Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Hark, how all the welkin rings,
"Glory to the King of kings;
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!"

Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
join the triumph of the skies;
universal nature say,
"Christ the Lord is born today!"

Christ, by highest Heaven adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord:
late in time behold him come,
offspring of a Virgin's womb!

Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see,
hail the incarnate Deity!
pleased as man with men to appear,
Jesus, our Emmanuel here!

Hail, the heavenly Prince of Peace,
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.

Mild he lays his glory by,
born that man no more may die;
born to raise the sons of earth;
born to give them second birth.

Come, Desire of nations, come,
fix in us thy humble home;
rise, the woman's conquering Seed,
bruise in us the serpent's head.

Now display thy saving power,
ruined nature now restore;
now in mystic union join
thine to ours, and ours to thine.

Adam's likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp thy image in its place.
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in thy love.

Let us thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the life, the inner man:
O, to all thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.

Charles Wesley 1739

This is my all time favorite Christmas Carol, in its original form. Wesley envisioned it sung to the tune of his Easter hymn "Christ the Lord is Risen Today", and the words and music we sing today were adaptions added later, by others. Of course I love the familiar hymn, but the original poem and music certainly have power all their own.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

Never Say No to Rutabagas

No, I'm not kidding. I'm wallowing in rutabaga. My house smells like rutabaga, and my children are scamming bites as I dump steaming pan after pan into the strainer. And I asked myself (foolishly), when friends brought us a pile of them, as big as my head, if I would actually use them. Of course I'll use them. Plus the pounds of free venison, enormous bag of giant homegrown onions, and the four big pumpkins we inherited from a harvest party. And true, it's a lot of work to process all this fall garden produce, but the result is rewarding, and helps with the grocery bill as well.

That brings me to the topic on my mind today. Many people marvel, comment, ask: "I don't know how you do it!" Or, "How do you do it?!" Some of those folks have an inkling of how much creativity is required. Those would be the ones privy to our financial situation. The rest are just way too impressed by a woman that does an awful lot of housework. When I ponder our financial situation, I think of the scene in "Aladdin" where the Genie speaks of what it is to be a genie. He says something like:


"PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWER... itty-bitty living space."


Which pretty much reminds me of our life. Phenomenal opportunities to serve God...itty-bitty, well, pretty much everything. House, money, etc. We actually delayed in looking into adoption because we felt that we would never be approved based on our lack of material resources. But we are nothing, if not creative. Plus we have no problem begging, when absolutely necessary.
So my point is this, having a large "interesting" family is indeed a lot of work, and is very costly. When I say costly, I mean that one way or another you will have to figure out a way to pay. You may pay in time, hard work, and creativity...but you will pay. And if you are called to the privilege of serving in ministry, ditto. So here are a few of my commandments for "doing" it. There may or may not be ten, but you can feel free to add some of your own.
  1. Never say no to rutbagas...which is to say, never say no to free food. If it is weird food, consider it an opportunity for a culinary adventure. If it is labor intensive food, do the work. If it is junk food, feed it to the kids quickly to get it out of the house, and consider how rarely they enjoy these treats.
  2. Never say no to free anything. If someone offers a bag of clothes, take it. If someone gives you a box of books, take it. Even if it is mostly junk, or the wrong size, you will often find one perfect item deep in the pile.
  3. Always get rid of the rest. Don't keep anything that is not in great shape and is not absolutely useful.
  4. Sell anything that is salable. Donate anything else. I sell on Ebay, and I have a pretty good idea what will sell. I put the rest on our local chapter of Freecycle, and let someone else burn the gas to collect the stuff. I have never had an item remain unclaimed.
  5. Shop for bargains...and know one when you see it. I shop at Salvation Army, the occasional yard sale, clearance racks, and Ebay. Also look for sales at quality places like LLBean, where I get deep discounts plus free shipping with my card. Also try to never buy when you need the item, or you will pay top dollar. Instead try and predict what you will need, and stock up at sales.
  6. Never, never use credit if you have the cash. I said never. If you must use credit, ask yourself if the item is necessary. If you are starving, and the item is food...it is necessary.
  7. Live free of clutter. Routinely and deeply purge your home and other spaces. You will rarely, if ever be sorry you let something go. OK Queen B! I know there was that Darth Mal toy that Hippie Boy is still holding against me. But you will make your life easier and more serene by stripping down to basics.
  8. Do laundry without ceasing. If you stop for a day, you will be buried under the pile. Never ever get sick enough that you cannot crawl to the laundry room.
  9. Get enough rest. Don't apologize for it, just do it. Don't make excuses, just go lay down. Your children will not perish if you send them to their beds early because you are tired, or let (make) them sleep longer in the morning. Their brains will not turn to mush if you let them watch "The Beverly Hillbillies" while you nap. But yours will, if you don't.
  10. Spend your time and resources on the things you really love...even if it isn't practical or frugal. I have a bazillion pets, and they cost a fortune and are a load of extra work. My children dance, which is crazy expensive and eats a lot of our time. I like Dunkin Donuts coffee, and I buy at least one a week. My girls are in love with Hanna Andersson clothes, and they are pretty pricey. (***Remind me if I forget, because I have a whole post perking in my brain on that topic.)
So there you go. An even ten. I may add more. Feel free to check back, or share your own inspirations.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

We're Back...

Adoption Day

We're back home all in one piece. The trip was long, and fun, and arduous, and absolutely wonderful. At the end of the day, I have to say, we accomplished everything we set out to and more. We are now into the throes of Christmas dance recital and holiday festivities, so I promise, that when I come up for air, I will write more.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pray For Us

If you are the praying sort, and you think of us in the next few weeks, here is the itinerary, so you can pray for us along the way.

  • Saturday, November 15: We roll at the crack of dawn.
  • Sunday, November 16: We arrive at our destination.
  • Monday, November 17: Baby LaLa goes for extensive testing at a FASD testing and treatment facility.
  • Tuesday, November 18: We finalize the adoptions of Boo and 'Tater.
  • Wednesday, November 19 through Sunday, November 23: Family Camping Vacation
  • Monday, November 24: We roll for our home state.
  • Tuesday, November 25: We arrive at the home of Queen B and her growing clan, where we stay for a visit and the celebration of Thanksgiving.
  • Friday, November 28: We roll for home.
It's a long trip, with many exciting stops along the way. The girls will have the chance to reconnect with some folks in their home state, and hopefully we will have a productive time of testing, and experience much closure as well. So far, we have managed to keep the whole thing under wraps, so the children will find out in the morning, when we wake them up to get ready to go. Please pray for traveling mercies and good health...both physical and mental. Pray for these old folks, sleeping on the ground for nearly two weeks. Pray that this will be an opportunity to grow and work together as a family. Also pray for Libby Lou and Tink, as they will be taking on the huge responsiblity of caring for our home and many animals while we are away. We'll be back with plenty of stories and a few pictures too. Blessings!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Homeschool

As several of you have asked for progress on our homeschool endeavor, here goes. If today were any indication, I might just go find a bridge to fling myself off. The children are fractious and argumentative. But in all, they have been working hard, and I actually think they are due for a break. Plus there's the time change. I generally find that about a week after the time change, everyone (including myself) falls apart. Mentally and physically. It comes from waking that hour earlier, because our internal time clock tells us to, but staying up an hour later, because the clock on the wall tells us to. Another week will remedy that, and we will feel normal again...as normal as any of us get anyhow.

