Thursday, September 30, 2010

I keep thinking things will slow down...

Yesterday was supposed to be a nice, easy Wednesday.  Wednesdays are the days I reserve with no weekly commitments.  Wednesdays are supposed to be a breather in the middle of the week, a day to concentrate on learning and on catching up.

Yesterday, Baby Bear's birthday, started out in this benign manner but soon began to go south, picking up speed like a plunging roller coaster. Little Mister refused to eat his lunch, but otherwise seemed like himself and I didn't think much of it. I took the kids on the city bus to run a couple of errands, including walking several blocks. Mister whined on the walk, but this is absolutely normal and I didn't register any concern, encouraging him to walk a little faster than a snail's pace. Curly, pushing Baby Bear in the little stroller far outdistanced us, much to my anxiety.

You can probably guess what came next. Yes, as soon as we were back on the city bus headed for home, Little Mister got sick. Three times.

I hustled everyone off at our stop, apologized profusely to the driver and got the kids home where I changed Mister and put him to bed to watch Caillou.

It wasn't much later that Baby Bear, finishing his nap, was fussing in his playpen. Since I was trying to finish a bit of work on my computer I put off retrieving him "just a few minutes more." When I went to get him, however, he'd had a nosebleed all over everything. As a nosebleeder myself, the blood didn't bother me, but man, it was a HUGE mess. Every article of clothing, every blanket, sheet and socks were smeared. Off came all of it and at last into the washer with Spray-n-Wash and cold water.

Thankfully Hubby came home and rescued me with take-out for dinner. We played with the kids, did music practice and put them to bed. Then he and I watched Survivor online.

Somehow I have this idea that the next day is going to go more smoothly than the previous one. I'm not sure where this idealistic thinking comes from, but it rarely happens. Luckily I'm getting used to insanity and today's events, which four years ago would have sent me into a tailspin, hardly registered. I even found time to laugh at the absurd amount of laundry we racked up in one day.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


 Look who is ONE today!  We'll have the party and official cake smashing on Saturday, but for today I thought I'd post all of the Pooh pictures.  How this little man has grown!  It's hard to imagine that one year ago today I was sitting by the phone waiting, wondering...  And ten days later we met and held him!  Yay!

Eleven months...

Ten months...

Nine months...

Eight months...

Seven months...

Six months...

Five months...

Four months...

Three months...

Two months...

One month...

The day we brought him home at ten days of age.

Baby Bear we love you SO much! And Miss A, THANK YOU for the precious gift you gave us when you chose us to parent your wonderful amazing little boy!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

While Mommy Was Away

While I was gone, Hubby sent me little recap emails to chronicle each days' events. Reading them brought a smile, so I decided to share excerpts here with all of you too.

Friday Recap

Homeschool co-op went well. [I'm teaching a class this semester on making an animated digital movie, but had to miss the first class due to this trip.]
The kids are good....I showed them several videos, including the famous cheesy skeleton fight from the 1963 Jason and the Argonauts.

I also used VLC to slow some of the videos down to 1 frame a second and we did things like count how many frames it took for the lego character to walk across the screen.
For the 2nd half hour of the class, we made our own first video. I gave them some playmobil people and they came up with a little scene about a guy fighting a dragon. I set up the tripod and the camera and they took turns posing the stuff. When it was done, I quick loaded them all on the computer and "played" it back for them by quick advancing a slideshow.

They liked it.

I told them that next class you would help them come up with a script and a plan for a bigger movie.

I took the kids home and we had a couple hours of quiet time after that. I threw bean down for a nap and I got about 1 hour of nap myself, which was really really good since I only slept 4 hours the night before.

At 6:30, we walked downtown. As we were walking out of the house, we ran into H's, who were also out for a walk. We ended up going to the Co-op together and giving everyone cup-cakes. We chatted for a while.....

My Mom called and said that Grandma's knee surgery went real well.

The house was a disaster. I'm finally sitting down now at 10:30. It's supposed to be 80 degrees tomorrow so we'll shoot to go to the park.

