Showing posts from November, 2013


Just don't ask about my day. On the plus side, I got my hair cut, took a daughter for a physical, and dropped coolers off at a friend's so they can bring home our side of beef after Thanksgiving. But now it's 5pm and that's all I've done. Not picked up the medicine I need from the store (the parking lot was too full), not written the article that was due last week, not written a real blog post, not folded the piles of laundry, not packed, not ready to leave. (We have a house-sitter for the dog, otherwise I wouldn't be sharing this information.) It could be a very late night.

That's all. Just wanted to share. Life will be better once we have the van and trailer packed and we head out tomorrow. Along with everyone else in the country.

No, I'm not having a wonderful day, why do you ask? But you know what? Things not going easily today really don't matter and fall into perspective when you read your friend's blog post about her son's heart surge…

A little bit of this and a little bit of that

I'm going to be spending my morning baking dozens and dozens of rolls for Thanksgiving dinner, so you get a little bit of this and a little bit of that before the frenzy begins. 
Yesterday was one of those terribly nice days where everyone is fairly regulated and we received visits from many people we love. M. and B. stopped by after church so we got to see both of them. M. spent the day, but B. had to head back to school because he had to see a show for a class. We were also joined by P21 who stayed to help make pecan pies. 
So, we (me, M., P21, and HG) are all baking (or standing around the kitchen watching others bake) when P21 spies a pomegranate sitting on my counter. She says, "Hey! Can I seed this for you? I can do it in under 2 minutes." We all express gratitude that she would seed the pomegranate (we all love pomegranates, but do NOT enjoy seeding them) and amazement that she thinks she can do it so quickly. Well, some quick work with a knife, bowl, and wooden …

Sometimes parenting is hard

Yesterday was our planned monthly library trip. It is always a bit of a scramble to get everyone ready, find all the books, check them off the list so that we are sure we have them all, put them into bags and then get everyone and all the bags into the car. I sometimes wonder if taking my children to the library is worth it. (I evidently do, since I continue to take them... it's just that getting ready part I don't enjoy.) The scramble isn't helped when some small person is having a contrary day.

L. was not making the morning easier. Pretty much everything that was asked of her caused her to whine and scream. It was quite unpleasant. It reached a point where I had to tell her that a child who was behaving as she was did not get to go the library and gave her another chance to pull herself together. I'm sorry to say, she didn't take the chance offered.

Now, probably the best parenting advice you will ever receive is to follow through on everything you say. Do not ma…

Don't just sit there

There is another point I wanted to make in yesterday's post, but thought it better to save it for another day. (I tend to go on and on and probably leave most of you behind long before word number 1500.) So this is more of what I wanted to say to the women on the radio, though it is also a good reminder for the rest of us as well.

There are some things that stick with you from childhood. Possibly one of the most beneficial things I remember from my own is listening to my mother and grandmother remind me to not just sit there and wait for people to come to you. Do you want to make friends? Be the first one to go and introduce yourself. Do you want to do something? Then be the one to organize it and invite someone. In short, be the one to make things happen if you want them to happen. It was a powerful message.

This could explain why my second reaction to hearing that these women had no where to go for Thanksgiving was to wonder why they didn't gather up several others and fix a…

He sets the lonely in families

The prompt for this month's link-up at Hearts at Home is, "No more perfect holidays". I'm sure that most people blogging on the topic will speak to perfectionism and how it hinders true enjoyment of the season. This is important to think about and something I've written about my myself, but as I was listening to the radio while running errands yesterday, I heard something that made me want to take a slightly different tack.

The conversation I heard between a caller and the radio host was terribly sad. The caller was a divorced mother whose children were spending Thanksgiving with their father. Since she had no other family to celebrate with, she was going to be alone. The host then shares that she was in the exactly same situation. She had decided to make the best of it by going to serve Thanksgiving to women in a homeless shelter. The emotion in her voice made it clear, that while she was doing something to redeem her situation, being alone, without family or fr…

Crochet as benign neglect

As a piano teacher of many years, I am intimately acquainted with a phenomenon which happens when you teach children, particularly when you are working one on one with a child. This phenomenon would be the desire of the child to look for an answer to what they are trying to figure out by looking at your face and reading whether they are right or wrong by what they see there. Can't find a note? Look at the teacher's face as you poke around the keyboard until a glimmer of relief is seen and move ahead. I cannot tell you the number of times I have reminded a student that I don't have the notes written on my face and that it will be easier to find the note if they are looking at the music. I have become very adept at not giving away the rightness or wrongness of what they are doing through my facial expressions.