Homeschool goes very well actually. It's Teaching Textbooks for Math, for everyone, and they are all moving along at a good clip and scoring well. They have a routine of switching off books and computer time, so that while one is doing Math, another is reading and doing their handwriting. I am focusing on smaller bites of work, but with the expectation of perfect execution. It is amazing how well they have responded. For the rest, we are using a literature based unit study, based in the Narnia series. The children LOVE this, and cheerfully do their history and science projects. Except today. Today there has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth, because they just CAN'T (whine here) figure out how to do it. So I gently reminded them of their competence, and told them this was about what they wanted to do, as opposed to what they could do...and I will accept none of it. The whining I mean.

So here is the progress report. All are reading in every spare moment. All have beautiful cursive handwriting. All are scoring well in Math. All are capable of organizing a thought, and commiting it to paper, though not necessarily spelling it well. All are generally obedient, and respond with, "Yes Mom." All do their chores with a minimum of complaining. All are in good physical health, enjoying lots of outdoor time and dancing. Four of five are becoming very good shots.

I should be counting my blessings, and not whining about the occasional off day.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Voting

Yesterday I went to vote, and although I am constantly aware that I live on dirt road in the sticks, there are few experiences that cement it more than voting. First we loaded up the children, and drove down the mountain to the municipal building. I remember the first time we went to vote there, I truly did not believe my husband. I thought it was a joke. It's a metal building with garage doors, and piles of gravel along the edges of the muddy parking lot. When you enter, the atmosphere is that of a church supper. Cheerful middle aged women sit at a folding table. They don't have to ask most voters their name. There is only one book to look in. In the corner is another table, laden with casseroles and jello mold. In case you get hungry while you wait...though you never have to wait because it's always pretty quiet. Another cheerful lady handed me my ballot. It was a piece of paper tucked into a privacy folder. I walked into the voting booth, an ancient structure of stained plywood. I pulled the ruffled curtain closed. The pen rolled off the rickety shelf onto the floor, and I grinned at the ladies as I popped out of my allotted space to retrieve it. When I was finished, I put my ballot into the slot on a locked metal box, waved goodbye, and headed back up the mountain.

I am concerned today, that our new President does not value the voters that rolled down muddy country roads to vote. I worry that he does not understand things like the importance of casseroles and jello mold.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Queen B

I am glad God sent you some helpers in the last few days, to provide for the needs of these little ones as they set out with their loved ones. It is good to know you can send them with some basic necessities. Also good to know you are set up for an emergency baby placement if the need should arise...or you can be a helper to the next person down the line.

Also glad to hear you are at peace with letting these little ones go. Looking forward to hearing who will fill the empty places...having no doubt that someone will soon.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Babies

I've been thinking a bit lately, about quite a few things, that on the surface might seem unrelated, but wait until I string them together, and then they'll make sense, maybe. I've been thinking about puppies, and babies, and therapists, and older adopted children. And money.

The reason I'm thinking about puppies, is because my house seems to be teeming with little white dogs behaving like puppies...which mostly involves a lot of peeing. Little new dog is almost still a puppy, and she is in fact new here, so she can almost be excused for her puppy behavior. Little old dog is a sour old lady who does not like the changes in her life, and protests by acting badly. So for all intents and purposes, I have two puppies to mind, and that is a lot of work. (and pee)

But not nearly as much work as babies, and for that I am grateful. My friend Queen B hasn't had much time to heckle and hassle me lately because she has been knee deep in babies. And she is tired, really tired. Poor little babies came on an emergency foster placement that was to be temporary/permanent/temporary. All the while she wondered what would happen, the poor babies cried and cried and cried. In the end, the good news is that they are going to stay with family, and it really is good news for two reasons. First reason is, their family cares for them, and second reason is, Queen B needs some rest. And my point here is NOT to point out how OLD the Queen is getting, or anything like that. In a roundabout way I am trying to get at something she said to me the other day, which rattled around in my head...still does. She said that although the children were sweet, and she had lots of helpers among her immediate family members, something in her was waiting for all the outpouring of love and support that comes from friends, and family, and church when a new baby comes. Where were the cards, and shower, and week or two of meals?

And of course none of those things were forthcoming. These were not her children, and as such, no one even remarked on them, or thought about it. Except she was just as tired as any new mother, and her family was thrown into as much chaos as any family who brings home two new babies. Maybe more, because they had about an hour to prepare, while most families have months. These children needed all the things babies need, and although foster care provides a bit toward the necessities, the reality is that anyone I know who fosters babies, reports how much the baby has cost them personally at the end of the month. The money NEVER covers all of the child's needs, and in the end, it ALWAYS costs the family to care for them.

And then there's therapists. With them, it's either feast or famine, and right now of course we have a feast. A ridiculous feast actually. Kind of like when we used to live in a certain area of the country where they favor what my sister calls "the feeding trough" over the simple family restaurant. These are massive buffets, boasting mounds and mounds of every sort of food, where you can fill and refill your plate until you can't walk to the buffet line anymore. And then, after a short rest and a trip to the bathroom, you can start on the dessert buffet. When you finish off that last piece of cheesecake and a half cup of coffee, you can painfully make your way out to your car, hoping you still fit behind the steering wheel. And for us, therapy is like that right now. I have all these helping hands, with nothing to give them to do. I have all this advice, to do what we've already been doing for a long time, so my "help" isn't really help at all. I actually have to manufacture things for them to do, and dig deep for "issues" to address and work on.

I think to myself, "Where were all of you when I really needed you?" This would be the first six months to a year, when we were all still reeling from the shock of the whole thing. I also think, "Why can't I hire you to babysit, so Hubby and I can go out by ourselves?"...because that's what we really need these days; a babysitter that "does no harm". And then I continue to wonder, and ponder.

Did we really need therapists at all? We, as a society, have created a machine called foster care and foster adoption, yet we have no community supports in place to uphold it. Did we need trained professionals, or like Queen B and many others, did we need community? Did we need regular phone calls, and congratulatory cards? Did we need meals brought in, and "baby" showers, to shower these precious children with the things all children need? Did we need the sympathetic ears (or shoulders to cry on) of other parents who have experienced these growing pains themselves. Because I am here to tell you, this did not exist. We brought home four "babies", who caused at least as much upheaval and exhaustion as any set of quads, and we got almost no support or even recognition that anything had even changed in our home.

