Showing posts from January, 2013

Off to the library

First, the important stuff... the giveaway winner. Using a random number generator which picked "1", the first commentor on the post wins the book, so that means Kim Crawford is our winner. Kim, I have your address, so I'll send it out the next time I head to the post office. But, don't look for it before next week... our temperatures are supposed to go into the single digits and the post office is a walking errand for me.

Now, on to the topic at hand. There was a question on the facebook page about how we decided to allow our 9 year olds on up to go to the library unaccompanied. I thought the discussion might be of general interest, so I'll also share my answer here as well.

I've written before about our wonderful branchlibrary which was just a half block from our house. Oh, how we loved that library. We were in there often and the librarians knew each child by name, and when a child ran out of books to read (a common occurrence), then that child could just …

Mental real estate

I was planning for the past couple of days to write a post expounding upon my inherent laziness. I hadn't been getting much done and figured there had to be a reason for it and laziness won. Now, I do have lazy tendencies. (And don't try to convince me otherwise or else it will feel like the gifted teacher in grade school who would try to tell me I was too hard on myself when I said I hadn't done a very good job on something. I knew I hadn't tried my hardest and had done a slap dash effort and really wondered that the teacher couldn't see it for what it was worth.) If I have a choice to sit and do something or get up and do something, sitting will nearly always win. And if I can get someone else to do it for me, well....

OK, so back to my original musings about why I wasn't getting things done. Really, other than the bare minimum, not a lot of extras were getting done around here. But then this morning, as I was drinking my first cup of coffee and listening to …

You can't have it all

That's true, you know, whether you choose to accept it or not. And for the most part, we don't like the fact. We don't like the idea that we can't do every single thing we think we want to. We don't like the fact we often have to choose between two good things. We don't like the fact that having made one choice, it affects what choices we are able to make in the future. Since we can't have it all, we try to do little bits of a lot of things instead of focusing on doing just a few things well.

And it is something we pass on to our children, too. I can't count the number of times I have been working with some children's activity where the children involved only show up to some of the events because they have multiple events for multiple activities scheduled on the same day. Why is it so difficult to tell the child they must pick one or the other, but they can't do both because they cannot be in two places at once? Why can we not model this for our…

Hey, look, I made a camel!

Now, that fact I made a camel might not necessarily be blog-worthy news, but it is if you consider how long this particular camel has been cut out and waiting to be put together. Want to guess? Well, if your number is a single digit, you're wrong. I cut this camel out at the same time I made our other nativity dolls, but just never got around to putting him together. I even packed-up and moved the cut-out camel when we left the charming, tiny house to live in the big, ugly house. I would imagine that this little guy has been waiting to be put together for approximately 15 years. Talk about satisfaction at finally finishing a project!  Here he is:

I'm sure the wise men next Christmas will be thrilled with their new mode of transportation. One child, who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent, did wonder out loud if we would know where the camel was when Christmas rolled around again.

In other news, Gretel had the last of the stitches removed today, thus ending our 4+ we…

Radical hospitality (plus a book giveaway)

J. and I spent our morning today at a Safe Families training. I and a friend had helped to organize this training with the hope that people in our church and community would agree to be a Safe Family. While we can't actually be a Safe Family (it's a matter of number children in the home... DCFS regulations and all... it's all part of being 'outside acceptable parameters'), having now taken the regular training, we can take the further training and become a coach for active Safe Families. Plus, we can also open our home to any teenage mothers who are over 18 and need a place to go. It will be a new adventure.

But there was something in the training which I wanted to share with you. In the section dealing with Biblical hospitality (one of my favorite areas to read and think about, by the way), there were some interesting quotes. Here they are:

"The Christian writer Tertullian (AD 200) wrote, 'It is our care of the helpless, our practice of loving-kindness tha…

The trouble with being an autodidact

If you aren't familiar with the term, it means, "self learner". It's one of my favorite words, and I think it describes me pretty well. If I want to learn something, I teach myself, or find someone who can help me learn what I want to know. There are times that I briefly (very briefly) ponder the idea of going back to school to get a PhD in something I'm interested in, but I realize that it really isn't the degree I'm interested in, but the book lists.

I know that there are some things that can be gained by taking a class that can't necessarily be gained by doing ones own reading... the input of the instructor, discussion with other students (assuming they have done the reading and are interested). I'm pretty sure that exams didn't help my learning in grad. school, so I'm not going to add those to the list, and I tend to write copiously on my own, so I don't need someone to assign me papers. The other thing that a degree can give you i…

Gone too much

It's Thursday and this is my first day in over two weeks where I haven't had to go somewhere. (I though perhaps I would get to stay home last Thursday, but I made a trip to the ER instead.) And my house is looking the worse for it. It's not that I'm gone all day, for the most part just an hour or maybe two each day, but it adds up.

