Friday, December 21, 2007

Slow Learner

Once upon a time, a very long time ago, in a land far away (I think it was Rhode Island) I was a young wife and mother. Actually I was a very young wife and mother. In fact, I was married, had my first child, and owned a home before I could legally order a drink. But I had the world by the tail, and I thought I knew everything. It was easy to know everything back then. My marriage was new and fresh, my child was healthy and bright, and God provided for all of our needs and many of our wants as well. It is true that we dealt with all of the issues young married couples deal with. Hubby worked a lot of hours, sleep was scarce with a colicky baby, and money was very tight at times. But seen from the perspective of twenty years later...life was peaceful and good.

Back then I had a friend. We became friends in an odd sort of way, but the friendship stuck for many years. Actually, she had a third daughter who was only a few weeks older than ours, so of course that was an immediate bond. When our little punkin' was tiny, we wanted to have a special service of dedication for her, and their family was looking to have a special service of thanksgiving for the adoption of a child...their second daughter who was about a year old at the time. She was a special needs infant adoption, and at the time her development was very up in the air. Much was unknown. Their eldest daughter had also been a special needs adoption, as an older child. She was a sweet big sister, not without her struggles, but a cute kid. The third daughter who was their only "homegrown" one, at the time, was severely handicapped and medically fragile.

So we had the service together, both sets of parents praising God for their perfect little family. And through the years we remained friends. A few years later they had a fourth daughter as well, physically healthy in every way. I used to watch my friend with her brood, and marvel. Of course back then I had only one, and I thought that could be hard at times. I would see my friend struggling with so many issues...older child adoption issues, learning disabilities, endless battles to find services and help for her children, constant runs to the hospital to literally save her child's life. There was a continuous round of therapies and doctors appointments, and meetings at the school. And through all of this my friend remained "normal". She was active in her church, close to her extended family, attentive to her friends. Their family went on vacations, baked cookies, swam in the pool, went to the beach. In fact, we did our fair share of those things with them, and often. Our families were close, and we enjoyed one another's company. I would watch her children every now and then, and not even give it a second thought. I had known them much of their lives, and was familiar with their challenges. Looking back now, I know it should have scared me to try and take on their care. Anything could have gone wrong at any time, and it frequently did. But I was young and I knew everything back then.

I remember listening to my friend talk for countless hours, describing their days, and struggles, and victories. I know now what she was doing. She was indulging me, and educating me. How in the world could someone as young, and green, and stupid as me presume to understand her life? But she was older, and wiser, and much, much stronger. I am grateful she took the time. I always thought I understood, from my vantage point of looking in from the outside. Sometimes I had the audacity to have my own opinions and secretly believe I would have done things differently or better. Only once did I ever catch a glimpse of the truth, and I have never forgotten it.

We were at the beach, late in the afternoon, coming onto evening. Our families were picnicking together, and the children were running about, under the eyes of two Daddies. I was at the picnic table fussing over food, or messes, and my friend got up to comfort her third daughter who was being fussy in her adaptive stroller. She picked her up and carried her out towards the sea wall, bouncing her like a fussy baby. But she wasn't a baby, she was a little girl, who was growing taller and heavier by the day. My friend was a tiny whip of a woman, little more than skin, and muscle, and bone...with a long blond braid trailing down her back. As she walked away from me I noted what a struggle it was for her to hold and carry the stiff body of her child. A few minutes later I looked up to see them in the distance. Her back was to me, her face to the sea, and her daughter lay outstretched on her arms. Their bodies formed the silhouette of a cross, as the wind whipped both their hair.

I remember staring at the image, shaken by the knowledge that I was looking on something I did not understand. I was humbled by the strength I saw. I never told anyone about that moment. I was still too busy back then, trying to know everything.

I've since lost touch with my friend, and I sincerely regret it. Truly, I'm not even sure how it happened, though I suspect it had more to do with me and my inherent selfishness, and less to do with anything she did or did not do. And now I am her age, or the age she was back then I mean. I am faced with a few of the same struggles and sacrifices that she faced with such grace. I am profoundly grateful now, for all of the time she took to indulge me, and educate me. Again, such grace, to take a spoiled child like me under her wing, and broaden my narrow world. Do we ever know the far reaching implications of a merciful, hard working life? I wish she could see her "cross" as it remains in my memory all these years later, and know that her faithfulness reaches so much farther than she could have imagined.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hot, hot...oh we got it!

I am enjoying a quick moment of quiet , the calm before the storm if you will. Today is dance recital day...the annual Christmas show that was postponed from Sunday. It looks as though the weather will cooperate, so we will be dancing. Well, not me technically, though I seem to have plenty to do anyhow. Back when my big girl danced, I never had to give it a thought. Sure, I altered her costumes ahead of time, but she always got herself together. She did her makeup, made sure she was sufficiently glittery, gathered all her bits and pieces. I had to get her there early as she had usually promised to braid a few girls' hair, and I was usually pressed into service doing the same while I waited with her.

But then there are boys. I have to collect everything they need and make sure it gets there. They manage the snacks and amusements. When we arrive, I have to hunt down the schedule, and hustle them into the appropriate costumes, do hair, and apply (as we call it) "man makeup". Then the other boys begin arriving, and they line up for help too.

But we love it. No one who didn't would spend this kind of money, time, or aggravation on a thing. Isn't that the truth though? Where do we spend our time, money, and efforts? It's pretty easy to see where the priorities lie by taking a quick look at the check book and calendar. And fortunately/unfortunately we will be doing this show twice. Somehow, by rescheduling the original show, it became necessary to do it twice to accommodate everyone involved. So we will go round again, the week after Christmas. But boy, we got it! Hot! Hot!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Titus Helps


Titus always helps. He remembers to put his paws squarely on the computer screen while jumping down. He lets his tail dangle and flick in front of the screen while you work. He scratches you and looks "put out" when you try and move it. He shakes his drool all over the screen. He is my best computer helper ever.

Question of the Day

How many times can three children say the words "booby trap" in the space of about fifteen minutes?

I don't actually know the answer but my educated guess is 1743 times.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Blustery Day

Since I have been so diligent to post updates on the weather here, I figured I would finish up my series of reports. We really never got much snow...a little bit, and then some scouring ice. Scouring, because it was driven by gale force winds. What does the wind speed have to be to rip the shingles off the roof of your house and break a tree in the front yard in half? Because that's the speed we had last night and well into the daytime hours today. Hubby and I spent over an hour this morning deicing the gates to the goat pens, thawing water buckets, "coating up" my old lady goat in her purple winter jacket, and building a wind break for the goat house. By the time we blew back in the door we were frozen stiff and ready to crawl back in bed. Fighting that wind is exhausting!

Otherwise it has been a quiet day. Church was canceled for obvious reasons. I spent the afternoon finishing that mountain of sewing and mending, and I can finally say that the mountain, ironing board, and sewing machines are all gone! My living room looks downright empty! The children made a big mess and a lot of noise, so I guess they were happy for the most part. Now we are ready to tackle what was supposed to be a quiet week, except with all the cancellations, it is now quite full. Uggh! And I still have to shop too. Here's hoping the weather cooperates!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Snow, then ice, then snow...

Well the weather report is firming up, and it looks as though we will be putting off our singing and dancing. Tonight begins with snow, turning to ice, then back to snow. Since we are on the mountain, it will likely stay cold enough to never turn to rain, and we will hold onto more of the mess. Yeah! More shoveling!

