Showing posts from 2018

It's the grocery shopping game

What large families eat, how much they eat, who fixes it, and where the food is procured are questions that are perennial favorites. With that in mind, I thought I would talk about large families, food, and the holidays, specifically Thanksgiving which is pretty heavily food-centered.

It will be all fourteen of us this year as well as another family we are friends with who have seven children. (To be entirely accurate, two of those seven are babies, and won't be eating what's on the table.) They will also be bringing a few of the sides we will be having.

Friday I did the grocery shopping for the week, including all the holiday meals. It also included TM's birthday dinner which we had last night. Am I the only one who really thinks that people should not expect to eat the week leading up to a holiday which involves a major meal? Yet, they do, so I also had to get food for the seven days around Thanksgiving. That would be breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.

I usually only have…

Friday bullets, Nov. 15, 2018

We have hit the time of year where it feels as though some cosmic fast-forward button has been pushed. Do you feel that way?

No barn pieces have been delivered. This alone probably explains why I have resorted to posting pictures of kittens. I'll let you in on a secret. The more animal posts you see here, the more likely you probably do not want to talk to me because I am not in a pleasant mood.On some level it's probably good I don't have a barn at the moment as I would be sorely tempted to find a pony to put a bow on for Christmas. L. asked me to trim her hair the other day, which means that she and G. have about the same length hair again. This also means that everyone who has been relying on hair length to tell the girls apart will now be stumped. I mentioned this to L. before I trimmed it, and she was fine with that.Under the heading of things you've just never thought about: chickens leave footprints in the snow. I have two twenty pound turkeys thawing in my refrig…


Some days you just need pictures of cute kittens. They have been temporarily names Thor and Junior, and are four weeks old and 1 1/2 pounds each. Teeny tiny little balls of fluff who love to chase and pounce.

Combating the socialization issue

Be forewarned, I'm feeling a little kvetchy this evening. It is looking entirely possible that this barn will not be finished before Thanksgiving. This is upsetting in so many ways, I cannot even begin to list them all. I'm afraid it is not making me a pleasant person to be around.

It is also probably why I decided to remove myself from an online conversation yesterday. I try to maintain a pretty non-confrontational tone in online interactions, but my mood combined with my great weariness over the topic was not seeming like a good combination. So instead, I will just bombard you with my thoughts, and then go play with the two adorable kittens upstairs. (They are so cute when they play, and they are still so very tiny ]1 1/2 pounds each], that you just cannot believe they are real instead of teeny, tiny stuffed animals.)

What is the question that had me sighing out loud? It was the "S" word... or socialization in homeschoolers. Sometimes I just cannot quite believe th…

How do you spend your Sundays?

I evidently spend mine embroidering turkeys. Here's one:

(Ignore the really horrible stabilizing job. And I'm still not sure that I'm quite happy with this one, I may be trying more.)
I've been thinking about holidays which makes me think about serving dinner which makes me think about the table. Because of the set up of this house, our formal dining room table did not make the move. You know, the one which my dozens of tablecloths fit. Our current dining room table is our former kitchen tables put together to form a square. A very large square. It is very difficult to fit any sort of tablecloth on a very large square table I've discovered. 
But a bare table just does not seem very festive for major holiday dinners, so I've decided that table runners are the way to go. They will provide some interest without trying to find a large enough cloth to fit the table in all the right ways. Plus, they are pretty easy to make, so I could do some fun ones as well as more…

Some progress

We are a step further in the barn going up. Yesterday and today, we had large digger trucks in our yard, digging a very long trench from the well to where the barn will be, and three hydrants were installed near the future barn. Then the trenches were filled. My yard is... well... looking rather like a construction site. But since it means we're one step closer to having the barn done, I'm okay with it. Garden parties when spring rolls round again are probably not going to be on the list, though. I see the need for some grass seed. There is still the electrical to get out there, which also means some more digging. Maybe several bags of grass seed will be needed.

Since the barn is just going to be the shell, we also need to figure out how to create stalls and a hay storage area. J. has been looking at different ways to use pallets to do this, and I think it will work. To that end, J., TM, and I went out bright and early this morning to collect 10 or so free ones that I found vi…

Friday bullets, Nov. 9, 2018

It has felt like a very busy week, but the weekend does not have a lot scheduled, so perhaps we can regroup.

