Thursday, June 30, 2011

Strawberry picking

Yesterday we headed north and went strawberry picking.  It was a beautiful day... sunny but not too hot... and there were plenty of ripe strawberries. 


L. was very good about holding the basket for me to put the berries in, though she liked them all to one side and screamed if we tried to even it out. 


K. did some picking, but was a bit unclear on the concept of what we were supposed to be doing with the baskets.  He would pick a berry, take a bit or two, and then store the rest in his basket.  The bottom of the basket was covered with strawberry tops and partially eaten berries before I realized what he was doing.  (And, yes, he needs a haircut desperately.)


G. was very much excited by the eating process.  And she didn't care what color the berries were.  She would carry her basket, pick a couple put them in the basket, and then sit down and eat everything in her basket plus whichever berries happened to be growing in front of her.  It's no small wonder she wasn't very hungry when it came time to eat our picnic lunch.


D. (above), TM, P., A., B., and M. were all very hard workers and picked and picked berries with nary a complaint about being too tired or too hot or too... anything.


A. found a heart-shaped strawberry.  Which she then ate.


We ended up filling six of these baskets.  It was a good morning's work... if only it stopped there.  But when you bring home that much very ripe fruit you have to do something with it.  B. and I spend a good part of last night making six pints of strawberry jam which took care of one of the baskets.


I plan to turn another basket into jam, freeze two more baskets as whole berries, and then eat the rest.  We started this morning by having strawberries and cream for breakfast.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cleaning out

While I'm busy cleaning out my house in anticipation of this weekend's yard sale, I'm going to clean out my brain and dump it in this post.  Here is a list of short things that I meant to post about, but never did for one reason or another.
  • If you happen to grind your own wheat, you should really invest in some soft wheat to use as pastry flour.  I've been using mine to make pie crusts (and anything else that calls for white pastry flour) and it is very yummy.  But don't make the same mistake I did.  A while back I posted on the Ordinary Time facebook page that I had a pie crust disaster.  I think I figured out the cause.  Because when you make pie crusts, everything should be cold to keep the fat from melting and not mixing well with the flour, it is NOT a good idea to grind your soft wheat and then use it immediately to make pie crust.  It doesn't work.  (If you don't grind your own wheat, you have to understand that the flour is warm when is it freshly milled.)  You should also know that even if your flour is chilled, the whole wheat will take a significantly less amount of water to mix the crust together than white flour.  I think this probably adds to the yumminess of the crust... because it's just a bit shorter.
  • A while back we grilled chicken and used a Sriracha BBQ sauce recipe I found over at Owl Haven.  Sriracha is a hot chili sauce that we affectionately call "Red Rooster Sauce" here because of the rooster on the bottle.  The sauce out of the bottle is very spicy, but the BBQ sauce wasn't spicy (we all actually wished it had just a little more heat) and had a wonderful flavor.  I highly recommend trying it.
  • Is there any way to constructively give advice to a parent in a grocery store when you see she is having trouble with her toddler and you KNOW what you have to say can help?  No, I didn't think so either, so I didn't.  Some days I can't wait 'till I'm a little old lady and can say whatever I want.  Nicely, of course.
  • I have these illusions that summer will be filled with long, lazy hours when I can indulge in long periods of reading or sewing.  Who am I kidding?  There is very little difference between our summer schedule and our schedule the rest of the year... except perhaps I get less done because I'm mentally functioning in vacation mode for three months.  I think I need to re-evaluate my internal perceptions of what I expect out of summer.
  • There are several stages of the learning to read process.  The first is when the child starts to sound out simple words, the second is when they can read easy readers, laboriously sounding out each word, and the third stage is when they learn to read fluently.  In my experience, this can only happen with lots of practice and the key to getting this practice is to find a book (or series of books) which the child is interested enough to read to keep slogging through and thus build up enough practice.  I can name nearly every book that was the key for each of my readers.  For some it happened earlier and it was an easy reader (Piggle and Who's a Pest by Crosby Bonsall) for others it was later and a chapter book.  TM is the later version, but the books I've finally found that have really grabbed his interest are my old Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series.  I read the first one to him and he loved it and is now willing to read every third page to me.  I predict that by the end of the book he will be reading fluently enough to read the rest on his own.
Well, that's my completely disparate list of things floating around my head that never made a complete blog post.  If I could have sold them, I would have saved them and set them out in my yard on Saturday with the rest of the contents of my house.  At least that's what it feels like.  How in the world did we accumulate so much stuff?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Graduation

Last night J. and I took out two oldest children out to dinner to celebrate M.'s graduation from high school.  (I wish I could take credit for the idea of going on a date with our older children, but must give credit to Lisa at A Bushel and a Peck for the wonderful idea.)  M. decided she didn't really want to have a graduation party, but going out to a nice dinner sounded appealing.