So tomorrow will be a quiet day at home, and I am hoping to get some extra rest and a lot of odds and ends done. There are always plenty of odds and ends around here. They seem to trail all over the house in little piles. I truly believe that in heaven I will be relieved of all these disorderly little piles, and I will actually get to the bottom of a "to do" list before twenty more items magically appear!

And speaking of heavenly, we had a wonderful evening last night, with a dear friend who is home from her missions work, on furlough. It was such a delight to pick her brain and hear all about what she has been up to for the last couple of years. She is such a joy to love and support as she is so brutally honest about her work, struggles, and self. Plus she brought chocolate fondue, which of course made her a total hit with the younger set. We "seized" the first pot of chocolate, but salvaged it in a mighty way by turning it into hot fudge sauce. Here's how we did it:

Microwave a 12 ounce bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips until melted. Add milk and watch the chocolate turn into a brick.

Turn out into a pan. Add a can of sweetened condensed milk, 2/3 cup water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir forever over medium low heat, being certain it will never stop looking greasy and lumpy, but refusing to transfer to a larger pan with a whisk (to save on dishes). Transfer to larger pan with nice whisk and see sauce get glossy and thick. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of vanilla. BE AMAZED.

So now the weather outside is frightful, but there is hot fudge sauce in the fridge, so how can I possibly go wrong?


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Winter Afternoon

The snow is swirling and blowing down, at the rate of about two inches an hour. I have been out to shovel twice, and the last time I went out I shoveled the porch and the walk, went to shovel out the goats, and then came back again to reshovel the porch and walk. Spellcheck is telling me there is no such word as reshovel, but I definitely know there is! My back and bad knee are assuring me of it.

Actually, I love to shovel on a day like today, when everything has been canceled due to snow. I checked the temperature before I went out. It said it was 26, but that it felt like 17. At first it did, as the wind whipped down the front of my coat. Actually hubby's coat, which is why it was gaping at the neck. But as I got moving, it began to feel like 86. By the time I came back indoors, my hands and face felt frozen, but the rest of me was downright toasty.

I stood in the shower and marveled at the wonder of running hot water. I suppose you could survive in a hot climate with just cold, but on a day like today, nothing beats a hot shower. So now I am squeaky clean, sporting a dripping head, and tired and achy enough to lay down and go right to sleep. Not that I will. What I really need to do is get back outside and shovel. My porch and walk are nearly filled up again, and the snow is still coming down hard.

I will probably have to go out and shovel the goats out again too. Their gates and water buckets are bogged down in snow. Plus they are sissies about walking around in the deep snow. Unless they think you have food. Goats are so incredibly charming. They always think you have come to visit them, and that you must have treats. They follow you about as you try and do mucky jobs, putting their noses into whatever you are doing, and nibbling on you.

I had to make a note to myself today, not to trust my dear baby boy. He does a very nice job with his chores, and is very reliable when it comes to feed and water. But when I ask him questions like, "Do you think there is enough bedding in Darcy's house? It's going to be cold tonight." Well, I am talking into the wind. He looks into her little house and sees hay. He does not notice that it's black with wet, and swimming in two inches of mucky water. I spent about half an hour just scraping the mess out, so I could put dry, fresh bedding in. But now everyone is dry, and fed, and happy.

Now it's on to the humans. I wish they were as easy to keep as goats. We had hot lunch today since everyone was home, so I can get away with a light supper. After that there is mounds of sewing to catch up on. There are Christmas gifts to finish up and wrap, pants to hem, mending to be done, and dance costumes to be finished. The pile is huge, and I really want to plow through it and get the whole mess put away as it is really cluttering up the living room. I actually left it out in plain view so that it would annoy me enough to finish it quickly!

Tomorrow the snow will have ended, and we can finish shoveling out from under it. Then a day or two of clear skies, and another storm to come...on the day of our dance recital and church Christmas concert. I wonder if we will sing and dance...or put off to another day?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Hippie Boy's Food Blog


The Perfect Cinnamon Toast

Hippie Boy wants to launch a food blog. His first entry is his "Perfect Cinnamon Toast", which was so glorious (in his opinion) that he made me take a photo of it. He felt the launch of his blog might go better if he posted his first entry here, since I actually have, well, readers. His thought is a toaster blog. Foods that are prepared using a toaster, because although Hippie Boy is a pretty awesome baker, and can churn out muffins, cakes, and brownies from scratch...he prefers the modern ease of a toaster. So, dear readers, what do you think? Does the world need a toaster blog written by a fourteen year old boy?


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Newest Love of Our Lives

Introducing Bob

As in Bob Cat

As in Big Ol' Teddy Bear

Real Conversation

Hippie Boy: Would you like to go to a movie with my sister?

Adorable Computer Geek Friend of Hippie Boy: That would be AMAZING!

Hippie Boy: Great!

Mom: Hippie Boy, Adorable Computer Geek Friend doesn't think he's going on a date with your sister, does he?

Mom again: Your married sister?


Teenaged boys...gotta love 'em!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Hair Again...

Microbraids May 2007

Little Locks November 2007

May 2007


November 2007

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Life is Sweet

Cupcakes with butter cream frosting, and a stack of crumb cakes sweet. Halloween candy, and birthday cake and ice cream sweet. How in the world did we come to be swimming in so much sugar? Not that this sweet tooth is complaining mind you. Yes, the sweets are indeed my downfall, and this time of the year begins the marathon of desserts. From Halloween (which we call "candy day"), to Thanksgiving, to our anniversary, to a child's birthday, to Christmas, to New Year, to another couple of children's birthdays...well, it just never ends. There is an endless sea of pies and cakes, cookies and candy.

But it has its down side. I notice we are more prone to get colds and illness. Maybe the result of the cold weather, and maybe not. And I get soooo tired. Maybe the effects of the busy days, and long dark nights, and maybe not. So as always, I will resolve to be good, and leave it alone. Do you think for the first time in forty years I might actually pull it off? Or will I be found in the corner with my thumb in a pie?

I remember when I was younger, and the sweets took over the house during the holidays. I made dozens of types of cookies, breads, fudge, and candy. I made cheesecakes, and pound cakes, and pies. For weeks the house smelled like a gourmet bakery, and for days every surface was taken over by a froth of fancy cellophane and rivers of ribbon. Then we would drive from house to house, delivering our packages and holiday greetings. Now I have passed the torch, and my darling daughter is buried in mountains of magazines and recipe books, borrowing my recipes and Christmas Cd's. In a way it makes me very happy, as I will benefit greatly by her baking efforts. She will shower our house with way too many goodies, and I will not even have to lift a spatula. But in a way it makes me sad. I see pieces of myself in my little chick, and she is carrying on. But what of the other chicks in this nest. I realize that I cannot do it all, and that it would be fruitless to try. I realize that we have bigger fish to fry (or cookies to bake) right now. But I have to admit that I run my hand longingly over that roll of shiny cellophane in the gourmet wrapping aisle.

Maybe I'll make some cutout cookies, and have the children decorate them. Then maybe we can take a long walk and deliver them to our friends who live on camp. Maybe I'll make some chocolate lollipops too. Maybe we'll put the Christmas Cd's on while we cook...well, that's if SOMEONE remembers to bring them back!

P.S. I want the camera too. How can I EBay without a camera?

Friday, November 2, 2007

WARNING...

...I may edit your comments. Those of you dear ones who stop by to visit, please try and remember not to use names for the fam. It's just that we're so famous in blogland, and I have to keep the paparazzi away from my muddy doorstep. Feel free to use our nicknames, or create clever ones if you like. Come to think of it, other than "Nobody", I don't have one. Maybe I should run a contest.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

On a Personal Note...