At least I thought I was adept, and I think for the most part I am, but even with all of my practice I still wasn't good enough at not giving away the answer with …

Let's talk about the siblings

A comment was left on yesterday's post about the difficulty of sibling relationships when one child is prone to rages. I will be the first to admit that this is very, very tricky and there are no clear cut answers to the difficulties. I had mentioned in yesterday's post that I thought living with a sibling who struggled had made my older children more compassionate. And I really do believe that, but the key word here is older. I think it is much easier for an older sibling to feel compassion than it is a younger or same age sibling. The combination of size and maturity changes the dynamics significantly.

But what about the relationships between a child who struggles and younger siblings? What can parents do to mitigate the effects of living with a volatile family member? It is something that J. and I struggle with and I'm sure we are doing it very imperfectly. I will share some of the things we have done/are doing, realizing that I don't have a definitive answer and wh…

Overwhelmed... with gratitude

I keep planning to write a post asking why we have it in our heads that we deserve our lives to be easy. I will still write that post, if only because I need to hear it myself sometimes. Today, though, I want to focus not on the hard stuff, but on the beautiful things in my life.

Because while there are some difficult things that we deal with, often on a daily basis, there are also the moments of wonder and beauty and hints of the redemption to come. I am firmly convinced that while I did appreciate the things which were wonderful before we ventured into the crazy life we live now, I think I appreciate them so much more because of the contrast. I am sometimes overwhelmed with gratitude and humility that I have been given this life to live.

It also does not escape my notice that so much of what is wonderful may very well have never existed without the hard things being there. I will never know for sure what decisions prompted others, but I can reasonably guess. You see, without that in…

Had so many things that he wanted to do...

"There was once a old sailor my grandfather knew Who had so many things that he wanted to do That, whenever he thought it was time to begin, He couldn't because of the state he was in."      -from "The Old Sailor" in Now We Are Six by A. A. Milne
This is one of my favorite poems by A. A. Milne. If you aren't familiar with it, it goes on for several stanzas about how the sailor was shipwrecked and all the things he should do in order to survive, but he could never decide on a proper order and thus ended up just sitting on the beach until he was rescued. If you add in many small children and take away the beach and the palm trees, this is my life.
I often feel as though I have so many things to do, but can never decide the proper order. Or, more truthfully, I begin one thing, move to another room because I need to, forget what I was doing, see something else which needs to be done, start on that which causes me to move to another room and the whole process s…

Cake Boss -- the local version

A. and P. have discovered The Next Great Baker show on instant play and have become pretty consumed with it. As a result, A. has decided that she really, really wants to learn to decorate amazing cakes. Since I'm always happy to indulge my children's varied interests, when I saw the student fondant kit at the craft store yesterday, I decided to give A. a treat.
After an afternoon of watching instructional videos, she was ready to bake and cake and get decorating. We decided she should make a Lady Baltimore cake with added Meyer's Lemon extract and lemon zest to make it a little more interesting. (It worked out very well.) Last night she baked the caked and iced it in buttercream frosting as she saw in her videos. This morning she tackled the fondant.  Here are the results:

I think it's pretty darn impressive considering this is her very first attempt. (That's fondant, not icing, covering the cake, by the way.) Don't you love seeing the different paths your chil…

A great big blank

is what I have when I try to think of anything to write today. I got nothin'. It could have just a little bit to do with the fact I decided to reread the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries by Dorothy Sayers and stayed up far too late last night finishing the one I was in the middle of. It makes one a wee bit blurry.

For example, the car J. drives failed its emissions test, so we had to take it to a shop to have it repaired. (Fun times, I tell you.) So this morning, J. drives the van to work. When the repair shop calls to say the car is done, I call J. and ask if he had a free hour and I would pick him up and he could get the car. He pauses for a moment and asks, "Pick me up in what?" It takes some time before I remember that I am carless for the day and cannot pick him up, nor do the errands I was mentally planning, either.

