Showing posts from June, 2015

When life gives you lemons... or kale

A good friend has a deal with a local company to pick-up their food that they aren't using and which would have been thrown out. When it is a particular large amount, she will bring some over to us. This week was a particularly large amount, which is why I found myself with a garbage bag of kale sitting on my kitchen table this afternoon.

Now, my children like kale chips as much (or more) than the next person, but even they cannot eat that many kale chips and I certainly couldn't find someone willing to turn them into kale chips. Not wanting it to go to waste, I spent the afternoon blanching kale to freeze.

See that spider? That would be the long metal utensil sitting on the bowl. I bought it at my local Vietnamese market and use it for everything. I actually don't know how I cooked before I bought one.

All that kale was turned into 64 cups of kale that is now in my freezer. I'll use it to throw in soups or sauces or in pineapple peanut stew. I'm also considering t…

Difficult to explain

Number of days IL has cost us with our daughters: 87

There are just no words.

Now, I know in the great scheme of things, 87 days, nearly three months, is not that long of a time. For instance, those three months leading up to Christmas every year go by at the speed of light. The three months of summer tend to zip by as well. (The months of January, February, and March, not so much.) In the course of a life time, three months is just a drop in the bucket.

I get that.

Yet, if you are separated from a loved one, three months is a long time. And it's not that those three months are the only part of the wait, they are just leading up to the actual wait which itself can take six months. Then there was the two or three months of the actual home study process... Those three months have pushed us to at least a year of waiting to bring our daughters home.

A friend, trying to wrap her head around adoption commented to me on my use of "my" daughters in reference to R. and Y. It asto…

The very hungry caterpillar

By chance I came across a little tiny monarch caterpillar on one of the milkweed plants last week, so of course, I brought him in. Having learned the hard way last year that it is important to wash the milkweed leaves thoroughly before letting the caterpillar eat them, he has thrived. In fact, having done this a time or two before, I would say this is the hungriest caterpillar we've ever had. Usually, I can get away with giving a new leaf once a day. Not with this guy. Recently I've had to change his leaf twice, sometimes three times. He eats so much. And if I don't provide him with new leaves, then I find him crawling all over the windowsill to search for new leaves on his own.

The little people love him and so had to name him. G. and L. were standing there when I first brought him in and at first suggested something mundane such as stripey. However, my two youngest are anything but mundane, so not being content with the first suggestion, stood there a thought a little lo…

In which I amaze and astound you with my photographic prowess

We went strawberry picking today and picked 7 baskets, which I think are 14 quarts. It wasn't too hot and not too sunny, with only a drop or two or rain. Really, rather ideal weather for berry picking. I threw my iPod in my pocket since I thought it would be easy to use to take pictures.

In theory it was. I whipped it out of my pocket occasionally and took some pictures. I couldn't really see what I was taking because the glare made it hard to see. Evidently, I haven't quite figured out where exactly the camera is on the silly thing. This one is the best... it's L. (Who, by the way, was a terrific berry picker, outlasting nearly everyone.)

(I'm including these others because I like to make my children laugh. And believe me, they will laugh... so will you.)

Here is K., or is it G.? It's hard to tell. I took one of them both, but they both look like this... a nice picture of my finger.

Here's another one of L.

I guess you can tell that the glare wasn't so…

Birthday gifts for canning fun

I had a birthday earlier this month as well, and wanted to show off my birthday gifts.

Isn't it beautiful? (Thanks, Mom and Dad. They don't even know what they got me as they sent a check.) It's 7.8 quarts and made by Lodge. It also weighs possible more than K. I have a smaller dutch oven that I found at a rummage sale several years ago, but it always feels just a bit too small for the amount of food that I am preparing. This should take care of that problem. It should also make some wonderful jam, which is another reason I bought it. Now, I just have to figure out where to store it. It's a tiny bit huge and the weight would not be good for my pull-out cabinets.

