October Adoption Update, 2008

We have a court date for the finalization of Adelia's adoption!

November 14th is the big day, and we are rejoicing!

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families.
~Psalm 68:5-6a


My dearest Isaac,

I’m sitting on the couch, typing away while Adelia plays at my feet. Isaias is taking a nap, and Ella is still having a quiet time in her room. You, my new five-year-old, have barricaded yourself into a corner of the living room~ behind three folding chairs left out from our party yesterday~ so that you can play Legos without Adelia trying to play with you. You’re wearing your Bettis jersey- your shirt of choice, even though you outgrew it over a year ago. Also those black shorts which mama would love to lose. :)

You are doing a variation of humming and singing- a few songs I’ve recognized [Rise & Shine, The British Isles (from our Geography Songs CD), and Get Rhythm], along with a whole bunch of made up songs and lyrics. You always have a song on your lips.

You’re in the process of building your Lego City set for the second time since you opened that gift yesterday afternoon. When I first walked into the living room after my nap with Adelia, you were in tears because you thought you’d lost a piece. “It was right here in this pile. But now it’s not here, and I can't find it anywhere.” I picked up your little Lego instruction booklet and there it was, the little orange piece you were missing. You promptly told me, “I think that was a miracle! Because I had already picked up that booklet and it wasn’t there. It wasn’t. Don’t you think that was a miracle? I’ll bet it was in some spot that God knew I wasn’t going to ever find it and so he just slipped it right under there for me.

How I love you, my son. You are such a delight. You bring such joy and laughter into our family! [God sure knew what He was doing when He put the name Isaac onto our hearts when I was pregnant with you!]

You are an affectionate boy, budders, and this mama loves that quality in you. You love to be in my lap, or snuggled up right beside me. You are quick to give hugs and kisses, to reach for my hand when we're walking, and to say “I love you.” You are also tender and comforting when I’m sad- or when anyone else is hurt or sad. Thank you, my sweet boy. I am so grateful for your sweet spirit.

This was the year of your “What if...?” questions. Goodness, son! You want to know every possible outcome of everything on earth. Your daddy and I have to laugh at the amount of times you will ask it. And then, when we respond, you tackle another angle: “But what if...?

You love Legos, football, puzzles, books, mazes, and constructing just about anything. You love to be outside, riding your bike or digging in the dirt. You love it when we go to the beach so you can play in the water. You love to catch bugs or worms in the yard, which then you want me to find a container for, to house your new little friend in. I remember once this summer you came in, asking for a tupperware for your newest find- a big black beetle- and I pulled out one of our cheap plastic cups with lids, and on top of the lid I had previously written “Lemon Glaze”, to label it’s contents for the fridge. I gave it to you, offering you an explanation for the writing on top, and assuming you’d ask for another lid. Instead, your eyes lit up, and you happily said, “Yeah! Because his name is Lemon Glaze! That’s his name!” [I’m still not sure if you thought I’d named your beetle for you and had already written the name on the lid, or if you just happened to think Lemon Glaze was the perfect name for your pet beetle, but you were beyond thrilled, and for the rest of that beetle’s life, his name was Lemon Glaze.] You make me laugh, sweet boy.

You love being daddy’s helper. Last week daddy asked you to take out the garbage for him while he was at work. You grew a full three inches at that request, and you happily went to every garbage in the house, emptying them. I offered my help, as did Ella- we thought you might need help upending the garbages into the big trash bag. But you wanted to do it all by yourself. [Nevermind that I discovered you leaning over the garbage, picking out each item by hand in order to get the job done.] You happily hauled that huge (and heavy!) trash bag all throughout the house, standing so tall and proud when you told me you’d emptied every garbage. I asked you to set it on the back porch like daddy had asked, so that he could take it out right when he got home. But you wanted to carry it all the way out, all by yourself (which took a full twenty minutes with a rest needed every two to three shuffling steps, and a little help from mama and Ella in heaving it into the big garbage can) but you did it. And oh, was daddy proud when he got home!

You love to play. Your play follows you wherever you go- at the table, in the van- wherever you happen to be- because you have such an imagination! It’s why it takes you so long to do things, because you make up a story or a scene while you go and play it out or talk it through, burying yourself in your own little world. This past year you have been a Knight, a Cowboy, a Viking, a Pirate, a football player, a basketball player, a Revolutionary War soldier. You’ve also been Jack (Laura’s dog), Almanzo, and Pa. I love to listen to you play, Isaac. You have so much fun.