A. stayed home with all the littles, but invited a friend to have a sleepover so she would have an extra pair of hands.  M. chose a tapas restaurant near us and the evening was so nice we were able to walk there and have dinner outside.  It was lovely.  It also was lovely to be able to enjoy dinner with just our older children.  Let's just say it's a completely different dynamic when the youngest person at the table is 16.  I think J. even gave some inspirational words of wisdom to make it seem more graduation-y.

I still find it a little surprising that M. is old enough to be done with high school, but at the same time, she has been mature for so long that there is also a small part of me that is surprised that it is happening only now.  I'm excited to see what she does in the future.  And I've been OK with the thought of her living on campus... which I know is shocking to everyone.  But, she will be fairly close and I imagine I will be seeing her now and then.  That's not to say I won't miss her.  I will.  But I also don't feel as if I am somehow losing her either.  M. has proven herself to be mature and responsible, able to handle college classes, and loves her family.  Sometimes when a child goes off to college it's with the goal of getting away from the family and having a chance to become a different person.  While M. will continue to mature and grow and develop new interests, I don't see her as biding her time until she can finally get out from the yoke of her family and do what she wants.  I would feel much differently about her going off to college if I felt that is what was going on. 

And (because I can't help myself), since we have always homeschooled, I have been blessed with the opportunity to spend so much more time with my daughter than I would have had otherwise.  All those hours she would have been away at school, I got to enjoy with her.  I can honestly say I'm sending her out into the world with no regrets.

Monday, June 27, 2011

I think I'll start calling it 'Dinner schooling'

That's because some of our most interesting discussions happen at the dinner table.  Take last night, for example.  I had read an editorial in the paper earlier that day about the dismal results of a study that was done on the level of historical literacy.  Whenever I read articles such as this, my children know that the quizzing will begin.  I'm always curious if my children know the events and people that are referred to. 

I'm happy to report that my children did indeed know who Abraham Lincoln was and why he was important, that they (well, at least one) knew what some of the advantages the American patriots had over the British redcoats, that the phrase "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" came from the Declaration of Independence and the date that document was signed, and that they found the statement that Louis Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon laughably ridiculous.

We were all a bit stumped over the question of which country was an ally to North Korea during the conflict (it was China if you're curious... we had a strong contingent lobbying for the Soviet Union).  Jonas Salk was a name that stumped everyone, though now they know he discovered the vaccine for polio.

All this to say, a significant amount of our learning happens at dinner (or lunch or breakfast), when we are all eating together.  And while we may start off the with a particular question, that question inevitably leads down other paths and explains why we can start with Abraham Lincoln and end up discussing accents and the question of why the former mayor of Chicago doesn't pronounce "th".

It also explains why my children will be working on memorizing The Gettysburg Address this summer.  (And on their end, it's not for some noble desire to imprint great words and ideas on their hearts.  It's because I've offered one large chocolate bar to each person who can successfully recite it to me by the end of August.)

I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again.  Eat dinner together as a family.  Enjoy each others company.  Learn and discuss things together.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Steak salad with goat cheese, caramelized onions, and pecans

This is the salad I made up for J. for his birthday last week.  It was very, very good (if I say so myself) and I wanted to share the recipe with you.  (Plus, then it will be written down somewhere when I forget what I did.)  This is also great for anyone who might have steak in their freezer, yet not enough to feed their family.  It's a great way to stretch it.

Here's the recipe:

Steak (any cut, amount depends on how many you're feeding and/or how many steaks you have... we cooked three)
Romaine lettuce (figure one large head per four people)
Goat cheese (though blue cheese would be yummy, too... I used ~7 oz)
Pecans, about 1/4 cup

Grill the steak(s) ahead of time.  We rubbed some seasoning rub that we had on them, but that's not necessary.  When cooked, set aside to cool.  Slice one or two onions (I did two) and saute in some olive oil.  When they are starting to wilt and become translucent, add a couple of teaspoons of sugar.  Continue to saute until the onions are brown and caramelized.  Set these aside to cool.

