Showing posts from June, 2018

A new relationship with mulberries

When we lived in a much more urban environment, mulberry trees did not make me happy. When they had fruit, it would fall to the sidewalk where people would step through it, and the mulberry stains would end up everywhere. We even had a mulberry tree removed from our front yard for that very reason. The fruit wasn't really tasty enough to justify the month of mess they caused.

Fast forward to the present, where we have at least six, if not more, large mulberry trees. I was not thrilled at first, thinking of how they work in an urban environment. But you know what? This is another thing that is just better in the country. I don't mind them, and aside from chickens eating too many and causing a mess, it doesn't really affect life. (And the chickens cause a mess anyway, so that doesn't matter too much, either.) I have a better reason, though, for not minding the mulberries.

Mulberry syrup and mulberry jelly.

On a whim, I picked some mulberries last week, and tried turning …

Friday bullets, June 28, 2018

Sorry I kind of disappeared there for a bit.

On Wednesday afternoon, I was hit full force by an illness completely out of the blue. I spent most of the rest of the day huddled under several blankets, shivering. I'm pretty sure I was running about a 104 degree fever. As a result, I wasn't actually resting, but my fevered brain had somehow decided to plot out a complete novel about a mild mannered blogger who runs afoul of an increasingly fascist government and who ends up killed by a firing squad at the end. It wasn't restful.Yesterday, I was at the feeling better, but not well enough to be up and doing something. I am a bad patient, because I am not patient. I do not actually like lounging around in bed all day. I find it totally frustrating.As you read this today, I hope I am feeling back to my more normal self, and can be functional again. Oh, I hope...We have a chicken in the kitchen again. This time it is just one, and it is Chickadee, our all black hen. People told me …

These people

It's been a busy couple of weeks, and part of that is because we have had good friends in town. (If you're new here, I suggest reading about the families who are our exceptionally good friends first, or none of this will make very much sense. The Beginning of the Goodbyes ) There is also another family, the W family, who had joined us in the past few years. It makes me both happy and sad to be given more time with these people.

First, the children.

It all started with this photo, this habit of lining our children up in age order and taking their picture. (G. and L. are infants here.)

So we kept doing it whenever we had nearly everyone together, which became increasingly difficult. This one was missing the oldest child, our two newest, but also included a couple of spouses.

So, of course when we were all together Monday night, for the last time in a while, we had to take another one. This time, it has the children from all four families, but since we have 30 children between us…

June birthday bash

The problem with having five birthdays within six days of each other in a month that also usually contains at least one round of church camp or missions trips is that it is very difficult to celebrate each of them individually. We have resorted to doing one giant birthday party. The individuals still get their chosen dinners around their actual birth date, as well as their chosen desserts, but the singing, candle-blowing, and gifts all happen at once. Last Saturday was our big June birthday bash, with all 14 of us in attendance.

L. turned 9
G. turned 9 as well. I know that is surprising. 
D. turned 15
B. turned 23
And J. turned...
well, if you really want to know, I suppose you could blow the picture up bigger.
And then there were the gifts. Getting ready for this little bash was a bit like a mini-Christmas from a budget standpoint.
First, L.

One of the things she wanted more than anything (and I know this based on the sheer amount of badgering) was a hooded cloak. She is extremely in…

One year ago...

We just finished our big June Birthday Bash Blow Out, and I'll tell you about it and show pictures on Monday. In the meantime, I realize that today is the one year anniversary of us owning this house. It's been quite a year.

One year ago today, we closed on two houses; the Big Ugly House in the morning and this one in the afternoon. We had slept in a hotel overnight, complete with one dog, two cats, and one quail. The five younger people left for church camp from one house, and returned to another. We had no furniture, as the floors were all going to be redone. The next day would be spent cleaning out every shed and out building because they were packed full with stuff the previous owners had left behind. We were relieved to have the stress of selling the house and packing done, but it all felt vaguely disorienting.

What a difference a year makes.

I am so very glad to be on this side of all of that. While parts of the year have been very hard, I can say we are all feeling much…

Worst-case scenario

A few days ago, when I made a plea for what to write about, a reader asked a very good question. How can you both prepare for the worst-case scenario in an adoption, while at the same time, not fear for the future? It does seem like a tricky line to walk.

