Showing posts from November, 2012

The real story

Yesterday I blithely mentioned that I was going to make some rye bread for dinner. As I was making it, I realized that those words didn't really communicate what was involved and why it took so much of my afternoon to accomplish this task. Here's the real story.

Now, I know that I make a little more work for myself by grinding my own flour for things and that making bread from scratch is more time-consuming than buying it off the shelf. That's a choice I happily make because the bread tastes so much better and is much more economical. (Once you've paid for the wheat grinder and heavy duty mixer, that is.) So I'm not feeling sorry for myself. Amused, perhaps, but not sorry.

Making rye bread is a little more involved than making straight wheat bread because it uses two types of flour. In preparation, I grabbed the bucket of rye berries and started the grinder to get that out of the way first. Sometimes efficiency isn't all it's cracked up to be, because in my…

Arts and crafts Thusday

Sometimes you just have to ditch the textbooks and do something different. That's what happened today. There was a general attitude of grumpiness around the house and I could feel myself following along in that direction, so I decided to head it off at the pass and do something completely different with our morning.

(An aside, this ability to notice storms of grumpiness brewing, either in myself or in the masses in general, and being able to think constructively about ways of changing the mood of the house is the hallmark of a good and calm parent. I wish I were able to manage it more often. To do so is really a sacrificial exercise because sometimes what I want to do more than anything else is to wallow in my bad mood and make those around me as unhappy as I am. This never works out and only succeeds in ruining the entire family's day. After the fact it never feels as good as it seems it should have to give in to that selfishness. I love the days when I can manage to be the g…

Dealing with anger

And I'm not talking about the usual suspect, but myself. I find that I still am overcome with anger towards H.'s previous life. As my dear husband kindly points out, it really has no purpose or function. I can't change anything by it, and I am glad that she is here now, but emotions are funny things. Rationally I know all of this, but the anger is still there.

As we slowly undo all that has been done, and we both discover what she is capable of, the anger resurfaces. I want to go back and protect my child from hurts, and slights, and being overlooked. I want to go back and tell her that she is smart, that she does matter, that her opinion counts. Recently we have been hearing a lot about her friend, Eric, who lived at the children's home with her. We hear what Eric likes, what Eric doesn't like, what Eric does, what Eric doesn't do. Eric. Eric. Eric. (He has been adopted and Eric is not his given name... for the curious.) We figured out after it first started t…

National Adoption Month 2012

November is National Adoption Month and uncharacteristically for me, I have yet to write anything about it. In looking at the calendar, I realize that unless I write something soon, I will have missed it entirely. (You can read posts here from 2011, 2010, and 2007.)

I have thought about writing something quite often, but yet I have hesitated. I don't have to think too hard about why I have hesitated. This has been a difficult month. With our going out of town, we threw our family system into a state of chaos that we hadn't seen in a while, and dealing with chaos doesn't leave a whole lot of energy left over for anything else.

And honestly, when I am living in chaos, I seriously wonder whether I should really invite anyone else to voluntarily join me in that chaos. Why should I even suggest to someone whose life is running pretty smoothly that they should abandon that and actually choose what could be a much harder road? In my darkest moments, I fleetingly ask myself why we…

In which we take the circus on the road

I was going to upload some pictures earlier and write a quick post about our Thanksgiving trip. That is until I got a notice that evidently I have used up my free storage on Picasa which means I cannot post any pictures. Well, unless I pay to increase my photo storage. I suppose I should have known that Blogger stores all photos on Picasa and that I have a Picasa account as a result, but I didn't. The whole thing was news to me. As to paying... well, I'll have to ponder that a while, so no pictures for the moment.

So you will have to imagine pictures that A. took on the road as you read this. I think she is becoming quite a good photographer, but you'll have to take my word for it.

We left for J.'s aunt and uncle's house on Thanksgiving morning, and it did feel a bit like a circus. Or a clown car because we were trying to make the trip without using the trailer. That made 12 people and their luggage in the van and the car top carrier. Oh, and a puppy. And a pen. An…

What you surround yourself with

When I was in college I did several stints working retail at a couple of upscale department stores. I always think about my experiences working at those stores at this time of year because of all of the hoopla surrounding shopping and such. And aside from the fact that I think everyone should work retail at least once in their life because it helps give someone an appreciation of the person on the other side of the counter, I wanted to share with you the most important lesson I learned from those experiences. The more we expose ourselves to something, the more likely we are to embrace that thing, whatever that thing may be.