Before serving, fill a salad bowl with enough romaine lettuce to feed your group.  Crumble the goat cheese into the bowl.  Crush the pecans into small bits and add.  Add the onions as well.  Dress the salad (recipe below) and toss.  Slice the steak into thin strips (against the grain) and add to the top. 

We used a mustard vinaigrette to dress it.  This recipe is from The New Basics Cookbook (one of my favorites).

1 TBSP Dijon mustard (we didn't have Dijon, so used hot mustard instead)
3 TBSP white wine vinegar
1 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper (we halved this since the mustard was hotter than called for)
3/4 C olive oil

Place the mustard in a small bowl.  Add the vinegar through pepper and whisk well.  Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking constantly until dressing is creamy.  Makes 1 cup.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Power

The electricity in our neck of the woods was restored last night... 24 hours ahead of what was scheduled.  I can now go back to just sticking dirty dishes in the dishwasher and start to tackle the mound of laundry which built up.  It's also nice to not have the interior of the house quite so dim.  It turns out, that even though you would think my kitchen is a bright, sunny place, in realty, it is one of the darkest rooms in the house.

I have to admit that part of me was a little disappointed the power came on early.  Having no internet and no major appliances really slows you down.  By last night I was feeling pretty relaxed (especially since I knew our frozen meat was maintaining the appropriate state of frozen-ness in a friend's freezer).  We had started to like the look of candlelight and I was immediately struck by the low level of noise that began immediately upon the power coming on.  I hadn't realized how quiet everything had become.

The two things I found I missed the most were the microwave because I have developed the tendency to nurse a large cup of coffee or tea and just continue to warm it up when ever it cools off too much.  Without a microwave I would have to do a better job of keeping track of my mug and not loose it every half hour or so.  The other thing I missed was listening to music.  This surprised me.  I knew I listened to the radio and played CD's, but I guess I wasn't aware of how much I enjoyed doing so.  If the outage had continued, I think I would have been driven to play the piano and dust off my skills a bit... just to hear music.  I hadn't connected how hearing music was fulfilling my need for music and probably playing into how little I actually play anymore.  (I know the other factor is sheer lack of time.)  It was an interesting realization.

It also makes me much more aware of how much time we all spend using the computer.  I need to rethink our policy of keeping the computer on during the day.  Perhaps having two designated times during the day where I check email and do whatever writing needs to be done is the way to go.  Having the computer off and not just closed would certainly go a long way toward breaking the computer habit.

What we did do the past couple of days was to completely empty the school room and reduce our book collection by about a third.  School books will now be housed on the third floor, though getting that organized will happen later in the summer.  J. and B. also pulled off the panelling which was put up on one wall to hide crumbling plaster and then they knocked down and bagged all the plaster.  A. and P. have been busy sanding away (with masks, of course) at the trim to ready it for painting.  J.'s next project is to put up new wall board where the plaster was removed.  We managed to make quite a mess at the moment.  A. is so anxious to move in that she keeps urging us to the next step.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In the dark...

[J.--posting from a nearby coffee shop.]

Ahh, life off the grid!  Literally... off the grid... since the power went out last night.  And the electric company's automated phone system informs us that it may be Friday night before we are back on the grid.  Ironically, the laptop has plenty of battery power and the phone line works... but the modem/router must be plugged in.

Let's count our blessings:
  • So far, everyone enjoys life by candlelight.  
  • It was pleasantly cool today, so we kept the doors and windows open.  
  • We bought enough dry ice to keep the freezers cold for now.  
  • The stove is gas, so we can still light the burners by match.
  • I'm off work this week to do some home renovations, and today's demolition work required no electricity.  (Apart from the cordless sawzall!)
  • Spaghetti for dinner.
 Anyway... don't expect many posts for a day or two. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Many birthdays

Sorry for the late post.  We have spent a good portion of the day emptying out the school room in anticipation of moving A. and P. (and eventually H.) into it as a bedroom.  But I digress.  Last nigh we celebrated B.'s, G.'s, L.'s, and D.'s birthdays.

The trouble with birthday pie is that it is impossible to put candles on it, so we hold them for the person to blow out.  Here's G.:


And L.:


And D.:


B. did not want to blow out candles and he didn't really want us to sing to him, either.  But we did.

Then it was time for presents.  G. and L. enjoyed opening their gifts.


And playing with them.


Sometimes it was a bit chaotic.


And sometimes there were quiet moments.


It's always interesting to see what someone else is getting.


And sometimes your mother, after checking the time, tells you to keep on moving and look at the gifts later.