Since I've discovered that I cannot write when I am tired, I don't know why I'm even trying now. To add just a little content to this post, I…

Listening and doing

A few years back we were reading through the Narnia books with a new set of children who were ready for them. In Prince Caspian, there comes the moment when Lucy is aware that Aslan wants her to go a certain way, but after telling her brothers and sister about which way she believed they should go, they talk her into going another way. It turned out to be harder and longer than they thought. When they finally reach their destination, Lucy is confronted by Aslan and asked why she did not do what He had said. She was immediately ashamed.

And at the same time as Lucy's revelation in the book, I had one of my own. I, too, was immediately ashamed and later than evening sat down to write a letter of apology to a woman who didn't even know she deserved one. It was to a former pastor's wife. They had recently left the church and moved to another state and I know her time in my church was not going to rank as one of her favorite memories. I was writing to ask her forgiveness for no…

Junior high

We homeschoolers spend a lot of time and energy talking and thinking about worrying about high school, but we don't spend much time talking about the middle school years, which are possibly even more tricky to navigate. First, let me say that I really kind of like the junior high age. I was a junior high youth group leader (voluntarily) and loved it. Children that age are still enthusiastic like the children they are, yet are beginning to develop upper level thinking skills and are starting to ask big questions. You can see a whole new world opening up to them.

That said, it can also be an exceptionally difficult age, for both parent and child. Let's face it... 11, 12, and 13 year olds are really giant toddlers. Emotionally and developmentally they are all doing the same work. They are learning to be more independent beings and cognitive skills are making huge jumps. They see everything they want to do and want to be able to do it all. Right now. Or yesterday, whichever comes …

It fits! It fits!

I've been facing a steep learning curve over the years trying to make myself clothing that actually fits. I'm great with children's clothes, but sewing for myself has been an abyssal disaster. Too big, too small, too big and too small, too unattractive. It's as though two completely different people have been using the sewing machine... the competent one who can match fabric and patterns together to make something nice and the clueless one who churns out item after item that lands in the trash. I had just about given up ever sewing something for myself that I would actually wear and admit to making.

Then two things happened that made me try one more time. An older friend at church gave me some old skirts that she no longer needed and I saw some really cute skirts in the LL Bean catalogue and I really, really wanted. The skirts were plaid and I was suddenly consumed with the need for plaid skirts. At least one of the skirts that was handed down to me was a very nice pl…

You're so amazing - My National Adoption Month post

(I know for a fact that I've written on this exact same topic before, but there's always new readers and old posts are so hard to find.)

This is one of those comments that adoptive mothers (especially of more than one child) hear fairly regularly. I know it is meant as a compliment and I take it as one, but it's really not true. In fact, I would venture to say that most adoptive mothers who are raising children from hard places feel less amazing than at any other time in their lives. We live with ourselves and we know the truth.

You see, I'm not amazing. Really I'm not. I am just as human as any one else and just because I have many children at home, some of them a little tricky to manage, does not make me less sinful. If it does anything, it heightens my awareness of just how often I fail in a day. I lose my patience and yell at my children. I react when I shouldn't. I behave selfishly. I can be lazy... very lazy. I can be jealous and resentful, such as walkin…

Coordinating jumpers

It's been a good long while since I showed a bunch of little girl pictures. These are from last Sunday. The H-S family mom really wanted some pictures of them in these jumpers since her own girls wore them when they were all little. I love it when twinny-coordinating outfits just come out of the drawers. The jumpers were hand-me-downs, the shirts I made... just because, and the tights were already in the drawer. What I find most amusing about this series of pictures is watching L. (in teal) slowly warming up to the idea of having her picture taken.