To say we were overwhelmed was the understatement of the year, but to say we were grieved is even more accurate. The reception into our community of family, friends, and faith was underwhelming, and seems to underscore how devalued other folk's cast off children really are. This is NOT to say that there were not individuals who greeted our new children with great joy...only to say that this was an isolated reaction, and not the rule. Eight months later, when Soapy left us, to fall back into the void of "the system", people were even more absent. Now that a couple of years have passed, I have this sense that most people simply accept that these children have come to stay, and that they are likely to continue being around. But it is still not the same as when we had and raised our bio children, and I don't expect it ever will be. Which is ironic, because one of the biggest criticisms we face from the community, is that we treat our adopted children differently than our bio children...but that's a whole different post.

Again, I am reminded of so many things Amy Carmichael had to say about her missionary work in India, among orphaned and abandoned children, and how much things really have not changed through the years. That, this really is a missionary life of isolation. That, people enjoy being titillated with exotic or outrageous stories, but are mostly uninterested in the daily round. That, missionaries are largely out of sight, out of mind. But here is the thing to remember...she loved those children, and she poured out her entire life for them. She worked tirelessly, with a handful of workers who loved the way she did. She refused to give up the exciting tidbits, or bow to the authorities of the day, who had their philosophies about how missionary work was to be done. Instead, she chose to be "Amma", or mother. She literally built walls around her vulnerable children, and fought and labored to give them what she believed to be the very best.

Years later, visitors would come to the pretty compound that was built, and sit in the prayer services in the chapel. They would marvel at the beautiful children in their colorful saris, waving little flags in time to the sweet, worshipful choruses they sang. They would admire the devotion of the women who tended and instructed the children, and no doubt they would go home and tell of the amazing work at Dohnavur. What they did not see was the early years of squalor, and illness, and death. They did not see missionaries praying for their next meal, or fighting the uphill battle to be allowed to do what God had called them to do. Because criticism, and discouragement, and isolation, and the feeling of being forgotten at the end of the earth...were all part of the package. The part of the package that gets forgotten when we can arrange a pretty tableau for "visitors".

Many people forgot, or did not know, or neglected their duty...and in the end God still did His miraculous work, and they missed the blessing of being part of it. Today, in the lands of prosperity, we have our own ugly system, that consumes children year by year. People with vision must fight the uphill battle to redeem those children out of the slavery they have been sold into. Like "Amma", mothers and fathers press forward, certain that good decent people everywhere stand behind them, ready to fill the gap, give to the need, and above all, love the children...even if it is necessarily from afar. And they, like "Amma", are shocked to learn that they are largely wrong.

But God will still do His miraculous work, and many will miss the blessing of being part of it. We cannot blame them if they clamor for sensational stories. Our Oprahfied culture clamors for it. We must learn to shake off bitterness when we feel alone and abandoned, because we are not. The gap is huge, and the need is even bigger, and loving unlovely children is beyond difficult. I am firmly convinced that we can with God's aid, build walls around our vulnerable children, and within those walls create a unique world of safety and light. Loving helpers will come, as will every physical necessity. We need not bow to the "wisdom of the day", as we know this is as changing as the wind. We must endeavor to send out our "Scraps by Nobody" in hopes that they might find fertile ground somewhere, for God only knows where our true helpers are. And when we make pretty tableaus, we must guard our hearts even then. Keep us humble. Allow no bitterness to creep in. (Oh, that's all well and good now, but where were you when...) Make us less charming, and more compelling.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Dog Tired

OK. I hear you all...all three of you loyal readers...heckling me for a new installment. I know I am horribly remiss in my blogging duties, but I am just so darned busy, and tired too. Actually, busy all day, and too tired to blog at night. Here's the short list:
  • We are back in the swing of our full homeschool course load for five children. Three have been delightful, one was unsure what side of the fence she wanted to be on (but I learned her), and one resists me every step of the way...every minute of the day. Pretty predictable, and tipped in the direction of success if it doesn't kill me.
  • We are still swimming in therapists, pretty much every day. They come and marvel at my dining table school room, and make remarks like "Wow! I never learned that in school!" and "I don't know how you do it, I think I'm getting overstimulated." They are sweet, and supportive, and oh so accommodating...but I'm not sure that they make any difference at all. Boo wants them all to go away so she can feel normal.
  • We have a new baby in the house. She's a nearly grown miniature poodle named Lucy. I think I'm in love. The kiddos definitely are, and Baby Boy is in heaven with his new charge. We found her after a long week of searching the shelters, and she was well worth all the driving and searching. Petting her lowers my blood pressure.
  • We are back in the swing of dance classes, three nights a week. It's way too much driving, way too much money, way too much fun...but heck, this is how you get to be parents of the year, right?
  • Libby-Longstocking is like to kill me with her moving/house renovation project. What a considerate girl to find her dear old Mama things to do with all her spare time. If it weren't for her I might be hanging out in bars.
So that's the brief overview...but it doesn't begin to cover it really. I'm tired, and worn down. My eyes hurt, and my scalp feels tired. I crave peace and quiet, and time to myself. I long for days where I don't have to go anywhere, and no one comes here...but they don't exist. Really, I can't find one on the calendar in days past or to come. I don't know how to say no to anybody, because I really do want to give everyone everything. Saying no has never been my strong suit...holding my head in my hands and threatening to check myself into a mental hospital? Well that I do quite well. Screaming like a shrew and quitting my job? I'm pretty decent at that too.

But it's OK, lest any of you, my three loyal readers should worry. I am convinced I am on the edge of something. Maybe a breakthrough, or maybe a breakdown, but I feel as though I am balancing gracefully on the edge of a precipice. Sometimes I feel as though life is so precarious, that I don't know what to do. Then a short while later, the driving need to "hammer things down" comes over me, and I begin to hammer like crazy. I feel as though the knowledge of what is to come, or what we must do...will come to me soon, and I need to be ready. That whatever is to come, will only become harder and harder as time goes on.

I realize it sounds as though I am mostly groaning and holding my head, dreading the future. Admittedly, sometimes I do, but that's not really what it's all about. It's about having a vision, and realizing at a point, that you have two choices. You can abandon the vision and make things easier, or you can continue and make things harder. I find myself looking at others, seeing how as we age, we often slow down, take things easier, have more for ourselves. At a time in life, where I see my contemporaries following this track, I find myself bracing to pick up the pace, put my shoulder to the wheel, knowing there will be less left over for me than there ever was before.

Isn't it a bit perverse to get excited about such things?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Feeling Groovy

Thanks to all of you who have expressed concern about my blech. I am feeling much better. It took a few more days to slowly improve, though according to some of you, if I had eaten more ice cream it may have happened faster. Here's hoping all of you are enjoying the last fling of summer. I know we are. It is ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS here, and will be for days. We are even using the pool, which we usually don't do at this time of year because it's too cold. Gotta run...way too nice to waste time indoors. Plenty of that right around the corner anyhow.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Blech....

