Showing posts from October, 2018

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…

Math games and life skills

Today turned into a math day. Y. had reached a chapter in her math book which required her to find the amount of change for each of the transactions listed. What the book didn't explain was how to actually make change and count it out. I decided that this was the perfect moment to combine a little life skills teaching along with a math lesson.

Probably my slight obsession with being able to count back change is from the years I spent working the concessions at ASU football games as a high schooler. The marching band did this to raise money, and I became very adept at counting back change, especially since we were supplies with nothing more than a pad of paper and a pen. Technology is nice, but it never serves anyone well to be too dependent on it.

So I got out my handy box of money, and the younger group happily created a store so everyone could shop.

I wrote random price tags that were put on the items in the store, and then, armed with $30, each person got a turn to shop, follow…

Feeling like home

We've lived here for lived here now for not quite a year and a half. As we approach our second set of holidays, I've been thinking a lot about where we are. Knowing a move is going to cause upheaval, and living through that upheaval are two very different things. And like living through the adjustment of a new, older, adopted child entering the family, you can think you are functioning quite well thank you very much, until you are a ways away from it, and realize just how not well you were functioning.

This is mainly what I've been realizing these past few weeks. Yes, we (well, I specifically) were doing pretty well, but it was through sheer effort. If I'm honest, much of that effort was not actually needed, but I thought it was at the time. I needed to feel settled, I needed to feel settled now, and I was going to work tirelessly to build my social systems so I could feel settled. Even while I was doing this, I had in the back of my head the knowledge that much of wha…

New favorite thing

Over the summer, when we were up in Michigan, I stopped in a very nice toy store to look around. I left with far more than I had planned to buy, but took care of some Christmas and birthday gifts, as well as adding to my activity box collection. R. drew that new activity today, so she tried it for the first time.

I guess it's not really my favorite thing, but more my new favorite company. It's a French company, Djeco, which makes crafts, games, and activities. They are beautifully made. Look at the one I bought for R. to use for school.

It's not flimsy cardboard, but a genuinely study box which also looks good. The other things I bought are equally appealing. Inside are the contents.

It's a hammer and nail activity, where you choose a design and then recreate it, nailing it to the cork board. I wasn't sure how R. would do because there are so many different components to it... chose the piece which fits the pattern, figure out where it goes to match the pattern, ma…

Just doing our part...

to keep the area ReStore in business. At this rate, I'm going to have to make a label called "appliances" to tag my frequent blog posts about them.

Yes, that would be a different range. After J. tried fixing the old one, the part that was broken was going to cost more to replace than going to the ReStore and getting another, working range. That just seems crazy.

There are metal grates that go on top, over the burners:

And three hardware store trips later, J. thinks he even has the right parts with which to install it. We should have a working oven and stove by morning.

I'm officially tired of replacing appliances. To the rest of the appliances in the house. We like you. We want to keep you. We want (desperately) for you to continue working, and stay with us as long as possible. We will speak kind words to you, and pat you affectionately in return.

Friday, October 19, 2018

I'm so happy to be at the end of this week. It was not a spectacular end to a not spectacular week.

L. has been running a worasaurus school all week. Worasauruses are the imaginary dinosaurs that L. has made up, and which she becomes when life seems too hard. She spends a lot of time being a worasaurus. This week, she decided that she needed to teach her siblings worasaurus. It is a very complicated language, and it amused me to listen in on their lessons. It sounds as though it must be a derivation of Klingon to my uneducated ear. The other night, L. was moaning about how much work it was to create the test that she was giving to her students the next day. It was amazing to me that G., K., and Y. stuck with their worasaurus lessons. They even took the test L. gave them. Today, though, it was nearly a crisis when L.'s students mutinied, and decided that they really wanted to play something else.I got to spend some time with my horse. (Oh, how I love being able to write that phr…

Finding margin

I make no secret of the fact that I do not like to be busy, and the past few days have confirmed that being too busy is not how I function best. As I write this, though, I realize that I need to do a little defining.

When I use the word busy, I mean overly committed to outside activities and things to do. For me, this is anything such as appointments or classes I need to drive to, things I need to get done because there is a deadline, or tasks such as grocery shopping that I need to leave the house to do. It can also be things that are enjoyable and that I want to do. Outside busyness is not all negative. To me, busyness is different from keep oneself occupied. I rarely sit during the day, and when I do the chances are good that I am reading something. There is a great difference between outside directed busyness and inner directed occupation.

The past couple of weeks have felt busy, meaning that there were more places to drive to and go to than normal, plus there were some things tha…

A Monday bright spot

Yesterday was quite a Monday, being the first day back after a week long break. The words, "Pull it together, or we may never have another break again," may or may not have come out of my mouth. They did pull it together, and the day's punctuation lesson was conquered.

