Sunday, August 31, 2014

Weekend of solitude

Pete gave me one of my favorite gifts again this weekend -- time away to be by myself.  It wasn't completely alone-time because I did spend some of the weekend with each of my sisters and their families, but for the large majority of the time, I was on my own.  And I loved it.

I won't lie - -probably the best parts were getting to eat a whole bag of peanut M&M's all by myself and not having to share with anyone, and unpacking my little bag of things and being able to put my stuff wherever I wanted with no fear that someone was going to walk by and take it/break it/step on it/lick it.  It was also awesome having complete control over my schedule, deciding on my own when I was going to wake up at night or in the morning without anyone else doing that for me.

Yes, complete control over my stuff and my time... that makes this control-freak happy.  And it feels so foreign these days!

I spent a lot of the time on my parents' porch doing this:

... writing a talk I'm giving at the women's retreat in a couple weeks.  I loved doing it so much my hands were shaking most of the time.... or maybe that was from all the peanut M&M's.

I also read a tiny book by Henri Nouwen which was quite appropriate, entitled, "Out of Solitude."  Here are some of my favorite parts:

“I want to reflect on this lonely place in our lives…  Somewhere we know that without a lonely place our lives are in danger.  Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure.  Somewhere we know that without a lonely place our actions quickly become empty gestures.”

"In our solitude, we can slowly unmask the illusion of our possessiveness and discover in the center of our own self that we are not what we can conquer, but what is given to us.  In our solitude we can listen to the voice of him who spoke to us before we could speak a word, who healed us before we could make any gesture to help, who set us free long before we could free others, and who loved us long before we could give love to anyone.  It is in this solitude that we discover that being is more important than having, and that we are worth more than the result of our efforts….

In solitude we become aware that our worth is not the same as our usefulness.”

I highly recommend a weekend alone to anyone, especially someone who has a 24-7 job like a mom.  Get away, breathe again, and remember who you are!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Field Trip: Under the Sea Edition

Sea Life Aquarium had their homeschool discount days this week, so since Colsen had been begging to go there and I refused to pay full price, this was the time to go.

We gathered up some friends and a niece and set off to see all things fascinating under water.

It was all a nice adventure.... although maybe a little tooo adventuorous at the end when I couldn't find one of my kids and the whole place had to go into lockdown.  We got to see just how good the mall security is there -- and it's pretty impressive.  If I have to lose a kid, I guess that's a good place to do it.  The story ended well, thank you Lord.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Jumbled thoughts

I keep thinking of miscellaneous things I want to write on here -- but then I immediately get interrupted by another thought or someone asking me something or the phone chiming or an alarm going off....  My brain is a mess these days.

I actually wrote a post about that which was published on this site last week.  It's written with homeschooling moms in mind, but I'm sure others may relate, too.  :)

And now I'm off to attend to violin practices. (And figure out what we're having for dinner tonight, and see if the cooler got left in the wrong car, and put in a load of laundry, and send an email, and water the plants, and find Miles.... and then start school!)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A day of Firsts

Monday was a monumental day in many ways.  


And this is the only picture I got -- crooked, too-small shirt and all

 We had everyone's FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL:

Strider had his FIRST DAY (orientation) at Greyfriars Classical Academy.  (No pictures of that -- could you even imagine how much trouble I would be if I even attempted such a thing?!  But here's a pic of the handsome guy)

Miles had his first staples removed from his head:

He also had his first cast check -- it's all healing well so far!

And then Strider had his first football scrimmage -- during which he got mad that I tried to snap some pictures.

Oh -- and we had apple pie for our FIRST meal of the day, our back-to-school tradition.
So, all in all, it was a great day!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Summer Wrap Up, By the Numbers

I feel like I have not written on this blog much this summer -- other than the highlights of vacations and lowlights of Urgent Care visits.  But a quiet blog does not a quiet summer reflect!  In fact, Pete and I have now dubbed the summer of 2014 as Our Most Productive Summer Yet.

It feels like we've done a lot... but, of course, I still come screeching up to the very last day, frantically looking around at what is yet undone.  Last night as I was washing dishes I was again contemplating this constant battle -- how the undoing never stops, and we will always have to keep redoing, and then we die.  But then, then there is Heaven, so that's good.