I am warning all of you that this is going to be a whiny post. I'm sooooooo tired, and irritable. Starting on Tuesday night, I went to bed, albeit a little late. I woke up in less than an hour, sick to my stomach, with nasty stomach cramps. I wrestled with this unpleasant state of affairs until nearly daylight, when I dozed off for a couple of inadequate hours. Repeat this Wednesday night. And Thursday, Friday, Saturday. I'm really tired. Like "not responsible for my actions tired". Probably shouldn't operate heavy machinery either. No, I'm not pregnant, don't even say it out loud! So I am staying upright and awake tonight until I fall over.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Good Stuff

Here is a blog I read, by a lady who is smart and funny, and knows a few things about adoptive parenting. A few of her recent blogs have resonated with me, just because they ring so true. Sometimes we don't need answers, we just need to hear the truth. Here in our world, we know that truth is definitely stranger than fiction.

How to Pray...

I so appreciate those of you who respond via comments, emails, phone calls. It seems as though I have touched a nerve, because I know it, and I'm sure many of you do too. We are not good "prayers", as a rule. We say things like, "I'll pray for you," but what does that really mean? In my case, I have to confess that it means I'll think about it once in a great while, and toss up a quickie if the moment permits. I have the attention span of a gnat in prayer. Which is why I make a fine liturgical Christian...at the least the formal prayers keep me focused for a time longer than I can do so myself. But I am a lazy sack of crap too. This is a favorite family insult, and someday I'll tell you all the story of how it got cemented into our family vernacular, because trust me, it's a good one. But I digress. I am getting sedentary, and lazy about what I eat, and not surprisingly I feel like a slug. A slug with a sluggish digestive system, and weak, achy limbs. But do I DO anything about it? No. I just whine about how tired I am, and how old I feel.

At this point most people I know rush in and tell me I'm one of the most energetic, organized people they know. They point out that I look trim and healthy, and we all know in most books that's what really matters. I look the part of an energetic, youthful woman, and I look the part of one who has her act together spiritually. It would probably be simpler if my house was a pigsty and I was getting quite fat. Then, in some ways, it would be hard to deny the problem. But you know what you know, and I know that a slug lives here. I don't even know what I ought to be praying for. I have this list of things that worry me...sort of nibble away at the edges of my mind. I suppose they might make the list. I have some BIG CONCERNS. Definitely on the list. I have some vague impressions, about things I ought to be doing, places I ought to be going. Do those make the list?

Then what do I do with my list? Should I even have a list? Of course I should. God made me a list maker, so I'm pretty sure He "gets" my lists. Do I pray over my list? It always seems so selfish to focus on what I see as important. Plus I feel like I am reviewing my grocery list. Other people say they will pray as well. What does that mean? Well, not much if their prayer life looks like mine.

Can I warn you that this is one of those vague impressions, that has difficulty making its way onto the list because I'm not sure how to word it or explain it to myself, much less anyone else? I think prayer is the key to everything, and we are all walking around with it in our pockets, not using it to open anything at all. I think it is because we are afraid that the key might actually be a stick of dynamite, and if we set off the charge it will blow us and our lists up. I think some of us walk around with our hand in our pocket thinking, "I might just light this stick of dynamite some day, and see what happens." I know I do.

P.S. Please don't send me a comment telling me to read a certain book about prayer. I've read a lot of great books about prayer, but I still walk around with my hand in my pocket, wondering.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What if...

Let me preface this post with a small disclaimer of sorts. I am not complaining about life such as it is. I know many people who are mishandled and mistreated by the "helping" professionals in their lives. This is not the case for us. Our helping professionals try very hard, and treat us with respect. It is not to say that we don't have a support system of caring, Godly people who uphold us in many ways. We do. It is not to say that we have taken our eyes off the prize and slipped into something else...well, we all do that at times. But we try and stay focused.

But what if...
  • What if I took every hour I spend scouring blogs, and websites, and books for fragments of information about adoption and its challenges...what if I instead spent that time scouring God's word and His world for insights into the broken human condition?
  • What if I took every word spoken in frustration to sympathetic (and unsympathetic) ears in the name of "support", and instead poured it out to a heavenly Father who knows and understands better than I do?
  • What if I stopped trying to focus on "change" and "measurable progress", and let God have His way with my loved ones...and me?
  • What if I took every hour I spend chasing and demanding professional helps and services, and petitioned godly men, women, and children to pray for the plight of all orphans everywhere, but especially for those they know personally, who live their lives in and out of our broken Godless foster care system?
  • What if I finally realized that I was searching for a miracle? That degrees, and programs, and money can't buy a miracle? Ever.
"Some trust in chariots, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
To each his own won't lead you home and prob'ly never will."
Jennifer Knapp, In the Name

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Caulk and Paint

Queen B and I have been busily sweating away with paintbrush in hand all week. Of course she is at her house many miles away, and I am at mine, but still I can feel the kinship and smell the fumes. Paint and caulk are wonderful things in my book. You can fix a multitude of messes with them, and old tired rooms can be bright, and new and clean smelling again. It's just the darned contrast that's the problem. You paint one thing, and it just seems to highlight how shabby another has been getting. So you paint that thing too. While painting, you note some minor repairs that need to be done, and you caulk up the gaps and seams. Next thing you know, you're five miles away from the first thing you painted and probably into it for a hundred gallons of paint. Why, oh why can't it just STAY a simple two day job?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Free Advice



Don't let the cat help you paint the walls. They will try, but it never ends well.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sorry

For those of you who still check in here with any regularity to see if we are indeed still kicking...my apologies. I know I am a horrible blogger, not posting anything amusing, or thoughtful, or even downloading an occasional picture. I could tell all of you that I am busy, which would be true. We are in the depths of trying to finish up the school year, survive the dance competition/recital season, and adjusting to finally getting "services". In the strange world we inhabit, it appears it is either feast or famine, and currently we have a feast. After a year and a half of getting very little support or help with our preadoptive "situation", we have now apparently qualified for about thirty hours of various helps, weekly! So I am currently trying to adjust to having these lovely, energetic, creative young things around, trying so hard to be helpful. All the time. It feels as though they live with us. I'm quite certain I will see more of them than hubby, once the camp season is in full swing. But they assure us that if we decline even a minute of prescribed help, we may lose approval for said minutes, which is apparently dangerous, should you find yourself in dire need of minutes later on. And I gratefully scratch my head and wonder how much more we could have needed help, as we did the first eight months or so. I ponder the fact that we seem to have survived that without any minutes at all, and how mysterious it is, that my edgy fractious children seem to have settled into this smooth pleasant groove the last month or so, minus minutes. Or maybe it's just me. Maybe my muscles have finally just relaxed after the Tsunami of little girls that hit our shore a million years ago.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Small or Tall?