I have discovered something about myself. When I'm home, I have a rhythm to my day. I can move from activity to activity without rushing and generally manage to accomplish the things I had planned. (Maybe I should have written 'thing', because really if there is more than one item on my to-do list, I won't be getting it done.) But when I'm out, I lose my rhythm. If I know I'm going to be leaving in 15 or 20 minutes, I am hesitant to begin something that I know will take longer, so bigger projects aren't started. Then when I get home, I find I need a re-entry time to collect my thoughts and reorganize my thinking f…

Swallows and Amazons

I haven't written about any books recently, so I thought I would mention the book we are reading to the grade schoolers at bedtime. Have you ever read Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome? This is our (J.'s and my) second or third time through it, and I like it just as much each time. It is the first of a series which chronicles the adventures of a set of siblings in the Lake District in England. In the first book, the family moves into a house on a lake where the children discover a sailboat and receive permission to sail the boat to a small island in the lake and camp there for the summer. Without adults. The oldest is ~14 years old and the youngest is ~7.

Each time I read it there are two things which strike me. The first is how imaginative and well-read all of the children in the story are. Their play is based on the literature that they have read and they take great joy in playing out the stories they've read. There were no screens for them to prefer and they knew h…

People I admire

I have some pretty amazing friends. Though when I say amazing, I need to qualify it, because I know how it feels to be called amazing when you know you're really not and you are just doing what God has led you to do. It's not that the people God calls are amazing, but that God is amazing and enables His people to be like Him.

But still, it's a pretty big calling that they are following. Both of these families have adopted children whose life expectancies are shorter than usual. One family, the Greens, have adopted many children, and their youngest, a baby who was discharged out of the hospital and straight into hospice care, is in the process of moving to Heaven. (I wrote about their first baby they said good-bye to in Celebrating a very short life.) Don't make the mistake of assuming that this is easy for them, or easier for them than it would be for any one of us, I don't believe that for a moment. But they are so convinced that every single child deserves the lo…

Blessings upon blessings

As you may have intuited from Saturday's post, the weekend was not without its drama. I have been consciously working on focusing on what is good rather than visiting over and over the yuckier stuff that happens and my fears and worries associated with it. Because really, if I believe God is in control, and that He is good and has my best interests at heart, then He's got the yucky stuff taken care of. My worrying about it doesn't help, and the worry and obsessing really do steal my joy from all the really good things in my life. I miss out on recognizing all of my blessings, and that is a lot of missing out because my life is full of them. What is one blip when compared to these things? 
K. decided to get into a crafting mode and created these superheros. The orange-guy I'm told is The Thing and the green guy is The Incredible Hulk. I think they are pretty amazing. 

Gretel is doing better. She was back at the vet's this morning to have the drains removed and all …

Picking up the pieces

My knees hurt as I kneel on the floor picking crayons, markers, and other craft supplies out of the garbage. Above me, sitting on his bed, is my son who is sobbing great, big, heart-wrenching sobs. Picking up and repairing the broken objects is nothing new, but the emotion that accompanies the destruction this time is different, and almost more painful to witness. The deep, deep hurt is still there, but it is moving from blinding anger to gut turning grief. Other than silently be with him, and help restore his possessions and his room, there is nothing I can do. Nothing that is, except pray that God touches the broken places within him and fills my boy with healing, peace, and joy.

And I realize that my kneeling by the trash can is a vivid picture of what raising this child is like. My knees ache from falling on them in prayer, despair so often. And when the break downs happen, I carefully pick-up the pieces, hoping to retrieve the whole pieces and leave the broken things. Someday I h…

Living an inter-generational life

I touched on this briefly in an earlier post, but we live in a very age segregated world these days. I think it is one of the worst things to come out of modern schooling, and one that very few people discuss and comment on. We are conditioned from an early age to only interact with people our own age and stage of life. We herd children together in grades and give them very little chance to meet and befriend children of other ages. (Yes, I know I'm speaking in generalizations and that there are exceptions.) I've heard more than once complaints from mothers who arrange a play date for a child and have those children refuse to play with a younger brother or sister. "We're third graders. We can't play with little first graders." Or some comment along those lines is often overheard.

It is one of the things that I have really appreciated about homeschooling. I have loved watching my children have friends of all ages. The idea that they can only be friends with peo…

The 'shoulds' of life

Well, I'm writing this post a bit later than I expected to today. Instead of the nice calm day, and the first day in a week where I didn't have to go anywhere, I got to take a child to the ER which is always fun. Today's patient was G. At a little after 11 am this morning, she was playing with L. and stood up under my desk chair. That would be the same chair that has round metal underneath the arms and G. managed to hit the edge of the metal with her forehead right above the eyebrow. Of course it bled profusely and after looking at it I realized that she would be getting stitches. It was fairly long, on the face, and the clincher was the sides of the wound were pulling apart... my personal benchmark for whether or not to pick up the car keys.

