Monday, October 22, 2012

Dinner Is Served

I am loving Plan To Eat, a website that helps you to organize your menu, gather recipes from websites, and make a meal plan.  It is so easy and not very expensive at all.  Perhaps I am just happy to be in my (new) kitchen, but I thank this website for helping me to get dinner (along with breakfast and lunch) on the table 5 days last week.  And that did not include mac 'n' cheese or frozen chicken nuggets, thank you very much.  And, thanks to our schedule this year, I am actually getting the kids involved in meal prep.  This is usually Peter's thing, but Nicholas has gotten into to it too.  I imagine his future wife thanking me one day.

Your welcome.

Friday, October 19, 2012

More time

 Hands down, my favorite thing about homeschooling is that we have more time to do things that we want to do.  Like decorating pumpkins.  I am ashamed to say that last year we did not have, or make, the time to do that.  And the kids did not let me forget it.
 This year, we took advantage of a beautiful day and took to our front yard for some Fall fun.

 As you can see, each kid's personality was expressed on his or her pumpkin.

 I subtly work in some character traits I want to see in them as we do stuff like this.  Here, Nicholas is being helpful -- and he is proud of himself.

As Olivia decorated, she was muttering the six times table under her breath.  I did not ask her to do this; it is just something she is working on.  And, like me, a lot of mind-work gets done while doing something creative.  Its like one part of your brain is occupied and will leave the other part alone in order to do its work better.  Nicholas does something similar when he paces or wiggles while decoding words (reading). This reminded me of my now-favorite educational quote by Charlotte Mason:  "Self-education is the only possible education; the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child's nature"  Olivia was teaching herself while I was merely trying to have the kids decorate for Halloween!

Monday, October 15, 2012

6 candles

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Tonight at 7:00, the Wave of Light will occur across all time zones as we light a candle for those that left this world too soon. 

Nothing has changed me more drastically than losing 6 pregnancies.  Until then, I gotta admit, I led a pretty charmed life and I believed that hard work and good intentions paved the way to a happy life.  But it turns out, it is not that simple.  Life can be hard (much harder, I freely admit, than what we have gone through) and neither your diligence, your intelligence, nor your heart much matters in determining what you are dealt.  

Of course, how you deal with it is all heart.  

I was such a realist, such an agnostic, such an individualist.  God, spirit, charity, selflessness: none of it meant much to me.  But, when I had to dig down deep to get through our losses, I found something.  It took me a long time to identify that as God, but that is what it is.  

When I walked up those stairs in Langfang, China and saw Nicholas for the first time.  That was God.

When I attended my prenatal testing for pregnancy #8, with total peace in my heart, that was God.  I knew no matter what the outcome, it was all good (and, thank God, Peter is a healthy boy!)

Even  - smaller things - when the economy crashed and we thought John was out of a job, that there were few jobs in his field even in sight, that we would have to sell the house etc. etc....when I just exhaled and trusted, that was God.

So, alongside grief, I feel gratitude for my lost angels tonight.  It took a lot of repetition but I think I finally got the many lessons my babies' deaths were meant to show me:  

God exists.  

Life, for the most part, is shallow and fleeting.  

Love is the only real thing.  

I am meant to be a mother.  A mother of many.

I can relate to the grief and the horror and the complexity of the decisions that birth mothers have to make for their babies.  My kids' birth mothers are my sisters and I honor them.  

Everything sucky that happens is a gift in disguise.

I am beyond blessed.

We do school photos, too!

During this transitional year, I wanted to replicate a lot of the things that the kids might miss from school.  One of the things that topped the list was getting a school photo.  Who knew that was so important to them?  Thank goodness it was something relatively simple.  While I couldn't come up with a blue background, we decided that the outdoor fall light is better anyway.

Olivia, Grade 3

Nicholas, Grade 1

Peter, Kindergarten

Ellie, 3 years old

Class Photo.  I guess I should be in it, holding that little board that reads "Ms. Reid, 2012-13."  But, alas, I am the school photographer and although I wish I could be 2 places at once, it hasn't happened yet.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Can't Explain

It's hard to explain to anyone how I feel the way I do about this little guy.  We have only met once, and couldn't speak the same language.  He was too shy to even really make eye contact with me. But I adore him. And I ache to be his mama.

I understand -- at least intellectually -- that bringing home a 6 year old will be hard.  He does not know what it means to live in a family.  To have siblings.  He will need to learn English, to learn our culture, to learn to trust.  He will be grieving the loss of his friends and caregivers (once again).  He will be scared.

My other kids will have to make room in their already well-established sibling dynamic.  They will have to share Mom and Dad some more.  They will have to stretch to understand a little boy who has a lot of adjusting to do.  They will have a lot of adjusting to do themselves.

But I truly feel like I just have to bring this guy home.  It feels beyond my control, really.  Every step I have made in this adoption process has been compelled by thoughts and emotions that just won't leave me alone.  Or let me sleep.  Or let me leave my poor husband alone.