Now I'm generalizing a bit, but I don't think I'm wrong to do so. Let me tell you about a certain black leopard print dress. When my co-workers and I were asked to unpack and hang a certain collection of dresses that had come in, we spent the entire time making fun of it. It was ugly...  particularly one black and white knit leopard print, long-sleeved,…

And a happy Thanksgiving to all of you

It's belated, but we were too busy enjoying family and good food yesterday. I am so thankful for



                                                                                               good food,


                                 warm houses,

                                                                                                                         time to relax,


                                                            comfortable beds,


the list could go on and on.

And I'm also thankful for all of my readers who continue to check in and read my endless ramblings. I hope your Thanksgiving was filled with things to be thankful for as well.

Payback for procrastination

Or I could have titled it, "Holiday preparations." The one I chose is more honest, though. Procrastination is one of my besetting sins (to borrow a phrase from Anne Shirley). I have lost track of the number of times I have vowed to turn over a new leaf and do things right away (or, imagine, early). I know my life would be less frantic at moments if I were to do this, but somehow it just never happens.

For instance, had I kept up with the laundry the past couple of weeks, doing a load or two every single day, I would have saved myself what will eventually be ~11 loads done in a two day period. Or if I had actually thought about what my family was going to wear for Thanksgiving dinner (we do dress up a bit for it), oh, say a week ago, I wouldn't be scrambling for clothes right now. (Thus the need to do the laundry in order to see what everyone has... when the pile gets too big, you just can't fine anything in it.) And routinely, if I didn't let the papers pile up o…

Truancy, or since when did parents become the enemy?

I know, it's hardly Thanksgiving-y, but it (truancy) has been in the Chicago Tribune a lot and today's quote on the front page pushed me over the edge. (And I think I'm getting too predictable. J. can look at a newspaper and know ahead of time which things are going to make me mutter over my coffee.) I've already done a lot of thinking about truancy and this series of articles has brought all that to mind again.

But back to the quote. It is from a state representative (Linda Chapa LaVia) who chairs the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee. She is creating a task force because, "Kids are dying on the streets because they are not at their desks reading and writing." Deep breath. Children are not dying because they are not at their desks. Children are being shot because of a complete breakdown of families. This is not a truancy issue.

In fact (and this may not surprise you), I have a whole lot of trouble with the notion of truancy. The idea of trua…

Being thankful for the things which we take for granted

I just finished paying bills, which despite the best of intentions always puts me in a bad mood. A bad mood which always spreads to my children and the whole lot of us are pretty unpleasant to be around. It is hard work to pull back from the brink and remind myself that things aren't really as dire as they feel when I'm writing out the checks and subtracting the amounts. (Why is it always subtracting? Why don't I ever get to do addition? I like addition, there's no borrowing [pun intended] involved.) But they are paid for another two weeks and we still have some left over for food. And we can also enjoy heat, electricity, a roof over our heads, and running water.

These are the thinks we take for granted here in the first world and rarely think about them until they don't work. And then we complain if the companies involved don't get them working fast enough for our taste. I know I don't stop often enough to really be thankful for things that many people liv…

The weary days

I have Nahum 1:7 up on a long sheet of paper in my kitchen, "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him." This went up earlier this fall on a particularly bad day mainly because I needed to see it. Then things improved and I started to think about what new verse we should decorate and put up.