The dutch oven purchase was inspired by these two books which I had checked out from the library. I fell in love with both of them and now own them. They are Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry by Cathy Barrow and Saving the Season by Kevin West. (Due to my recent computer disasters, I haven't yet found…

June 2015 Birthday Bash

We have a lot of celebrations in June... six birthdays and one anniversary. Then when you add in various camps, trips, graduations, weddings, Father's Day, well, it gets to be a bit much. Which is why the past Saturday found us celebrating four birthdays at once. It was the only day everyone was free, what with camps and such. We sang Happy Birthday four times; to G. and L. who turned 6, to D. who turned 12, and to B. who turned 20.

and B. (with TM)
And we did presents for four people.
L. and G. (Sorry for the photo quality. I was using my iPod and I haven't quite gotten the hang of it yet. Much to my children's amusement and bafflement.)
L. and G. received desks (that needed to be put together) from their grandparents. Can you tell L. is a little bit excited?

D. received a camera from his grandparents. He is also a little bit excited.

Of course, there were the audience members watching.

Well, B. wasn't really an audience member, but I don't have any pictu…

Home from church camp

On Thursday I made the drive back to the Iowa/Illinois border to return my niece and pick-up TM and P. They had a grand time... baby goats, little teeny tiny kittens, trampoline. TM has said more than once that he wants to go back, his aunt and uncle's house clearly being far superior to his own. His aunt and uncle's dog being far superior to his own. His aunt and uncle's garden being far superior to his own. You get the idea. I would say it was a terrific first time way from home for more than an overnight experience. Now, if we can all just survive the re-entry. P. had a good time as well, and I'm a little surprised that she didn't smuggle one of the new barn kittens back in her bag. When I asked her about this, she wisely pointed out that it wouldn't be safe with Gretel, the terror of any small furry mammal which happens across her path.

Then yesterday, J. made the trek north to Wisconsin to pick-up D., H., and K. A fantastic time was had by all and none of …

Back online for real

Number of days lost with our daughters due to the horrid IL adoption system which could be fixed by Gov. Rauner's signature: 76

After two weeks of computer issues, I think we're all back to normal. There were a couple of times I thought we were, but evidently I was only online long enough to write depressing or inflammatory posts and then disappear again. I hope things, computer and otherwise, will all take a turn for the better now.

And what did you miss while I was hiding in the last century? Well, quite a bit. First, we hosted the rehearsal dinner for AL H-S followed by her wedding and all the festivities which went along with it. We took H., K., and D. to church camp. All three were very excited and in the pictures we've seen look as though they are having a great time. (A huge thanks goes to our church for making it possible for H. to attend by making sure she had an aide for the week.) The next day I drove to the Iowa/Illinois border to drop P. and TM with my brother…

An open letter to Governor Bruce Rauner

Dear Governor Rauner,

I would truly love to know who died and made you God. The adoption community is roiling with rumors that you will choose not to sign HB 3079, the adoption reform bill, which would bring the state in line with just about every other state in the Union. Instead, for reasons of your own, you are purposefully choosing costly (which the state cannot afford) bureaucracy. We're in Illinois, though, Land of the Political Machine, and it makes me wonder. It makes me wonder why DCFS, who has historically managed to table all previous adoption bills of the same nature, chose to remain neutral on this one. It makes me wonder if there are friends and relationships that we do not know about and so they knew they could rest easy, even when the bill passed unanimously in both House and Senate. You really can't blame me for wondering. Back office deals happen with regularity in our state, regardless of one's political affiliation.

Forgive me if I am creating rumors of…

Trying to be positive

Number of days we have lost with our daughters due to the abuse of the State of Illinois: 71

I will admit, being positive is proving to be extremely challenging at the moment. If you have a spare minute, maybe you could call the governor's office and urge him to sign HB 3079. I'll even spare you having to click... Springfield is 217/782-0244 or Chicago is 312/814-2121. Please? This is just insane.

So I will do my very best to put all this horribleness out of my head and enjoy the wedding of AL H-S this afternoon. I will really, really try.

I'll also post some links to my most recent published articles. They will be a change from having to read my continual whines.

Preparing for the Future

Top 7 Things I've Learned About Myself Because of Adoption

10 Tips for Integrating a Challenging Child into Your Family

Not the best few days of my life

I won't spend a huge amount of time complaining, but I've had better weeks. Here's the list so far:

1. My old computer officially died. Blue screen of death. Wouldn't start. Our repair guy gently suggested it would cost more to repair it than to buy a new computer.

