Showing posts from April, 2012

From the bookshelf

Thanks to my Kindle, I have been doing some over-indulging in what I call 'brain candy'. That would be those books (light mysteries for me) which are entertaining, but that's about all they have to recommend them. They are not great literature, I read them incredibly fast (at most an evening or two), and I usually forget them as soon as I finish them. It is pure escapism and I will occasionally go on binges of doing this. (I have to say I can indulge to a greater extent with my Kindle because I am not constrained by running out of books and having to leave my house to stock up at the library.) It is not necessarily something I'm proud of, but sometimes it seems my brain needs a rest and I feel incapable of reading anything of depth.

At some point, though, I will pick-up whatever the current brain candy is, and realize that I have no desire to read it. I'm done. I've had enough. It's kind of the same feeling when you've been overindulging on sweets and b…

Just a typical Saturday

And why is it typical? Because I've started more than one project and left a trail of chaos in my wake. In my defense, it's that time of year when I look at the clothes my children have been wearing and realize that they have all grown and most of their clothes no longer fit. And if they do fit, they are fairly disreputable looking. So that means it's time to do the dreaded task of sorting through clothes.

The fact that the laundry hasn't really been caught up for a while just adds to the chaos. But this morning, I had enough done that I felt I could make a start. K.'s are pretty much all done. It had been a loooong time since I had really had to go through his clothes since he has been the same size for quite a while. And then we would receive hand-me-downs from friends and the clothes we already had did that weird multiply-thing and as a result, he had so many clothes they didn't all fit in his dresser and I discovered that many of them didn't fit. Hooray…

1000th post giveaway

Having alienated my entire blog readership with posts #997, #998, and #999, I will now try to reverse this by dangling the promise of free stuff in front of you. It hardly seems possible that we started this blog almost exactly 6 years ago while we were still a family with 5 children and waiting to bring home TM. To say it's been an eventful six years wouldn't begin to describe it.

In those six years, we have doubled the number of children in our family (including delivering full-term twins at advanced maternal age), traveled overseas three times and spent a total of 8 1/2 weeks in Asia, remodeled a good portion of our house, and have taken children to the doctor more than a couple of times. Also through this blog, I have met virtual friends who have become dear 'real life' friends, discovered I love writing, actually made a little money through that writing, and gained a confidence that I didn't have before. For better or worse, this blog has become a part of who …

Things I would rather not have to say, part 3

Now comes the fun part. (Hear the facetious tone in my writing.) I've written about how adoption is central to the understanding of the Gospel and how the church has very often bought in to society's idea that children are a burden rather than a blessing, and now we get to talk about money.

Yes, I know, the crickets are chirping and they're going to chirp even louder when I mention that we need to talk about money and adoption. Why does this make everyone squirm? It needs to be talked about. And it is a shame that we ever have to mention money and children joining families in the same sentence, but not talking about it hasn't worked.

So what is the current situation? Well, adoption is expensive. Really expensive. It's how it is and as much as we would like to have it be a money-free transaction it just doesn't work that way. Adoption agencies do a lot of work to make it happen, and they deserve to be paid for their efforts. The government always needs their sha…

Things I would rather not have to say - part 2

Yesterday, I wrote about how the church has ignored or misunderstood the centrality of caring for orphans to the Gospel, but I don't think that this is the only root cause of the church's apathy. I believe there are two other factors which are at play. The one I will discuss today is the church's prevailing attitude towards children.

The trouble with being in the world is that more often than not we start looking more like the world rather than the opposite. It is hard to go against cultural norms. No one likes to feel as though everyone else thinks they're nuts or, even worse, ignorant. Instead of gladly looking and acting very different from the world, we choose to blend in. This phenomenon is very apparent when it comes to the church's general attitudes about children. These attitudes tend to very much mirror those of the society around them.

And what does society think about children? Pretty much that they are nice in limited doses, but don't have too many …

When I hoped for a blog worthy topic, this isn't really what I had in mind.

I have some sad news to share with everyone. You all remember Joseph, right?

And that we were all so excited to hear there was a family who wanted to adopt him? Well, for various reasons, that family feels that they need to stop the process. Joseph once again is waiting for a family who will make him their son. He ages out in a little over one year. If someone were to start now, this is still a very doable thing. Is this your son?

(Just to clarify... the following is in no way in response to the family!  Just wanted to be sure I was clear.)

Of course all of this, and various other things which I don't blog about, have gotten me thinking, and I have to admit that I'm a wee bit teed-off about something. (That may perhaps be an understatement, you'll have to decide for yourself.) Every child who needs a family or some sort of stability in their lives is an opportunity provided by God to the church to act out in a tangible way the message of the Gospel. And in many, many ways,…

Large family food

Having just done the week's grocery shopping and because it was one of the reader questions I received, I thought I would share a little how I manage food for our crew. Plus, having had nearly two months off of having to cook every night has provided a much needed break and I find myself interested in cooking again. The adoption-insanity had really taken over right before we traveled and I was doing the bare minimum in the kitchen.