My Punkin's Pumpkin


Dearest Ann-tastic,

I do NOT need to call my daughter every day. She usually calls me. And I do NOT need her adorable blog to sneak about leaving her sweet daily messages. No. That's where I abuse her. Check out my many rude and mocking comments, and her request that I eat her shorts. Still she is pretty darned cute don't ya think?

Mama Nobody

P.S. You would look smashing in camo.
P.P.S. WHERE is that blog of yours. I'm getting tired of waiting!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Lazy Sunday

This morning was one of those Sunday mornings when I felt as though I had been dragged through a knot hole on the way to church. But never mind. The family looked respectable, the service was lovely (confirmations), and I discovered I was in good company. Apparently even the Bishop's wife has been known to exclaim that she didn't even know why she went to church. This following the attempt to try and get herself and her children there, while hubby had gone on ahead. So I guess it has always been thus, when families prepare to head out to church.

Hippie Boy was ill this morning, and opted to stay home and sleep. He never does, so I didn't argue with him. I was feeling under the weather and came home to collapse into my own bed for the afternoon. I have no idea what my family did for the better part of four hours. When I awoke, Hippie Boy informed me that he felt much better, and not to worry, he had "watched church on TV at 11". He also let me know he had learned how he could become "totally ripped in just 90 days". I'm not sure what impacted him most...the service or the infomercial.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

Fun at the Science Museum


Great Big Bubbles


Pay no attention to the scary blue alien!


This one's for you Uncle Monopod!

Fun at the Food Show


Boo's Dream Car


Boo's Dream Date
"Hey, you're cute! Can I pinch your nose?"

Monday, October 8, 2007

Invisible Children

Ha Ha! As if! This one has never been what you'd call invisible. She's quirky, and opinionated, and full of life. We had a fun girls' night out. Very low key, since we both felt a little under the weather, and THE PLAN was to get home early and get some rest. But her hubby talked her into going out after she got home, so although old Momcat will be hitting the pillow fairly early, baby girl will be out yawning into her coffee cup while her hubby and brother-in-law catch up. Oh well...the best laid plans.

Next week we eat until we bust...food show here we come! After that we'll plan a real night out. Hopefully neither of us will be sick, and we can keep our long awaited date with Panera's and perhaps pick up a few foundation garments? Boy, do we know how to party!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

What the World Eats

This is a really cool link, that I think I found first over at one of Big Mama's blog, and I have returned to it several time to linger over the photos and the corresponding information. Food for thought anyhow.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Getting Tagged...again

Well, Leisa over at Aussieopian Family tagged me. Most of you know my position on tagging, though I admit it can be fun, depending on the Meme. Since you know I don't tag, I will post the rules and my answers. If you think it looks like fun, or time lies heavy on your hands, knock yourself out. Send me a comment to let me know you did it. Or feel free to use my comment box to reveal your inner self if you don't have a blog yet. (BJ) By the way, this is a double tag. Enjoy!

First, The Middle Name Meme:

Rules: You must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your middle name. If you don’t have a middle name, use the middle name you would have liked to have. When you are tagged, you need to write your own blog post containing your own middle name game facts. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged and to read your blog.

Christine:

C is for Cats: I know they say that in your lifetime you will never be more than 6 feet from a spider. This also true of me and cats. They are with me always, no matter where I go or what I am doing.
H is for Home: Yeah, it's true. It's my favorite hideout.
R is for Reading: Always doing it, even when I should be doing something else...like sleeping.
I is for Italian: Though I'm not, I married one and got the name. It has been a life changing experience.
S is for Sewing: Oh how I hate it, and yet I am so gosh darned good at it, and I make such cool stuff, and it saves so much money.
T is for Teacher: Well this one is just obvious.
I is for Ice Cream: Again, obvious.
N is for Naps: Love 'em.
E is for Elegant: Well, I can wish can't I?


Meme #2. This meme consists of ten questions to be answered.

1. If you could have super powers what would they be and what would you do with them? (Please feel free to be selfish, you do not have to save the world!)

The ability to maximize time and energy...and maybe go without sleep.

2. Were you to find your self stranded on an island with a CD player…it could happen…what would your top 10 blogger island discs be?

Oh, do I HAVE to listen to anything? Can't I just enjoy the peace and quiet for awhile?

3. If you were a smell what would it be?

Autumn leaves.

4. What bird would you most like to be?

Sea Gull.

5. If you were a bird who’s head would you poo on?

Hippie Boy's...just to enjoy the reaction.

6. Are there any foods that your body craves?

Ice cream. Pudding. Chocolate. Chocolate ice cream. Chocolate pudding. I see a pattern emerging.

7. What’s your favorite time of year?

Fall, when the air is crisp and the sky is brilliant blue. I like the feel of summer going, and the holidays ahead.

8. What’s your favorite time of day?

Early morning, when the sun is just coming up and the house is quiet. The smell of coffee perking is required.

9. If a rest is as good as a change which would you choose?

I don't know, I have been known to crave both. Maybe when I wake up from my rest I could find something has changed for the better? Is that wanting to have my cake and eat it too?

10. If you could have a dinner party and invite any 5 people from the past or present who would they be? (Living or deceased.)

My dinner party is for the girls I love and miss so much...

BJ Byz, as the party never really starts until she arrives.

Ann-tastic, because it's always a feast if the coffee pot is on.

Joan, because she shares what she has.

Kateri, because she turned out so well.

Melissa, because she's the real deal.

And by the way, no hate mail from family. You're family. You don't need an invitation, you know I miss you, and SOME of you can smell a party a long way off.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Boys and Girls

Boys are dreadful. They are messy and loud, and often smell bad...yet they can never seem to detect this with their own noses. Their rooms are atrocious. No matter how hard you work to give them a "place for everything", everything ends up on the floor. No matter how many times you throw open the curtains and open the window, they will close it all back up and enjoy their stinky little cave. You must remind them to shower, not leave their dirty clothes squirreled under the covers of their beds, comb their hair, wear socks.

Boys are wonderful. They are marvelously entertaining, especially when they do song and dance routines, swinging their dirty underwear in graceful circles, on the way to the laundry basket. They are comfortably companionable. They will chat if you like, or sit quietly doing their own thing for hours. You can forget they exist for awhile. They are emotionally uncomplicated...even the high strung ones.

Girls are horrid. They are intent upon making you realize that THEY ARE THERE, and in addition they want you to know what kind of mood they are in while being THERE. You can never, ever forget they exist. Even if they are in another room with the door closed, even if they are asleep, you are always aware of their simmering presence. They are in general, potentially as smelly as any boy, but mercifully they begin to obsess about what others think, right around the time they become most ripe. Then they disdainfully look down their noses at their smelly brothers, and smelly boy rooms.

Girls are great. They might be moody, and irritable...but they understand when Mom is too. They understand the nuances of life, when boys just stand there saying, "What?!" They grow up and become friends who understand you, who worry about you, who pamper and indulge you now and then. They never patronize you, because of course they are still a little afraid of you. They do favors for you that no one else will do...partly because they love you, and partly because they are still a little afraid of you.