2. USCIS (immigration) is insisting that our home study needs to have another state approval before they will look at it and issue our approval. This despite the fact that the changes in our home study don't really change anything. Even better? DCFS, in an effort to be "fair", doesn't believe that our home study should be taken out of turn and have dutifully put it in the bottom of the stack. That would be the stack which contains at least a month's worth of back-logged home studies waiting for their own approvals. I will stop commenting on this particular subject because it will either make me burst into tears again... or use very bad words... or both.

3. That was yesterday afternoon, …

Too busy

I don't like busy. I don't do well with busy. Busy makes me want to crawl into bed, ignore the world and read a good book. But, I'll be the grown-up and not do that. Yesterday was the state homeschooling conference which I really needed to get to in order to shop for next year. Then, after a two hour slog home in rush hour traffic, it was a wedding rehearsal dinner. Today, after teaching this morning, it's getting ready for a wedding. Then in the coming week, I have more trips downtown for more dossier stuff and getting ready for another big wedding next weekend. The wedding is immediately followed by three children going to church camp, which will require packing at some point. The day after the church camp drop off will be a trip to the Iowa/Illinois border to do a little child swapping with my brother, with a return trip on Thursday. TM and D. then leave the next weekend for Boy Scout camp.

Whew. You'll understand if the blog falls by the wayside.

They are all g…

The post where you get to learn another adoption acronym

The acronym of the day is...


These are not good or happy letters.They stand for "Request for Evidence" in regards to our immigration application. That would be the immigration application we need the approval for before we can complete our dossier and actually start the clock for the official waiting to bring R. and Y. home.

But wait, it gets better. Because it is a niggling thing about our home study, there is a chance that USCIS won't accept the two additional words that need to be written in and will insist that it have a brand new DCFS approval attached to it. Remember how much fun that was that last time?

Yeah, so do I, and I just want to cry.

It all has to do with fulfilling to the absolute letter the Hague requirements. That would be the convention the US signed onto with the purpose of making adoptions more ethical. It was a grand motivation, too bad it hasn't panned out. In my humble opinion all it has done is make adoption more expensive, more time cons…

What do stay-at-home moms do all day?

I saw this question asked in a forum I'm a member of, and was at first taken aback. After I had thought about it, I realized that it might not be evident to everyone, especially if you are home for the first time after always working out of the house or if your mother worked and you saw no modelling of this choice at home. I forget what a complete life change it can be. With that in mind, I decided to tackle it. (Plus you know I'm always on the lookout for blog fodder.)

Right off the bat, I need to first voice my unhappiness with the term, "stay-at-home mom." I know lots of people use it both to describe others and self-identify, and that's fine. I know it is mainly a phrase used to communicate that a mother doesn't work outside the home. I get it. But I still really don't like it because to my ears, it is just a wee bit pejorative, as in, here is a woman who doesn't have anything important to do and so just stays at home. It is why I far prefer homem…

It's always something

I haven't been home much today. First, I repeated my trip downtown to certify and authenticate more documents. I should never assume that anything related to adoption will be easy. This time what should have been straight forward found me sprinting about the loop in search of notaries. The staff at the Secretary of State Index office are incredibly nice and helpful and helped me figure out a way around the problem and I was able to get this next set turned into the Consulate.

I made it home in time to have some lunch, read a story to a child, take care of some laundry, and head back out with H. We had a consultation with the person in the plastic surgeon's office who does the laser hair removal treatments. I don't think I've mentioned this before, but with the last tissue expansion, in order to get enough skin to go across the forehead, things got shifted all over H.'s head. The end result is that skin that was scalp is now on her forehead... and that skin has hair…

Being dragged into the current century

Anyone who knows me in real life knows that having the most up-to-date technological toys is just not remotely important to me. I have a pay-per-use flip phone... and I like it. I don't want or need anything more. And considering my fail rate of having a phone with a charge and with money and turned on with me, I guess I don't even really need that.

I like putting CD's into a CD player. I like walking and running outside and not having music or other noise piped directly into my head. I like land lines (well except the on-going atrocious service we get from AT&T which causes us to have a rotating roster of phone repair guys trooping through our house on a monthly basis. I don't like that.) I like real books. I like actually speaking to people instead of texting. And I am the despair of all of my children... especially those who really, really, really like the latest techy toys. All phones look alike to me and I just don't care, even when a child will stand in f…