Monday, October 31, 2011

Lights for Tonight

I'm not big on Halloween.  I like to pass out candy.  I like the cute kids' costumes.  I don't like the other stuff, the skulls, gore, demonic stuff, witches, etc.  I especially don't like the spiders.  Even fake ones are scary, but that's another post.

Now I do pass out candy to the neighborhood kids.  The problem is that our front porch light doesn't work.  Actually, the whole circuit to the front of our house hasn't worked since June and we have extension cords for a few of our lights.  I'm just making do until either Hubby fixes it or we can afford to hire someone to fix it, and neither looks like it will be done until after Hubby gets a big project done.  I don't do electrical work.  I do all sorts of other repairs around the house, but electrical stuff scares me.

So anyway, we don't have a working front porch light.  So I made do.  I got up in the attic, found some white Christmas lights and hung the lights from a nail that was already there on the front porch.  I didn't even bother to string them all up really pretty.  I figure that Halloween isn't my favorite holiday, and I figure I can be a slacker.

Our Halloween Lights
On another note, I have the cutest grandson, don't you think?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Finished the Scarf!

I finished the scarf for Black Belt Daughter!  She is going to a party today dressed as Amy Pond from Dr. Who.  Her boyfriend, of course, is going as the Doctor. Our family is crazy about Dr. Who!  It is such a fun series.  Too bad it is so hard to see in the States. Black Belt Daughter told me Thursday morning that she would like a scarf, and I finished it Saturday afternoon.  Of course, I didn't get much else done around the house during this time.  But I did have a great visit with my sister last night.  I tried to knit the scarf while watching the rest of the family bowl and talking to my sister.  I ended up having to rip out a few mistakes because it was so distracting.  But I had fun, and my sister knits too, so she helped me read the pattern in the dark bowling alley.

"Amy" and the scarf

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What Can I Do to Help?

What can I do to help? Let me know if you need anything. Sometimes we say this too flippantly, almost like saying, "How are you doing?" when we greet each other.  Sometimes we mean it, and other times we just say it to be polite.  Does the person really want to help, or is it just something you say?


One of the blogs I follow, A Bushel and a Peck, had an interesting topic, "Let Me Know if You Need Anything."  The topic and the responses left by others got me to thinking. It reminded me of one of the hardest times of my life, when we started fostering Ms. D and Mr. I.  The kids came to us so hurt, needy, and violent that it was hard to live day to day.  I couldn't keep up with the housework, especially when we all got the flu, while I was taking the kids here and there for appointments and dealing with their behaviors and adjustment to our family.  People who we thought would help weren't able, but the social workers at our foster agency, Advent Group Ministries pitched in wonderfully.  Even though there are things that pop up now from time to time, Ms. D and Mr. I settled down and the paperwork and pressures from dealing with the county social services disappeared once the adoption was final. But we really needed a lot more help during the first few months of fostering.  I could get bitter about how our church pretty much ignored us, how scared and alone I felt, but a better thing to do would be to learn a lesson from that time.

I need to look for people who are in the process of adopting or fostering, to offer physical and emotional support.  And not only them, but others who are going through a tough time need to know what I can do to help.  It's not like I have a lot of extra hours to spend helping others; I still have kids with hidden special needs. But I can sure make a little extra food from time to time, watch their kids for an hour or two, or pick up something at the store for them when I'm shopping anyway.  I can pray for them, spend a little time with them, and let them know that they aren't alone. I need to offer specific things, maybe even give some ideas, since if someone is having as hard of a time as we were, the person might not be able to think very clearly.

I need to really mean it and be specific when I say, "What can I do to help?"

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bees on the Roof!

Hubby needed to move our two beehives a few feet on our roof so he could patch the roof before the winter rains came.  So he got a full bee suit from Carrier's Bees, got some advice from Mr. Carrier, and moved the girls over a few feet. The bees are doing well, especially the packaged bees.  The swarm is doing well, but is still a bit small. Hubby moved a couple of frames full of honey over to the swarm hive so that they will have enough to eat all winter.  I bet they are pretty happy bees now!


