Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Quote of the Day

"Mamma says if I eat my dinner in a manly fashion, I can have dessert!"

Soapy Soap Suds--Age 6

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Spring is Here

Oh the cleverness of me! I spent the afternoon...after we went to church this morning, and then did battle at Walmart on the way home...out in the goat pen. I had really only intended to go out and rescue Darcy's purple coat from the mud (she had taken it off), and brush her out as she was shedding huge gobs of her winter undercoat. But it was so gorgeous and fresh out, that I just could not resist beginning to spring clean their pen and the area around the feeders. It was wonderful. Usually I wait until it warms up and the snow is gone. Stupid me. By then the black flies are out, it's warm enough to make me sweat, and the rotting hay and goat poo is full of maggots and quite odiferous! It felt so good to stretch unused muscles, and get so much of the mess cleaned up. Everything was still partially frozen, and smelled like wet grass...which is what it still is at the moment. So I will try and finish the job in the next week.

While I worked, the children stopped by the check on what I was doing, between treks into the woods for sticks, or games of Frisbee on the front lawn. They beaned me in the back of the head once. It hurt and I was not happy. Other than that we left one another alone for the most part. I have lots of muddy laundry to do, and a back hall full of wet shoes and boots to dry and bang out. Now we are all back inside. Daddy is cooking, the children are all playing or bothering one another. Mostly bothering. Oops...Daddy has paused from his cooking to deal with the bothering. I knew I loved that man!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

A lazy Sunday at our house seems to be pretty loud and pretty active. Getting to church with six children...four of whom are AA girls (hair)... resembles a military maneuver. But we did it with minutes to spare. This was particularly impressive today as it also entailed clearing snow off the truck, shoveling, and getting everyone into winter gear. I personally was glad I didn't waste any time working on my own hair since the minute I walked out the door the wind picked it up straight off the top of my head. It was great to get out and worship, and even get to take communion. This afternoon the children have been happily playing church. Our 12yo daughter made vestments out of an old knight costume and winter scarf, and stacked plastic bins together to make a pulpit. She preached FOREVER on how lying is an abomination to the Lord, and how if you do it you'll get a punishment "bigger than your head!" She got off on a tangent about how "homosexuality is gross, gross, gross." Hmmm. She didn't hear that from any services we have taken her to. I just gently asked her to finish up her sermon on lying. As usual, the rest of the children got bored before the sermon was over, and drifted off to do other things. We ended with the rest all "spying" on the preacher with a variety of spy gear they had made for themselves. She was not deterred, and just set up dolls for a congregation, and continued preaching.

Now the spies/former congregation and preacher as well, are watching a Star Wars movie. And in the midst of it all, the dog even got her hair and nails trimmed, I tidied up a bit, and got three loads of laundry moved along the endless conveyor. You know, basket to washer to dryer to closet to body to never ends. The washer and dryer hum constantly. I am praying they hold out long enough for us to "find" the money for new ones. Front loaders would be nice. Right now we have a twenty year old dryer that takes 3x as long to dry as the washer takes to wash. It makes for some back up. Hubby is in the kitchen making something marvelous. I think Salisbury steaks and potato wedges. Also sauteed onions and mushrooms. Yum. He really is a marvel, particularly as the cupboards start looking empty. He can make a gourmet meal out of a can of tuna and some stale bread crumbs!

It has been a good week all in all. It is nice to have a day like today, a bit out of the routine, to reflect on it. It has been a grueling week of tantrums, and raging, and messes. Life is very messy and loud right now. We are incredibly tired. I dream of sleeping late. I dream of sleeping all day and into the next night. As I was telling my married daughter the other afternoon....just please pray for us for endurance to keep going. It's not like we need strength to do anything remarkable. There is no magical, impossible THING TO DO. It's not like we need the wisdom to say something earth shattering. There is no incredible wise THING TO SAY. It's just a thing that needs doing, day in and day out, for long years into the future. The relentlessness of it can be overwhelming, disheartening, exhausting. I hate that when I get tired I get cranky, and I let the joy get sucked out of my life. There's no need for it. I mean, you can be tired and still have joy, right?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Food For Sale

Today was a red letter day as far as the children are concerned. First, Mom didn't make them do any Math or write any essays. Second, we all loaded up and drove to the semi-annual food show. Since Daddy is the food buyer for the camp, he gets invited to these awesome events, devoted to wooing folks in the food service industry into trying and buying all this cool stuff to eat. It consists of hundreds of booths of free food samples...pretty much anything you can imagine, and you just have to pace yourself and stay away from the cheesecake.