You have sure grown in knowledge this year. You take in so much of what we read and incorporate that into your play. We hear a lot of talk about the colonists and the British and Abraham Lincoln, and specific battles fought. You have your facts absolutely straight, and I am often amazed at what you’ve retained through our library reads.

You are a talker, my boy. There is always a story to tell, a memory to relate, a question to ask, a hypothesis to share.

You are a fine gentleman, Isaac- remembering to let “ladies go first”, running to pick something up that Ella dropped or that mommy dropped (usually in the kitchen), even being the first at the scene to clean up if something has been spilled.

You are the first one to compliment me or your sisters on looks or clothes. “Mommy! That is the prettiest shirt I ever saw!”, or “Adelia looks so adorable today!” You are also ready with a compliment every single time a meal is in front of you. “Mommy! This is my favorite meal EVER!” Or, “This is just scrumptious! And gorgeous!” You will make your wife feel very loved and appreciated some day, my little man.

And so, another year has passed. It’s been five whole years since God gave us our second miracle in the gift of you, our son. And it has truly been five years of joy. I can’t wait to see what this next year will bring.

I love you, my sweetest budders.

~Your mommy

Maybe I spoke too soon

About the dishwasher detergent, I mean.

Because at some point over the weekend I pulled out a dish that had once been cleaned with regular detergent and compared it to the "new" clean, and um, there was quite a difference. Not in cleanliness as much as the feel and shine of the dish.

I showed them to Mark and he agreed.

And it seems that the chalky feel I referred to in my last post isn't going away, but is in fact, building up over time. Ugh.

So~ back to the store for some regular dishwasher detergent.

But maybe I'll try Tonia's method. [See comments on the original post].

Open House: Thursday, October 23

In the kitchen... some chocolate-chip cookies I made last night (YUMMY!) that are calling my name. I usually don't even like cookies. Um, also in the kitchen: this.

I am thankful for...
-Mark, my best friend and favorite person on earth.
-Wednesday-morning phone calls with Michelle.
-God's faithfulness.
-Baby #5, steadily growing and happily reminding mama he/she is there.
-Our home, warm and comfortable.
-Folded laundry that the kids are putting away.

I am wearing... jeans, black 3/4-length-sleeved shirt, bare feet. Hair in a ponytail.

I am sewing... some baby gifts.

I am hearing... Isaac and Isaias playing football. Steelers and Rams, currently. "Mommy, which one do you want to win? The Steelers or the Rams?" The Steelers, always the Steelers. Also hearing Seeds Family Worship in the background.

I am reading...
several books. I'll post more on that when I've got more time. Thanks for all your recommendations!

I just saw... the movie The Secret Life of Bees. I liked it, and thought it was a good adaptation of the book, which I also enjoyed. Oh! Mark and I also recently saw Fireproof, based on this guys recommendation. We both enjoyed that, too.

I am looking forward to... a coffee date with the girls from our small group tonight. (Talia, please come! I'll miss you if you're not there!)

I am thinking... about Isaac's birthday in a few days. And how he'll be 5. FIVE. And I'd like to just stop time, thankyouverymuch, because it hurts my heart that he's getting so big.

I am remembering... how Isaac said to me this morning, "Mommy? In the movie last night? [It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown] There was a boy in there named Peppermint Patty that was really grumpy." I laughed, and then tried to tell him that Peppermint Patty is actually a girl, but he was adamant. PP apparently talks like and looks like a boy, and he is certain PP is a boy. Alright, then.

Homemade dishwashing detergent: the results

Recently I was getting low on dishwashing detergent, which I thought was a great opportunity for me to try the homemade variety. I found two recipes online.
Recipe #1
Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
20 Mule Team Borax

Pretty simple:
Equal parts of each (I think I initially mixed up about 1 cup).
Add 2 Tablespoons to the dishwasher dispenser. (I used 1 1/2 Tablespoons).

*This recipe also suggested using Distilled White Vinegar in the rinse compartment.

Recipe #2
1 cup Borax
1 cup baking soda
1/4 cup salt.

Even simpler:
Use one Tablespoon per load.

*This recipe also suggested the vinegar, so apparently that's an important step.

