearts, mainly) and the children either run around and play together or play their own games.  I know M. is planning some serious game playing with her group.  (She... and they... are just a little bit competiti…

Saying good-bye to 2011

I told a friend the other day that I won't be sad to see the back end of 2011.  The obvious reason is that it will mean we are much, much closer to bringing H. home.  The other reason is that it has been a very uneventfully eventful year.  That probably doesn't make a lot of sense.  Let me explain.

On one hand, not much really happened.  We did a lot of paperwork, the children all grew and learned new things, we did have one go off to college, but we still see her quite a bit.  It was pretty much just a normal year.  Except that it wasn't.  Ever since we signed that first paper which would begin the process to bring H. home, there have been other things going on.  I have been made aware that we live in a spiritual realm like never before.  It is so difficult to explain without seeming to have gone loony.  I don't know what God has in store for us or for H., but clearly the devil does not want her to join our family.

It has mainly been myself who has been affected, but …

Nothing coherant

I don't know what we've been doing this week that J. is off work, but we've been filling our time.  Today we took everyone except G. and L. to the Tintin movie.  (It was a Christmas gift.)  We have been huge fans of the Tintin comics for years, with B. loving it the most, so we couldn't miss the movie.  I give the movie a thumbs up, especially if you know and love the comics.  (If you don't know them, I would strongly suggest reading a few first before you go.  You'll appreciate the movie more.)  They really captured the essence of the comic books and the characters.  It was just a lot of fun.

It turns out my sewing machine was not broken. That is wonderful, but, it also means I wasted a completely decent breakdown on something I could have solved myself by rethreading the top thread.  I had rethreaded the bobbin, but didn't think to do the top thread.  I should know better.  Learn from my mistake.

I love the Kindle which J. surprised me with for Christmas.…

Homemade gifts

Now I can show you what I have been working on all month.  You probably noticed the picture of L. wearing her wings in the last post.  I made a set of bird wings for each little girl, though L. has deemed them butterfly wings, and I have a feeling that is what they will be.  (I shamelessly copied all my gifts this year from other bloggers.  To give credit where credit is due, I'll link back to each original set of instructions.)  Here is a picture of one.  I changed the original instructions a bit on these.  I made the feathers out of felt and sewed them on instead of gluing.  I also wasn't so thrilled with the idea of tying them on around the child's neck, so I changed that a bit and made it so that they tied around the upper arms.

Here you can see the underside.  I kind of liked the the rows of sewn feathers ended up looking a bit like wonky quilting on the underside.  You can also see how the ribbons are attached and the little loop of elastic for a finger to go through…

Christmas 2011

We've had a lovely holiday.... here are a few pictures.  I'll start with Christmas Eve.  Here are G. and L. in their new dresses waiting for the Christmas pageant to begin.
L. (on left) and G. (on right)

Everyone was involved in the pageant in some fashion except for the little girls and myself.  J. was one of the directors, M. was working a spotlight, B. was running sound, A. was stage crew, P. was a shepherd, TM was singing in the choir, D. was an actor in the opening story portion, and K. was a billy goat.

The pageant always begins with a short play.  This year it was adapted from a short story by Tolstoy about a poor shoemaker who has a vision in the night that the Christ Child was going to visit him the next day.  The small family finds what gifts they can to give to Him and they wait.  As the day progresses, they are visited by several people, all needy, to whom they give the gifts set aside for the Christ Child.  At the end of the day, after no anticipated visit, and all…

Making room in the inn

Well, our house isn't exactly an inn, nor is it terribly difficult to find extra room in it, but think of the title as figurative.  In the flurry of last minute preparations that I need to take care of today, I have a little more shopping to add to my list.  A member of our church found out about a group of African exchange students who attend her daughter's college.  This group of students are currently spending their winter break in the lounge of one of the dorms on campus because the rest of the dorms are closed.  (I actually find it more amazing that even one dorm on campus is open than the fact they are living in a lounge.)  They are all Christians and had no one to celebrate the holiday with, so the church member decided to do something about it and find them homes to go to for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  We agreed to take one of the students.

I can't even imagine hosting an 18 year old student and not having some things for him to open on Christmas Day (especi…

We have won a major award!

It is not 'frah - gee - lay' and it was not delivered in a huge crate, but we won it all the same.  Here is our award... it was sitting on our front porch waiting for us to return from the orthodontist:

Yes, we won a 12-oz can crusher.  It's from our fair city and the note attached informs us that our city sanitation employees were monitoring everyone's recycling and refuse and they thought that we set a good example of exemplary recycling based on the quantity and quality of material in our recycling bins.  They even placed a sticker on our recycling bin to let our neighbors know of our achievement.  We're so proud.  (And so happy to see our tax dollars at work.)

In other news, with M. home, the boys have been entertained.  K. requested a house today that he could play with, so M. whipped this up:

That girl loves hot glue and cardboard.  TM was inspired and created this.  (M. helped only with the actual hot glueing.)  TM also requested that I tell everyone that he…

Christmas preparations... or baby Jesus found!