So the conclusion of the whole matter is this. A few of each is nice. I would even consider collecting more of these people over time...children, grandchildren. But as far as men go, well that's another post altogether. I hope the one I have lasts a good long time, because I don't ever want another one of them. If ever I found myself single, I would just begin collecting cats.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Teaching Textbooks

I was reorganizing my labels for older posts recently, and realized that I didn't have any posts dealing directly with homeschooling. So here is my first one. Today I am going to do a plug for Teaching Textbooks which is some of the pricier yet best curriculum we buy. It is a Math curriculum specifically designed for homeschoolers, and it began with the high school Maths, but now includes junior high levels as well. The first text we bought was Algebra 1, because another curriculum we had purchased just wasn't cutting it. With this other curriculum, our daughter took a whole year of Algebra, passed, but learned little. She frequently found herself lost and confused...looking at an answer key, knowing her answer was incorrect, but unsure why. I read a review of Teaching Textbooks and although it was more than I would normally spend for a single subject, I decided to take the risk.

The package includes a textbook with each day's lesson written out, with practice problems and homework problems. There is also a test book and answer key. But the best part is a set of CD's for your computer, that "teach" the lesson each day. It is put together by the Sabouri brothers, Greg and Shawn, and although I'm not sure who does the teaching, I feel like I know him after hearing his voice almost daily for the last two years. The guy teaches this stuff in a way that makes me wish I could have learned Math from him. I might have actually learned something! His manner is engaging and even entertaining at times...but always clear as a bell when it comes to the concept. At the same time he lectures, the lesson is written out on your computer screen, step by step, like a teacher at the board. In addition, the CD's also have a full breakdown and explanation of every practice problem, homework problem, and even test problem, done in the same manner. So there will never be a time your student can say, "I know I got this wrong, but I don't know why."

I am convinced it is a nearly no-fail curriculum if it is done faithfully, the way it was designed to be used. Best of all, it does not require Mom or Dad to relearn the higher Maths just to limp through with their scholar, though you my find yourself relearning them alongside your student! Our son, who would be an eighth grader this year, has completed Algebra 1 and 2, and is currently doing the Geometry curriculum. He has found all three to be excellent, and plans to continue to use this program. And although the material is not cheap, this quality program is well worth the cost, plus the material is nonconsumable and may be reused with any number of students.

Finally, I would mention that the approach the Sabouri brothers take is holistic, in that they teach the history and philosophy attached to Math, plus they teach much about real life application of the principles being learned. This may engage a student who would not otherwise be enamored with Math. The materials are user friendly, even for the computer challenged. The lessons run directly from the CD's, thus you can work from virtually any computer, and you are not required to load huge "space eating" programs on your computer. This offers flexibility and portability that homeschoolers just love. In every way, it is an excellent program, well worth the money, and I can't even think of a way to improve it!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Chocolate Underpants

A couple of days ago, I was feeding my three homeschoolers and Hubby their lunch. Halfway through his plate of ravioli, our Baby Boy asked if he could have dessert when he finished. Before even considering my answer, my mouth said "No!" Well, I stood there for a moment considering this, and I thought about how I really ought to say yes more often, especially when it was such a harmless request. I also thought about the fact that we had three left over desserts languishing on the counter or in the fridge. I knew without a doubt that those desserts would begin to call out enticingly to me about ten o'clock that night, and if I did not dispense with some of them I might be tempted to eat chocolate birthday cake, topped by fudge peanut butter brownie, with a side of chocolate pudding. And then I would wonder why I couldn't sleep.

So I looked over at Baby Boy and said blandly, "You may have a slice of chocolate cake. But don't even think of calling it dessert."

He replied amiably, "Well, what should I call it?"

"Chocolate garnishment."

At this point Hippie Boy pipes up. "WHAT'S chocolate garnishment? It sound like an undergarment."

At which I begin sputtering. Through my laughter I manage to get out, "From now on it is no longer called dessert. It's chocolate underpants!"


So this is why our entire family dissolves into hilarity toward the end of every meal, as someone feels obligated to ask if there is any chocolate underpants. I am fearing the rare day we go out to eat in a public restaurant, and a waitress has the bravery to ask if anyone would care for dessert!



Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Courageous

A recent, kind commenter called our family courageous. In customary fashion I tried to mentally brush the word off. It seems a bit over the top for what I do...most of which involves copious amounts of dirty laundry and dishes. But I got to thinking about the word for a few minutes. In fact, I got to thinking about it for long enough that I decided to look up a definition. Here's what I got:
Courageous: able to face and deal with danger or fear without flinching
I like the definition, because when I just searched for courage, it spoke of an absence of fear...and I knew this just didn't seem entirely right. But note this definition. There is no absence of fear, but an ability to face fear. I think this is terribly important, because fear is a very huge part of what we are doing here. I remember going to our birthing classes years ago, and under all the hope and happiness was fear. Fear of what can go wrong, fear of failure, fear of the future. I remember going to our adoption preparation classes, and under all the hope and happiness was an enormous fear. Much greater than the fear at birthing class.

Those teaching the classes foster the fear. They talk of "worst case scenarios" in an attempt to not leave you unprepared. But fear is not preparation. We begin to ask ourselves questions, and they all begin with two words. What if...the children don't like us? What if they have needs we cannot provide for? What if they feel like outsiders...don't attach to our family? The questions get harder, and we often dodge them at this stage, telling ourselves, "This is only hypothetical... this wouldn't likely happen to us." What if the children are destructive? What if they hurt or kill our pets? What if they are sexually active? What if they hurt my bio child? What if my marriage begins to suffer? Then the children come home, and in the whirl of settling in you ask no questions...you only put your shoulder to the wheel because there is just so much work to be done. You are happy to work. This is what you signed on for.

But in time the dust settles. The work becomes a routine, and the quiet questions begin somewhere in the back of your mind. Now the questions are very specific. What if this one has FAS? Will they ever be able to care for themselves? What if one child is preying on another behind a closed door? Can I live with the destruction of our family's belongings? What if my husband loses his job because of one of these children? What to do about the spouse who gains thirty pounds in only a few months because of stress? How do I deal with my bio child sobbing, saying, "I just can't deal with this noise and craziness anymore."? Now the fear becomes very real.

I think the fear is what separates us from the rest of the world. If all I wanted to do was be charitable and help someone, I could have done a hundred things; all of them noble, and useful, and good. But very few of them would require courage. I could leave the sanctuary of my loving home every day of my life and work for the good of others. I could be well paid to do it, or give it away for free. But some families choose to offer up the very best they have. They open up that sanctuary called their home, their family, their marriage. Some go in with eyes wide open, and others not so much. The common denominator is fear. Absolutely everything that might go wrong, can and often will.

Here are the courage questions to ask yourself. Can I love a child who harms and destroys that which I love? Can I change my expectations and not be bitter? Can I live with a pervading sense of failure? Can I live in "fear without flinching"? And of course when I am honest with myself I know I cannot. I don't even want to. Courage sucks. Being courageous means there must be something to be afraid of to begin with, some risk to be taken. I think most of us living our comfortable, secure lives don't want danger to knock on our door. We only take challenge when it is thrust upon us...and yet we are so uplifted by stories of courage. We hear them and have a vague sense that there is something we are missing.

I have had it said to me along the way, that my new daughters are very courageous. I agree, but not for the reasons most are referring to. It does not require courage to be tossed into a lifeboat by force. What my daughters truly do know, is fear. They have crawled into every dark hole to escape from their fear. What demands courage, is to allow yourself to be coaxed out of the hole. It demands courage to decide to live above an animal level, existing only for your bread and a safe place to lay your head. It requires courage to even want more. I see my daughters' courage when they choose to rise above their apathy and work hard, and believe there will actually be a payoff in the future. I see their courage when they do wrong and choose to tell the truth, trusting that this strange parent-creature will deal fairly with them. Their courage feeds my courage, and mine feeds theirs.