"The glass is neither half full nor half empty rather; it is twice as big as it needs to be."

I'm not sure who actually said this. I've seen it around a bit, and it makes me think.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Homing Birds

Baby Boy is presently hunched over his laptop, researching homing birds...any type. He is currently reading the Harry Potter series, and is enamored with the idea of having his mail delivered by bird. I am actually quite satisfied with the nice lady who braves our wretched, rutted dirt road...but OK, I can kind of see the appeal. And lest you worry that I am allowing my son to read dangerous books, I'm reading the series too. I figured I needed to see what all the ruckus was about. I still haven't come across the problem yet, but I'm sure I'll find it soon.

Anyhow, this isn't really a post about Harry Potter. It's about homing birds. I was thinking about them as I kind of half listened to Baby Boy mutter to himself, and considering that they have a certain similarity to children. At least the homegrown kind. The homegrown kind seem to have a built in, wired in desire to run home. No matter how much they may enjoy being somewhere else, eventually their hearts, and wings, turn them home.

Older adopted children are like birds with no home wired in. They wheel about searching, and follow after anything shiny. They'll stop and sleep on any roost. They'll eat anyone's food, drink anyone's water. Many remember a home of sorts, but they have gotten too turned around by storms and distance, to know how to fly back there.

What will they do...that is the question of the day. Will they spend their entire lives on the move, always searching, never finding...never coming to rest? Or will they relearn "home", and in time train themselves to return again and again?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Thank You

Thanks to all who contributed toward our settling our dilemma of how to educate the various children in the upcoming school year. Many of you participated in the poll, which indicated that the majority of you believe we should homeschool all of the children, tailoring our program to each child's needs and capabilities. The emails and comments also bore this out. At this moment we are moving through the sluggish process of testing and assessments, to determine what special needs the children may have, and if there is a practical way to meet them. I admit that I am guardedly optimistic about finding any useful help, since we have come up empty time and again. Still, I am waiting a while longer, holding off on making firm plans, until I have a little more information.

That being said, several of you had some interesting suggestions which we are taking under consideration. We are looking at a variety of curriculum and supplementary activities. It is our intention to leave nothing to chance, and have a very well planned, structured program in place at the get go. In addition, my two little reluctant scholars are, not coincidentally, both quite behind in their studies. So much so, that we feel it is necessary to keep them on a lighter school schedule all summer long. The other three do the occasional math drill, and read every day. Sometimes if I'm feeling especially mean, I may give them a short writing assignment. Or maybe I'll just give them all a summer journal and expect them to write in it for a few minutes each day. But my two who lag behind, who drag their academic feet, will do a regular program of math and language arts each morning. I am hoping this will allow me to get them into their groove, so to speak, before taking on the other three and their intensive unit study. A couple of months getting into good habits will go a long way come fall, when I try and add more layers.

Another huge positive of having all of the children at home, is the ability to "do school" on unconventional days. During the school year camp is in session on the weekends, and Dad is largely absent, as he is cooking for the hungry hoards. His days off tend to be on the weekdays, which is hard with children in school. We can never go too far afield on days off, because children need to be sent off to school, and collected at the end of the day. If all are home, we can work on the days Daddy works, and take off for projects or play on the days he is free. This whole last year it felt as though we were in a constant tug-of-war with the school, simply over issues like making schedules work, and digging up the time and resources to keep the girls in their place there, while tending to the completely different needs of those at home. It wasn't necessarily bad, but it did get challenging.

So today I find myself with a stack of books and papers, making some headway with planning. The children are sprawled all over the playroom floor making elaborate creations with Lego. I am of the persuasion that Lego is one of the only toys needed to amuse children who have reached the age of not choking on small objects. Even the teens and adults in this family get down on the floor and create. But that's a whole different post...therapeutic Lego?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Crime and Punishment

When we are young, we learn things about the way the world works. If we are lucky, or blessed...don't chide me for using the "L" word...we begin to learn the things that form and grow a conscience within us. Right and wrong are pretty cut and dried when you are little. Wrong doing equals disapproval and punishment. Right doing often brings rewards. I recently discovered I have a Montessori philosophy when it comes to rewarding children for "good behavior" or work well done. I don't believe in it. I believe that doing right is its own reward. I believe children can come to know this very early. But right doing certainly brings down showers of blessing. In an ideal world/home it brings down happiness and approval. Children bask in these things. Add a little sugar and they'll do anything for you.

What if when you were young you did not learn these things? What if a conscience was something that never got "wired in"? What if no one cared one way or the other what you did? What if you learned not to care much about anyone or anything? Would promises of rewards inspire you? Would the threat of disapproval worry you? Would the concepts of loss or gain attached to your behavior mean anything at all? What if the only fun or thrill you got was when you did something others clearly saw as "wrong doing", and you got away with it? Or maybe you got caught, but it was at least mildly entertaining to watch someone who cared get all worked up over the stupid thing?

I don't know what the outcome of such an experiment would be, but I do know this; take a couple of each sort of child, drop them into a family, and call them brothers and sisters, and it makes for a very interesting home life. At this point I must say that neither philosophy seems to be rubbing off on anyone else. It just causes a lot of friction and sparks. So if you see a halo of something that looks like the Northern Lights hanging over the old homestead here at camp, I guess you'll know why.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I think I'm In Love

My evil sewing machine has finally breathed its last. Hubby took me on a forced march to the sewing machine store. I bought the Bernina Artista 165 with the embroidery component. Not that I have a clue about embroidery, but I figure it might be fun. The best part? I got it used, for a pretty sweet deal. Well, so I'm told...but since I've paid less for cars, I'm not totally convinced. Tonight I set it up and played with it for quite awhile. I fixed two pairs of jeans, and it went through them like butter. And I experimented with some decorative stitches. If ever I need to edge something with tiny bicycles, I am all set. I'm getting tired so I think I'll just go lay on my bed and stare at it in all its shiny glory until I doze off.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sleep

I was watching Modern Marvels on the History Channel tonight, which I don't usually do. First of all, the topics don't usually catch my interest, and second, it's on early and the chilluns are usually still rattling about, making watching an exercise in futility. But...tonight they were quietly watching a movie or doing their school work, and I caught most of an episode. It was about the bedroom, and had segments on how beds are made, the history of beds, alarm clocks, etc....fascinating. Before they go to commercial, they always read a bit of related trivia, and I was intrigued to learn this fact:
Before the invention of the light bulb, the average person slept 9-10 hours per night. After, the average person slept 7-8 hours per night.