Our 2 big goals for the summer were to make decisions about 1.) Whether we should move or add on to our house, and 2.) Whether or not we should start the process for international adoption (which we have been talking about for years.)

I am happy to say that both goals were accomplished, and we think we have clearly seen God's answers to both questions.  In answer to the first one He seems to have said, "Neither," and in answer to the second, we feel like we've been given a green light!

So, for the last month or so Pete and I have been rapidly charging through stacks of paperwork and a multitude of computer screens, trying to get as much of the adoption pre-work done as we could before school starts.  It has taken a  LOT of time!

One of the books I've been reading (dumb, happy novel) summarizes each chapter at the beginning with a list of numbers, so I guess I'm now thinking of our summer in the same way.  Here is my list of numbers:

108:  Number of pages involved in the initial paperwork to get accepted into the adoption program, many of which needed to be notarized.

11:  Different forms for criminal/background/child abuse clearances we had to send to various states and agencies, all with different instructions, of course.

47:  Other forms we had to collect/copy/order/find, including birth certificates, tax forms, employment sheets, asset verifications, etc., etc., etc.

6: Friends we had to request reference letters from, hoping they won't say we're a terrible family for an adopted child.

3:  Trips to a notary over the last month.

5: Appointments we had at our doctor's office this past week for all the checks, tests, shots, bloodwork.  (Good thing we live close enough to ride bikes to the office!)

65: Number of pages of short-answer questions we had to fill out for our first adoption homework assignment.  (Questions like, "What would you do if your child ____?" and "How will you prepare for _____?"  and "Describe some of the holiday customs Bulgaria has."  HARD questions!   65 pages of these!)

5: Number of states visited by at least part of our family.

23, and counting:  Number of football practices we've carted Strider to.

2:  Bathrooms in our house that Pete painted this summer.

475:  Number of rocks (+/- 100) that Pete set in our front yard as edging around our garden beds.

475:  Number of books (+/- 200) that I sorted through to reorganize all of our shelves in 2 different rooms.

4: Bedrooms that I sorted through over the last few weeks, emerging with 10 bags of garbage.

5:  Cabinets and/or closets that I organized at the beginning of the summer, which now are a mess again.

4:  Number of children that were largely left to their own devices this summer so we could get all the above done!  They did a lot of this kind of thing:

 And, of course, even more climbing:

12:  Number of Strider's new classmates who came over for the first social of the year last night.  I did not get any pictures of the actual party (because that would have been sooooo embarrassing), but here's glimpse of the pre-party set-up.  It was a big bonfire and the idea was that the students could roast hot dogs, make s'mores, play games, etc.  But they mostly just played newcomb and huddled around in clumps talking.

5.5:  The age at which Miles has stopped sucking his thumb.  (We thought he would be well into his teens before finally motivated to stop -- but the cast on a broken arm which does not allow him to bring his thumb to his mouth has done which no other forms of motivation could accomplish!)  As a celebration, we went to play mini-golf today, the last day of summer:

He did great playing left-handed!
And did we mention there was ice cream, too??

And that's a wrap!  Summer of 2014, you've been great.

Friday, August 15, 2014


Rayna hit this milestone yesterday, and celebrated with glee.  After waking up at 5 am to run downstairs and see her streamers and look for presents, and then being convinced to please go back to sleep, she was ready for a fun day.

Since Ellie and Ava are some of her favorite people in the world, we all went up to their house to spend some time together.  The 4 big kids (including Strider, who begged and pleaded for Rayna to invite him) all went to Defy Gravity, a big trampoline play park, where they had a blast.

Meanwhile, I stayed back with the younger folks, including Katie's kids who came over for awhile.  Good ol' cousin time!  We also went to visit Mor-Mor for a little while.

Comparing casts
Since Pete attended a conference last evening, we decided to postpone the real birthday dinner until tonight.  A special dinner was topped off with what everyone had been waiting for all day -- an ice cream "cake" made by Colsen, Miles and I.  Rayna wrote the big 12 on it herself with some cake decorating tips sent to her by cousin Grace and the Pittsburgh crew.  :)

She's had a great birthday!!