In order to feed our family, I try to go grocery shopping once a week. This shopping trip to the two stores a shop in on a regular basis (Aldi and a small independent store... Marketplace if you live in the area) and usually involves buying produce, dairy, and items I use on a regular basis. It is nearly 100% food purchases. I buy paper goods at a our local warehouse store, plus a few food staples (peanut butter, cinnamon, chocolate chips [yes, they're a staple!], and honey). More drugstore type supplies are purchased at a third grocery store which …

How I create a unit study -- using our Australia unit study as an example

I have been asked how I go about creating my own unit studies, so here we go. This could get long and if you have no felt need for knowing this, you may want to click on over to the next blog for today. I realize there is only a small segment of the population who needs, or even wants, to know this stuff.
I know that there are many, many (Ack! I can't help myself! This has become H.'s pet phrase and she uses it all the time... I find it creeping into my speech as well.) unit studies out there that you can either purchase or look at for free. And sometimes that's great if you are short of time or energy or find the perfect one. The trouble is, I rarely find the perfect study already planned out and I end up planning it out all over again anyway. Plus, I'm cheap and hate to pay for something that I could do on my own. I try to use the library as much as possible and only buy books if I absolutely can't find something elsewhere that I really need.
So, what do I do? F…

New dresses for little girls and new glasses for a bigger one

Thanks for everyone's words of encouragement. I am feeling better today and after having watched one of Karyn Purvis's DVD's last night even feeling a little hopeful about my boy.
A dear friend brought these sundresses for the little girls the other day and they wanted to wear them. G. is in the multi-colored dress and L. is in the blue one. G. also decided she needed to be wearing goggles and would not take them off. I have discovered the current best way to get pictures of these two is to bribe them with the promise of M&M's if they cooperate.

Yesterday, H.'s new glasses arrived. So far we have had no trouble with her being willing to wear them, so they must be helping in some way. I think it will be another day or two as her brain becomes used to the correction before we see huge changes in how she uses her eyes and how she moves about. I'm hopeful I will have some good news to report soon. The optician who fitted them did the best he could with a chall…

Some things are hard

I was going to take some time and write out how I go about planning unit studies, but that will have to wait for another day. Instead, today I have been taking care of my children. H. has her new glasses and so far she is happily wearing them. I will have more to report on that front after she has used them a little bit.

I have also bitten the bullet and made an appointment for TM. I love my boy so much, but something is just not right. I want him to be happy and joyful instead of anxious and so easily upset. It is difficult  for us to navigate his behaviors sometimes, but I imagine it is even harder for him to live with whatever is going on inside of him. I want to be able to help and I'm all out of ideas. I had no idea that making that phone call would be so difficult. I am just so sad about it all. Sad that I don't seem to be able to help him, sad over the time we've lost when perhaps I should have found him help sooner, sad that there are things in his past that have c…

Growing from a small family to a large family

Continuing to make use of other's questions... A reader commented, "I'd be interested in hearing about the transition from being a small family to being a large one." Or something along those lines.

I have mixed feelings about how to answer this. In some ways, very little seems to have changed in becoming a parent to an larger-than-average number of children, but in others, it has been such a monumental change, that I sometimes wonder if I'm the same person I was 15 years ago. What I mean is, there are some things about my existence that feel as though they are pretty much the same. I have the same children, just a few more and some of them are older (and that would have happened regardless, that aging-thing); I still do laundry, just a few more loads a week; I still cook, just do a lot more doubling; I still drive people around, just in a 15-passenger van. If you look at externals, things have just gotten bigger... cooking pans, laundry machines, cars I drive...…

Summer school

A question from a reader:  What do you do homeschool-wise in the summer? Do we keep up our schedule, take a break, or what?

If you haven't noticed, I'm back on to homeschool topics right now, probably because that's what my brain has been thinking about recently. The upcoming summer is a big part of that thinking because the nice, neat lesson plans I made in August are soon coming to an end. I won't make detailed lesson plans for summer, but that doesn't mean I won't have some sort of plan in place.

I guess I've come to terms with the fact that we do school all year 'round. It may look a little different from how we do school in the fall, winter, and spring, but we are still learning. Because for us, school and learning are pretty interchangeable. (Having now just tried to write a brief critique of the word 'school' and given up, I'll have to tuck that away as a possible future post. Emphasis on brief... something I'm not.) Learning does…

A Bible for H.

