Monday, 31 January 2011

I Should Know Better



This little guy gets me.  
When Samuel's sad I have to refrain myself from turning the world upside down to make it all okay for him.  
And what makes him sad?  Horrible things like:
  
  Not being the fastest on the sled/basketball court/bike, etc.
  Not winning whatever he plays
  Too many sleepovers in a row
  Being last
  Not being first


So how does the baby in a family of 18 kids with sweet blue eyes ever toughen up?  
Don't ask this mom. 

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Solid Rock Standing




We sang it this morning in church.  It got me thinking about some of the “all other ground” that I’ve tried to stand on.  

1.  In high school I put my hopes on being cool.  But I wasn’t allowed to wear a mini skirt and my hair was curly and it was the 70’s (think Jan Brady and her perfectly flat, straight blonde parted in the middle hair )

2.  Then I was all about being the perfect mom and I had a really obedient kid to prove it.  Along came baby number #2 who was just like me (a little unruly) and I realized I wasn’t the perfect mom...baby #1 was really good on her own.  

3.  This was going to be it - we helped start a new church.  I would  do EVERYTHING which of course had to be good firm footing.  Nope.  When I fell from this I didn’t know if I would ever get back up. 
  Luckily I decided to give up hanging out in the sand box and Jesus was gracious enough to haul my sorry self up on his solid rock. It’s very safe.
 And the view from up here is better too..

He'll Always Be King Neptune to Me



  We have a disproportionate ratio of kids to adults in our house and much of my time and energy is spent in the care of feeding of these kids, but here's the real truth......the kids aren't the thing.
  James and I decided a long time ago (probably the first time our new baby cried for an hour straight) that he and I are the thing.  We would have kids and raise them and give them our all, but they would be "what we did" - not "the thing".  There was an "us" before they came and we will be "us" when the last one moves out.  
  Our lives don't revolve around the kids - they are passing through our lives and we are doing everything we can to raise them to be successful adults.  Successful adults that begin their own "us".  
  Who needs the pressure of being "everything" to their parents anyway?  
   So my darling children - I love you incredibly - but your father is my thing.

  
  
  
  
  

Friday, 28 January 2011

All YOu Need is a Hill


  Sledding is one of the best parts of snow, especially for me, as the kids will actually go outside and stay for hours at a time.  And my kids are old enough to hang up their own hats, gloves, coats and snow pants this year with minimum nagging. (Nagging is Jame's department, but that's another blog post)
  But the very best is night sledding.  There's something about hurtling down a hill and not being able to see what or who you're going to run into.  Great fun!  
  Last night I let the kids stay out till after 9:00pm. Then I popped their little red checks straight into bed.  Do not pass go - do not collect hot chocolate. 

Oh You Two!




  This is Annelise, my granddaughter, and Ezra, my son.  They are niece and uncle, best friends, next door neighbors, and two halves of a whirlwind of drama.
  Ezra likes to run the show and unfortunately Annelise lets no one run her show.  Which leads to fireworks and yelling and some stress to the rest of us.  The two of them however, are very happy with each other and spend many happy hours making clubhouses, performing plays and tell each other what to do - loudly.  
  

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Snow Break



Finally, snow falling.  
Every other promised storm has passed us by.  But not this one.
I've been waiting for everything to stop.   
I've been waiting for the outside world to disappear behind a snow bank.  
Now, time will slow down and no one will rush off and we have luxurious hours to read and play.
Now 5:30 am will be in the middle of my dreams and not the start of my day.
We all need a little hibernation some time.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Watch Your Mouth



A few days ago our Pastor's wife, Susan, spoke about the effect our words can have.  She challenged us that when we speak to people they should feel like they are receiving a beautiful silver box from us.  And this should apply to those people that we love the most - our husbands and (here's where it gets dicey for me) our kids.


I can give silver boxes out to my friends and my husband on a fairly regular basis. Mainly because they don't get on my nerves.  The kids, well, they do stuff.  And rather than giving them a silver box with my words, I sometimes say things that might feel more like......
the little presents that I find in the laundry room when it's 17 degrees out and the little dogs have to go bad.


Time to get out the pooper scooper.  

 Ephesians 4:29
Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful.