The results:
I tried Recipe #1 first, and was pretty impressed. The dishes were definitely clean, but had a slightly different feel to them (which bothers me), so I ended up doing the vinegar thing. I think that helped matters. I used it for about a week and then decided to try Recipe #2 in case I liked that one better. I made more of that one and have used it longer but like it less (my dishes aren't getting quite as clean as they were with Recipe #1, and they feel a little chalky or something, coming out of the dishwasher.)

So back to Recipe #1 for me. And isn't it handy that it calls for some of the same ingredients that I already have on hand for the Homemade Laundry Detergent?

And if it cleans just as well, and I can save a bit of money? I'm sold.


...with my friend Kimmie, who recently accepted a referral for their new daughter from Ethiopia!

...with Mrs. M, who recently welcomed sweet Eli into their family!

...with dear Beverly, who just welcomed daughter #2: a beautiful little girl they named Shana.

Congratulations, sweet friends! And for the rest of you? Stop by and congratulate them, would ya? :)

God is so, so good.

Vegetable stock

When Autumn hits, we have soup and bread a few times a week at our house. I love a good soup. While there are times I resort to store-bought chicken or vegetable stock, I much prefer to have some homemade stock on hand.

I use the recipe for Golden Vegetable Stock from the Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread cookbook.

There are a few things I love about this recipe:
*I love homemade stock but I don't particularly love messing with whole chickens to get chicken stock. Vegetable stock works just as well for me.
*This recipe requires no peeling and very little chopping. If you have all the ingredients on hand, it really only takes about five minutes to dump everything in and get this stock cooking.
*It makes my whole house smell good!
*It tastes delicious.

Here's the recipe if you want to give it a try:
Golden Vegetable Stock~ A Primary Stock

1 large onion, unpeeled, quartered
1 large carrot, scrubbed and quartered
1 large sweet potato, scrubbed and quartered
1 large white potato, scrubbed and quartered
1 whole head of garlic, papery skin left on, halved
3 ribs celery, with leaves, each broken in half
6 cups spring* water
1 to 2 teaspoons salt
small pinches of dried oregano, basil, sage, and rosemary to taste (optional)
1/2 cup Good Tasting or Red Star nutritional yeast (NOT baking yeast or brewer's yeast)
1 tablespoon light (white or golden) miso

*I use regular water.

1. In a soup pot, combine all the ingredients except the nutritional yeast and the miso. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium-low and let simmer gently until all the vegetables are quite soft, about 1 hour. Let cool, then strain, discarding the solids.

2. Whisk the nutritional yeast and miso into the lukewarm stock. Taste for seasoning; you may need a touch more miso. Use in any recipe where chicken broth is called for. Use immediately, or cool to room temperature, then refrigerate or freeze.

Makes about 5 cups. [But why make only 5 cups when you could double it and make 10 cups? That's what I generally do.]

Day 6

... of the [visible] chickenpox [recognizing that she probably had the virus a few days prior to us seeing any spots] is the worst yet.

She's had a fever since yesterday, and is fussy and tired.

She's been up during the night for the past three nights for hour-long increments, and Mark and I are exhausted. (I know, I know... everyone keeps saying it's good preparation for baby #5.)

But we'll be glad when this is over and we have our sweet pox-less girl back.

Our friends Jake and Talia brought dinner over last night: yummy comfort food: soup, biscuits, and (best of all!) roasted garlic. Thank you, sweet friends.

Justin and Cutzi brought their cute two over a couple nights ago, for some chickenpox exposure. Cutzi came bearing treats: homemade apple crisp and ice cream to share. It was so funny-- as Steele and Adia came in, chattering about the chickenpox (or- as Adia called it: chickenpops or something equally cute), they were talking eagerly about it as if it was a treat we had for them, and as they left, Cutzi and Justin had them say, "Thank you for the chickenpox!"

I'm thinking they won't be so thankful when it hits. If it hits.

Judging by these pictures, though, we think Steele has a pretty good shot at getting them.

Keepers field trip

On Friday morning we headed out on a field trip to the apple farm with our Keepers group (plus siblings and parents). And let me just take a minute to say that I love these families and they are some of our favorite people to spend time with.

We loaded up into golf carts to drive out into the orchard

where we learned all about growing apples.

Then we took a tour of the farm, where they wash all of the apples,

sort them by variety and size, and box them up.

They also make apple cider with them. (Yum!)

Finally, we were able to taste each variety.

It was a fun day with a fun group of friends!

Church at home

We skipped church this morning due to the chickenpox. That's a huge bummer since we love our church, but Mark suggested to the kids that they lead us in our own church service.