The Folly

Can you believe that there is still part of the Big Ugly House that I haven't shared with you? Some parts are just too ugly for words, and most of those I skipped. But, a motivated 15 year old daughter is a wondrous thing and when she is an organizing whirlwind, well, just stand back. 
Let me introduce you to what we fondly refer to as 'The Folly'. (You know, folly as in eccentric British lord building misbegotten ancient ruins on his estate. We read a lot of British literature around here.) And folly fits. This was part of an addition to the house, probably in the 1920's when a small garage was attached on the side. There is pretty much nothing redeeming about the design of this addition. The folly is the room above the garage and it connect to the main house through a doorway in the living room. (We're nearly 100% sure that to add the garage they took down a wrap-around porch from the house.) Other than its ugliness, the other problem with this room is that it i…

Phase two

We just got back from the plastic surgeon's. (H's appointment this time. This fall I have been there every month... at least... just with different children.) He is really pleased with how everything is healing and assured me that even the little areas I was concerned about are doing just fine. We even get to stop the scar massage except by her mouth. H. will be thrilled.

As a result, the surgeon is on to thinking about the next step which is to remove the nevi on her forehead. This is slightly more complicated than it sounds because it is a two-step process. The first is to insert an expander under the good skin on the other side of her forehead, gradually expand it by filling the expander with fluid once a week through a port which will be under her hairline. Then, three months later have surgery to remove the expanders, cut out the nevi, shave some bone down, and stretch the new skin over it all. She will need two expanders, one for her forehead and one one the side of her …

Not paying bills

Well, I have been paying bills this afternoon, but the whole thing has been so painful that I have to intersperse the unpleasant parts with reading interesting articles I found on the internet. Some were so interesting, I thought I would share them with you. You'll also discern how much I was avoiding the bills by the number of links I'm giving you and by the fact that one of them involves football. This shows real desperation to avoid unpleasantness on my part.

Let's just say up front that some of them not all of my readers may agree with, but you have to agree that they are thought provoking. (And high blood pressure provoking if you make the mistake of reading the comments on some... take my advice and just leave the comments alone. 'K?)

So, without further ado.. my reading list for bill avoidance:

On child-bearing and number of children: Fecundphobia: the growing fear of children and fertile women
And if you didn't read it in the above article, the link to the …

That person

I'm going to say it all again, though I'm pretty sure that I've said this all before. I'm also going to take a chance and be that annoying person at whom mothers of young children have been sounding off at in the blogosphere in the recent past. (Hmmm... try to diagram that sentence.) But I think I'm in a unique position to do this.
More than once I've come across little tirades about older women coming up to mothers of young children in a store and (usually when the child is having some difficulties) reminding the younger mothers to appreciate every single moment because it all goes so fast. While meant in the best possible way, it seems as though these comments only serve to annoy the young mother rather than help to change her perspective. 
Since I live in both worlds. I have a few things to say about this. And you know what? My sympathies lie with the older women. On one hand, I have a 20 year old daughter who will be graduating from college in two more seme…

Pictures from a busy day

Yesterday, not only did we celebrate TM's birthday, we also had a field trip in the morning to the Schaumburg Regional Airport. I set-up the field trip on a whim in the summer and had no idea what to expect... but how often these days does one get to actually tour an airport? 
It turns out the reason we could tour it was that the airport is extremely small. The head of operations spent nearly an hour with us telling us about how airplanes, airports, and helicopters work and then we went and stood near the runway and looked at the planes tethered there. I'm pretty sure the mothers found it more interesting than the children. A. decided that taking flying lessons would be cool... and she pointed out that it would cost less than riding lessons. (She didn't really factor in the hour+ commute to get to the airport.)
As the P Family mother and I looked at the little, itty-bitty, teeny-tiny private planes, we realized that they were quite a bit smaller than the vans we drive... …

Costumes 2013

There's been lots happening around here. We'll start with this year's costumes and save the rest for another day.

First is L. as a cowboy.

And when you're L. and you're in a costume, you must pose. These were both 'cowboy poses'.
G. was a panda... and Pandy had to be in the picture as well, though he stayed home from candy gathering. It was far too wet.

K. (yes, it really is him under there) was The Hulk.

D. was a magician... he even had a magic trick he did at various houses. He discovered that a successfully done magic trick earned him an extra piece of candy.

H. was a butterfly. TM helped make the wings and she really loved them. That's her hair braided and with wire through it make the antennae.

HGbaby was butterfly and looked very cute, but left it on only long enough to have a picture taken and HG3 was Spiderman and had a grand time hanging out with The Hulk and gathering candy. Sorry I can't share pictures.

The only other person to dress up w…