Monday, 24 January 2011

We Need Each Other Today



  Sometimes when life seems a little bleak and I'm feeling like the bottom of a shoe, there comes a bright spot.  A little color to catch my eye and make me turn around.
  This is a picture of the ray of sunshine that showed up at our house today.  Her name is Miss Madeline, a Havanese,  and retired baby maker from a puppy mill.  She turned 6 years old and had reached the end of her usefulness in that line of work.  As she had no retirement plan in place, we invited her to come to our home and be a pampered pet.  
  Maddie seems to like our new arrangement and has James doing all kinds of cute people tricks like holding her for hours on end and trotting around outside in the freezing cold with her on an adorable pink leash.
  It's hard to be sad with a little white dog in your lap.





Sunday, 23 January 2011

Weighed Down Hard



Sometimes I wonder about the heart of God.
With just the tiny army He's entrusted to me, my heart  can become so heavy I can hardly lift my eyes.  Listening to the stories, talking to the hurts, encouraging and being patient and not being patient.  Trying to give the kids a chance to throw off the past and seeing so many fail over and over again.
Today was one of those days when I wanted to quit.  All my efforts seemed useless and my heart was weighed down like a rock.
But it's God's story and He's painted each stone with His love.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Finery

We received this incredibly great pile of dress shirts in sherbet colors that had matching dress pants and sweet clip on ties.  The sizes were perfect for my boys and I had visions of them looking adorable in short little hair cuts and maybe their hands stuck jauntily in their pockets.  I was excited!

Tonight at Emma's basketball game while musing about the dress clothes,  a ruckus started behind me.  I had brought my 5 kids and my daughter Kirsten's 5 kids with me.  There they were crawling under the chairs stacked in the corner of the gym.  I went over and started pulling random sets of legs out from under.  They were covered in gym floor bunnies and their clothes!  Apparently no one had noticed their outfit choices before we left.(that would be me)   It was embarrassing.  Ripped up jeans, colors together that were from different planets on the color wheel and shirts that read like a menu from the days meals. And sadly, this is typical.


I'm keeping the dress shirts.  You never know.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Flip Mode


  Less you think, after my post about my dishes on the shelves, that I am some kind of organized minimalist, I have decided to show you the dark side. It's cluttered and messy and yet somehow brings me another kind of happiness.  
It's the side of my refrigerator.  If I know you, you are probably pictured there.  Maybe I have your family Christmas pictures stacked one on top of each other since 2002. Maybe it's that picture of you as a baby because there really never was such a cute boy as you Ricky.  It's your prom pictures and beach pictures and  the cutest granddaughter on a stupid looking pony picture that is somehow cute and creepy all at the same time and your missionary prayer reminder and a picture of your new house.
  
Extreme neat dishes - horribly disorganized refrigerator.  
I'm a complicated person.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Pop Ups with Jocelyn



  A few days ago my granddaughter Jocelyn came over and said, in her most adorable and irresistible voice, "Grandma Kaaaate, can you read to me?"  It was late Sunday afternoon and I had about 453 things to get done before Monday morning.  Tossing the important things to the curb, I did the best thing and sat down with Miss Jocey and read through my collection of pop-up books with her.  She loves them as much as I do and we had a perfect cuddly afternoon.
  I bought her her own pop-up book and delivered it today.  She was delighted with Cinderella and I am delighted with her.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Open for Inspection


Okay ladies (you men wouldn't understand this at all, so don't even bother reading further), I don't have kitchen cabinets.  I have open, metal, Ikea shelves instead and I chose them.  I have no cabinet doors to hide behind.  You know what that means.  My dishes have to be in order.  No plastic margarine tubs next to the Big Gulp Cup.  It all matches and lines up, every day for everyone to see.
So why am I telling you this?  Because in my very messy, child smeared, people inundated life, I have carved out this one place of saneness and perfection.
Just say "ooh ahh" and make me feel like I have control of something.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Blood is Thicker Than Mayonnaise


Large adoptive families are a unique and complex blend of a few kids from here and some from over there and that culture and this environment and it throws the whole birth order thing into a blender and pours it out in new roles and alliances.  Sometimes we have a whole group of youngest vying for the spoils or two or three oldest struggling to the top of the heap.  We have seen our kids align with their biological siblings one moment only to disown them the next.  A social worker once came to take a picture of each sibling group and when she asked them to line up they promptly assembled as "littles" "middles" and "bigs" with no regard for previous family alliances.  We have seen reenactments of the Hatfield and the McCoy when someone's "real" little brother was threatened.


And now and then a big sister and a little brother who met just a few years ago become the best of friends and it's very nice .