We're getting closer to being ready for Christmas.  Our tree is up:

And baby Jesus has been found.  (Hooray!  Thank you, TM.  Now I can show you pictures.)  These are the nativity dolls I made years ago which live under our tree during December.  Early on we decided that we would not put presents out early.  It was a too-great temptation for toddlers, plus by having wrapped gifts to stare at for weeks, it would shift our children's focus from celebrating the birth of Jesus to "What am I going to get?!?"

No, I know there are no shepherds, sheep or angels.  I even have the patterns for a couple of them, but over the years have never got around to make them.  What I should do is get it all out in the middle of July and do them then.

We also have a more traditional creche.  It is carved stone and was made in Vietnam.

And some other decorations.  What's the point of having a staircase like this if you don't do something with it?

But really, what I have been doing …

Bill paying as a spiritual discipline

So, no pretty pictures of our Christmas decorations today, either.  We are still searching for baby Jesus.  He is a part of the soft doll nativity set that I made years ago when M. and B. were little.  Well, not surprisingly, G. and L. immediately loved them, with G. loving baby Jesus best of all.  For the first couple of days she would go nowhere without 'her' baby.  She would hold him and talk to him and make sure he was tucked into bed with her at night.  It was quite sweet and probably a great concrete representation of how we should think about Jesus.

But, also not surprisingly, the baby Jesus doll has gone missing.  We have searched high and low and he is no where to be found.  This morning when I asked the girls about it again, G. informed me that L. had put it in her pocket.  This could be possible.  He is small and could fit in a pocket and I am a little behind in the laundry so it's quite possible the item of clothing which may or may not contain baby Jesus could…

Best intentions

My plan all day was to take some pictures of our house decorated for Christmas and share them with you.  Obviously I never got around to it.  It's kind of how this whole month has gone... me having great plans and then never having them materialize.  I'm taking deep breaths and reevaluating what actually needs to get done and what is optional.  It probably won't surprise you that more and more is becoming optional.  It's not dire, just a case of biting off more than I could chew.  My free time with these small girls is not as extensive as I imagine it to be sometimes.

I've also come to a great revelation.  (Maybe everyone else has already figured this out, but it's new to me.)  I don't have to do everything in the month of December!  Now, I already know I don't have to do everything, but some activities I have so tied to the month of December that it really didn't occur to me that we could do them at other times.  Take gingerbread houses for example…

Homeschooling and the holidays

I haven't written much about homeschooling lately, mainly because there isn't much to write.  Up until this past week we were following our normal schedule.  And since it's just what we do, it hardly seems worth writing about.  Last week was the end of my scheduled lesson plans.  I knew that I would be entering the 'frantic sewing phase' of the season and it was no use fighting it.  As a compromise, I scheduled end of semester projects for everyone to work on.  That way our schedule would be more relaxed, it would be a change of pace, and we could still call it school.  (Well, I call just about everything school, but you know what I mean.  I think.)  I have never done this before because I had never planned in so much detail before.  I'm glad I did.  By planning over the summer it allowed me to think about what would work for summarizing what we've learned.

This week everyone is working on creative writing.  As this involves computers, everyone is happy.  T…

December outing... or doing some large family myth-bashing

Yesterday we went to the Chicago Botanic Gardens to see the Wonderland Express exhibit along with our good friends the P family and H-S family.  I've written about these two families extensively before, but if you are new, the extra initials in the alphabet soup I'm usually serving up may be confusing.  So, a thumbnail sketch.... the P family has 8 children (we watched some of them while their parents were in Ethiopia adopting numbers 7 and 8) and the H-S family has 7 (they watched our children the last time we were in Vietnam and will do so when we travel to China).  These are very, very good friends and our children have known each other nearly all their lives.  If you were counting, that gives us 24 children between the three of us, though some of them are grown and either on their own or in college.  Consequently, we all have heard comments about the unworkableness of large families.  Since each of our families works quite well, we wonder where these beliefs come from.  We…

College work

M. came home briefly last night so that she could see the one acts which B. was in.  (B., by the way, did an excellent job.  I am always amazed when I watch my children on stage at their comfort at being there and their ability to transform into someone else.  Blaine will be in You Can't Take it With You the last weekend of March.  Block it out now... but I"m sure I'll send more than a couple reminders.)  M. also dropped off one of her completed (and graded) projects which she did for her theater production class.  I thought it was so cool that I asked her permission to share it with you.
The assignment was to create a stage set for a fable.  Her fable required a small bedroom and a garden.  When you look at the pictures, you need to know that this is tiny.  The scale is 1/4 inch to a foot.  She also had to create the stage itself.
First the bedroom:

Then the bedroom is removed and behind it is a beautiful garden:

(Sorry, M., I took out one figure, but didn't notice the …