In the spring every second grader in our church is presented with a Bible with their name embossed on it and signed by the pastor. Since H. didn't spend her 2nd grade year here, she missed out on receiving her Bible, so the Children's Director ordered one for her with this year's group. We thought it would all be too much to ask her to stand up in front of the church with the second grade class and we wanted to make is special and not just hand it to her, so we came up with a different plan. 
Our pastor had us meet with him in his office after church on Sunday so he could present it to her personally. Our wonderful friend who has been acting as translator also joined us. H. may not be able to read her Bible yet, or even fully understand about this Jesus-person or why we go to church, but she knew it was a special thing.
Here is our pastor showing her the Bible and where her name had been written.

Here she is receiving her Bible. The little ceremony ended with H. giving the p…

The California gold rush

This semester we have been learning about the California gold rush as our unit study. You know, one of the reasons I love homeschooling is that I get to learn things I didn't know along with my children. (And I would be lying if said my own desire to learn about something didn't play into my choice of what unit studies we do. Of course, if a child has a strong desire to study something, that trumps my choice.) I have really enjoyed learning about the gold rush and realize I didn't know that much about it when we began. It helps that I've found some good books to go along with it.

It also helps that it lends itself rather nicely to some good hands-on learning. As we read more and more about it, I come up with a bigger list of these types of projects than I had when I did my initial planning last summer. So, some things I will be adding in as the weather warms up and we have less desire to be indoors and others I will make a note of in case we do this again.

Take last Th…

Special gift

A family friend (my mother's best friend... they met in grade school... who is so much like an aunt to me I've always used "aunt" to refer to her) made and sent these adorable aprons to the little girls. (She even made matching aprons for each of their dolls.)

L. (on left) and G.
L. (on left), who was put-out that A. had said no about something, and G.
L. (she recovers quickly)
I also promised our egg salad recipe to a reader, though it hardly counts as a recipe, as you'll soon see:

Egg Salad

Peel as many hard-boiled eggs as you will need and smash until they are in fairly small pieces.  Add mayonnaise (some), yellow mustard (to taste), and pickle relish.  If you don't have pickle relish we've also cut-up bread and butter pickles and added those or chopped a cucumber.  Mix well.

Sorry there's no exact measurements, but we do it by taste and sight and it's slightly different every time.

Also, I had to laugh at the comments on yesterday's post …

Forgot to mention...

I am one of the online hostesses tomorrow for Heart of the Matter's online homeschooling conference this weekend. I will be hostessing from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm Eastern time. The speaker during that time slot is Karen DeBeus and she is speaking on the topic, "Taking the School out of Homeschooling:  Homeschooling as a Lifestyle". There are also two half hour segments for chatting. So sign-up and chat with me so I don't have to spend the time playing solitaire waiting for someone to talk to.

You can find the information at:

Facing the day

So, I'm ready for something a little lighter, considering the amount of drama that swirled around here yesterday. I think there was drama involving every person in the family except H. and the little girls. (Ironic, isn't it, that the newest child and the twin toddlers each had a calm day and no one else did?) So by evening, after everyone was put to bed, J. made me a cup of tea and I relaxed with a good book which is my very favorite way to end the day. The trouble is, I enjoy it just a little too much... both the peace and quiet and the story. I want it to go on and on. And so it does, until it is just a little later than I meant to go to bed.

You can see where this is going, can't you? A late bedtime makes it that much more difficult to wake up in a timely manner. I'm a person who does really well when she has a good hour of quiet and a couple of cups of coffee to fully wake up and feel able to face the day. I have fallen into a bad routine which is making mornings …

The ethics of adoption

Yeah, right, like I'm going to cover that enormous and controversial topic in one blog post, even for someone as long-winded as I am. But I am going to touch on it. Unsurprisingly (at least for those of us who have been involved in adoption for any length of time), my article on homeschooling and adoption has been found by an anti-adoption advocate. Instead of engaging in the comment section of the article (I've never seen a 'comment war' turn out well), I'm going to respond here.

I will be the first to say that adoption is an imperfect solution to a significant problem in an imperfect world. Ideally every single child would be able to be raised by their biological family. But we all know this doesn't happen. For whatever reason, some children are relinquished or abandoned or are separated from their biological parents through death. They end up on the streets where they are prey to a whole host of social ills or they live in an orphanage without any permanency…


This is the language I am speaking a lot right now. Having left for China with a couple useful phrases ("I love you" and "hello" and "thank you"), my vocabulary has increased exponentially. (Of course given where I started from, I realize this isn't saying a whole lot.) I know pronouns, some verbs, and some adjectives, and if you were to see the list, they would tell you far more about my daughter than my language abilities. We all tend to learn what is useful and relevant and that is what I have done with Mandarin. Thus, I know the words for "spicy", because H. does not like spicy food and is always checking whether something is spicy or not before she tries it. I know "peanut" because H. loves peanuts. And I know the useful term, "bu shir" which pretty much means no.  And "bu" also negates things which can also be useful.

H.'s English vocabulary grows each day as well. (Far faster than my Mandarin vocabula…