There was one bright spot in yesterday's otherwise rocky entry back to our schedule... and it came from R.

It was her turn to work with me, and so I got out the bag in order for her to draw for the day's activity. She drew stepping stones. I admit to my heart sinking just a little bit. These are a physical therapy toy that I bought to use with her. We hadn't used them in a while, because the last time we tried it, it quickly became a screeching fest, because I had asked her to stand on one of them, and step to the next one. I wasn't sure I was up to that on such a Monday-ish Monday.

But I got them out and set them up, acting all excited about what she got to do that day. It had been long en…

Too old

I'm not entirely sure how, but H. turned 16 yesterday. She cannot possibly be that old already, can she? We celebrated with sweet and sour chicken, rice, and dumplings, and root beer floats for dessert. All her choice. It's going to take me a little bit to get used to her new age.

A post with an unpopular view

As you know, my mom visited this past week, and then we drove her to Iowa so she could visit my brother and his family. For most of my people, this was alright. They were sad to see Grammy go, but understood that we will see her again. Most of my people. In fact, all but one of my people were okay. And then there was R.

We have had a very long few days here with R. Having Grammy visit, and then having Grammy go has triggered my poor girl beyond measure. Since R. is still exhibiting some extreme indiscriminate affection, she feels most comfortable finding emotional fixes from people whom she doesn't know or who she doesn't see very often. Because I loosened up me vigilance a bit about who R. gets to cling to for my mother... grandmothers get special passes... in R.'s world, that made Grammy even more appealing.

And then she left.

She left just like every other person has in R.'s world, except her adoptive parents. I hold no illusions that she probably figures that we wi…



I don't like to be busy, and the past couple of days have been busy. I've driven to Iowa, had lunch with my brother and his family, then my mother continued on with them, and we drove home. We were home for about ten minutes, and then it was time to leave for our Wednesday night activities. (That would be mid-week programs for G., L., K., and Y., and women's Bible study for me.) This morning I had already planned on taking care of the apples, so with the help of some children, we processed the bushel we bought last weekend... we now have sauce in jars, apples for pies in the freezer, and a dehydrator full of apples currently drying.

It seemed to be the day to catch-up on food related things. As well as the bushel of apples, I started a new batch of kombucha. I let the last one get to cold, and it developed mold. This process seems to be a vaguely steep learning curve.

And then there was the freeze warning we have for tonight. I still had a lot of things growing in the…

Overly warm days in October must not be spent inside

Today we took a trip to the Brookfield Zoo. It seemed like a fun outing to do while my mom was here, and when it's 80 degrees and sunny in October, you really need to take advantage of it. It could very well be our last warm day for quite a while. We had a lovely time without even a single melt down. I think it may be some sort of record.

This is everyone of the children who went. L. is even there behind R., though she didn't want to show her face. Kind of the opposite problem in yesterday's post. Where, if you have sharp eyes, you will notice that A. got cut out of the family photograph.

G. and K.

K. and L.
And of course I needed to take a picture of the White's Tree Frog. A White's was M.'s first amphibian, and I feel a vague sentimental attachment to them.

It's been a great visit with my mom. We're making stuffed spinach pizza tonight for a last night celebration, and then tomorrow we drive to the IL/IA border, where we'll meet my brothe…

Dinner in India

This dinner tonight was a bit of a departure from what we usually do, which involves me trying to recreate a meal from another country myself. This time, I decided that we needed to go out to eat. We could try a larger variety of food, and my mom is in town, so it would be a fun activity. Even better, everyone had tonight free on their calendar, and could make it. (This rarely happens anymore.) B. even drove out from the city to see his grandmother another time, and join us for food.

It was very good food, and there was literally nothing left when we were done. There was a street fair earlier that day, so parking was tricky, but it also meant that it was a slow night. We were the only customers in the restaurant. I'm actually kind of glad we made the reservation, because they might have decided to close early. The servers were very nice, but there were moments, with being the sole patrons, that the level of attention made many of us feel a little as though we were doing an odd rec…

Apple economics

Going apple picking in the fall has been a tradition of our for a very long time, but it has been two years since we have gone. Year before last, we were still deep in the hard work of transitioning two new older children into our hearts and our family. I had no energy to go apple picking, nor did I have the energy to do anything with those apples if we had gone. Just surviving was enough for that season. Last year, we had recently moved, my canning supplies weren't even unpacked, and once again, going apple picking didn't seem like something we could tackle.

This year is different. We are more settled. Life feels more manageable. And I wanted to be able to make apple sauce. (Once you have tasted real, homemade apple sauce, I'm afraid there is no going back to the store bought variety. It spoils you.) Our usual place, which we love, is all the way in Michigan. It's kind of a long way, so we thought, "There are plenty of apple orchards around us. Surely we can find…