Showing posts from May, 2010

Two years home

I realize that I never posted about the anniversary of K. being home and part of our family for two years now.  While it has been a roller coaster here for the past two years, that is not because of K.'s presence in our lives.  We have been blessed that K.'s transition to our family has been one of those fairy tale, rainbows and happy trees, types of adoption stories.  It just feels as though he's always been here.

For those of you who might be new to this blog, I'll give you the short story of his adoption.  Because we knew that it could take a while to be matched with another child, we started the adoption process again 6 months after coming home with TM.  We were expecting a year's wait to be matched, so were very surprised to hear from our agency just two weeks after turning in our application that they had a 7 month old baby available and were we open to cleft lip and palate?  After reviewing his file we said yes, even though we knew that he was in a province …

Stocking up

Twice a year, my friend P. (of the P family) drive two hours downstate to pick-up our bulk order of staples from the farmer who does bulk ordering.  Besides saving money by ordering in bulk, it is one of the few ways to obtain large amounts of wheat berries; they are not something commonly found on the shelves of Aldi.  So, what does a family of 11 buy to stock up with?  Well, this was a smaller order than usual, but I brought home 200 pounds of wheat berries, 50 pounds of whole oats, 10 pounds of baking soda, and 2 1/2 pounds of raw wheat germ.  (I was OK on yeast, lecithin, farina, and dry milk for the next six months.)  It always makes me feel a bit pioneer-like to know I've just brought home supplies that will last for at least six months.  Everything can stay in its original containers except the oats and wheat germ.  The oats get transferred into large food-grade buckets and the wheat germ I freeze in plastic containers.  P. ordered a bit more than I and we were also picking…


"Nothing is safe from the marauding hands of pageant-producers and actors.  We are all busy sticking gummed labels on the undersides of old pieces of furniture, which have been requisitioned for the day, and our wardrobes have been ransacked -- not only for fur for our own simple Ancient Britons' costumes -- but for hats, cloaks, velvet jackets, feathers, jewels, buckles and belts for the rest of the county.  I quite dread Amy's visits at the moment, as I see her predatory eye ranging round my house, and even over my own person, for any little titbit that might further Bent's [a small town] glory on the day of the pageant."  from Village Diary by 'Miss Read' on the subject of the people of an English county preparing for a pageant (tableaux)

I had forgotten the amount of chaos and insanity that accompanies the picture tableaux which we did this morning.  It is such a great amount of fun, I recommend you get some friends together and do some yourselves.  S…

Utter insanity

One of the common questions that is asked of me when people find out that I have 9 children and that I homeschool is:  What do you do with the preschoolers while you are working with the older children?  Well, the answer, if yesterday is anything to go by, is absolutely nothing.  So much nothing that the 4 year old was able to find a marker and draw on himself, his clothes, and his bedroom wall before he was discovered.  Argh!  Today, I had a better plan for him and kept him occupied and in sight at all times.

But this does not count as the 'utter insanity' reference.  The marker incident was merely typical, run-of-the-mill chaos... barely worth blogging about.  No, the 'utter insanity' refers to me and my delusional assumptions of what I am capable of.  You see, I have a good friend who forwards me notices about children who need homes, and yesterday she sent me one about four siblings, 7 and under, who may need an adoptive family.  For a moment (well, if I'm hone…

Mango pudding

One of the things that we have enjoyed about our yearly history co-op feasts is finding new recipes which we wouldn't normally come across.  (This works both ways, with some historical eras having better food than others.)  This mango pudding is one of the good ones.  We first had it quite a few years ago when we were studying ancient Egypt, and it has been a family favorite ever since.  Mangoes, while never cheap, are at their most reasonable this time of year.  Look for the smaller, yellow mangoes.  They are less stringy than the larger greenish red ones.
Mango Pudding (the actual recipe was called 'mango cup')
6-8 ripe mangoes, cut into chunks (do not use the skin) 1 1/2 - 2 cups milk
Put everything into a blender and mix until smooth.  I adjust the amounts until it is the consistency I want...if you make it thinner, it could be more like a shake.  Chill until ready to serve.  The original recipe also calls for pistachios to be sprinkled on top, though we prefer it without …

Land form pans

One of the homeschooling items I bought years ago, which I still love and use are these little land form pans. I found them in a Montessori catalogue and also purchased geography cards to go with them. The idea is the child looks at a card, which has a picture of a geographical feature, and isthmus, for example, and then recreates the feature with clay. When it is completed, water is then poured in to give a three-dimensional example of what's on the card. (The older, wiser, and cheaper me now realizes that any small dish would have sufficed. But at least this way, I don't get clay in dishes I need for cooking.) Today, we didn't use the cards because we were building dikes.