Today is also J.'s birthday, so we'll have more pie.  And tomorrow is our anniversary, so we'll continue to clean out the school room... and have more pie.  Do we know how to celebrate, or what?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy birthday, D.!

I know that this is a shocking two posts in one day, but the bee swarm was too good not to share and today happens to be D.'s 8th birthday.  D. is my most gregarious child and he collects friends as easily as the rest of us collect... well, anything.  He is charming and friendly and has a very tender heart.  It's probably why he's so good in the friend department.  In addition to these wonderful attributes, he also has a fantastic memory combined with a love of story.  This means that he is often regaling us with play-by-play accounts of whatever story he has just listened to or read.  (I will add for some brothers and sisters, this is not necessarily one of his most endearing traits.  Having siblings helps to teach patience.)

We will celebrate tonight and also do an official celebration for B., G., and L.  There will be lots of presents and for my two fall birthdays, I imagine they will each have a brief Frances moment.  ("That's the way it is, Alice.  Your birthday is always the one that is not.")  Doing it this way saves on the amount of pie I have to make, because, conveniently, all the June birthdays (at least those who have an opinion) prefer pie to cake.  I will be sure to take pictures to share with you all, just in time to celebrate J.'s birthday tomorrow.

So, happy birthday my darling boy.  I love you very much!

Bee swarm

On Saturday afternoon TM and I were in the kitchen when he calls my attention to the bee hive.  I go and look and see bees pouring out of it and flying in a huge mass that looked to be four stories tall.  B. happened to walk by at that point so I asked him if the bees should be doing that.  His response?  "I think they're swarming."  When I asked what one does about that, he replies, "I don't know."  We find the number of a person who collects swarms and B. calls him and is giving a lot of helpful information.

Now, before I continue with my story, I feel I should add to your store of bee knowledge.  Bee hives have one queen who lays all the eggs.  If the colony starts to feel it is growing out of its living quarters, a new queen is allowed to be born and this queen leaves the hive, taking about half the population with her and they go in search of a new home.  This is what happens when bees swarm.  B. thought he had been providing enough room, but it turns out he should have been adding more room, more quickly.  Swarms are not dangerous, although they look a little menacing, mainly because they have no home to defend.

B. didn't want the swarm to just leave because 1) those are his bees 2)  those bees make honey and 3) it would be possible that they would decide to set-up house on someone elses house which would then most likely mean they would be exterminated.  (This is not good as there is a honey bee shortage.)  If at all possible he wanted to contain the swarm.

The bees settled on a branch of a tree in our yard.... it just happened to be 30 feet in the air:



What to do?  Well, step one was get the extension ladder.  It reached far enough to get B. to the branch below where the swarm had settled.  Here is B. heading up the ladder with the 5 gallon bucket that he is going to try to knock the swarm into:


You may not be able to see the pictures of B. in action.  I was shooting right into the sun... most inconvenient of the bees to settle that way.  If you look closely, the dark mass on the left is the swarm,  a ways below it is the orange bucket that B. is holding and B. is wearing a white shirt in the bottom right.  He had to stand on the ladder (24 feet in the air), hold the bucket with his left hand and grab small branches with his right while shaking the branch in the hope of having the swarm fall into the bucket.



He successfully managed to get half the swarm into the bucket, but couldn't be sure that the queen was with them.  Since the bucket was so heavy, he decided to come back down the ladder and try a new plan.


The bucket of bees:



Back up the ladder he went, but this time armed with a long pruning saw.  He managed to cut the branch containing the swarm off and lowered it down to J.

The branch with the rest of the swarm:


B. looking to see if he can find the queen:


J. helping out by carrying the bee laden branch to the back yard.  (The whole thing was made more exciting by the street festival which was happening a block away which meant the traffic on our street was very heavy both with cars and pedestrians.  I would say about half the passers-by noticed the bees... and there was more than a little concern from some.)  So, the back yard seemed the better place to continue the great queen hunt.

Currently the swarm is housed in a much-expanded hive and B. is hoping that by using his queen excluder, he will finally be able to manage to find the queen.  Why all the fuss about the queen?  Well, hives can only have one queen.  Since he doesn't have a second, empty hive, the queen population needs to be reduced by one if he wants to keep all the bees in residence.

I have a bracelet I sometimes wear that says, "Motherhood = Adventure".  Yup.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Smile

You know the phrase, "If Mamma ain't happy, no one is happy"?  Well, the converse of that is also true, though perhaps not as easy and natural as letting a bad mood or attitude rule the day.