All went well and G. was a fantastic patient. She lay very still for four stitches so they didn't have to use the papoose board (for which I was grateful) and afterward she happily ate a Popsicle. I'm sure the treat had a lot …

Loving and fixing

This older child adoption-thing can be full of the unexpected. We have been working on helping H. develop some muscles. Any muscles, really, at this point we're not picky. Her lack of muscle tone took me completely by surprise when we met her. To just look at her, you wouldn't guess the weakness, but as we live with her and watch her do (or not do) things, we have become more and more aware of the extent of the lack of muscles in her body.

Much of what we do involves just living life. To go anywhere, you have to be able to get in and out of the van. You build muscles every time this happens. If your job is to put the clean dishes away, sometimes you need to stand on a chair. Getting on and off the chair builds muscles. If you want to play with your brothers and sisters, you need to keep up with them. Active play builds muscles. And so does opening your medicine bottle and putting on your clothes and carrying up your laundry and helping to carry groceries and vacuuming a rug, a…


I frequent several places online where homeschoolers discuss homeschooling... have their questions answered, to share experiences, and perhaps let off a little frustration. In one of these forums, often new or relatively new homeschoolers tend to frequently post questions. I am always amazed at what these new homeschoolers think is an appropriate amount of work for a 6 or 7 year old child.

Now I've homeschooled my fair share of 6 and 7 year olds over the past 15 years, so I'm sure you will not be shocked when I say I have some to some fairly strong opinions about this. First, 6 and 7 year olds are still pretty little people... they tire easily, their brains are not yet wired for academics, and need to have a lot of large muscle movement. It is not a recipe that lends itself to a lot of sitting and writing and reading. In fact, I believe that trying to fit these little people into that mold is what contributes to the new homeschooler's frustrations.

I know the push in publi…


That's what this post is going to be today because that is how I am feeling. The day started off well enough, but then something happened and I lost control and now I feel as though I'm trying to keep up with too many different things all at once.
First I'll start with what I was going to share with you on Saturday night. Except I didn't because I was too tired. One of my friends from childhood (since first grade if my memory is functioning) was in town for a conference and had yesterday free. When she asked if there was anything from Arizona that she could bring me, I requested really good Mexican food. Well, she couldn't bring it, but she volunteered to make it. Even better! We had a great time catching up and cooking and eating and spending time together. 
It was also pretty funny, because to watch my children watch her, you would think that no one ever cooked in my kitchen. Maybe it was the novelty of someone other than their mother cooking, but the six younge…

Just one of those days

Not every day goes swimmingly around here, and I certainly am not the model of calmness and rational parenting. In order to try to be honest about what life looks like, both the good and the bad, I wanted to share my day yesterday.

It started off well enough. Everyone got dressed and ate without drama. I had already planned that I would work on taking down the Christmas decorations and I would send the children upstairs to tackle the third floor which can explode like nobody's business. So that's what we did. I only had to make one trip upstairs to remind everyone that if they spend their time being concerned about who is not doing their fair share, the room will never get picked up.

Oh, and there was also another vet visit for the dog. We noticed that Gretel's stitches and the skin around them were not looking good (you can thank me for not sharing a picture), so J. called first thing in the morning to get her an appointment and graciously offered to take her in for me. T…

Twins, virtual and actual

I'm putting all the Christmas stuff away today and it is not a job I enjoy. In fact, I've managed to put it off for nearly a week past when it usually all comes down. I also keep finding things to do in the middle of it so I can avoid it even more. So, why not write a blog post on a tricky subject while I'm deep in avoidance mode.

There are few subjects which meet with such strong opinion in the adoption world as that as virtual twinning. Now, my non-adoption-world readers are probably saying, "Huh? What in the world is that?" So, some definitions first. 'Virtual Twinning' is the name (or one of the names) used when a family adopts a child into their family who is the same or less than nine months different from a child already in the home. Thus, they are twins, but not in the biological sense of the word, just the chronological. By that definition, when we adopted TM, we created virtual twins with him and D., who is 8 months younger. When we adopted H., …

Learning there is comfort

I'm reminded once again that parenting a child adopted at an older age is much more a process of unlearning and then relearning how to function in the world. Because of living in less than ideal circumstances, these children have learned very well how to survive in them, but this survival mode does not lend itself well to living in a healthy family atmosphere. What our biological children have learned to do without even thinking about it, our adopted children must be actively taught.

Take this morning for instance. H. and I were practicing her reading. (Boy, those different vowel sounds can be tricky!) I happened to glance at H.'s hand where I saw a rather large place on the inside of one finger that was obviously healing from some type of cut. I immediately asked her what happened and she, in a rather ashamed sort of way, told me that she had hurt it on a pencil sharpener. I can only imagine that in trying to sharpen a pencil with one of those small hand pencil sharpeners tha…