I realize that the battle we wage is not so very different... and a battle analogy is apt. Some of us have signed up to be soldiers, and others here got drafted. But we all have to go through our training, become fit for battle, and learn courage. It requires us to take risk, travel light, be flexible. We must face our fear without flinching...so yes, I will take "courageous". I sure like it better than "saint" or "crazy"!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Friday, September 21, 2007

Hippie Boy Whines

"How come I never make it into the blog? I don't even have a cool nick name. I'm just miscellaneous teenage boy. Whine, whine, whine..." And you wonder where his mother gets it!

One Year Anniversary

Twins, separated at birth...reunited September 21, 2006. One year gone by, since we first set eyes on the girls. We are one less right now, but we had a wonderful evening, with supper out to celebrate.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

You Must Be a Saint...You Must Be Crazy

OK. While I'm off and running on pet peeves, here's one for ya. When you announce to anyone that you are going to adopt older children...maybe several of them, there are two standard responses. Wanna take a guess at what they might be? Oh come on. I know you can get them. Maybe you've already said them to someone, in which case, go away and I'll never speak to you again. JUST KIDDING! But really, it's true. You announce this monumental thing, and these are the standard responses. For clarity and organization, I will address each one.

First, "You must be a saint." This is generally said by strangers, because if anyone knows me even a little bit, they know I am NOT a saint. And it's not like we went into this thing thinking it might improve our saint status. It's nice, kinda...but don't do it. It feels weird, because I am NOT a saint by the definition the commenter is using. It makes me feel like a fraud. It also makes my children feel weird if they happen to be standing nearby, and they are always standing nearby...like parenting my children is a cross to be borne , and if only I can get through I will reap jewels in the hereafter.

Second, "You must be crazy." Now I admit that we occasionally take a swim in that pool, and doing this thing might make you crazier than you were. But deciding to do this does NOT make us crazy. In fact, I'm uncertain what part of it makes us crazy. Is is the sheer size our family has grown to? Some people get wiggy about that. Or is it the money? Lots of kids equals lots of expenses, and we sure don't have loads of cash. Or is it the fact that the children are older, carry lots of baggage, don't look like us? I'm not sure what actually puts us into the category of crazy. And I'm sure that lots of folks just say it with a chuckle, because they don't quite know what to say. I can accept that, because I often say stupid useless things in an effort to lighten things up. But again...don't do it. First of all, it gives us all a complex, because the life we are living right now feels crazy a lot of the time. But we know that we have to swim through the crazy to get to something else. We're just hoping and praying that the something else is good.

Now I've made my point, and I hope you realize the gentle intention I had. But it wouldn't be very good without a suggestion to those of you who find yourselves with these words hanging off the tips of your tongues in similar situations. You may say, "Well, what should I say?" Here are my suggestions:

1. Congratulations! How wonderful!
2. How can we pray for you?
3. You are very lucky/blessed to have such a beautiful family.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Whine, whine, whine...

OK. I'm going to complain about something that bugs me. A little bit. Because in the grand scheme of things I know it's just a tiny little thing, but it bugs me. I love this blogging thing. It's very cathartic for me. And it's also good for me to try and keep things upbeat and positive, as much as I can, and still be real. It's also a great way to keep friends and family in the loop, and maybe even encourage a stranger who happens along. So here's my gripe. NO COMMENTS. People drop by, and I don't know about it. Weeks go by and I don't hear from loved ones, but I hear them tell dear hubby, "But I'm reading her blog!" And really that's awesome, and I'm so glad we're staying plugged in this way. Except for the fact that many of y'all don't have a blog for me to read and comment at. So please humor me and drop a line...or even better, start up your own blog and get creative. It's really easy, and fun too. So that's my short little rant. Not much of a rant. More like a commercial for blogging.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Skinned Knees

The beauty of this life is how God can teach us the most amazing things through the most mundane details. Like skinned knees. I've had two casualties in two days...both bike accidents. It has gotten so messy that I just left my impromptu infirmary set up on the kitchen counter. It all began with Baby LaLa and her raggedy knee. It was hard to say what really happened, or why. I am relatively confident that the "accident" was intentional, knowing how passive aggressive this child can be. Was she angry at me for focusing on the messy shed instead of her? Or was she just a little sad and empty, and feeling like a little attention from Mom might fill up the hole? I know better than to ask her. She wouldn't know. All I know was that I heard her pull up outside the shed door with a quiet whimper. I poked my head out to see what was wrong, and she lurched off her bike with a cry of "Mommmeeeee..." It was the cry of a little child, the one that breaks your heart and scares you all at once. But I also knew that I had sent her to ride her bike for some fresh air and exercise, not three minutes before. Furthermore, I knew she did NOT want said fresh air or exercise. In fact, she had hopped on her bike unwillingly, and taken off at top speed, while wagging her handlebars back and forth as hard and as fast as she could. Her "accident" was a foregone conclusion.

So I escorted her to a chair on the porch, and carefully and gently patched up the mess. She barely cried, though it clearly hurt a great deal, and she was working hard to hold it in. She was also scared, as she was convinced she could see her bone. She could not. I wondered if she was happy with her choice to act recklessly, as I worked on cleaning the wound. I wondered because I have been on the other side of the skinned knee a few times myself. How many times have I done something stupid and self destructive, just because I was angry, or bored, or feeling a little empty and sad? How many times have I sat on the porch, gritting my teeth in pain, knowing it was my own stupidity and rebelliousness that landed me in such pain. How many times have I been afraid to ask for comfort and forgiveness?

My next casualty was Baby Boy...twin two. He was playing follow-the-leader with Little Potatie. The problem with follow-the-leader on bikes, is that only the person in front knows what they are doing. The children following are pretty much driving blind, twisting and turning, eyes on the rider in front of them, and not on the road in front of their own bike. This pretty much equals the occasional wipe out. Twin two hit the dirt pretty hard yesterday. He came into the house shouting for Mom. "I need your help, " he said loudly from the back hallway. I sat him down in a kitchen chair to examine things, and at first it didn't look too bad...mostly a few scrapes and a lot of dirt. I got him a wash rag and sent him into the bathroom with strict instructions to flush ALL the dirt out with warm water. A few minutes later he stumbled back to the kitchen chair, whimpering a bit. The arm, the leg, and the rag were all bloody, and there was still a fair amount of dirt and gravel involved. As I finished the cleanup and began sanitizing the wounds with peroxide, it became clear that his injuries were quite a bit worse than they had appeared when covered in dirt. Stubborn mud and gravel was lodged in the scrapes, which bled enough to keep me from seeing what I was doing. By the time everything was clean, medicated, and wrapped in gauze, Baby boy had been sobbing great sobs, with tears freely flowing. But he never tried to make me stop doing what we both knew needed doing.

Once patched up, he hobbled outside to claim wounded hero status, getting his sisters to pamper him and run for him. Amazing. He had fallen and hurt himself, come searching for help, suffered through treatment, and was now reaping the benefits of a little comfort and coddling. There was no averted eyes, knowing the injury was a result of naughtiness. No holding back tears and sobs, afraid of reprimand. And I don't know much about that side of the skinned knee. I don't usually like to take risks or do something just for the joy of it. And I find it hard to soak up help, and comfort, and coddling, because...well, why? I'm not even sure. It just feels wrong somehow.