Figuring Out How to Teach My Kids


I was looking at a blog this morning, http://www.welcometomybrain.net/2011/10/google-is-your-college.html#links, and Christine had an awesome Ted Talk posted.  I'm going to repost it here because it really got me to thinking about how best to teach my kids.  Photographer Son is a perfect example of someone who learned, and is still learning, through computers and the internet.  He is running a pretty successful business and most of what he learned that is helping him today was not through a traditional classroom.  It was learned through his network of friends that have helped him, exchanged ideas, and have encouraged him, by listening and looking at pod casts, Ted Talks, and on line university lectures, and finally by learning through doing and practicing.  I've learned to do quite a few things by watching Youtube videos and searching the internet.  We have fixed a furnace, learned how to do a knock down texture on sheet rock, and I learned how to make cloth diapers.  We have also looked at pictures of places we learned in history, watched things online about whatever science we have learned, and have supplemented our math, art, music, and English curriculum in so many ways using the technology available to us.  It is pretty amazing how much we can learn.  It's a pretty far cry from my school days when I had to go to the library to do any research!


Friday, October 21, 2011

Surprise 80th Birthday Party!

The past few weeks have been full of secrets!

My father-in-law was turning 80 years old.  Hubby's sister asked if we could have a video chat with his parents on the big day.  But Hubby had a few more days of vacation left over, so we decided to go up to Oregon to surprise them.  So Hubby, Microbio Daughter, Ms. D, Mr. I, and I packed up the van last Friday and headed north.  I was so excited!

The trip went well, and we arrived at Hubby's sister's the night before.  The cousins had a great time.  It was like a slumber party.  We went to one cousin's soccer game the next morning, but our car battery died on the way so we missed most of the game.  We did get to see her in action, though.

Then we came home to get ready for the surprise party.  We all hid in the kitchen and waited for the grandparents to come in.  They were so surprised!

Grandpa and Grandma

Of course the next few days were filled with visiting friends and relatives.  I got to see my mom, brother, and sister.  We went to a couple of churches we used to attend and saw some old friends.  Mr. I got to drive the tractor at Grandpa's farm and actually do some farm work!


With all the excitement, a migraine, and after a loss of her ipod, Ms. D got a bit dysregulated and got her brother going, but it all worked out in the end.  Actually, it was a very good thing that she lost her ipod.  Ms. D wouldn't eat and was angry because she thought her brother hid it because she used a toy he was given.  She did not want to leave the house until she found it.  But we took her and the rest of the family out to visit another friend.  Then I suggested that we all pray as a family that the ipod would be found.  Well, it wasn't more than a minute or two later and Grandpa called to tell us they found it buried deep in the sofa!  So Ms. D found out herself that it is good to pray!  She asked to listen to some Christian music right after.  What a good lesson!

We also had a good trip on the way home.  It took a little while, because we had to go back to Hubby's sisters to pick up a bag Ms. D left there, and we also stopped along the way to show Hubby the Territorial Seeds store. 

Mr. I sleeping in the van

Mt. Shasta on the way home

It was an awesome trip!  I'm so glad we surprised Hubby's parents!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Immunizations and the Grumpies!

Two days ago someone in our family got two immunizations, one in each arm.  This caused this certain person to have a difficult time sleeping at night.  She was too hot.  She was hurting. She was tired, but laid in bed for hours not being able to fall asleep.  This person also had a lot to do yesterday and didn't recognize that she was feeling pretty ill as she went about her day. She was tired. She was grumpy.  She took everything others said personally.  She cried.  She fussed.  She just wanted to be left alone, but people kept bothering her. She didn't realize she was feeling ill because of the immunizations until she almost passed out at the grocery store. 

When I realized how badly I had been behaving, I went home, apologized to Hubby, and took a nap.  I still felt bad physically, but my attitude changed when I realized that there was a physical cause beneath the emotions and that I would be feeling better soon.

I'm really glad I got my shots the day before the kids got their immunizations.  It helped me to give the kids a little more grace when dealing with their behaviors.  I'm pretty healthy, but my kids have FASD. The stress of immunizations sent me over the edge yesterday, but they are dealing with that stress with another condition that makes it even harder.  No wonder they get so dysregulated when stressed!