Ella immediately volunteered to read from the Bible (which is handy since she's the only one who reads). She read Psalm 3. The boys were eager to do worship. They ran and gathered up their instruments~ Isaac, a bass guitar and an enormous microphone; Isaias, a little wooden guitar. And then they proceeded to lead us in a few worship songs. [Rather, they stood there and strummed, and Isaac dutifully held the microphone but did not actually sing aloud much, while Ella called out songs and we sang.]

They even took the offering, which Ella carefully gathered up beforehand in little money pouches and handed out to each of us so that we would have something to give.

My favorite part was at the end, when Ella asked if anyone had any prayer needs. A few of us did, and she asked each of us to come forward while the rest of us laid hands upon the person and prayed for them.

We especially prayed for this little girl, who (in my opinion), has a really bad case of chickenpox. She has them all over, and more and more are cropping up each day (hour?). She was up during the night last night and is much more fussy today. You can tell they are really bothering her and she keeps trying to itch them but isn't getting far. Poor little sweetie.

Other perks about having church at home, in addition to our cute pastoral staff?
*We were all dressed in comfy jammies or "everyday clothes".
*The seating was much more cozy.
*We each had a mug of hot cocoa with real whipping cream.

Happy Sabbath!


This morning for breakfast I made these scones and they were delicious!

I have tried countless scone recipes over the years, and I am always disappointed because they're so dry. These were not.

The only change I made to the recipe was that I used 1/2 cup of homemade yogurt instead of the "whipping cream or milk" the recipe called for.

Oh, and I baked them for 12 minutes rather than the suggested 15-18 minutes.

Served with a dollup of homemade strawberry jam and whipping cream.

So good.


As of this morning, we're pretty sure Adelia has chickenpox. The chickenpox? I'm not even sure how to refer to it/them.

What began as two blister-looking things yesterday morning (one on her forehead, one behind her ear) has become um, several by this afternoon. Each time I look at her she seems to have three more spots on her cute little self.

When I made the call to the doctor's office this morning I thought she may have had an allergic reaction to something. But when I spoke with the nurse, she immediately said they sounded like chickenpox.

I was shocked. [Really, because how is that possible that she would get them but not my other three children?] Then the nurse explained that they don't see children for chickenpox (news to me), so while I was relieved that we didn't have to fit in a doctor's visit to our day, I was still unconvinced that she had them.

But we're getting more certain as she gets more spots.

What I'm thankful for:

*That it's October and not... December! [Especially if the other three do end up getting them! I'll be glad to get them done with before December hits.]
*Thankfully, Mark has had them (twice), and I've also had them.
*Adelia is so young that she can't itch them.
*So far she's been happy, not fussy.

Here's a picture from earlier today, when she was trying out her bear crawl.

[And speaking of crawling, twice today she has officially crawled forward on her hands and knees.]

School and tigers

A few mornings ago, I walked into the living room to this scene:

Ella was busy playing schoolteacher, [being Laura, from Little House on the Prairie]. She was in the middle of handing Isaias a book, a piece of paper, and a pencil.

Isaac was already all set up, given the name Clarence, and instructed to write his name ten times. [It was explained to me that he'd been naughty and this was his punishment.]

Isaias' new name? Almanzo.

Ella (I mean, Laura) was writing A's and B's on a piece of paper and asking Isaias to circle all the A's. He was patiently obliging.

When I walked through a couple of minutes later she had begun to read aloud a chapter from a nearby book. The boys, apparently, had been instructed to sit still and listen quietly.

And then I overheard "Almanzo" ask,

"Excuse me. Ella? Is it okay if I be a tiger first?"

Afterall, for a three-year old? Playing tiger rates much, much higher than playing school.


Oh, and here's a picture of our not-so-fierce tiger earlier this summer:

A little Sabbath sewing. And a request.

It's been awhile since I sat down long enough to sew something, but today Mark was playing with our three oldest in the yard and I had Adelia with me. She was content to sit on the floor in my sewing area and play happily, so I was able to get some sewing done.

*a little red skirt that I'll be giving away as a gift, and
*some yellow flannel pajama bottoms for Ella for Christmas. [Woo hoo! One handmade Christmas gift completed, and it's still October.]

I'm going to make a matching pair for Adelia, too, out of the same yellow fabric. And the boys will get some matching pajama bottoms, too. In their stockings. It's going to be a new tradition around here. [Imagine with me, if you will, the cute photos that will result!]