For those of you who have never had to go through pre-adoption training, let me explain. In order to make the decision whether or not to adopt a specific child, prospective adoptive parents are told to prepare for the worst case scenario. If you cannot see yourself being able to manage that, then perhaps you should rethink adopting this particular child. This is because there are no guarantees. There are no guarantees that a child's file will be correct. There are no guarantees that the child will cope with yet another round of trauma on their plate. There are no guarantees that you will even like the child.

The first time through this can be pretty intimidating. Everything is new and different and yet-to-be-experienced. 'Wor…

A poem

no one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark you only run for the border when you see the whole city running as well
your neighbors running faster than you breath bloody in their throats the boy you went to school with who kissed dizzy behind the old tin factory is holding a gun bigger than his body you only leave home when home won't let you stay.
no one leaves home unless home chases you fire under feet hot blood in your belly it's not something you ever thought of doing until the blade burnt threats into your neck and even then you carried the anthem under your breath only tearing up your  passport in an airport toilets sobbing as each mouthful of paper made it clear that you wouldn't be going back.
you have to understand, that no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than  the land no one burns their palms under trains beneath carriages no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a  truck feeding on newspaper unless the miles travell…

Cooking from scratch

Last night I somewhat jokingly asked J. if he wanted donuts for his birthday breakfast this morning. He's not much of a sugary-sweets kind of guy, and I was pretty sure he didn't. He, also jokingly, replied that what he'd really like is Eggs Benedict. I knew he actually really does like Eggs Benedict, so this morning, I thought I'd see if I could figure out how to make it. "What are you doing?" J. asked.
"Looking up recipes to make Eggs Benedict. I thought I'd make it for you." I answered.
"I don't really want Eggs Benedict. It's too fiddly. Besides, we don't have bacon," he said.
"Really? I'm sure I could do it, though we don't have bacon," I said, "I could poach some eggs."
"I've never been able to poach an egg. It doesn't seem to work right," J. responded.
I'd remembered at that moment, that D., too, had complained that poaching eggs seemed needlessly tricky. This roused …

Writer's block

Some days I just don't know what to write. Help me out, here. Unless you really enjoy endless posts about how many jars of jelly or jam, I need some new ideas to have handy when nothing else presents itself.

The jam/jelly total for today... 2 pints of strawberry jam, and 2 pints of mulberry jelly. Actually I think it's more of a mulberry syrup. It would seems mulberries do not have a whole lot of natural pectin, so I will add some to the next batch. It tastes good, though.

See? Save yourselves by providing content ideas!

To make up for a lack of content, I'll share a completely random picture. Ducks in a row, thinking they should get to come inside the house. I seem to spend my day keeping birds out and cats in the house.

A dull post about canning strawberries

This post is a bit late today. I spoke at a class for social workers this morning about international adoption and our real life experiences, then I had to force myself to sit down and pay the bills. You all know how much I love that. But yesterday...

I managed to process about 40 quarts of strawberries. I made and canned 2 1/2 pints of jam, froze nearly two gallon size freezer bags full, and dehydrated eight trays. I'm getting there. The frozen strawberries will eventually be made into jam, and I do have another 8 cups sitting in sugar for me to can tomorrow. The year I made enough jam and things to last through the entire year was heavenly, and I would love to do that again.

The many mulberry trees we have around here are all ripening, so I think I may try to make mulberry jelly. I hate to see so much fruit just go to waste, especially if its free! Of course, we discovered tonight that the chickens are extremely fond of mulberries. Extremely. And let's just say, you don'…

Off to camp

We drove the four youngest up to church camp yesterday, and got them all settled into their cabins.


L., Y., and G. in front of the twins' cabin
They were all very excited. J. is done with driving, having logged probably 300 or so miles over the past several days. We are all hot and tired of being in the van, because with a heat wave, not air conditioning is not a lot of fun.
I realized that this week, we have no children younger than 13 in the house, though one of those is R. Also, today, as our weekend of overwhelming fun continues, 15 of our closest friends are coming for dinner. Two of the H-S boys will then be staying and hanging out here for a week. This means that from Tuesday to Friday, we will have 1- 17 yo, 5- 14/15 yos, and 1 - 13 yo in the house. 
But before I get to the party tonight, I first have to tackle all these strawberries before they rot. I hope I'm still standing when the fun begins.