Monday, 17 January 2011

Lots 'O Garbage Around Here

We have trash pick up once a week in our neighborhood and our trash company has recently updated their service.  We all had to buy a big red can with a hook so that the truck itself could pick up the can and dump it into the truck.  No more trash guys with your garbagy soup running down their arms. Of course with all this hands off they do lose the ability to pick through the cans and see if you have anything good worth keeping - or am I the only one who would do that?  Awkward for me.

All the families in our neighborhood have one can. We tried that too but it was a joke.  The red can was full after two days.  We tried two cans but still we overflowed.  Everything in a big family is extreme, not to mention costly.
So here is our week's garbage, barely squeezed into three cans.

And that doesn't count our two recycling bins that get picked up tomorrow. (Don't ask how many empty milk gallons there are)
 

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Sports Diplomacy

Improving U.S. - China relations one basketball game at a time.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Swoosh!

Basketball season is in full swing around here -  we had 3 games spaced randomly throughout the day.  We have the kids play in Upward Sports for the first few years, as it is noncompetitive and lets them try a few different sports without a lot of pressure.  They don't even score the games for the younger kids.
Also, Upwards Sports begins each game with prayer and I'm sure at my boys age the coach is just praying that the boys run in the right direction!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Stepping Lightly/Rightly Out of the Nest

  David took a giant step into adulthood today when he signed his name on the mortgage papers for his new house. He's got a great job, a new car and now his own home and all the bills and headaches and pride that come with them.  
  David is exceptional by any standards - a kind and caring heart - hard working and generous, but his success is even more surprising considering his less then auspicious start.  We have a very small community of foster parents in our area and David's reputation proceeded him when we got the call that he needed yet another foster family. At the ripe old age of 10, he was one of "those kids" - the kind that liked matches a little too much and came with an extra strength bottle of Ritalin.
  But under all that was this awesome kid just waiting for someone to introduce him to Jesus and tell him right from wrong.  
And David listened. 
  We have had many other kids who became adults at our home and they were not able to stop listening to the voices from their past.  Some have fallen down hard and each one is a heartache.
  But today I'm celebrating David as he stands there with his new house keys dangling from each hand.
He said he's excited but a little sad - excited about the big step and sad about not living with his family.  I'm feeling it too.
  

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Another Whack to the Head



And yet another goose egg - this time it was Jeremiah.  He informed me that while going down the stairs he fell out of his slippers and hit his head on the wall.  I have a hard time understanding that, but then again, I'm not an 8 year old boy.  So another bag of ice and of course some Oreo cookies to ease the pain. (note crumbs on the mouth)


I would also post a picture of my saintly husband who is still in the process of downloading my extravagantly large collection of pictures trapped in my external hard drive, but he looked a little grumpish in every shot.  
Hey, he can stomp around and be as snarly as he wants - nobody else in the world would sit through hours of annoying downloading for me.
Is it any wonder that I love him?

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The End of the World -Okay I'm Exaggerating a Little - Very Little



The manufacturer of this piece of electronics calls it a back up network server.  It's purpose is to function like an external hard drive for storing data that won't fit on your computer's hard drive.  (for example the gazillion of pictures that I take each year.)


I call it The Bad Black Maxtor.  I liked it until this morning.  I've uploaded my digital pictures to it since 2003 and everything has been so happy.


And then this morning I went to move some of the 176 pictures I took yesterday to it's giant storage and nothing.  I mean NOTHING!   The web support page says that the little red light glowing on the right hand side is the red light of death.


And my pictures are in there!!  I was having a hard time breathing as my dear (and desperate) husband spend the entire day trying to recover -just the almost most precious thing in the whole world to me. (I suppose I like my kids more, but the pictures don't talk back)


He can see every one of my photos on the manufacturers' secure web site but in 10 hours he was only able to download one half of one page out of 78 pages of pictures. 


I was told that there is no safe magnetic storage for pictures.  I swear that if I get them back I will put every picture on a CD and never let this happen again.


How do you store your digital pictures that let's you sleep peacefully at night?



Tuesday, 11 January 2011

One Man's Boo Boo is Another Grandmother's Gain

So sad that Silas had a head on collision with another boy on the playground today.
So glad that I got to go pick him up from school and spend an hour completely alone with him, which is not an easy thing to do with the mob around here.
Sorry for Silas - happy for Grandma Kate.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Advantages

There's so much great about homeschooling.  
I love that my animal loving "twins" can do their school work with their "twin" dogs cuddled in their laps.