The girls have never been to such a thing in all their lives, so it was pretty much off the chart for them. In addition, they and Mom all wore matching camp T-shirts over red turtlenecks. For some reason that really jazzed them up. The "twins" (11yo boy &12yo girl) ate to near incapacitation, and had to support one another through the long agonizing walk back to the parking garage. The others pretty much just drifted along in a sugar induced haze. The 6yo was still asking for "more ham".

The only real marked "weird" moment was when I was jamming last minute supplies into a backpack in the mudroom. We had not shared the definite plan for the day though speculations were running high. The 6yo looked out at me and said in a emotionless tone, "We're packin'." It took a moment to register that she thought I was packing her up to go. This was confirmed by the 9yo, who said "That's how they do it." So all the promises that they are here to stay haven't really sunk all that deep. It was encouraging to hear the 12yo shout out (in a tone which said "What, are you stupid!?") "No we're NOT!" I didn't even reprimand her for yelling at her sister!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Food for Thought

What does it mean when someone shows up at your door, weighted down with grocery bags and a casserole? In my past experience I would guess I had just had a baby. Back then we were plugged in to a great church, with lots of friends and family close by. As exhausting as those times were, it was great to have "meals". I learned a lot about loving people when I was on the receiving end of the meals ministry. The meals people brought spoke volumes on caring and kindness. Not just a casserole or pot of soup, these were full course masterpieces. Breads hot from the oven, salad, dessert! Sometimes there was a package of paper goods to save on dishes, or a sweet card, or a small treat for the children. After being on the receiving end a few times, my joy at being on the giving end increased dramatically. Suddenly the extra job in the day, that I really didn't have time for, was transformed into a labor of matter if you knew the needy party or not.

Today was a blast from the past, when our new Pastor and his wife showed up for a quick visit. Although this is probably their busiest day of the week, and they have six children of their own, they made time to drive way out here into the sticks to bring us communion, and a lasagna dinner. Actually, we suspect, THEIR lasagna dinner. And not just the most fantastic, mouthwatering lasagna, but bread, and salad, and doughnuts! Tons of big fat greasy doughnuts! The whole time I was overstuffing myself on this unexpected bounty, I felt loved and cared for. How can food do that? How do we tie ourselves with cords of love to another, by serving them food? It's a mystery of spiritual proportions. Well, maybe it isn't the Trinity, but it is pretty amazing.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Cutest Thing

Wasn't she just about the cutest thing? Well, she still is. She came by today, and hung out for just a few minutes... way too few. She was on the run to pick up her paycheck and get home to see hubby. But she still made time to drive little bro to the dance studio so Dad could stay home for another hour with the rest of the fam. Which was huge, because Mom is incredibly sick of the fam. We made plans to go out soon. She'll have a couple of weeks to kill before she is trained for her new job. She feels guilty about taking them, but she has been sick so much lately that we encouraged her to take the time and rest. She can be a rather driven soul. Who does she remind me of? Like in this pic... I remember the first time she met Minnie and Mickey at three years old. She was in love. For the entire following year she plotted and schemed to get a Minnie outfit so she could dance with Minnie when she came again. And she gave me no peace about those yellow shoes, until I finally bought her a pair of white canvas sneakers and painted them bright yellow. Those were the years when Daddy worked for Disney. How great was that?! A special in with Mickey and Minnie... now whose Dad had connections!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Let's Hear It For the Boy(s)