I love you and I hope you're having an exciting time! Everyone is shocked when I tell them you flew into the deep wilderness for a hike. :)

Saturday Recap

Baby bear slept lousy - screamed a lot. Luckily, I got to sleep in till 10:00 as the kids watched the movies we rented the night before (Curious George the Movie and some misc Spider Man).

Then, we all went down-town where the kids were really good and colored with crayons while we got coffee and hot chocolate. Then we played at friendship square for quite a while (B. Bear was fearless!) where I ran into C. D., who was also a single dad for the weekend. I keep running into small group people.

We got back and had a late lunch and I made everyone take a nap in addition to quiet time.

In the evening, we went to walmart and Michael's for supplies for our planet project. It turns out buying the styrofoam ball solar system kit at Michael's for $10 is way better than trying to get individual balls the right size and or color.
We're going to put it together and paint it tomorrow.

We did have one emergency. Little Mister lost Nice the snake. We looked everywhere and were freaking out and I even back-tracked trough the store and the parking lot and crawled around the van, etc. He was crying really bad. Then we got home and took off his jacket and guess what? Nice was wrapped around his neck. No kidding. Haha! We all had a good laugh.

Man, the kids are exhausting. I seriously don't know if I am going to get anything else done (reading/blogging/programming/house work) while you are gone.
Curly had a long time out after having way too many "contests" with Mister. Geesh.
My brain is mush. I did walk the dog and do dishes and laundry though. Going to call that good.

All the kids said they missed you and asked when you were coming back.

Love you!

Sunday Recap

Hi Bear,

I missed you a ton today! Probably for all kinds of selfish reasons, but what the hey! Hope you're having a good time out in the back back back country.

The morning started out fine and the kids were all really good, but once we got to church, ... [list of thins that went south!] What's up with that? So we ended up just splitting and bagging the potluck before it was even over. I redirected the kid's disappointment by going into our planet project. We finished it too and they absolutely loved every minute. There are lots of pics on the camera.

I also gave everyone a bath tonight. Bean was being a poo after that so he got a one-way ticket to pack-n-play land. He's there still and it's after midnight (he zonked after about 40 min).

I think maybe, just maybe, we do better as a team. Haha!

I loved these little glimpses into my family's life. I'm so grateful to my hubby for letting me have time away and doing so well with the kiddos. I'm glad now to be home and taking good care of all of them again. Today hopefully holds some work on Math with Curly, Preschool for Mister and lots of playtime for Baby Bear. What a wonderful day!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Selway-Bitterroot Trip

The Selway river near Shearer airfield where I was privileged to spend the weekend with my boss who has gotten a hefty grant to write a book on the history of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, and the policy of management that has made it famous.  Since I have been helping her transcribe interviews, proof papers, research the wilderness and put together grant proposals, she graciously took me for a weekend to the scene around which our work revolves.
Moi posing in front of our tents down by the Selway.  We were staying near my boss's parents who were Wilderness Volunteers at one of the cabins.
Me using a crosscut saw!  Motors are verboten under the Wilderness Protection Act, except an airplane, so even a chainsaw is never used by the Volunteers.
At the Forest Service cabin playing cribbage.
Campfire in the evening down by the Selway.
Hiking above the Selway.
On our way we met one of the outfitters along the trail, who gave us directions to the trail we wanted across the river. 
Crossing the icy river.  I'm last, in the blue shirt, praying I don't slip on the treacherous rocks and go into that freezing water!
Once across the water, we climbed to a good height on the bluffs.  This is looking back down at the river where we had just crossed.
A view from the trail of Elevator Mountain, which we attempted to reach.  My boss got clear up there but I wimped out near the field on the far right edge.
We paid a visit to the "neighbors" hiking a mile down the wooded trail to do so. Forest Service "guys" hung around chatting while I looked at historical photos. I teased Hubby about hanging around with all these guys drinking beer and he laughed, knowing how much I hate beer.
Fly fishing on the Selway.  I did not participate in this but stayed back at the cabin and took a solar shower.
Celebrating a 70th birthday.  To the left of me is Dick Walker, the pilot and wilderness photographer who flew us in.  You can see some of his incredible wilderness aerial photography at Bookpeople, downtown.
Dick's plane, a Cessna 170.  He had warmed and covered the engine while we loaded our gear...
...and said our goodbyes.
Dick's heeler, Pika, wearing "Mutt muffs" to protect her ears from the roar of the plane's engine.
In the plane, wearing our own ear protection and speakers.  As we flew, Dick, who had once been a Ranger back on the Selway, pointed out the names of peaks, mountains, creeks and alpine lakes, along with the people who had lived in and loved the wilderness.
The Selway River from the air.
Four of the Seven Lakes, nestled high in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.
Past the wilderness, Dick pointed out the Selway Crags, then beyond that the Camas Prairie and far out on the horizon, the Wallowas.