But then there is this. Something this weary, worn Mama can take to the bank. When hurting and scared, my children come running, shouting with a loud voice for Mommy. And they sit through the painful operations, trusting me to take care of it..."even if my bone is showing!" In this moment it does not matter who is right, who is wrong...who is emotionally healthy, or not. As beloved children of our Heavenly Father, we should be able to approach confidently. But do I? How many times do I come running, damaged at my own hand, eyes averted in shame. I sit holding my tears in, and try and duck out as soon as I am patched up. But at least I know where to come for patching. That's something. And maybe as I grow up, I'll spend more time in the kitchen chair, sobbing hard while the gravel gets picked out, because I took a risk and did something for the joy of it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

All the news That's fit to Print


  • Hubby is into his slower season, cooking for midweek school groups on retreat. Mostly college groups and private schools. So we are enjoying some yummy meals.
  • This also means we can get to church on the weekends, and we finally became members of our parish this past Sunday.
  • Homeschool has begun with a big ugly BANG. Monday Dad actually had to come home from work and read the "twins" the riot act for their lousy attitudes. Thankfully they have rallied and are working beautifully together. Big bro was never in trouble. He gets his work done with a minimum of whining.
  • My two younger scholars are enjoying the private school. They are still honeymooning a bit, but they are happy and staying out of trouble so I will be glad and take what I can get.
  • I am pulling up out of my emotional slump of the last few weeks. Seeing Soapy go was terribly hard, and having her gone is amazingly easy. As long as I don't dig too deep. The house is blissfully quiet and calm in comparison to when she was with us.
  • I am getting a tremendous amount of cleaning/ organizing/throwing away done. The trash cans have been consistently full, I am making regular runs to Salvation Army, and heavens... I think I am becoming my mother. I am unloading tons of crap on my poor daughter. It's OK. It's good crap.
  • I am enjoying my goats once again. OK, I know that sounds weird, but they had kind of become holes I was pitching food into. But Darcy ran about as I was cleaning the shed today "helping". After I raked up all the hay that was all over the floor into a big pile, she hunkered down in it and just ate and lounged. It was so amusing to me as I worked, it made me smile. Every now and again I would feel something tickle my arm, and there she would be looking up at me.
  • Baby LaLa in characteristic form, feeling I was paying WAY too much attention to sheds and goats, proceeded to careen down the road at full speed wagging her bike handle bars back and forth as hard as she could. She wiped out, (big surprise) and gouged a flap of skin from her knee as big as my thumbnail. Really nasty. So I patched her up and she's quite happy with her bandage and dose of drama.
  • I'm kind of tired, but I have laundry to do, and the fam wants to watch and episode of "Monk".
  • That's pretty much it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

First day of School

New lunch boxes, new backpacks, new clothes, new sneakers,
new school, new friends, a new start!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Harmless Fun

We are in the camp kitchen as I type. I know this because the keyboard is crusted in grease and has food particles between the keys. Such are the joys of having your "office" in the corner of a busy commercial kitchen! Hubby is teaching the girls a valuable skill...how to entertain yourself with a latex glove. Currently everyone is running about with their glove on their hand, inflated with air and pinched off at the wrist. They are all loudly telling stories of smacking their hands with hammers and having said hands "puff up". Oh, now the story has changed to wasp stings. I can't wait until he shows then how to put the thing on your head like a rooster comb (blown up of course)...that'll do wonders on their hair.

I have to admit that life at camp can be amazing at times. Last week was a rough week. I was grumpy (translate to unbearable) and hardly wanted to come to meals and be forced to make nice-nice with anyone who happened to plunk their plate down across from me. Plus the group was challenging as well. I won't say that it isn't a joy to serve, but some folk really tend to bring the joy out more than others. This week we have an amazing group in, with quite a few familiar faces since they've been with us before. They are mostly immigrant Khmer people, who have such incredible suffering in their heritage, yet they are so kind, friendly, and full of joy. Their speaker is a Jamaican man, and he and his wife and son have made friends with our family quickly. He pointed out to us the amazing position that we are in here at camp. How we get to meet, and see in action the variety in Christ's church. And it's true. As we serve, and talk with, and even worship together, we realize that we have far more in common than we ever imagined. Frequently the groups range not only in style of worship or denomination, but also in skin color, culture, and even language. I remember attending a Ukrainian service, all in Russian, and having a teen boy feverishly translating for us and explaining the humor of the skits. I can't remember anything of the service, but only his fervor to share it with us.

So in the midst of all my grumpiness, I am grateful for new friends, who point out the beauty around me. Beauty that I sometimes cease to see, as the landscape becomes so very familiar. And I am thankful for small pleasures...like latex gloves. Otherwise known as cheap toys.

Friday, August 17, 2007

I Wanna Run Away

Boy, do I need a big dose of fantasy these days! This time last year I was preparing for our big Disney camping trip to meet the girls. Oh what a difference a year makes! I love Disney. It's so very reliable. Plus it's very clean and tidy. And they play cheery music all the time. It's nice. I wish I could go live there.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Other Things

As always, even when your family is in the midst of a hard time, life does inevitably go on. It does seem shocking at times, as I am so caught in our own little loop of the world. The weather has been fabulous! Not too hot, mostly sunny. We got bikes up and rolling for four of the children, and they stay outside, building structures in the woods and riding their bikes, ALL DAY LONG. Believe me when I say that they eat and sleep well. They are constantly attended by a black goat and an orange cat. It is fun to look out the window and see those two critters curled up in the sunshine together...laying only a couple of feet apart on the lawn.

Camp is still in full swing, and will be until after Labor Day, when we will switch to a busy weekend schedule. School is less than two weeks away, for the two scholars who plan to go out to school. The three who will be at home, are not planning to start until a little later. This will give us some down time to tackle some projects and much needed home maintenance. Things tend to suffer in the summer here, and with all the added stress of the last year, we are dreadfully behind in even the most basic things.

Hubby is speaking seriously of putting our house on the market (oh, my heart) so I guess I had better think about how to empty the place out. Maybe a dumpster? I hate to see it go. I tend to let my roots creep into the old houses we have owned, but I just don't see us settling down here to stay forever. I really think that if we ever leave camp, we'll leave the area. And right now the house is not an asset, but simply one more thing that is bleeding our resources and energies dry.

And maybe I'll find time to sew a bit. I have a half finished quilt for the newlyweds, place mats and napkins for Mom, and an idea for a birthday gift for Boo. My machines have been behind padlocks in the bathroom cupboards, because Soapy is so destructive and she was fixating on them. I hadn't dared to take them out and leave them set up. Needless to say, they have only come out to hem a few pairs of pants, and then back in the cupboard again. Hardly enough to get any creative juices flowing.

It still feels like summer, but fall must be in the air. I am having my urges to empty closets and scrub everything in sight. I want to get the shed cleaned out, and throw away, throw away. Of course I never really throw away, but try and find new homes for stuff that's still good. Probably has something to do with knowing that I'll soon have to condense two houses into one very little one. Oh well, less stuff is less work. Less work is good.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Beautiful Day

Mama and the Girls

"My first snow cone Sissy...it's SO GOOD!"

Bubble Boy


Today was an absolutely gorgeous day, full of family fun. The wedding of our dear friends went off without a hitch...as far as we could tell. Congratulations B&B! Thanks for having us as part of your special day!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Bittersweet

Dear friends have been visiting from the many corners of our little world. Family came, and sat around the campfire tonight. We "talked of poems, prayers and promises, and things that we believe in..." and it was sweet. Gifts have been pressed into our hands by dear ones. Why? Because we love you, of course. Tomorrow we attend the wedding of more dear friends. It promises to be a beautiful day after the rain of today. The children will all be fresh and clean, buffed and puffed. I will be a bit frazzled by the time we arrive. It takes all the organization of a small military maneuver to get this family out the door on time and looking presentable. And it's a morning wedding. And they want us there early as dear hubby is to do a reading. And we have to slip down to the campground to wish friends and family farewell before we leave for the ceremony.