In order to make it through today, I'm going to list some more things I'm thankful for:
Food
Chocolate, of which I've eaten too much the past two days
Good health care, even when it hurts
My Children
My Grandson
My Hubby
A House to live in
Nice weather
The praying mantis we saw on our walk today
Music that soothes me when I'm feeling bad
That my younger kids are doing pretty well considering what they have to deal with every day
Being able to read things written by others who are going through similar things

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hibiscus Tea

So many times, we have food growing in our yard but don't even think to harvest or use the plants in creative ways.  We have a lot of mint growing, but I only make fresh mint tea occasionally and don't use it in cooking.  We grow grapes, but I don't use the grape leaves for other than feeding them to the rabbits.  I could use them to make stuffed grape leaves. We have oranges from one tree that sometimes go to waste because they aren't as sweet as other varieties we grow.  But I could use those oranges in recipes. I need to be more deliberate in not letting food go to waste and more creative in using other plants.

Today Mr. I looked at my computer and saw an ad on the side advertising bottled hibiscus tea.  It looked really good and he asked if we could get it sometime.  I said that we could buy some dried hibiscus flowers and make it ourselves.  Then Hubby said, "Why not use our hibiscus flowers growing by our front door?"  Of course! So we had Mr. I go out and pick a flower.  I boiled some water and we steeped it in a teapot.  When it steeped for about 5 minutes, we poured it into a pitcher with some ice and sugar and then added some lemon.  It was interesting that when we added the lemon, the acidity changed the color.  It was so good!
Hibiscus flower

Monday, October 10, 2011

Family

I love my family! 
I finally got to see my grandson yesterday!  We had been staying apart for over two weeks because of the bad cold going through the house.  But we were all feeling better this weekend so I got to hug the little guy again!  He sure loves to eat food now!  He has grown so much!

Photographer Son and his wife invited Hubby and me to dinner last night.  It was awesome to be able to eat big people food!  I am amazed at how well they cook!  Last night we had Indian food.  Yum!  It was also good to get away from the house, to relax, to not worry about kid stuff or how much needed to be done around the house.  It was good to talk as adults.  I was so refreshed!

I so appreciate all the support our older kids give us.  My oldest son knew I missed seeing my grandson and brought him over.  My other son gave us a night of good food and company.  One of my older daughters watched the little kids for us.  I am so thankful for all of them!

Compassion

I am finding that as we spend more time with Birthmom, I am becoming to be more compassionate for her and the whole family.  I really feel sorry for her.  One of her boys are in jail, along with a nephew who was very close to her and some other relatives.  Another son is into gangs and when Hubby dropped her off at her home from visiting us the other night, there was a bunch of young men hanging out one her front lawn, looking up to no good.  She is helping to raise her nieces children and but isn't raising a couple of her own.  The whole family is full of chaos.  And if Birthmom has FASD as I suspect, a chaotic and violent environment would be overwhelming.  I look at her and think, "What would life have been for her, if she had received as much support, structure, and a peaceful environment as Mr I and Ms D have?"  I hope that I can give to our kids what she didn't have but so needed, and really needs now.  I hope to give them a chance.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friendship and Transparency

 What is it in some people that draws my out of my shell?  

Today I had a couple of times with women in which I shared some deep things.  One was the more expected, when I took a walk with three other women from my house church. I have been with them in a small group for a few years, yet it has taken me some time to be able to share deeper things with them.  I guess part of it is because I had been in churches where you don't share your sins, your weaknesses, your failings.  Those that do are ostracized, criticized, and certainly can't minister to others until they get their life under control.  Women have perfect hair, perfect nails, perfect clothes, perfect houses, and perfect children.  Of course, many times under that kind of pressure, you find out later that they are hospitalized with a nervous breakdown or run off with some guy, leaving their confused family behind.  One time I had attended a Bible college class where the teacher was recommending that women sleep a half hour less each week, until they find they have enough time to get all that stuff done.  This woman was down to four hours of sleep a night, and things were going great with her! Really?!!! I never could keep up, and even had a talking to by a church leader who couldn't figure out why I couldn't have a clean house with two kids under three, a virus, probably mono, that laid me up for a few months, followed by another pregnancy!  Oh yes!  Just the stuff for encouraging transparency!  And that wasn't the last time that I was hurt by church people.  It got so bad, I learned not to show weakness, at least to people in my church. I found I was more real to people outside the church than to people in it. That's not good.  Not good at all!  