Although I was glad to be heading back home to my family, I fell in love with that wilderness, with the wonderful conversations with warm, friendly people, with the unspoiled grandeur of the landscape. Someday perhaps I will return, and for now I will continue helping my boss write the history of that incredible place.

New Stories To Tell

I have some wonderful new stories to tell this week, all about my adventure flying in to the wilderness backcountry in the Selway-Bitterroots. I want to wait until I can get pictures, so it may be a few days.

I have stories too about some delightful children who stayed with Daddy and made creative projects, went for walks and had adventures of their own.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I get this question a lot: Why?

Why four children? Why are you adopting? Why Ethiopia? Why? Why?

I'd like to put a few issues to rest here and now. For example:

Are you adopting internationally so you won't have another open adoption?

My answer to that is a resounding NO!!!! We love Miss A and love having her in our lives. It makes me really sad that Little Sister won't have that opportunity to know her birth mom and be told how much she is loved by the woman who brought her into the world. Baby Bear has a rare and precious gift, a birth mom and an adoptive mom who both lavish love on him. I wish every kiddo had it so good.

Do you realize that four children so close in age are going to be a lot of work?

Uhhh... yeah. I've thought about that. I've had nightmares about it. But there are a couple of things I love about it. One: I live for crazy. I love action and noise and I love to work. Another is that my sister and I are far apart in age. Eleven years apart. We have had trouble building a close relationship because we're practically in different generations. So it has been really important to me to have my kids close in age, to adopt them as early as possible so they can bond and grow up together and be close to one another.

Why Ethiopia?

Hmm, not sure. As I mentioned in this post, we actually were looking elsewhere, but God seemed to have Ethiopia in mind. And I love, love, love little black babies.

You're crazy.

Yeah, I agree. Ain't it grand?

And your Hubby is on board with all of this?

Ethiopia was his idea actually. He proposed that we have eight kids. (We don't have a big enough house.) Initially he wasn't too thrilled with the idea of adopting a special needs kid, but he told me the other day that every kid is so much work that adding in another one can't really be that much more. He adores our kiddos and he loves being a Dad. What a cool guy. :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Our Place on Earth

One of the delights of unschooling or relaxed homeschooling is the freedom to pursue any subject at hand and to take full advantage of teachable moments. This morning I could tell the Goombas had been discussing our recent trip to Oregon because at lunch, Curly came up to me and asked if Grandma's house was in our state.

This led to a discussion of state boundaries and where our house was located. Google Maps provided an easy tool to demonstrate this concept to two interested, curious learners.

We zoomed all the way out to the whole-earth view, looking at the little red arrow that marked our particular spot on the planet. As we went out, we remarked on the landmarks like rivers, we explored state lines and we pointed out both sets of Grandparents' houses.

Google Maps now has Street View so we zoomed all the way in to see our house, Kindlewick Cottage, sitting primly where it has sat for 90 years. Mister and Curly were delighted to see our house, located precisely where is sits on the map.

Because the subject was generated by the learners themselves, in one short lesson I was able to teach not only our location on the earth, but also the division of land, state boundaries, map reading and technology use. Their interest promotes retention with little need of review or assessment.