We have been studying the Netherlands because of our lunch time read aloud, The Wheel on the School. It's fascinating stuff; personally, I'm learning so much I didn't know about that country. Did you know that in some places in the Netherlands, the sea level is as much as 22 feet higher than…

My thumb is not green

Not even the palest shade of green. I imagine plants at nurseries cowering in horror at the thought of having to come home with me and my not-so-loving care. My mother-in-law used to remove plants from my home to nurse back to health. While they survived, they also never returned. I just don't have houseplants anymore. But I do like plants and gardens. I like planning gardens. And I enjoy beautiful gardens... especially from a chair with a good book and a cup of tea.

But reading about gardens does not a beautiful garden make, which is where my children come in. It turns out they enjoy gardening, especially B. A couple of years ago, on his own volition, he completely cleared of weeds one of the more egregiously ugly sections of our yard. In return, I bought him some plants to in the space. And since B. evidently does have a green thumb, the raspberry bushes and ferns he planted are thriving.

After one last, pathetic attempt on my part to garden last year, I have turned …


n. dull, irksome, and fatiguing work: uninspiring or menial labor

I have been working on planning the summer book study for moms at our church this summer, so have been getting to do one of my favorite things in life: research. (Are you in the area and want to come? We'll be discussing, Professionalizing Motherhood: Encouraging, Educating, and Equipping Mothers at Home by Jill Savage. Let me know and I'll get you the details.) I had been looking into other, complementary sources to bring in to add to the discussion, when I came across a statement in a review on Amazon. (I find the review section of book listings fascinating... though more for what it says about each reviewer than for what it says about the book being reviewed.) Anyway, the reviewer believed that the author of the book in question was committing the sin of contradiction. The reviewer believed that the author couldn't at one point give ways to deal with the drudgery of housework while at the same time claim …

Tell me what you read and I'll tell you who you are

Or I'll tell you what I read and doing so will most likely speak volumes about my theological leanings. I was asked on my last post what some of my favorite parenting books are. My shelves are not filled with parenting manuals per se. I find that I can't separate out the job of parenting from other facets of my life and worldview. It is all of a piece and something that influences one part of my life also influences the parenting part of my life. So, with that in mind, I give you my "top 10" parenting resources. They are all so different that I find I can't put them in order as to which I find the most useful, consequently, they are in the order in which I pulled them off of my bookshelves.

1. The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer -- In my head I slot this book in the same category as the Proverbs 31 passage... depending on my mood, I find both either highly motivating or highly demoralizing. To me, Mrs. Schaeffer portrays an ideal of homemaking; someth…

Setting the bar too low

(Warning: Rant to follow containing highly opinionated statements about parenting.)

"You and J. are such calm people, no wonder your children are so well-behaved."

"My children are just so high energy, there is no way I could ask them to sit still."

Or, how about:

"Boy, you were sure lucky when they were handing out kids." (In reference to behavior.)

Yes, J. and I actually have had all these statements (or variations of them) said to us. We enjoy receiving compliments on our children's behavior. It is a gratifying reward for our hard work. But there is another side to these compliments whether the speaker meant it or not, because they are also implying that our children's good behavior is merely a function of luck or genetics. Or as in the middle example, there is a tacit implication that our children are somehow not normal. All of the statements completely negate all of the hard work which J. and I put into training our children.

By implicating genetic…

When you have nothing to say, just post some baby pictures

Here's G. (moving and blurry) -- I have to remember to change the camera settings to capture motion.
And here's L. -- She is wearing a dress I wore as a baby, though I think I had a bit more hair. They are now 11 months old. I think back to how pregnant I was this time last year and am so thankful I'm past that and now have these babies. Just last night, when I lay down in bed, I suddenly remembered how I couldn't even do a simple task such as getting into bed without great effort. It's probably best most of the past two years is a blur.

Any reason to dress in a costume

I've mentioned before how much our children love to dress up in costumes. There have been many mystery parties, and shows, and moreshows, and historyfeasts. P17, is now P18, having celebrated a birthday earlier this month. To surprise her, her friends planned a mystery party, set in the '30's. Here is the group (yes, M. is dressed as a boy...the game was for 4 boys and 4 girls...M. graciously volunteered to take one of the male parts):

Then today, A. had a mystery party of her own to go to. Some younger sisters of the group above, no doubt not wanting to be left out, planned and wrote their own. It is set in the '20's and A.'s part was as a young widow:
Someday we adults will have to have one of our own. Listening in (which we get to do, since they are always here) it always sounds as if everyone is having a fabulous time. Plus, they usually involve pretty dresses and lots of food...what's not to like?

Make it stop!