I pray every day for Elijah's heart.  That his heart has not been broken to a point of no return, by all of the moves he has been forced to make, by all of the attachments that have been broken, all of the goodbyes unsaid.  I pray that he was not traumatized by the surgeries and hospital stays that he had without parents there to hold his hand, and to be there when he work up from anesthesia, to reassure him that the pain will go away.  Perhaps he had a loving ayi with him during those times?  I hope so.

I am excited to see how Elijah's life unfolds.  I know God has a plan for him.  I hope it is with us, but perhaps it is not.  I place it all in God's hands and continue to work on my own trust issues.  Trusting in the process of life.  Trust in God.

101 in1,001

The Mission:
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.
The Criteria:
Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on my part).
Why 1001 Days?
Many people have created lists in the past – frequently simple goals such as New Year’s resolutions. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organizing and timing some tasks such as overseas trips or outdoor activities.
The Start Date:
The End Date:
Goals in progress are italicized, goals completed are bolded


  1. Attend Church  9 times in a row
  2. Take a Christianity 101 class
  3. Complete a Bible Study
  4. Read book of Mark
  5. Read Book of Matthew
  6. Read Proverbs
  7. Read Book of Psalms
  8. Begin day with devotions/prayer time 21 days in a row
  9. Join a church 


  1. solo trip with John
  2. visit Zoe twice 
  3. Visit Dana NM
  4. 'Christmas party' three times- fun with college friends!
  5. return all emails at set time -- 30 days/row
  6. remember friends' losses
  7. write to Aunt Margaret x4
  8. date night with John 10 times
  9. monthly date nights with John
  10. send birthday cards to 15 friends/family ON TIME!
  11. three overdue emails/calls


  1. Redo master bathroom
  2. Redo John's bathroom
  3. Redo Basement bathroom
  4. redo kids' bathroom
  5. decorate guest room (or turn into girls' room)
  6. new couches for basement
  7. redo desk area in basement
  8. curtains for master bedroom


  1. Complete all 34 weeks of homeschooling
  2. Help Nicholas to learn to read independently with joy
  3. Go on 5 field trips
  4. establish 3 homeschooling traditions
  5. do 12 art projects
  6. do 12 science experiments
  7. teach Peter to read (beginning level)
  8. teach Olivia to ride a bike
  9. teach Olivia to multiply and divide with ease (jncl memorizing mult tables)
  10. 2 (long) book reports with Olivia 
  11. read 3 homeschooling books I already own

Feeling and Looking Good

  1. white strips - 30 days/row
  2. do hair/makeup/nice outfit -- 2 weeks straight
  3. give myself a pedicure x3
  4. eat vegan for one week
  5. Isagenix to a "T" - 3o days
  6. run 1 mile without walking
  7.  run a 5k
  8. take a yoga class
  9. get to size 4/125 pounds
  10. drink 8 glasses of water/day - 21 days/row
  11. try one week of gluten-free diet
  12. work out 20 min 4 times/week for 30 days (Dustin Maher)
  13. Go to Onsen for soak and massage
  14. scrub and moisturize feet for 21 days/row 
  15. schedule and go to dentist, ob, dermatologist, and GP


  1. consistent chore routine for kids -- 21 days
  2. establish clean up time - 21 days
  3. morning routine 21 days/row
  4. evening routine 21 days/ row
  5. set up a meal plan and follow for 1 month
  6. set up mudroom
  7. organize bathroom supplies
  8. organize desk drawers
  9. complete Brook Noel Extreme Home Makeover
  10. 30 day fast from spending (other than essentials) 
  11. do one 'all out' week
  1. another adoption!
  2. Read Close Kids
  3. Read Grace Based Parenting
  4. read The Mission of Motherhood
  5. read Shepherding the Child's Heart
  6. read Parenting from the Inside Out
  7. spend alone day with Olivia
  8. spend alone day with Nicholas
  9. spend alone day with Peter
  10. spend alone day with Ellie
  11. throw surprise party for Olivia


  1. Complete Ellie's Lifebook
  2. make Peter's 4 year old album
  3. make Ellie's 5 year old album
  4. make Nicholas' 6 year old album
  5. make Nicholas' 7 year old album
  6. make Olivia's 8 year old album
  7. make Ellie's 2 year old album
  8. make Ellie's 3 year old album
  9. blog for 30 days in a row 
  10. take art or writing class at Arts Counsil
  1. Hot air balloon ride
  2. Build a snowman
  3. Dress up for Halloween
  4. Girls trip to Vegas
  5. Have a picnic in the park
  6. go to the movies by myself x3
  7. take kids to Broadway show
  1. visit elderly neighbor 3 times
  2. Complete ten random acts of kindness for someone who isn’t a family member
  3. take kids to do service in community
  4. visit a friend in the hospital
  5. send care package to orphanage in China or Uganda
  6. serve for a week in a Chinese orphanage
  7. raise money for 2 CFF Great Strides walks
  8. invite new family to area over for dinner

Description at the top shamelessly copied verbat