Fortunately I now go to a church where it is safe.  Safe to be real.  Safe to not be perfect.  Safe to confess my sins.  God has healed me a lot in this area, and I'm a lot more transparent.

The other time I shared deep things today was with a woman I just met.  I had gone to a respiratory therapist to talk about my asthma.  We ended up spending about an hour about our kids and ten minutes about my breathing!  She is about my age and is raising her grandson.  So it didn't take long before we were talking about the details of how to raise a child with FASD, and also the pluses and minuses of contact with the birth family.  She was so open and real with me, and it helped me to be real back.  And I think we were both encouraged that we were not alone!

Which brings me to something that I've been thinking of the past few days.  Tuesday was a homeschool parent meeting where people were teaching out of the book Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe by Todd Wilson.  It was done in a humorous and entertaining way.  One of the things that stuck with me is that we tend to believe we are the only ones who have problems, bad days, yell at the kids, feed them fast food, have a messy house, don't have time for a quiet time or exercise, feel stretched beyond our limits, etc.  Sometimes I am embarrassed by what comes out of my kids' mouths or the way they act.  It certainly isn't your typical homeschooler behavior!  My goals for my kids are way different than the goals of other moms.  And that is discouraging sometimes.  Thankfully our homeschool group is full of people who extend grace and acceptance.  And I'm so grateful!!

It just makes me want to give my homeschool group women and my church women a big hug!

And I hope that I don't sound on this blog like I have it all together.  That I am doing more than is humanly possible.  Some projects I do are my therapy.  Not much is completed in my life, so it is good for me to be able to look at a quilt, or even a washcloth, and think that not all things have to be done again, and again, and again!  And yes, some days, like today, I'm behind in the dishes and laundry!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Comfort Zone

By: Tad Hargrave


 I am about to leave my comfort zone!  
One of my friends posted this diagram, and I had to copy and comment. My comfort zone is that little circle on the right.  Life in the comfort zone for me would be to have a couple of kids, career, nice house, cars, and in a good neighborhood, go to church on Sunday, take vacations.  You know, the American dream.  Many of my neighbors are pursuing that kind of life.  But I'm trying to pursue God and the life He has for me.  Because of that, He often knocks me out of that little circle on the right.  He asked us to move from a nice home near friends and relatives and settle out of state.  He asked us to take in a couple of foster kids when my plan was to go back to school at that time.  He asks Hubby to spend a lot of time on the non-profit, helping people in another country.  He is asking us to reach out to the kids' birth family, with all its crime, gangs, poverty, and disarray. He asks us to be generous when we would be stingy, give of our time when we are busy, and live in a way that is confusing to my neighbors.  Of course the neighbors for the most part think it is a good thing, yet odd.  Why would we take on two more kids with so many needs when our own kids are almost grown?  Why help those in Nicaragua when you have your hands full here?  Why give, when you can use that money to get out of debt and build up for retirement? Why put yourself in dangerous situations, when you could be safe? There are a lot of questions.  And I guess the only answer is that yes, we can live like many, in ease and comfort.  

But God is in the circle in the left, where the magic happens.  And no matter how scary it seems at first, that's where I want to be!






Sunday, October 2, 2011

Faith and Courage

One thing that God has been nudging me about is how I get fearful. 

Earlier this week, when I asked Hubby to pray for me, one of the things he prayed that was that my fear would not get in the way of what God had me to do.  And I realized it really had.  It was confirmed when our pastor from http://www.gatheringbythebay.org/ was talking about how we, in the Western church, tend to try to attract people to our churches, events, culture, etc., rather than putting ourselves in their world. This isn't very effective, yet we spend so much money and time taking people away from their spheres of influence, make them "nice" Christians, and then when they no longer have contacts with others outside the church, we ask them to gather in others. It doesn't work very often, it isn't very Biblical, and yet we still do it. David Watson, at http://www.davidlwatson.org/  has some interesting things to say about it.