Hubby calls it efficient learning. I call it just plain fun. Learning through exploration and questions rather than a subject the textbook says should be learned today. Will we cover every subject this way? Probably not, but if a good portion of our learning can be approached in this manner, my children will retain their curiosity and love of learning in a manner that most jaded schoolkids don't have the opportunity to do. Not that all school is bad; in fact I loved school. But I didn't love all of the unnecessary review of previously presented material or the disconnectedness of the institutional classroom from life application. Story problems were a ludicrous attempt to connect in a way that our hands-on learning can so much more freely address.

Hooray for interest-led learning!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Class Reunion

Life has been a leeetle crazy this week. We had planned to go to Oregon to visit Hubby's 10-year high school class reunion.

While we were down there, a friend's parents had been invited to house-sit, a mutually beneficial arrangement as they wanted to visit grandchildren, but all the hotels in town were booked solid (a football weekend in a small university town fills the local hotels a year in advance) and we needed a dog-sitter. Win-win.

But I had to clean my house, pack for our trip, work two jobs and wrangle goombas all in about three days. Hubby, who moonlights as a coffee roaster at 4:30 AM a couple of days a week chose this week to decide that four hours per sleep a night wasn't enough and had a minor melt-down. Hmmm, ya think?

I didn't know if we'd even make it to Oregon, but amazingly we did, missing nothing more vital than pajamas and toothbrush for Little Mister.

We stayed at Hubby's grandparents' house while they were away at the Pendleton Roundup, an ironic arrangement since our house was similarly occupied. Grandma N (who is much too young and energetic to be called G'ma!) and Grandpa B (same) watched the kids for a delightful evening away at the local Elks' club where 20 or so of Hubby's classmates gathered for drinks, snacks and a hilarious 17-year-old "prophecy" which stated that every member in the class would be rich, famous, successful and parents of 1-3 children.

The usual 4-hour drive home was extended into 9 hours because we detoured deep into Washington State to visit my best friend, who recently moved. We saw her new apartment, played Mario with her hubby and marveled that her baby is now walking (!)

My kids, surprisingly patient with the long drive, are now in bed, Hubby's puttering around in the kitchen concocting some sort of bedtime snack and I'm catching up on a week's worth of blogs, glad that the long trip is over.

On the horizon: more adventures! But that is all I'm going to tell you for now. :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

A New Name

I've had this song running through my head all week:

Although I try to avoid syrupy oversentimentality, I can't help thinking about our little girl, far away in an orphanage in Ethiopia. I can't help saying her name to myself over and over. Since most of the Ethiopian kids I know here have been given an American name, and our little girl's Ethiopian name is quite unusual to American ears, we may end up giving her a new name. Normally I'm somewhat against that, but in this case it may be the best thing for her.

Naturally, in thinking about the practicality of a new name and a new life for our little girl, my thoughts turn to the spiritual aspect of the idea. We're taking her from a place where she was abandoned to a place where she is very much wanted. We have chosen her and we already love her for exactly who she is.

The lyrics chase themselves through my head, over and over, the haunting melody playing on and on, as I go through my day.

I will change, will change your name
I will change, will change your name

I will change your name
You shall no longer be called
Wounded, outcast, lonely or afraid

I will change your name
Your new name shall be
Confidence, joyfulness, overcoming one
Faithfulness, friend of God
One who seeks My face

The biblical writers use adoption commonly as a metaphor of our relationship with God. To me, the idea of God choosing me, adopting me out of the painful place where I used to live and naming me His Child seems impossibly beautiful. Many times in my life I have felt as though my name were Wounded, Outcast, Afraid and Lonely. Yet during those times of rejection, God has brought me through to a new place where I can really live as though my name is Confidence and Joyfulness.

In (hopefully) less than a year, we will actually physically bring our child to a new place and (probably) change her name. I pray that in doing so we can bring a change much deeper, to change her destiny as God has changed mine. To take a child unwanted and unloved and bring her to a place where everything about her brings joy gives me a sense of fulfilling my own destiny on earth. That somehow my own purpose will be met. As Jesus said, "As you have done for the least of these, so you have done for Me" (my paraphrase).

Sunday, September 12, 2010