For the past four months a friend of mine and I have been hosting a discussion group once a month to watch a video by Nancy Campbell on Reclaiming Biblical Womanhood and then to discuss it.  It has been interesting and useful and I will miss the discussions.  The last session was on 'Reclaiming Attitudes' and one of Mrs. Campbell's seven points was to smile and rejoice even when we don't feel like it.  Especially when we don't feel like it.  This was also one of the points which brought up the most discussion.

Why is it so hard to choose joy?  Is it dishonest to 'put on a happy face'?  Why don't we ever think to pray to ask God's help in changing bad attitudes?  Why does it sometimes feel as though we enjoy wallowing in yuckiness?  Do we really want to change?

These are all good questions.  For me the single most interesting and useful comment was my friend sharing the idea she had heard elsewhere of being a thermostat for the emotional atmosphere of our homes and not a thermometer.  Think about that for a moment.  A thermostat is what regulates the temperature... too cold and it turns on the heat, too hot and it turns the heat off.  The thermostat is what regulates.  A thermometer on the other hand only reflects what the temperature is and can do nothing about changing it.

How often do we as mothers allow ourselves to only reflect the mood of the house, which, at least in my home, is often a direct result of my own mood.  And then when things start going south with bickering children and chaos at every turn, too often I allow things to escalate further by lumping more anger and self-pity onto the smoldering fire.  On really bad days the inevitable end is many children are sent to bed and me crying and feeling sorry for myself behind a door somewhere.

I dislike days like that.  I dislike how I feel afterward; I dislike how I feel about my children and home; I dislike having that memory of the ugly mother lodged in my children's heads.  I want to me a thermostat and be proactive about the tone of my home.  But the kicker is that I have to choose to do it.  And because we are promised God's spirit lives within us, we have amazing power available to us to make the change, but we have to at least open the door.  That's why I titled this post as I did.  Just a smile can often be enough to help us change our current attitude.  I don't think we mothers smile enough... we get caught up in our jobs and busyness that we forget to put smile on the to-do list.  Are we really being a good advertisement for the best job in the world?

So I'm offering a challenge (one I plan on taking up as well):  I'm going to make it my goal to smile at my children at least once every hour.  I know I don't like it if someone I live with is always frowning (whether purposefully or not) and I can't imagine my children enjoy it any more than I do.  Who's with me?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Welcome to Who-ville

From yesterday afternoon.  L. is in green, G. is in blue.











Today I will be re-acquainting myself with my sewing machine and work on making a blouse for A. using all my new-found knowledge of fitting.  I want to see if I can make it actually fit her as opposed to sort-of fit her.  I thought it might be easier to fit on another person rather on myself.  Plus, she really needs the blouse.  Do you know how difficult it is to find appropriate clothing for a 13 year old girl?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

No pictures because my little girls were too busy being scientists

That's what the little certificates say... G. and L. are now officially baby scientists.  This morning J. and I took G. and L. down to his school to participate in a psychology study about children and language.  It was really easy because the study was using eye tracking to study language acquisition (or something like that) and so the girls each watched a three minute video while their eye movements were video taped.  Afterwards they were each presented with a 'Baby Scientist' certificate and a new book.  (The book was by far the most popular of the two items.)  What was most fun for me was just being out with J. and the little girls by ourselves.  Trust me, this doesn't happen very often.

To make a nice morning, we then went to a Vietnamese bakery and picked-up some banh mi sandwiches and headed to a park for a picnic.  G. and L. had a lovely time eating and swinging and playing and greeting everyone who walked by.  And they looked particularly cute in their twirly dresses, black Mary Janes, and pigtails.  They each had two pigtails on top of their heads which tend to stand straight up.  Think Cindy Lou Who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas... just like that.  I really need to teach them to say, "Santy Claus, why?  Why are you taking our Christmas tree, why?" while they are still not more than two and before their hair grows longer.

(ps If you are on or near the north side of Chicago and have a child around the same age, the study is still going on and they are looking for more little scientists to participate.  Email me for more information.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Happy Birthday, B., G., and L.!

Today B. turns 16 and G. and L. turn 2.  Where did my babies go?  Really, it was just yesterday that the girls were born and just the day before yesterday that B. was born.  Time goes too fast... when you're looking back on it.  I know there were nights when the babies would not sleep that felt like eons and I remember feeling that same way when B. was a baby and spent the first six months of his life wide awake.  It sure would have helped to know that they would each become such terrific sleepers eventually.