Our boys are great! I mean really, really awesome. Our oldest at 13 is truly an original...geeky in the extreme, and awfully proud of it too. He's old enough to be a 7th grader, but is doing mostly high school work. His Algebra 2 completely baffles me. He can do things with the computer that I can't begin to understand. I pay him twenty bucks a week to help me teach Math to five other children at five different grade levels. He does really well with the math but his deskside manner is in need of refinement. He just does not understand how anyone could be so STUPID. He feels this way a lot, as he fails to understand that HE is the weird one. But he's worth the twenty bucks, for sure! The younger, at 11, fails to understand why I am not paying him to tutor math. He is bumbling through long division. But he is making progress. School work has never really been his strong suit, but he's a pretty darned good tap dancer, shot with a bow or a gun, and he can spot a critter from a mile away. He regularly catches the BIGGEST fish, and has an awfully big heart too... for both animals and humans.

Life has been hard for them lately. They lost their big sis, when their good buddy went and married her and took her away. A few days later four new sisters arrived. Now the oldest in the house, our 13 year old, was eldest of six. He, the child who NEEDS his quiet and space (to scheme how to take over the world), suddenly had none. Unless he retreated to his room with the door closed. But that was lonesome. The 11 year old took it better in some ways. He was overjoyed to have new playmates. But he wasn't the baby anymore. There were four new babies who needed and wanted Dad and Mom EVERY minute of the day. It wasn't fair, and he pouted and fumed a bit.

Now we are getting our act together in regard to the boys. It didn't take long to realize how much we all missed one another, and how important it was to make a space for us and the boys in our days. Not easy, but important. So they stay up a lot later than I would have ever let them in our previous life. It gives them time to hang out, talk with us, and of sci-fi. We let them have privileges, as long as they are discreet and don't flaunt them. Like midnight snacks. Just please don't eat up breakfast! And they sleep in a bit too. We still expect them to do their work without whining...and they usually do. We want to see a good attitude, and they do pretty well. Be kind to your sisters...they're your precious gift from God. Roll eyes.

Oh I love boys...messy, insensitive, uncomplicated boys!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Going to Church

I really miss going to church. I know that part of the sacrifice involved with being part of this ministry means not being able to attend church much of the time. It also means not being able to be plugged in at church ever. I think it must be like being a jungle missionary. It's not like they can jump in a canoe and head out to the local worship services. They aren't necessarily surrounded by a community of mature believers who can help them "charge their batteries." But it's hard. You don't realize how much of a sacrifice it is until you're into it for awhile. It takes its toll on the children.

Next week the retreat season is concluded, and I startled the children with the announcement that next week, going to church will recommence. Next comes the painful decision of where to go to church. For a couple of years now, we've been attending a charming little congregation of kind folk. But our new adopted daughters are not part of that in the least. They came as the winter retreat season began, and have only been out to Christmas services. The rest of the time it has been Bible study at camp, family worship, and morning or evening prayer. So now we have to decide how to take them to a church where most of what is preached and practiced is incongruent with who we are and how we practice our faith. But it's never easy to break ties and make changes. The easy route would be to continue as we have been going for these couple of years... letting church be an unimportant part of our lives. It's startling to realize that this is indeed true. And it is even truer for our children, because we long for worship, and community, and accountability. They don't even know how to miss it.

Thursday, March 1, 2007


  • 4 pairs snow boots, snow pants, winter coats

  • 4 wardrobes of winter clothing (pretty much everything)

  • 4 sets of school books

  • toys, games, puzzles, and books for 4 children

  • 4 beds

  • 4 mattress covers and pillows

  • 8 sets of sheets and blankets

  • 8 sets of towels

  • car that seats 8

  • 70-100 loads of laundry

  • 140 showers and baths

  • 160 grueling math lessons (and then apply that out over any other subject)

  • meds dispensed 210 times

  • 280 goodnight prayers, hugs, and kisses

  • 840 meals and counting

  • 1680 hours of round the clock care

Ten weeks with four new daughters....priceless.