Today we took a little jaunt to Iowa, and visited the Mississippi River Museum in Dubuque. (Also a museum with a great, family friendly membership policy.) I meet my brother and sister-in-law halfway when we trade children, so I thought it might be fun to actually do something instead of meet and turn around. It wasn't along visit, but since we bought the membership when we were there last summer, it made sense to get another visit in. We pretty much had the museum to ourselves.This also meant that we had the ray tank nearly to ourselves, and we spent a lot of time there. Some of those sting rays seem super interested in people, and were acting as though they wanted to be lightly petted. I love visiting museums on slow days. As I mentioned earlier, we've gotten a lot of comments recently about exactly what our family is. This was particularly bad at the Museum of Science…

How about an Aster update?

It realize it's been a while since I've shared about Aster. She is 29 pounds now, and is quickly catching up to Kenzie. Aster is a smart puppy, and is figuring things out. She still has her puppy fur, so it still very soft to pet and snuggle. I also love that she is not as mouthy as some of our other puppies have been. Aster and Olive love to play, though every so often Olive does tire of the constant games. Here are some recent pictures.

I love her ears!

She looks a lot less puppy-ish, doesn't she? Her fur is also darkening a bit. Everyone loves her, but she is definitely TM's dog, and does not like it at all when he leaves without her.

Just a couple of opinions

We spent the day down at the Museum of Science and Industry. We hadn't been since before we moved, and children were starting to complain. Plus, my niece if visiting right now, and it's always fun to show off our town. The only downside was that when I looked at my membership card, it had expired. I guessed that I had figured that I would renew it when we finally got down there. I wasn't terribly excited about paying for the membership.

I cannot tell you what a nice surprise it was when I went up to the desk, explained I needed to renew my membership, and have the person at the desk tell me my membership was good until next summer. It seems I did renew it last summer, but I neglected to update my address, which explains why I didn't have a new card. It was very, very good news.

I spend a lot of time kvetching on here about museum "family" memberships which are anything but, and add a penalty fee on memberships for families who have the gall to have more child…

"Do you enjoy being an adoptive parent?"

This is the question that greeted me in an email which arrived in my inbox. Just this question, nothing else. Without qualifying information, I'm left wondering. Do I present such a negative view of parenting here on this blog that the writer needs some clarification about it? Or is it simpler than that, and the writer only sees the hard and misses the good, and wonders if anyone can enjoy such an endeavor. Or am I reading far too much into the question (which I admit is entirely possible), and the writer just wants to know if parenting a child not born to you is enjoyable. It seemed like an interesting question to answer, so instead of replying privately, I'm writing my response here.

The simple answer is yes. Yes, I do enjoy being an adoptive parent. I enjoy being an adoptive parent to the same degree that I enjoy being a parent. They feel one and the same to me when it comes to the daily ins and outs of life. Some days are good, some days are challenging... this is true for…

How about Friday bullets on Saturday?

So I plan all these art projects, thinking everyone will enjoy them. In reality, there is usually one person who gets upset and stomps away from the table. Yesterday, I had a new record: two in tears and one who was so frustrated she was growling. The art project wasn't even that hard. I don't know what that was all about.I have now met Emmy's farrier, and we are on his schedule for December, here at our house. Boy, the barn better be done by then! Emmy is barefoot, and stand very nicely for the farrier.The P. family gave us a small greenhouse that was given to them, but they never used. It has been sitting in a pile by the side of our house since we moved. Last weekend, we finally got around to trying to figure out how to set it up. We made it work! Now, I need to get out there and plant a new crop of cold hardy vegetables.
I have found a new sewing store in nearby Geneva, that I am madly in love with.The Halloween candy that was collected this year is now nearly gone. Thu…

One of those posts I make J. edit for tone before I hit publish

Dear Geography Matters,

I have used your materials for years... at least over ten, and possible for even longer. I have loved them, and your geography resources have been mainstays in our homeschool. I guess this is why I feel so very disappointed today.

My children and I have spent the last year and a half going around the world (from the comfort of our dining room table) and learning about many different countries. As well as reading about each country, we've listened to music, read folk tales, done crafts, made food, and done some extensive map work. Your Uncle Josh's Outline Maps have been hugely helpful as we create our travel journals. If there is not an individual country, there has been at least an enlarged region map for where we currently are.