And all the while there is this pot pushed to the back burner. We try not to open the lid right now. Just ignore the pot. But the pot will have to be reckoned with, probably early this coming week. It cannot just sit there and bubble forever.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Stuff I've Been Reading/Thinking About

It's funny how you can be moving through your days and activities, while your mind seems to be churning along on its own accord. All sorts of things feed the thought process coming from here and there, and eventually make up a whole thought. A few days ago I got an email newsletter from a missionary friend that we support. It had some interesting news...things to think on and pray about, but also it had this verse. It seemed like she was claiming this verse in relation to something going on in her life, and it really struck me as a verse that spoke truth to me where I am right now. But I hate to just latch onto some lone little verse and claim it, without reading the story around it, so I looked it up and got caught up in several chapters. It was the story of David and Absalom, and it was a great verse that seemed to speak truth about who God is, although I questioned its application to the situation in the text. This is one of those stories in the Bible that just makes you think, this has got to be true, because who in their right mind would make this stuff up!? But I'll get to that.

Later on, I was reading a book called Velvet Elvis that my sister gave me a long time ago, and she keeps asking me if I've read it yet, because I think she wants to talk to me about what I thought about it. Well, I'm not all that far into the book yet, so I haven't got a fully formed opinion, but I did really chew on something he said near the beginning. It goes something like this. We believe that the Bible is alive, because we don't just believe that it happened, but that it is happening. Like the story of Adam and Eve and the fruit. It isn't just a story about something that happened in the past, but it is our story too. It happens to us, because we do and feel the same things. The story is very real, and human, and we can relate to it. Like taking control when we shouldn't, and totally screwing up, and then kicking ourselves for our stupidity, and having to live with the consequences of our bad choice. Sometimes for the rest of our lives.

Well, thinking about that took me back to the verse, and the story of David and Absalom, and I think I can see why these crazy stories made it in. The verse that grabbed me read like this:
"Yet God does not take away a life; but He devises means, so that His banished ones are not expelled from Him."
2 Samuel 14:14b
If it is possible to say so about the man after God's own heart, and not be disrespectful, King David had the mother of all dysfunctional families. I mean really, the verse is given during a discourse trying to convince David of the "rightness" of letting his son Absalom come out of his self imposed banishment because he had killed his own brother. For raping their sister. And David agrees, on the condition that Absalom comes home, but he does not have to see him. So this goes OK for about two years, but Absalom decides he wants to see his Dad. And since he can't get an audience the conventional way, he sets fire to his influential neighbor's (aka the commander of David's armies) fields, just to get his attention and stress how serious he is about wanting to see dear old Dad. The predictable thing is that this spoiled child behavior gets him just what he wants, and David sees him and forgives him.

Now here's a shocker. This newly forgiven son, then goes and uses his freedom and position (and apparently his hair) to totally undermine his father the king, and begins amassing an army to try and overthrow him. It's not like he was rash and impulsive about it either. He took forty years to "steal the hearts" of the men of Israel, rise up and put the king, his father, on the run for his life. The story is long and has a lot of twists and turns, but eventually David prevails in an enormous and bloody battle, and Absalom is hung up in a tree by his glorious hair, and killed by David's army commander. (You know, the one with the burnt out fields.)

And here's another weird twist. You'd think after all the water under the bridge, David would be relieved to get the news, but instead he breaks down and begins wailing about how he wishes it had been him instead of his beloved son. The part I so feel as real, is the reaction of the commander, who basically tells him to snap out of it. He says something like, "I can't believe you are behaving like this. I think you'd be happy if all of us were dead, if only your precious bad boy son was still alive. Your people went into BATTLE for you, in case that escaped you, and if you don't get a grip, they will give you more trouble than Prince Fabio ever did in his whole life!"

And of course David did snap out of it enough to show appreciation for what the people had done, but he still grieved for his son Absalom. Now the thing I think is so alive about this story, is not just that it DID happen, but that it IS happening. Dysfunctional families abound in all times and places. Sometimes they are made by the bad choices of the family members, and sometimes they just are...the results of events out of our control. But children become damaged, and violent. And some parents confront the situation head on...and some of them succeed, and some fail. Some parents bury their heads in the sand, and they reap a sad harvest. But no matter how it goes down, it always seems to end with a parent weeping over their child. If it ends badly, they weep a lot. So much that the world looking on scratches its head and wonders why all the tears. Because all they see is the violence, and vanity, and manipulations. They think that they would have been relieved over the break with the child. They would have been happy over the deliverance from the misery this child has heaped onto this home. It is a horrible thing to be caught in the circle of grief, then relief, then guilt...then back to grief. You can never really fully plumb the depths of how you feel. No one will let you. You won't let yourself.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Tarry Ye...

"He works where He sends us to wait.

'Tarry ye . . . until . . .' Wait on God and He will work, but don't wait in spiritual sulks because you cannot see an inch in front of you! Are we detached enough from our own spiritual hysterics to wait on God? To wait is not to sit with folded hands, but to learn to do what we are told."

Oswald Chambers--My Utmost For His Highest

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Keep Praying

Thank God for small mercies. My cold is getting better, and I actually got some sleep last night. Actually, it's no small mercy, since for the last two years every cold has turned to double pneumonia and weeks on expensive meds. But this cold seems to be breaking up and going away on its own. I am thankful. And sleep... how we take it for granted until we can't find it! Night before last I fought with hubby at ten, and flounced off to bed to go to sleep. I tossed and turned until two, when he came to bed. Forget sleep. He began his own tossing and turning, and drove me out until 4:30. I rattled around the house, checking on animals, and children, and email. I went out on the deck and played with the flashlight, thinking maybe I'd catch some wildlife. But all I heard was the low booms of thunder in the distance. Finally at 4:30, in total desperation, I took two cold pills...hoping to clear my head and get to sleep. It worked, and I drifted off for about forty minutes, when an earsplitting thundercrack jolted me out of bed. The only person moving faster was my eleven year old son, who was already in my room by the time I ripped the curtain open to look out and see if the tree in the yard was still standing.

Yesterday I slogged around, feeling like I was swimming through Jello, with my head pounding. I took pain reliever every four hours and kept moving. Too much to do, too many children to attend to. I tried to keep the day as normal as possible, which meant keeping to the normal routine and seeing all the normal people we see through a busy day during camp season. I realized that's a lot of people. I felt like everyone was looking at me funny...which is silly since they weren't looking at me any differently than usual. (Which might be funny, now that I think of it.) Or maybe it was just because I looked like something the cat dragged in. I felt like something the cat dragged in.

So today was an improvement by far. The headache was gone, and I felt the effect of a full night's sleep. Nothing has really changed. Life is still shifting and sliding about on this new treacherous ground. The sad is still sad, and the weird is still weird. But with the subtraction of clogged sinuses and the addition of sleep, everything is under a slightly different light. For those of you who are praying...don't stop. Tomorrow will be a tough day.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I feel like dookey but my hair looks great...

Are these the words of a song I used to know? I find myself humming them, in a nasal, congested sort of way. If they're not already in a song, I probably ought to write one.