I don't feel as melancholy about this 2 year old birthday the little girls are celebrating as I thought I might.  I will certainly miss their babyhood (and having 2 two year olds will provide enough challenges to keep me occupied), I don't feel as if I missed their babyhood.  I think I am far more melancholy about missing B.'s babyhood.  Let me explain.

The wonderful thing about having babies #8 and 9 is that you have either raised, or nearly raised a whole host of children before them.  Having watched my first few grow up, I am very aware of how fast it all goes and how much I will miss each stage after it's over.  I have had the experience (more than once) of looking at pictures or watching movies of my oldest when they are younger and knowing, just knowing, I didn't appreciate it enough.

It's difficult when you have just littles.  First, they require a lot of care and there is a limited amount of help they can give.  But more than that, with my first few, I was aware of wanting them to get to the next stage.  It was exciting to see what they could do and reassuring that they could grow and mature.  I remember being a little impatient with they're babyness... even if they were cute.  B.'s babyhood and toddlerhood is a bit of a blur, and it's easier to remember the hard things rather than him sometimes.

With these little girls, I feel as though I'm relishing each and every stage... even the loud or sleepless parts because I know when I look back, the whole thing will seem so short.  As a result of this, I also think I am learning to relish the other stages my children are in as well.  I won't ever have this specific group of ages and children ever again and I'm going to enjoy it for all it's worth, quirks of each child and all.

So, happy birthday to my three birthday children.  I love you all more than you can know.  B., I'm so proud of the young man you are becoming and can't wait to see what paths you lead us down next.

We'll do a small celebration tonight, but the big celebration will happen next week (along with D.'s birthday) when everyone is home from camp.  Maybe I'll have some pictures to post tomorrow... just to hold off complaints.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It's just stuff, right?

I am spending the week sorting through stuff in the basement, particularly the area where I store children's clothes.  After 10 years here... and 9 children... the amount of clothing is staggering.  Also, I have so much of it that it is not useful because it is too difficult to get what I need and I'm out of space to store anything new.  While I firmly believe in reusing clothing (it has saved us bundles of money over the years), it has now become a burden instead of a blessing.  In an effort to clean things out and raise some money for H.'s adoption, we are planning a big yard sale later in the summer.  Cleaning out everywhere is step one.

I will admit that I am the biggest part of the problem.  While I am quite able to give away many things, clothing my children have worn is very difficult for me, particularly the baby things.  On some level, it feels as though I'm giving away a piece of my children to give away something they've worn.  Rationally I know this is nuts, but sometimes it's difficult to override emotions.  And with the baby things, giving it away is acknowledging that we are done with that phase of life.  The whole thing is an emotional mine field.

But, the problem has reached such epic proportions that I am compelled into action.  I also love having everything neat and organized, so it's as if two parts of my brain are at war.  I while ago I made a personal commitment to only keeping things that I loved and made me happy and stop keeping things for any other reason.  The room in the basement has stopped making me happy long ago.  So, with the help of A. and her friend H., we are working on the room.  And I'm being very brave and am moving out boxes without even looking in some of them.  If I know I don't have any boys smaller than K., why torture myself, right?

I have suggested to J. that perhaps it would be better if I wasn't present on the day of the sale.  Everyone is a little worried that I will snatch something (or many somethings) out of someone's hand telling them that they can't have it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Off to church camp

Three children were successfully delivered to church camp yesterday.  We always make an event of it (when I'm not busy having babies, that is.)  We all go up, get everyone settled, play a bit and stay until camp officially starts, then head to a restaurant with our friends the H-S and P. families, finally coming home with very tired children.

Here is D. in front of his cabin... this is his first year to go to camp and excited doesn't even begin to convey how he was feeling about it.


P. at her cabin.  She's an old hand at church camp.  She has some girls she really likes in her cabin and I think it will be a fun week for her.


This is also the first year I am sending a counselor... here is M. in front of her cabin.


Two of M.'s very good friends are also counselors... A.L. of the H-S family and P19 from the P. family are also at camp this week.


Here are P17 and B. (holding L.) while they wait around to head to dinner.  I wish I would have thought to get a picture of these two boys playing horseshoes.


K. seemed to enjoy the table tennis paddles... this was some sort of interpretive dance... I think.


Here's TM entertaining himself with the table tennis balls:


And there were four girls who really wished they were going to camp but were too old to be campers, but too young to be counselors.  I'm missing P12, but here are P15, A., and H (from the H-S family).


The campers will return on Saturday, with many stories to share, I'm sure.
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