Anyway, that got me to thinking about how I've been interacting with the birth family. I have been dragging my feet with having much contact in their home by not going to their neighborhood after dark, asking that we meet at our church, our park, our home.  Those are places I feel safe, with people I trust, in situations where I feel comfortable. I am now realizing how incredibly brave Birthmom has been.  Because of her love for her kids, she is willing to come to where they are, even if it means coming out of her comfort zone.  And now I'm thinking that I should be willing to step out of my comfort zone, to go to her turf, to put aside my worries about gangs, drive by shootings, and out of control brothers.  I'm thinking that yes, I need to be wise, but if I'm ever going to be an influence on the lives of that family, I need to go to them and put aside my fears.  I need to pray a blessing over them and their home.  I need to love them where they are. And hey, it's not like we didn't live in a similar neighborhood when we were first married!  Didn't we use to put our lawn chairs on the front porch and watch the prostitutes and drug dealers?  Didn't we have multiple break-ins and thefts?  Didn't we have all sorts of people come to our house, eat with us, stay the night, or many nights even?  God took care of us then!  Why couldn't He do it now?  And if I'm not afraid to die of asthma, how much more should I not be afraid to die while showing God's love for someone and for a whole extended family?  It wasn't by accident that we are in contact with them again.  I don't know how all of this will end up.  But I do know that God is up to something.

Washcloths and Rooftop Garden

The past two days I crocheted four washcloths.  I was starting to run low on washcloths since the old ones have been used so many times.  I really like the cotton ones I make myself.  They sop up messes and are great for washing dishes while my dishwasher is rebelling.  It also is a fun way to experiment with different stitches, or just bang them out with a quick half double crochet.  Here are two of them I made today.  The one I made yesterday has already been used for dish washing, and my fourth was made while Micro Bio Daughter was uploading the pictures for me.


Roof Top Garden

I Like the Colorful Peppers!
I found out today that my mom is moving home to Oregon from Alaska!  While I was talking to her, I realized that I've been talking about my rooftop garden, but haven't taken any pictures.  So I went outside and took a couple of quick ones.  They aren't from the best angle or with the best lighting, but you can get an idea.

I also harvested a bunch of green beans this morning for our Sunday dinner.  I didn't think I had that many, but there must have been half a gallon of them!  That was a nice surprise, since I was running low on veggies in the fridge!

So today I'm thankful for:
Green bean harvest
Beautiful peppers
Crocheted washcloths
That I can even make washcloths
My mom is moving back to Oregon
Wonderful house church (that will be in another blog entry)
Family
Health
Roses
Beautiful day of sunshine but not too hot
People in my home that can help me with computer stuff!
God, who provides in so many ways

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Thankfulness and Encouragement

The other day I was pretty discouraged and just plain grumpy.  The cold that kept me from going out caused me to have an asthma flareup.  Our bodies, minds, and spirits are so interwoven, I'm not so sure it's a good thing to try to separate them.  It was a struggle to keep a good attitude while my body was so sick. The night before last it was really difficult for me to breathe.  About three in the morning I wasn't sure that if I fell asleep I would wake up, since it seemed that it took so much effort to get enough air.  So I took my inhaler and told God that I wouldn't mind seeing Him face to face, but the timing would be really crappy.  I don't think Hubby would appreciate my dead body next to his when he wakes up, the kids would freak, it's Micro Bio Daughter's birthday, and the house is a mess from me being sick.  What's funny, is that I fell right to sleep and woke up at my usual time. Of course, I did call the doctor and got my asthma medications changed around, which really seems to be working better. 

As I was saying, it was pretty difficult for me to keep a good attitude.  Hubby prayed for me and felt that God wanted me to encourage others and not be fearful.  Now what is the best medicine for discouragement?   Encouraging others!  There is something about giving what you don't feel you have much of, to totally trust that God will move through you to give to others in your weakness.  So I made it a point to encourage people, and will try to encourage someone each day.  Yesterday I told one of the nurses she was really sweet.  She smiled and said that she really tries.  And then when we were in the hallway, a lady was pushing a cleaning cart.  I thanked her for keeping the place so nice and clean.  She beamed and thanked me.  Such small little statements seemed to brighten their day!  It didn't take any extra time.  It didn't take any extra effort.  Just a little noticing and thanking.  And you know what?  I felt better myself!

Oh, one of my friends had this picture on her wall.  It was so touching.

Photo by Kim Harkins