Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Second Day of School

I'd like to be clever enough to come up with alternate lyrics to "The Twelve Days of Christmas" detailing our first twelve days of homeschooling, but I'm too tired to be clever :)


On our first day of homeschooling, I was trying to bolster enthusiasm by having a special Back-to-School Breakfast. I splurged and bought juice (we only drink water and milk here) because the packaging read  "nourish your brain." I'm not sure it helped get more math problems right, but it did lead to quite a few full diapers-- I should have remembered this is why I don't buy juice. All day long there was yucky diaper after yucky diaper. Just what I needed on our first day of school. The remaining brain food juice will most likely be dumped down the drain or poured into some mixed drink if I survive this first week of school. The latter option suddenly seems quite appealing. Our first day of school also saw a dumped container of baking powder, many leaves shoved between the screen door and the screen protector, and some raiding of a few upstairs drawers which led to the discovery of our old cell phone stash.

It amazes me how quickly my little ones learn the ins and outs of phones. These play ones don't cut it for Juju who wants a new i-foon (iPhone) so she can play antree burrs (Angry Birds).

Our second day has seen yet more after effects of the brain juice, a bloody nose obtained while army crawling on the floor (which meant blood spots every few feet or so), the dog ran away and Joseph got stuck in the briers trying to follow her and a then slipped inside and drank half my morning cup of coffee. Oy!

The thing is I find myself remarkably calm about it all. We're miraculously getting done with the all our work and despite the chaos, the routine of school has brought a peace to our home.

If you look closely at Bophie's drawing you will see it is a self portrait, complete with the hair bow of which she is particularly proud.

I was blessed to go on retreat for a weekend before this school year began and it has made a world of difference. I was reminded of all those reasons I began homeschooling. It was a lovely weekend and I am eternally grateful I was able to attend. The retreat centered around this scripture:
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
This is my prayer for our little homeschool this year, that Christ will dwell in our heart and that we are rooted and grounded in love.

Monday, August 29, 2011

DTC

The Chi*nese adoption process can often feel as though it is a big bowl of alphabet soup, one acronym after the other. Today we hit a rather important milestone. We are DTC, which means Dossier to Chin*, which means our dossier of documents we spent the last few months gathering, getting certified, then couriered to be authenticated, have all been checked and double checked, translated and finally sent to Chin*. This means that in a few weeks we will have our LID (log in date) which means that our dossier has been accepted. After this we will have LOI and LOA and then TA, and the list goes on....

This is ahead of schedule and we are so grateful there were no major glitches. We were under a little bit of a time crunch, but managed to sail through the paperwork-- which is not an easy task. We are now at the point where we should begin the matching process. With Joseph we were matched so quickly and it was very hard for us to know him and yet not be with him. We hoped to minimize the waiting this round by postponing our match process. We have been praying all along for our littlest family member half way around the world and now those prayers will be redoubled as we are one step closer to meeting him/her.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

GAK

On Sunday the girls had some friends over after church. They played outside, we walked to the park, but we needed another little activity. 

This one had been on the back burner.

School glue is on sale for 20 cents a bottle right now making this an inexpensive activity.

My surprise was that five young girls got such a kick out of it. The food coloring made it even more fun.

Not so fun are all the little bits I am finding dried on the floor :)

It was worth it though. I love cultivating such beautiful friendships for my girls. My house was so full of giggling, chattering, and silliness.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Neighbors

I mowed the lawn on this gorgeous day. In a reversal of roles, I mowed the lawn and dh fed the kids lunch and cleaned the kitchen. It works for us. I like the hour and a half of alone-ness, the buzz of the mower and blaring playlist from my mp3 player mean no interruptions, and I get some exercise. Dh gets more time with the kids and to gain an appreciation for how my days go. It felt good to get out after the heat has kept us indoors the last few weeks.

As I was mowing, I came across this little scene:

It is part of an elaborate world my girls make for themselves in our backyard. Their imaginings keep them busy for many an afternoon. It reminded me of how I now have my own "world" that keeps me quite busy. I seem to always be trying to get it just right. It sometimes takes so much to keep everything running smoothly (ok, I'm not sure we've seen smooth in quite awhile) that I get caught up in project after project that I forget the world around me.

We live in this house that I strive to make a home. Our little bubble away from the hustle and bustle of the world, a safe refuge from storms. It can be easy to forget that this street is lined with families, each with their own struggles, their own stories, their own lives.

Today we found out that our next door neighbor, a man who told me he was so happy to have our swingset near his fence so he could listen to our children play, a man who takes the girls and helps them pick his excess tomato crop to bring to us, a father and a grandfather, a husband of many years, has only two to four weeks to live. As I mowed the lawn I watched a seemingly endless line of friends and family go in and out of their house. I imagine the next few weeks will see quite a bit of that.

Somehow I was brought back to that little world my children created, and the seemingly bigger world I try to create, and the even bigger world that has been this man's life. I wondered if God saw his life with the affection I felt towards those little reminders of my children's endeavors.