The whining, that is. K. has reached the terrible twos a couple of years late. K. continues to catch-up developmentally and we've found that he is hitting all the milestones that he should, just on a delayed schedule. He is definitely making up for lost time, though, because he moves through the developmental stages at a faster rate. I hope that this holds true for whining as well. For the majority of our children, the year of being two wasn't so bad, but three....? Let's just say it's a good thing they were cute. K. is right on schedule, really. The worst always seems to come when a good grasp of language has emerged and also an awareness of the world around them that wasn't there before. They know that they want to do things and can't, either because they are unable to or because some parent or brother or sister won't let them. And since they know that language can effect change, they use its most annoying form. But knowing why the whin…

History at the Art Institute

One of the things I love about homeschooling are the opportunities to take field trips whenever it fits into what we are studying. We can often schedule them to avoid crowds and have frequently had whole museums to ourselves. This morning was not one of those times. We went down to the Art Institute for our history co-op class. The topic was art in the Enlightenment and the two girls presenting had prepared their class based on the holdings in the Art Institute. It was very crowded, both with school groups and large groups of adults with conference-type name badges. I'm not sure which groups were louder. But we had a nice time despite the crowds and the larger families having to become slightly nasty about exactly what a family pass means. (Note to the Art Institute of Chicago: You cannot call a free family pass a 'family pass' is you are then going to limit it to four children under 13 and no children over 13. Especially if you do not print any disclaimers on th…

That will be a table for 25 please

This is the third post I've started in the past two days. I'm pretending I don't have a head cold, but I still can't talk myself out of the vaguely underwater feeling I have. It doesn't make for very coherent thinking...or writing.

Today was the annual lunch trip that we and two other families (the P Family and the H-S Family...I write about them all the time) take to our local hamburger restaurant. It started out as a four times a year event and we did it to celebrate the birthdays that occurred in our three families in the past three months. The birthday children get the treat of a milkshake. Over the years as we've all added more children, it has become a once a year event and everyone gets a milkshake. For a while, the same waiter worked there for several years and got to know us and didn't panic when we all walked in. But he has since moved onto better jobs and we have to break in a new waitress every time we visit. Someday I'll take a camera so I c…

Yoo Hoo...

is anybody there? I really don't mind if no one comments, but it's nice to know if other people are reading. Oh well, I'll just go on talking to's not as though I don't do it all the time anyway.

The biggest news around here is that A. got her hair cut. She was able to donate 10 inches of ponytail to Locks of Love. Here's the new 'do:

I really think it's cute, though it makes her look a lot older. She is very happy with it and it is still long enough that she can change her hairstyle every couple of hours just like she did with the longer hair. P. is now waging a campaign to get her haircut as well. I'm not sure I'm ready for that considering she just had her very first haircut a year ago. Perhaps we'll make a 'short haircuts happen at 12' rule around here.

Further adventures with prawn crackers

Remember when I accidentally bought the uncooked prawn crackers? Well, encouraged by fellow adoptive mom, April, we (J.) decided to try cooking them. Our (J.'s) first attempt didn't turn out so well. This is what happens when the oil is too hot and the crackers are left in too long:

But we (J.) persevered and kept trying. Here are the results of further attempts:

Much better, huh? It is pretty amazing to watch. These little round disks are put in the hot oil (J. discovered that using a small wire colander lowered into the oil makes it very easy) and in less than 3 seconds they puff up and need to be immediately pulled out. In our (J.'s) defense, the instructions on the package weren't exactly clear:

They were pretty good...nearly everyone enjoyed eating them. Here is TM enjoying one of his favorite snacks:

And because they're cute and I haven't posted about them much recently, here is a short video of the babies. G. loves to talk and talk, though is a bit soft …

A good mail day

When you were young, didn't you love getting mail? I don't know about you, but the mail has lost some of its cache for me as an adult, what with bills, tax notices, jury summons, and all that. But every so often, there is a 'real' letter in the mail and I remember again why mail can be exciting. That is always how I feel when we receive a letter from our sponsored child. For over two years we have sponsored a child through Compassion International. He is 9 years old, just like our P., has six brothers and sisters, and lives in Ethiopia. For me, the neatest thing about how our sponsorship works (other than with our help he can go to school and have good nutrition, of course) is that we have gotten to know each other through the letters we send back and forth. He tells me what he is learning in school, how he celebrates holidays, and how he spent his birthday money. He also asks me questions about our life here. He was very interested to know how we named the ba…

Lap books

I love lap books. They are such a great way to combine everything a child has learned about a subject into one place. And they are so cool when they are done...flaps that open, little books to look at, all the little hidden things that need to be explored. I know there are many companies that offer all the makings for lap books on different subjects, but I've always enjoyed helping my children make each little booklet themselves. The lap books may not look quite as nice, but I think my children learn a lot more. Plus, they can honestly say they made it all themselves. The other thing I love about them is how each book can be tailored to the age and ability of each child. As a group we can be working on the same subject, but the older children are asked to do more than the younger ones. We've been making the little booklets and pictures that went inside for the past couple of weeks and today was assembly day. Here are A., P., TM, and D. all busily working on putting th…