This means the average person began sleeping two hours less, around the turn of the last century. In one week's time, that averages out to fourteen hours, or TWO FULL NIGHT'S SLEEP (by today's standard)!! See me using exclamation points?! And we wonder what's wrong with us?
"It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep. " Psalm 127:2

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cool Poll

Wow. I found this fun poll function. So read my last post, and if you don't feel like writing a lengthy answer you can just vote. As for Ann-tastic, and Brenda, and Quilted Family, and QueenB...I can kinda figure out your votes based on your emails and comments, but I can't vote for you. You have to do that for yourself. So let me know if you do, so I won't count your opinion twice. I'm being very democratic about all of this, but you know I'll just do what I want to do anyhow. But I really do listen and consider all of your advice first.
"Without counsel, plans go awry,
But in the multitude of counselors they are established." Proverbs 15:22

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Please Advise

Now, I know there are plenty of you reading and not commenting, so I'm asking you all to put on your thinking caps and help me out here. I also know that plenty of you are homeschoolers, or adoptive parents...but I'm not limiting this to anyone in particular. If you have a thought...share it. Here is my dilemma.

I have five children of school age living in this house, and when the girls came home we did homeschool for nine months. I should amend that and say, I did school at home with the four girls, and the boys sat on the back burner. Nothing that looked like homeschooling was going on. At the end of nine months, Soapy went into residential treatment, LaLa and Tater went to the local Christian school, and I began the new school year with high hopes of actually homeschooling my older three...Boo and the boys. Alas, Boo made it evident that although she LOVED the perks of being homeschooled and although she had no desire to be anywhere else, she WOULD NOT receive my instruction. She would in fact, make it her daily mission to distract and disrupt, so that I could not teach her brothers. So she got to be "work schooled". Lucky, lucky girl. This means she gets up early and goes to work with Dad. The fact that she has no one to distract or disturb, the fact that Dad tolerates no shenanigans, means that Boo has learned to work hard, independently, and get the job done. It also means I get a few hours each day to make sure the boys are actually making some progress, plus frees up some of my energy for helping the two who are in private school.

Now the school year is running toward a close, and I have to say it has not been bad. I do believe the girls were making better progress, both emotionally and academically, when they were at home. But the boys were getting very little of what they needed. And I was terribly burnt out trying to manage their behaviors. It is all but impossible to homeschool a child who digs in and refuses to take instruction. To recap how the year has gone:
  • The boys made good progress in their studies, but are requesting a change of curriculum. They want to move away from self guided schedules and studies, and return to a hands on curriculum that we do together. This involves much more time and involvement from Mom, but is much more in line with "how we roll"...or I should say, "how we used to roll before the girls came".
  • Boo spent most of the year under Dad's tutelage. She hates it, rebels against it, pleads to come home, and blows it every time we let her. On the academic end of things, she has never been more solid. On the emotional end of things, she in incapable of being part of a group effort.
  • LaLa has done OK in private school. Her grades and behavior are not stellar, but in comparison to how they were in the past, she has shown huge improvement. As the school year winds down, so has she. She has ceased to care. Her grades are in the toilet, and her behavior both in school and at home are deteriorating. The frustrating part is that I KNOW she is capable. When she was at home, we made her school work HER PROBLEM. At school, it is everyone else's problem, but never hers. Like Boo, she is incapable of being part of a group effort, simply because she does not care about any of it.
  • Sweet Tater has excelled in private school. She does well, both on her school work, and socially. She is loved by her teacher and friends. You would think this is a no brainer, but in fact, her efforts are largely spurred on by her desire to prove she can come home and not be a pill. I believe she will struggle with laziness, but her over arching desire is to be on board with the program here.
So what I find myself with is two separate schools, needing totally different styles of management. My desire is to homeschool the boys and Tater. My desire is to keep the other two home because I KNOW they are/will:
  • Use any involvement in a school setting to practice their emotionally unhealthy behaviors, and maintain a disconnect from the family.
  • Fail intentionally in a school setting, as a way to maintain control and thumb their noses at Mom and Dad.
  • Wear us to the bone trying to manage their behaviors in school, educate their teachers about their needs, advocate to get their needs met, etc.
So my question is this. Is there a way to do this? Can I set two children up to do school at home, making their school work largely their problem? At the same time, can I pour out my creativity and energy on the other three, knowing they will soak this up and flourish? I would love to think the other two would see this and say to themselves, "Self, I really want a piece of this action. What can I do to get from here to there?" But they don't. Their internal dialogue goes like this. "I never get to do anything fun. I hate this. What can I do today, to make sure their plans get derailed?" Then they will sit in smug satisfaction when Mom is so tired and frazzled she has nothing to give anyone.

I really do want them all at home. I believe with all my heart that it is what is best for them. What I want is for all of them to be on board together, able to enjoy the awesome parts of homeschool. But I know that just isn't possible at this stage of the game for two out of five. I am looking for ideas for how to make it work. Curriculum? Logistics? Disciplinary methods? Rewards? Sanity preservation? Because this is what I know:
  • I WILL HAVE two separate schools next fall. Either I will send two out to school, and reap the benefits and consequences of that choice, or I will structure two totally different homeschools. I WILL NOT subject my three willing scholars to the grind for yet another year.
  • I want what is best for all of the children, no matter what they may want or be working toward.
  • I will have to think outside the box in a major way to make this work, or to even come through and still be standing this time next year.

Monday, April 7, 2008

One More Time


I am putting this face up because it makes me laugh every time I see it. Hippie Boy studied it, and accused me of photo shopping his grin on...but no, that is his real smile! And the bald spot on his nose? Not the creeping crud. It comes from shoving his face through the fence to try and eat the weeds on the other side. Not that he doesn't have weeds on his own side, but you know what they say about the greenness of weeds on the other side of fences.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I Love Goats





Goats are such wonderful, comical creatures. The way they ran, and leaped, and butted in the spring wind yesterday, had me doubled over with laughter. Donny kept butting at me and chewing on my clothing and boots, as I attempted to rake out his pen. Finally I opened the gate and shooed him and his little sister out, so they spent hours running and munching. Darcy sat in her pen and grumbled, as she wanted to be the one out...but Donny beats her up, so I knew she was safer behind her gate. Bunny kept turning in circles like a dog, and plopping herself down in the little piles of leaves I had raked up in the driveway.

Another reason goats are wonderful, is because they never stop chewing, and stomping, and pooping. After a winter, they provide good wholesome work for strong young backs and idle hands. Yesterday I had a reluctant helper, to move those giant piles of muck to the compost pile. Although she whined and fussed a bit, she worked hard, and got a fair amount of work accomplished. I have sore muscles today...I wonder if young ones hurt as much?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Nasty Houses and Unbroken Colts

This has been an interesting Palm Sunday weekend. It has been busy in the extreme, and it has felt as though every moment has been planned out and scripted. I am ready for the weekend to be over, so I can slow down and breathe. Still, it has been a good weekend in many ways. First, much work was accomplished. Second, I got to go out for breakfast with hubby, which is always cheap fun. Third, we got to go to church for the first time in quite awhile, and finally, our friends came over to eat and play with us this afternoon and evening. So over all it was just too much fun.