Monday, August 11, 2014

...And we also hate broken bones!

(This is a fake cry--
 he's being silly on purpose)
...  Especially when they happen within 4 days of a head injury!

Yes, back to the same Urgent Care doctors we went yesterday, with the same child.  This time it was his arm.

We had all been in the backyard, where I kept saying, "Come down from there," and "Stop jumping on that," and "Calm down."  Right as we were about to go in, Miles, while we were not paying attention, attempted the monkey bars -- which he had been told not to do because of the staples in his head.

We saw him fall, but it was just a 2-3 foot drop, so didn't think much of it.  (Later he told us he was attempting some sort of "salmon ladder" trick he saw on American Ninja Warrior).  He cried out a little, but not much -- then said, "Oh no -- Look!"

We looked over and he was holding up his arm -- which was twisted into an S shape above his wrist.  Pete and I both jumped up in a panic, and off we rushed to Urgent Care, Pete hold him to his chest the whole way, repeating, "Just don't look at it!"

Miles never really cried or got hysterical, which was really weird -- especially once the doctors saw the x-ray and realized both bones had been broken.  We're very thankful for God's mercy, that Miles was able to stay calm!

The doctors at Urgent Care called ahead to the Children's Hospital in the city and told us they would be waiting for us there.  Maybe they were, but they still made Pete and Miles wait an awfully long time!  They weren't sure if they were going to have to do surgery, so Miles wasn't allowed to eat anything the whole time.  :(

Finally, 7 hours after the original fall, they set the bones correctly (with NINE people in the room to do it), and then wrapped up the cast, giving Pete instructions for various follow-up appointments over the next few weeks.

As we were transporting Miles between Urgent Care and ER, he looked up at me and said, "Guess I'm not going to be able to suck my thumb anymore."  Maybe that's the good thing coming out of all this-- he's having to quit cold turkey!  He has also reminded me that I promised him a Mini-Golf outing whenever we went 3 days without sucking his thumb, so it looks like we'll be out hitting a few balls in the next few days -- one of us one-handed, though.

Friday, August 8, 2014

At dinner tonight

Even with one child missing, we still had lively dinner conversation tonight, including…
  • A discussion about the precepts taught in the book, “Wonder.”  One of them was, “It is better be kind than to be right.”  I immediately started to disagree with that, and started compiling my arguments for why… well, why I was right.  I think I have a problem. 
  • Kids coming up with their own precepts.  Colsen’s was:  “Even if you think someone else has more toys than you or has gotten to go to more places in the world, still you shouldn’t compare yourself with them because you have a good life.” 
  • People re-enacting the “Inky Binky Bonky” rhyme, complete with the “donkey” dying on the floor, and Daddy crying.
  • Questioning whether it’s better to be beautiful or nice.  We decided it depended on whether we were talking about people or things.
  • All the usual talking-over-one-another with at least 2 conversations happening at any one point.
  • All the usual poor manners, with constant corrections from the parents.

I hate head injuries (again)

Miles was in a bad bike crash on Wednesday and knocked his head hard on our driveway.  (There are still blood stains on the driveway, which Strider cheerfully posted on Instagram -- after Miles was feeling better.)

The immediate concern was the volumes of blood pouring out of the back of his head and down his shirt, but since I had seen his head do this before, I didn't quite panic.  Strider and I were able to pull the skin of his head back together and wrap it all up with gauze, so the bleeding stopped.

But then it became apparent he probably also had a concussion, so I got to the play the oh-so-stressful "Should I Take Him To Urgent Care" game all afternoon.  Poor guy was very much not himself, and felt awful for hours.

When Pete fiiiiiinally got home several hours later, the attention returned back to his scalp wound, and Pete was adamant that he did indeed need stitches, even though it was no longer bleeding profusely.  So, to Urgent Care they went, where I really do wish we had a Frequent Shopper's card.

Ten staples later, Miles came home, finally acting like his normal self.

This is him the next day -- when he was actually feeling fine,
but just re-enacting how he felt the previous day
We were very relieved.

I told the boys that from now on when the get dressed in the morning, they should also just go ahead and put on helmets for the day.

 Meanwhile, I'm trying to keep them on the ground playing quiet games.... which is only sort of working.