I have the post-party summer cold. It's still trying to decide if it's taking up residence in my head or my chest. Which means it's equally bad in both places. So I am this very attractive, snorting, snuffling, hacking thing right now. But I do mean attractive. Yessiree! I got my semi-annual haircut today, and I am looking fine. I am only quoting those around me, who have used words like "cute", "adorable", and "looks like a teenager". A very gray haired teenager mind you, but that's OK. Some teens are pretty gray. Boo keeps running her hands through my hair and telling me how much she loves it...which makes me wonder how bad I may have looked before. OK. That's just me being negative. It's my mucous talking. I'll go back to the cute thing.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Social Event of the Season


What do you get when you mix picnic food, relay races, music and dancing, water balloons, a big bonfire, s'mores, fireworks, friends, and family? You get a jamming wedding party. Our eldest and her hubby were married about eight months ago, but their celebration party was yesterday. The weather was perfect. The food was yummy. We all had fun, and best of all we saw so many dear ones.

It's funny to see so many folk who are an important part of your life, all gathered together in one place. Some drive you crazy, some calm you down. Some need time to catch up, catch your breath, come up to speed...others don't need to say a word. Some make you want laugh and dance...others make your heart clench with the joy and the pain of seeing those old familiar faces.

Boo said she will always remember the day her big sister had her wedding party as one of the best days with her "new adopted family". Then she amended herself to say, "No, with my family." I think she got it right. It was one of the best days ever.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Life is Funny

Just when you think you have it figured out, your children throw a little surprise your way. The "twins" came home from camp, and the one I worried about most had a great time all around. The one I worried about least, had a horrible time. Boo was tired and dirty and weepy when she got home, but her week had been a resounding success. Our 11yo boy on the other hand...not so good. It was his fourth summer at camp, he knew three out of four of his cabin mates well, and his counselor is a trusted and much loved friend. The weather was great, and everything seemed to point toward a wonderful week. But there was one unforeseen, unplanned for problem. A new boy. A new boy with behavioral and maturity issues. A new boy with a foul mouth, and a bad attitude. And if you had asked me, I would have thought that our son would have taken it in stride. It's not like he's not used to having to roll with the punches here at home. But maybe that was the problem. Maybe I assumed he could handle anything, since he rolls so well here. But maybe he was thinking of this as his own little vacation from the stuff he deals with day to day.

Apparently junior boys tend to drop to the lowest level, instead of trying to drag their buddies up to the higher one. Apparently potty humor and disrespect for your counselor is considered cool in some circles. Our son was appalled. Apparently intentionally bombing your team challenges is also considered cool. Our competitive son was livid. Apparently stealing from your cabin mates and lying about it is OK too. Our son was out two weeks of allowance money. This all culminated in our son asking to come home early. Dad said no. Dad reminded him that he would be letting his counselor down, so he took him a bag of chips, and encouraged him to keep up the fight for one more night. And he did...keep up the fight. He ended up in his first physical fight ever. The new boy and he got into it, and spent some time rolling around pulling hair and pinching. Dad said, "That's not what I had in mind son." Our son said, "Dad, I tried to be his friend, but he just wanted to be a jerk."

And Mom knew he must have been pretty unhappy all week. His belongings were intact. Only one pair of socks were missing. He was showered and sweet smelling. His teeth were clean. He even had snack shop money left over. He came home and cheerfully helped unload and sort the dirty laundry, and then politely requested to go take a nap. Poor baby! Where is my dirty, stinky, boy with an attitude? I talked to his discouraged counselor. I tried to let him know, sometimes things just go this way. We agreed thoroughly about one important thing. This baby boy has outgrown junior camp. It was that one last year, that was really one year too many.

But next year is coming, and the twins are already making plans for teen camp. You have to be at least twelve to go. And I have bins and stacks of laundry all over the living room floor, as I get their older brother ready for his stint at teen camp this week. He'll be moving on next year too. He'll be working on staff. I know life is full of surprises, but I have to say...if my 13yo gets into a fight at camp...well, it's just never going to happen. He might blow something up, but he'll never fight.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Quote of the Day

"If your dolls can't get along, then they're not going to be allowed to play with one another."

--A Very tired Mom

Hair Care Update

Summer and pool time is here. After the scramble to buy swim caps, and sleep caps, and hair products, and hair snaps... I feel as though we can actually relax. Three out of four have had cuts or trims, and sport very healthy heads of all natural hair. One still has remnants of her perms, but her hair is shiny and in good shape. We'll trim it out gradually. All have heads full of braids and beads right now, and we are hoping they will last well into the summer. The new craze is pretty bandannas. Soapy got a great one at the craft store last night. She alternates between using it as a fashion accessory and a baby blanket.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Tale of Two Churches

There once was a little white Baptist church, set on a plot of farmland that the pastor liked to call "sacred acre". It was a small congregation, firmly mired in the year 1950, dearly loved by their elderly pastor. One Sunday in June, they observed the relatively obscure church holiday "Children's Sunday". The Pastor sprinkled short object lessons with scripture, prayers from select members of the congregation, and performances by youngsters in the church. The theme was children, growing up in Godly homes, growing to be the future of the church. For each object lesson he called children from the pews up to the platform to "help" him with the lesson. For the most part this consisted of holding an item, and answering leading questions.

In the very last pew of the little church, sat a multicolored family, filling the row tightly. Four of the children were newly adopted daughters, who had never had much of a childhood, never known a Godly home, and had never yet pondered their role in any church. The pastor rushed to the rear during the greeting time, to shake hands all around, and in passing asked if he could call on some of the children during the lesson. The father of the children smiled broadly and said, "Absolutely not!" His voice was cheery but firm. The pastor looked momentarily taken aback, but then chuckled and said, "Well, I'm glad I asked!"

Later the lesson went like this. The pastor called some children forward and handed them different sorts of sea shells. He asked them to identify them by kind. Then he asked the children what the shells were created for, and finally they arrived at the idea that they were specially created as homes...just as our heavenly Father has specially created homes for the children in the church. And why are they shaped this way, and hard on the outside? Because they keep the creature inside safe...just as our parents keep us safe in our homes. The lesson clicked in the minds of the parents in the last row. Of course the pastor had wanted one or two of their children on the platform. They would be "feel-good" poster children for how God had delivered these little ones out of chaos and danger, and into the bosom of a Godly and loving home.

And maybe it was the truth. But there is another truth as well. One or two of those children would have stood uncomfortably at the pastor's side, and pasted on fake smiles. Through those fake smiles they would have tried to give the answer that was expected. If the questioning had become personal, they would have buried their shame and discomfort, and forced out cheery agreeable answers. Then they would have gone to their safe Christian home and self destructed for a day or three. At the conclusion of the segment, the pastor drew attention to the family in the last row, praising the parents for the selfless thing they were doing, "inviting these four girls into their home, and giving them a family." He asked the father to offer a prayer thanking God for the homes that He provides for His children. The mother of the family was amazed at how gracious and sincere his prayer was, as she felt like she might have choked on the attempt.

There once was another church, also small, and much loved by the pastor. In this church the multicolored family, sitting in a crowded pew did not feel strange. No one ever drew attention to the "different-ness" of their family. No one tried to paste a halo over their picture in the church directory. In this church, they were just another family. This was not to say that folks were unaware of the differences, or their struggles. But instead of remarking on it, they prayed about it. They asked their questions in private, or sent notes by mail. The pastor sent around a CD with information about the struggles of families adopting older children, so that a person might educate themselves a bit, and offer genuine help and encouragement. It was like cold water in the desert.