The interesting part is how totally unrelated events seem to mesh, as you sit in church, and let the service wash over you. Yes, that's how I felt today. I was tired, and unaccustomed to being there. I had to go to the bathroom when we arrived, so I was the last person in the family to slip into the pew. I was sitting next to Hippie Boy, who happens to be fairly low maintenance. I knew I ought to insert myself into the midst, but it just felt so good to stay on the end, by myself, where no one was breathing my air. So I did, and nothing horrible happened. In fact, as I said, the service just washed over me in the most comforting way. I don't think I listened to more than a quarter of it. Small bits would fall on my ear, and I would begin to consider them. Time would pass, and I would find that I had missed a good deal as I let my thoughts meander. But still it seems I caught more than I could process in a week.

The text was appropriately about the triumphal entry. They read the words about the donkey and her colt, and as always, I thought about the strangeness of this text. Since I was a child, I have always thought it odd, that Jesus instructed his disciples to go and fetch these animals, with only the explanation, "The Master has need of them." I always pictured myself as the guy who owned them, wondering who was taking off with my livestock. It seems presumptuous. I know God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and all, but I would find it very challenging to let go of my animals with an explanation like that. And I always run through this mentally, every time I read or hear this passage. It's just this thing I can't let go of.

But today I got to thinking about that phrase, "The Master has need of them." How many times does the Master have need of something, and He prompts me to go and get it, but I feel so presumptuous...like my explanation is just too weak. So I don't go and fetch it with authority. Instead, I hang back, all insecure, and convince myself I am being ridiculous. I convince myself that God has no need of that thing. I convince myself the thing itself is ridiculous, which is interesting in light of part of the sermon today. One small part anyhow, which is how I took it in today. The speaker was explaining in a scholarly sense, that the donkey was a lowly animal which might carry a lowly person, and an untried colt would be apt to not only make you look lowly, but also possibly foolish.

So maybe that is the crux of the problem. Maybe I am just afraid of looking lowly or foolish. God does seem so prone to asking me to do things that seem to make no earthly sense, and sending me in with what sound, to me, like weak explanations. And I just cringe with all manner of discomfort, because I suspect I know exactly how this will go. I will go looking for the thing tentatively, and when I find it I will offer up my explanation apologetically. Then I will go my way, lugging my awkward burden through crowded streets, while folks look on and scorn me for my foolishness. Things never go easily. I stumble and struggle, and sweat and puff. Smart, well groomed, rested people stare, and wonder why I do not put down my cumbersome load. And all the way I avert my eyes, and wish my burden away, because I am not so sure why the Master has need of this load, or why he would send someone so unsuited as me to fetch it for Him. If the way is long enough, I would generally even get angry and begin to resent my load, or worse, the Master Himself.

Knowing this about myself, I am surprised to still hear the echoes of, "The Master has need..." in my ears. I am so very bad at this fetching business. So what, you may ask, does the Master have need of? I can't say for sure, but I think it's a huge, filthy, run down, former drug house. I couldn't say I know beyond a doubt, but it has all the earmarks of one of these fetching missions. Absolutely nothing about it makes sense, and it will doubtless leave us sweating and puffing. Surely it will leave many well groomed and well rested, wise folk scratching their heads in puzzlement. I guess we will set out, and see if the donkey and her colt are where He says they will be, and if our explanation for making off with them is accepted.

Friday, March 14, 2008

How I Know...

...spring is coming.

  • Twenty six deer in the field this morning
  • Two huge, honking Canadian geese which flew low over the house this morning, scaring Baby LaLa out of her skin
  • A flock of robins and red wing blackbirds feeding in the yard
  • My back hall, full of mud

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Bible Meme

I popped over to check on what Parableman has been up to, and found I had actually been tagged with a meme, that I agree looks like more fun than much of anything else I should be doing right now. I'm not much for tagging, but you can play too and send me a comment so I can check out your answers.


1. What translation of the Bible do you like best?

I probably use the NKJV more than anything else.

2. Old or New Testament?

You have to choose?

3. Favorite Book of the Bible?

Probably Proverbs or James. Depending on whether I go with OT or NT.

4. Favorite Chapter?

Acts 27...I don't know, every time I read it I just shake my head and say, "Figures."

5. Favorite Verse?

Romans 8:18

6. Bible character you think you're most like?

Elijah

7. One thing from the Bible that confuses you?

Works vs. grace especially in the OT.

8. Moses or Paul?

Probably Moses.

9. A teaching from the Bible that you struggle with or don't get?

Free will vs. God's sovereignty.

10. Coolest name in the Bible?

Mephibosheth.


And by the way, Parableman, we may be up in your neck of the woods at the end of the month. We are coming up for the Sysco food show at the OnCenter. We always think of you when we are up that way.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Next Survivor Series

My sister emailed this to me and it gave me a chuckle. Maybe it will tickle your funny bone too.

  • Six married men will be dropped on an island with one car and 3 kids each for six weeks.
  • Each kid will play two sports and either take music or dance classes.
  • There is no fast food.
  • Each man must take care of his 3 kids; keep his assigned house clean, correct all homework, and complete science projects, cook, do laundry, and pay a list of 'pretend' bills with not enough money.
  • In addition, each man will have to budget in money for groceries each week.
  • Each man must remember the birthdays of all their friends and relatives, and send cards out on time.
  • Each man must also take each child to a doctor's appointment, a dentist appointment and a haircut appointment.
  • He must make one unscheduled and inconvenient visit per child to the Urgent Care.
  • He must also mak e cookies or cupcakes for a social function.
  • Each man will be responsible for decorating his own assigned house, planting flowers outside and keeping it presentable at all times.
  • The men will only have access to television when the kids are asleep and all chores are done.
  • The men must shave their legs, wear makeup daily, adorn himself with jewelry, wear <>uncomfortable yet stylish shoes, keep fingernails polished and eyebrows groomed.
  • During one of the six weeks, the men will have to endure severe abdominal cramps, back aches, and have extreme, unexplained mood swings but never once complain or slow down from other duties.
  • They must attend weekly school meetings, church, and find time at least once to spend the afternoon at the park or a s similar setting.
  • They will need to read a book each night and in the morning, feed them, dress them, brush their teeth and comb their hair by 7:00 am.
  • A test will be given at the end of the six weeks, and each father will be required to know all of the following information: each child's birthday, height, weight, shoe size, clothes size and doctor's name. Also the child's weight at birth, length, time of birth, and length of labor, each child's favorite color, middle name, favorite snack, favorite song, favorite drink, favorite toy, biggest fear and what they want to be when they grow up.
  • The kids vote them off the island based on performance. The last man wins only if...he still has enough energy to be intimate with his spouse at a moment's notice.
  • If the last man does win, he can play the game over and over and over again for the next 18-25 years eventually earning the right To be called Mother!
***I actually think my dear hubby would win, and I'd be voted off if I was a competitor. But plenty of my friends and acquaintances try to win this rat race!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

I Love Pajamas

I was chatting the other day with my good friend BJ, and she noted that she was still in her 'jammies. She said this like it was a bad thing, which for her, it apparently is. And although I find myself often in agreement with the wise and all knowing Betty Jo, I just am not this time. In fact, I responded by saying that I was still in mine too, and I said it with pride. Any day I can spend entirely in my PJs is a day well spent. I love pajamas, and have a nice assortment of them, in various fun styles and colors. I can be seen doing just about anything in them, and very comfortably I might add. Finding me in my night clothes is no indication of illness in the house, or of the time I rose this morning.