Emma and Elijah often have their jack knives hanging from their belt loops, which comes in very handy when there's a box to cut up in the middle of the school day.  Knives are a definite no-no in public school - at home it's just part of life.

Where else can you roll bread, white glue and black paint around in your hands as long as you like while making Roman denarius?

And it's always nice when your teacher ADORES you!


 

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Run Spot Run



Annalise's new puppy, Pete, likes to run away and Annalise and Ezra like to catch him.
Everybody wins and I think all three of them are just cute.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Handing down a Bed

When Kara was around 6 my husband decided to build her a bed for her very very small bedroom.  The bed was a loft with a dresser, desk and bookshelf underneath.
That was 25 years ago and actually the bed was never finished.  She used it for a few years in an unfinished state, but it has spent most of it's life in Jame's workshop waiting to be finished.
Now Kara has a little girl, Scarlett, with a very very small bedroom.  She's taken up the challenge and has been traveling up from Baltimore and working on the bed.  She's almost finished and I'm excited to think that it will get used again.
Pictures of the completed bed to follow!

Friday, 7 January 2011

Campers

Isaiah, Grace, AnnaClaire and Emma


There is almost nothing my teens love more than Winter Camp with the youth group from our church.
Today they shoved suitcases and pillows, Bibles and sleeping bags into the back of the car to head out for the weekend.
The house is quieter and I miss them already!

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Unexpected Exuberance

Science class was canceled.
Trip to the river instead.
Jumping for joy!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Left Out

Every year when I put the Christmas decorations away I inevitably find one or two things that I missed. 

This year I took my time and made sure we packed everything.  Every room, every window, every corner was checked and rechecked.  I labeled the crates carefully and carried it all to the attic.

Monday, one of the kids was hired to do a little yard work and he came  into the house holding a string of lights from a bush in the front garden.

Inevitable.



Tuesday, 4 January 2011

And Rounding Out the Mob


This is Samuel Thomas, the youngest of our 18 kids.  The baby.  The end.
Our oldest daughter, Margie, is 36 and I had no idea that all these years later an empty nest wouldn't be in my tree for a long long time.
But that's okay.
When we started foster care I had no idea what God had in mind.  It seemed like a nice thing to do.  It has been nice -  and hard and wonderful and terrible and worthwhile.   And over and over God has called us to stay with it and fill the rooms and love another and another.
But now we have a last one.
Samuel.
He's 6 and I'm....... a very experienced Mom.
And sometimes when I look at him I can't believe he is mine.
He's a very perfect ending note.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Ouch - It Hurts so Good

A lot of my blogging friends are participating in  P365 and it sounds like a great idea and I'm looking forward to seeing some awesome pictures, but I actually have my own take on P365.

My P stands for pepper, as in jalapeno pepper.

My goal  is to eat jalapeno peppers every day this year. 

Since January 1st, I've had jalapenos on my egg sandwich each morning.
And I'll tell you that nothing says "Good Morning" like the burn of jalapenos starting on your tongue and traveling along your entire digestive track. 
I don't know how many jars I'll go through - but I see tums in my future.

Got any good jalapeno recipes?

Sunday, 2 January 2011

46 AAA Batteries Later

Today was the very last moment before we have to get back to real life tomorrow. 
Pity.
So with Christmas put away and lesson plans for next week completed we had a lovely, nothing to do afternoon.
I broke out my Geo Trax trains and we played the day away. 

Saturday, 1 January 2011

What A Nice Blank Calendar

A new year and I've been thinking about resolutions to be everything I couldn't quite manage to be last year.

Was resolved to feed my family healthier and then I found myself stirring the green and red M & M's that Joanne left here last night into their pancakes this morning.  They loved me for it, so somehow that's almost as good as good nutrition - isn't it?

Wasn't going to eat so much and I'm sitting here and my stomach hurts from the second helping of the potato soup I ate for dinner.  It's cold out and the soup was saying warm things to my heart.

My son in law Stephen said he was going to do a 365 project and blog a picture each day of the year.  I could probably remember to do about half that.  I think a 129 project sounds just as catchy and one of my goals this year is to be flexible.


And of course I'll read to the kids every night and never get mad over little things and try new recipes and really listen when my kids are telling me a story instead of thinking of actual interesting things and just nodding my head.


But they'd miss me!!


So bring on 2011 - I'm ready.
(And I'm 1 for 1 for a picture a day!)