Until today.

This week, we left Asia, and headed to Africa, with our first stop being in Ethiopia. We had done our continent work earlier in the week, and I admit I hadn't looked carefully, but I assumed there would be othe…

Costumes 2018

This was a pretty easy year, costume-wise, but as I looked at the younger group, I realized I had sewn five out of the six costumes. All with no last minute sewing panic, as young children loitered around, asking when they could get dressed to go begging for candy. Go me! Keeping previous years' costumes pays off.

Of course there were pumpkins.

And the completed faces.

Gomez also got to play. He loves being let out of the crawl space, and allowed to sit out on the front porch for a while.

He's starting to be a little worse for wear, since it seems one of his arms has fallen off. Some child decided to be creative. Yes, that is Gomez, stabbing himself with a sword, using his own arm.

And now, on to the costumes. We had one princess, three elves, a civil war officer, and a lumberjack.

Y., G., and L. were all elves, because of having spent all summer listening to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I've been working on these cloaks for several months. Cloaks, mind you, because they…

God is good

Today, P. and I went to the post office and sent a very large tuition check via certified mail to Canada. With that done, she will be officially setting sail in mid-January.

Six months or so ago, when P. first discovered Class Afloat and expressed interest in going. All we could see were dollar signs. It is incredibly expensive, and being through a Canadian school meant that US financial aid was not going to help. I honestly had no idea how on earth we would afford it. It seemed impossible. We could tell that P. was extremely interested, and very much wanted a chance to do this, so we kept taking the next step. I also prayed more than one prayer that if she was going to be able to do it, God would really have to make the money appear somehow.

And then J.'s job was eliminated, and he spent the summer between jobs. That did not seem as though it was going to help in getting P. on that ship. Yet we kept moving forward with doing what needed to be done.

The end of summer saw J. employ…

Hard questions

I was asked on one of my posts about indiscriminate affection about my opinion on volunteers in orphanages. Not the appear and disappear variety, but ones who are in the country and have made a longer term commitment to visiting orphanages. Since I have spent the last forty-eight hours realizing I didn't have anything to write about, I'll take a stab at answering.

First, know that I'm hardly an expert. My main experience is raising children who have been damaged by the combination of broken attachment combined with false attachment to visitors. I know what the results look like, I have some ideas about how my girls developed the coping skills they did, but I'm not sure I have actual definitive answers.

If I were to have a chance to talk with people who were volunteering in an orphanage, and who were committed to going regularly, Here are things I would say.

1. Be careful with gifts. I know everyone's tendency is to want to shower a child with the things that they d…

Dinner in Jordan

Tonight was our dinner for our time visiting Jordan. These special dinners inevitably end up being significantly labor intensive, but also equally delicious. Tonight's meal was not different. We made baba ganoush and mansaf, which we learned is pretty much the national dish of Jordan.

The baba ganoush turned out quite well, which thrilled me as this is normally something we get when we do take out. I'm thrilled to be able to make it ourselves. P., M., and B. all helped to make it, thus sparing me the messy duty of peeling roasted eggplants. (And yes, B. was able to join us for the day and stay for dinner.)

The mansaf took a bit more effort. It is a combination of lamb, rice, yogurt sauce and bread. Here is what it looked like.

You layer the different elements of the meal, and then it is served communally, with each person tearing off pieces of the bread, and scooping up the rice and lamb. L., it turns out, is particularly fond of almonds roasted in butter. There wasn't a w…

Friday bullets, Oct. 26, 2018

It's still sort of Friday, and might even still be Friday when I finish writing this.

I got some better pictures of Emmy today. Want to see? (Of course you do! Who doesn't want to see pictures of a pretty horse?)
Yesterday, I happened to notice R. sitting at the piano, playing the keys. I realized that I have never really seen her do this before. Other children routinely sit down and fiddle, but not R. This shows a level of self-volition and experimentation that we haven't really seen before. It was kind of exciting. I never updated you on the great fermentation experiments. I'm kind of 1 for 3 so far, with another I need to check. The sauerkraut actually turned out well. I've been enjoying having some with my lunch over the past week or two, and some of the younger people like it as well. The older ones have yet to try it, since having the watched the process, they are still leery about me killing them. I've eaten quite a bit of it, and am still well, but they st…