One of my heroes, Cindy Bodie, single mom to 39 children, speaks often of living in her pajamas. In her houseful of traumatized and edgy children, coming and going while Mom remains at home in her PJs is a sign that all is right with the world. She discusses the phenomenon of appearing nicely dressed, and sending one or more of her children into a tailspin, as they convince themselves she is planning her escape to an exotic location. Nothing short of putting on the grubby nightclothes will reassure them. I observe a similar vibe in our house.

Still, I have to admit that I have not attained the highest form of PJ freedom. I do not go out to Walmart in my 'jammies. I want to. I wish I were this mature...but I'm just not there yet. I have to at least drag on a pair of sweatpants, which I suppose might qualify if I actually slept in them. But there is always room for growth, so I might make it there someday.

As an important PJ aside, it is worth knowing that if you are a thrift store shopper, awesome 'jammies are to be found soon after Christmas, for pennies on the dollar. Lots of really fun, cozy PJ's get donated right after Christmas, many still bearing the store tags. I picked up about a dozen sets this year for the girls and me, and paid about $2-3 per set. Ah yes, and lest I forget, a set for Daddy, plus flannel pants for baby boy, and his favorite...a red and white striped nightshirt.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

No They Didn't....

....make it by the jammed up vehicles, if you were wondering. They got stuck too, and every vehicle on camp, including ours, was pressed into service as a shuttle. They shuttled kids all through the night. I am tired and bleary this morning from looking out my window into the wee hours, watching and hearing them go to and fro. But I am quite certain I am nowhere near as tired as all our guys who were out there all night, and are out there again this morning. I don't even consider the teens. They would have been up half the night anyhow!

Oh the joys of winter camping on the mountain!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Wintery Vignettes from Camp

Tonight camp is all abustle and aflutter, because it's the last big retreat of the winter season. In order to mark this Leap Year retreat with something a little special, we all noticed a minor snow storm on the radar when we checked the weather this morning. Nothing huge, just a half a foot of powdery, blowy snow, to slick up the tubing run and give our 340 campers something to do outdoors.

Several hours ago the big Coke delivery truck came to drop off flats and flats of soda, to fill the machines for hundreds of thirsty campers. On their way out of camp, just past our house which sits at the far back border of camp property, they rolled down the dirt road, down a steep hill which immediately swoops upward again before meeting the paved road. Somewhere between going down and going up, they got stuck. For hours and hours I have listened to heavy equipment rumble past my little house, as camp maintenance workers tried to drag them out of the gully in time for the departing school group to leave on their yellow school buses. Oh, did I neglect to mention that we had a small group of fifty here for the last two days, and on the heels of their departure, this large group of youth were incoming?

At some point, the Coke truck's very own tow truck came to drag them out, and the yellow school bus was given the green light to try and make it by, heading for home a bit later than expected. Within the last hour, I heard youthful voices passing my house in the dark, as the passengers of the school bus, now apparently stranded in the gully as well, trooped back up the road toward camp. I hear rumors that the Coke truck is jammed for the night, and possibly the bus as well. The school group will get to enjoy another night of our hospitality...possibly bunking in the gym for lack of any other space. Hubby will be cooking breakfast for an extra fifty in the morning. Meanwhile, buses loaded with the anticipated 340 are fast approaching the blocked up gully, and we are wondering if they will make it past the stranded vehicles. If not, they will have to shuttle and escort all those teens, and backpacks, and sleeping bags a very long way over snowy hill and dale.

Dearest husband is in the shower, getting ready to hit the hay. Tonight the chaos does not belong to him, but he knows that tomorrow it will. Cooking 1200 meals in a day is enough to spank anyone, as he says.

Quote of the Day

"Why don't they have Garanimals for men? I need little animals on the tags to help me match my clothes. I'd buy 'em."

--Husband for over twenty years, father of seven, one smart man

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dirt

My dear friend BJ asked the other night, if there really was such a thing as poo free sunny days. No Beej....probably not. I like what Mo used to say.

"All your life you try and get rid of the dirt, and when you die they bury you under six feet of it!"

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Gross, gross, gross

Alright, I have to say it. My house is disgusting. It's the end of February, and we're alternately under ice, or snow, or mud. The beautiful 235 acres of camp that we live on, just isn't cooperating. Instead we find ourselves cooped up in way too few square feet, trying not to eat one another alive. It is cabin fever at its best. My house is pooey. Is that even a word? I am just dealing with too much poo.

Every day we go out a couple of times a day, and collect the frozen goat buckets. We drag them indoors and thaw them in a bathtub or sink, and refill them with warm water. What do they leave behind? Goat poo...which also comes in on Baby Boy's boots. Along with copious amounts of hay and dirt. Darcy the old lady goat wears a lovely purple coat, which gets ripe with poo. When we get a couple of warm days, I peel the thing off her, soak it in a bucket of soapy water, rinse well, and hang on the clothes line to destink a bit. Only then can I wash it in the washer, without filling the house with the smell of poo.

Then there's the dog. Technically she keeps all her poo outside, and for that I am grateful. She does however, hate the cold and snow. In order to avoid having to trek far out into it, she does her pooing on the walk or driveway. In really bad weather she has been known to poo directly on the deck outside the door. Fortunately she is small, and so is her poo, so it freezes into hard little piles very quickly.

For more pooing pleasure we have the cats. Four of them, all living exclusively in this little house, and doing an excellent job keeping their poo inside their litter boxes. But not necessarily covering it up. That would not allow for the stench to be distributed quickly enough. On a regular basis one of my children can be heard shouting, "Titus laid an egg!" Immediately following is the pounding of feet as we all scramble to dispose of the "egg" and deodorize the vicinity.

And finally there is the human poo. I won't go into great detail, but simply say that a stomach virus has afflicted us these past several days. The washer and dryer are working overtime, and I go about in long yellow gloves, soaking things, scrubbing things, spraying things. It's not pretty.

And so I say again, my house is disgusting. I just cannot seem to keep up with the volume of contamination and smell which has invaded. If only it was warm and sunny, I could open things up and air it out. I could hang loads of laundry out, to be sanitized by the sun and wind. I could send fractious children out to play. But alas, we are still in the deep freeze. Will poo free sunny days ever return?