But this past week has me needing to refer to again. Often. I was prepared for things to be hard after having gone out of town, but I guess I wasn't really prepared for the degree of regression. It feels as though we are right back where we were when I originally put the verse up. I understand the reason... our (my) going just resurfaced all those feelings of abandonment and fear and made my boy realize how much he has come to love me. And that love has terrified him because it makes him vulnerable. So we are back to being as unpleasant as possible in order to make me abandon him and just get it over with. He 'knows' it is goi…

Frugal large family meals -- Risotto

I love risotto. It is one of those items I keep in my pantry to have on hand for those days that the original plan fell apart. It's easy, has that comfort food feel about it, and it is very flexible. It's only downside is that it does require time standing at the stove and stirring, though I find doing that rather relaxing. And if I'm busy stirring the risotto, it gives me an excuse to direct and delegate all of the other dinner preparation jobs to the masses. OK, maybe it has two downsides because arborio rice can be a bit expensive, but even a four dollar box of rice is still less than a lot of things these days.

There's not even really a recipe for it. What you really need is proportions. Here is what I've pretty much figured out:  for every cup of rice you use, you will need four cups of broth and one cup of rice will feed ~4 people. (See, this is why it counts as frugal.) I usually cook 3 1/2 cups of rice and heat 14 cups of broth for 11 fairly big eaters. Onc…

The circus

I don't have many days as busy as yesterday, but I'm reminded why I don't like them. We did school in the morning, then after lunch I took H. to Mandarin tutoring, stopped by the store to find black pants for B. (who needs them by Friday), came home, took Gretel to the vet, came home, organized myself to run a choir rehearsal, collected the people I needed to take to the rehearsal, ran the rehearsal (it's for our church's Christmas pageant on Christmas Eve), loaded everyone in the car, went home, collected the other who weren't at rehearsal, we drove to M.'s school picked her up, and then drove to the circus. J. had picked up sandwiches that we all ate in the car because we were cutting the timing so close.

After that, the circus was positively relaxing. And fun. And we had great seats. We had center front tickets in the lowest section. The youngest of the group were transfixed. G. declared that she thought the trapeze looked fun and K. really, really wante…

Let's tackle the socialization and homeschooling question

I know I'm not alone in thinking of the whole socialization and homeschooling issue to be a bit passe. Homeschooling, at least in metropolitan areas is pretty mainstream. Plus enough homeschooled children have graduated and are functioning quite well in the broader world that it's not quite the fringe movement that it used to be. At least that's what I blithely tell myself until confronted with another outrageous example of cluelessness.

I know you're dying to know what this most recent example is. Well, today was library day and while I was walking through the stacks looking for something else, I came across a book titled, The Family Sabbatical Handbook:  the budget guide to living abroad with your family, by Elisa Bernick. Sounds good, huh? J. and I would love to be able to do this someday. Plus, think of the blog fodder. It would rank right up there with 'family of 12 goes on 'round-the-world tour'. (Which we are still willing to do... and write about in…

Orphan Sunday

Yes, I realize it was a week ago, but our church observed it yesterday. J. was asked to share his testimony. I was so proud of him. Here is what he said:

Good morning.  Today we are recognizing orphan Sunday. 
Let me begin by pointing out that the children whose pictures you see projected here are real children with real names who need real families.  Each of these children needs just one family to step forward to provide the love and comfort that we take for granted.  If you need to know more about any of these children, please speak with xxxx or xxxx following the service, or simply contact the church and one of them will be happy to get in touch with you.
My name is J. and one reason that I’m here before you on this orphan Sunday is because my family looks a little different.  We have many children, some of whom are adopted from Asia, and this makes us conspicuous.  We joke that our family motto is “outside acceptable parameters.”
Occasionally, some people respond to our family by say…

Oh, my aching feet!

We are back and we had a wonderful time. Even better, all the people we left at home had a good time and managed quite well without us. I am so thankful for the friends who volunteered to help watch everyone. There is a little wigginess on everyone's part as we get back to a regular schedule, but I expected that. Transitions are hard.

I think I walked a good portion of Washington DC in the 2 1/2 days I had there. I have to say, it's easier to do intense sight-seeing when you are on your own. The other plus I discovered is that I didn't have to save any energy for the whole dinner/bedtime routine because all I had to do was get myself into bed and collapse. Which is what I did.

Wednesday we arose at the completely unreasonable hour of 3:15 am so we could get out the door by 4 to catch our 6 am flight. On the plus side, I did have nearly the entire day to sight see once we arrived. The first day I saw the Washington Monument, the Museum of American History, and the Museum of…