 I will be praying for him, for his wife, and his family.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

Peach Picking Edition

Nothing signals late summer more than ripening peaches on the tree. A few years ago a friend recommended a family run orchard where we could pick absolutely delicious peaches. We've been hooked ever since.

{pretty}

 Rows and rows of peach trees and having so many children means lots of helpers. The grandfather who runs the orchard even gave each of them their own baskets to help.


They are delicious and are one of my favorite August foods. The bright reds and yellows of late summer days.

{happy}

Being together as a family makes me happy. 


{funny}


Gabe and his peaches! (See here and here)

{real}


All those peaches can sometimes be a lot of work. Thankfully, we also have lots of helpers for that.


With so many peaches we, of course, had to have some cobbler.


While these last two pictures definitely fall under the pretty and happy categories, I put them in the real category because of all the calories they are adding to my diet.

For more contentment visit:
tiny blog chickens2-2

Park Days

It is an absolutely gorgeous day in our neck of the woods. 
The sun is shining.
The clouds white and fluffy.
The perfect summer day to head to the park.
After a few morning set backs, 
a trip to two different libraries, 
and various errands along the way,
we did just that.
We went to the park.

Within seconds, Juju had to go to the bathroom.
Only there weren't any.
So we made do with a secluded spot.

Within minutes after that, Joseph needed a diaper change.
Another trek back to the car and we were set.

Then before I had finished, Gabe had a horrible blowout.
Another trek back to the car.
Only I had no extra clothes for him since his extra outfit was used last week.
Joseph had issues at the pool.

By this time, I was no longer enjoying fluffy clouds and beautiful temps.
We went home.

We went to the park today and all I got was this picture:

Maybe we'll try again tomorrow :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Five Loaves and Two Fishes

Last Sunday's gospel reading was about Jesus feeding the five thousand. The priest praying the Mass gave a homily that has provided me much food for thought (pun intended), especially as I begin the task of preparing for another year of homeschooling.

The gospel speaks about the sheer number of people that followed Jesus out into a deserted place. As evening approaches the disciples notice the growing problem of the hungry crowds and go to Jesus and expect him to solve the problem. They want Jesus to send the people away. Instead Jesus says to them, "Give them some food yourselves." The disciples responded with how little they had. They knew that five loaves and two fishes were certainly not enough to feed the throngs of people that had gathered. Yet Jesus has them bring him their measly portion and then, "he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds."  Not only were all the people fed from those meager portions, but there were leftovers-- baskets full of them. Matthew 14:13-21 was the full reading.

How often we are confronted with what seem to be insurmountable problems. How often we want Jesus to send away those problems, just like the disciples wanted Jesus to send the crowds home. We want him just to take care of the problem without having to give up anything. Instead Jesus wants all that we have no matter how insignificant and inadequate it may seem. He wants us to offer it to him. His blessing, and his breaking of that gift miraculously take our inadequacies and they are used for far more than we imagined possible.

Last week our new schoolbooks were delivered and in all honesty a weight was put on my heart. The task of schooling our children is my "crowd in the desert" problem. Sometimes just getting them all dressed and fed is a feat. In a few short weeks I add the monumental task of academic endeavors and continued faith formation.

I'm standing here with my measly five loaves and two fishes looking at the task in front of me and I think it may be utterly impossible. I'm impatient, often quick-tempered, sharp tongued, and easily distracted. I have only two hands to try to keep up with twelve. Can I really do it? I'm tempted to ask Jesus to send the problem away as the disciples did.

Father reminded me, however, that if we bring those five loaves and two fishes to him, bring him the little we have to offer, he will bless it, break it, and use it to accomplish what is impossible on our own. My five loaves and two fishes are painfully inadequate and yet, if I offer them to Jesus, he will feed the five thousand with them. Blessed and broken, with Jesus, we will have another successful school year.

Here's hoping that the leftover baskets will equate to laundry being done and dinners on the table :)

More Mischief

  A face like this must mean mischief, right?



In this case it sure did. It was the smile of conquest. A dare-devil climb that had led to the ultimate prize for a sweet-toothed, quite adventurous, little 17 month old boy-- Mom's basket of peaches.



 He savored his prize-- the whole basketful!



Then, he left this in his wake...



And much to his father's chagrin, he also left this:


Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Break

I unintentionally took quite a blogging break... Here's hoping I can get back into the swing of things.

One reason for my break has been our lazy, but insanely early, mornings. These three think if the sun has risen (and sometimes even if it hasn't) they should be up.
 The horrible lighting here lets you know this was a particularly early morning. Juju's hair and expression strangely mimic that of her mother's on those early mornings when I stumble to the coffee pot.

This summer, though, I have become adept at cold brewing my coffee (although I simply use my french press). I have had a hard time getting used to making the coffee the night before, but it is sure nice to have it ready first thing in the morning. It is also nice that cold brewed coffee has a higher caffeine content. I've sure needed it to keep up with these little ones, even if it hasn't helped me keep up on my blogging.