I'm a little nervous about the pj bottoms for Ella, because I was using a size 4T pattern and she's a size 6x. Unfortunately, because it's a gift for her, I couldn't let her try them on for size. I simply lengthened the pattern a few inches, and I'm hoping that's all I needed to do. Guess we'll see come December. If they're too small, we'll give them away, and if they're not long enough, I can either add a ruffle or make them into capris. :) So at least I have a few options.

And now I would really love it if all of you could please help a girl out. I am aching for a good book to read. It's been months since I've read a good book, and I really do love to crawl into bed each night and read for a few minutes before I go to sleep. And- in the bathtub. I need a book in there with me, too. It has gotten so bad that last night when I took my bubble bath I brought a Reader's Digest in with me. And that was after I'd already perused Mark's side-of-the-bed-stack (and passed up some sports books.) As you can see, I'm desperate.

So, leave a comment and tell me the best book you've read in the past 6 months.

This morning

Adelia with our pumpkin/gourd harvest.

Off to get my window box and pots all ready for fall! :)

Oh. And I must mention that I had my first eggnog latte of the season this morning. Mmm!

Okay, so I was a little attached. For a little too long.

To my White Goose Down pillow, that is. [That's it there, on the bottom.] I'm sure it was a little puffier when I bought it, years ago, and I know I paid a pretty penny for it.

But it's sort of lost it's oomph. I think it's down to about 14 goose feathers.

So I splurged and bought a new pillow tonight. A down alternative pillow.

I laughed when I saw them side by side. Although this new one is so poofy I'm afraid I might wake up with a kink in my neck.

But it was definitely time, dontcha' think?


I've added a new little section in my sidebar. I'm actually not really sure how it all works, just that I have noticed that a few people were "following" my blog (which I think, in plain language, just means that they read it!), and so I added them to my blog page.

If you want to officially "follow" my blog, feel free to click on the little "Follow this blog" link in the sidebar and your name/profile photo will appear. Note: by doing so, your photo can be clicked on and will link straight to your profile page.

I think this would eventually replace a Blogroll type of list. And I do like the idea of seeing all your faces right there on my sidebar! :)

Something new

Yesterday we had a great visit with Rebeca and her three children~ they were in the area and joined us for most of the day. It was so nice to sit down and talk face-to-face, and our children played so well together.

This morning we're making a paper chain for Isaac to assist him in counting down the days until his fifth birthday. Only 26 more days... I might cry if I dwell on that much longer so I won't say any more about that.

Then we'll do some school, have lunch, quiet times/naps, and then we get to play with our best buddies this afternoon, and we're all looking forward to that, as it's been several weeks since we've seen them.

Okay, on to the topic of this post. I wanted to share about one of the new things we're beginning this year as a part of our daily routine. More than anything in life, we want our children to love God with their whole hearts. I can see that Ella is figuring out how this faith of ours is more personally a faith of hers. We have had some wonderful conversations lately where I've been able to guide her to "pray about that sin" or "spend some time talking to God about that; ask Him to help you", etc., and she has told me that she's spent time doing that. I've seen the fruit, too, and have been able to commend her for those things.

One of the things we wanted to start with Ella this year is to begin her on a life-long road (Lord willing) of spending individual time with God. I love the idea of starting this early with our children; of making it a habit in their lives from a young age.

I so appreciated Lindafay's recent posts on this subject at her blog Higher Up and Further In. You can read her thoughts on Practical Ways to Cultivate Spirituality in a Child by clicking on the links below:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

I know how desperately I need that time (which I do before any of the kids wake up) before the day begins to right my heart before the Lord, to surrender my authority to Him for the day, to pray specifically about the current areas of struggle I'm having, and to read the Word. Surely we can guide her, even at her six years of age, to begin this practice, too.

I wasn't sure how to begin this with just Ella; what would the boys do while she went off for her morning quiet time? So I decided to gather them together and make it a habit for all of us.

I reminded the kids that in the Bible, it often tells of Jesus going out, in the morning, to a quiet place, to meet with his Father. I shared that mommy needs that time, too; and I thought we should all begin learning to spend that time with God.

So I laid out the ground rules:
*I would set the timer for 20 minutes (not ideal for me but I didn't want to push it with the little ones. The idea is to help them form a habit.)
*I wanted each of them to go find a quiet place, away from each other.
*I encouraged them to do one or more of the following things during their time away:
-Sing a song to God
-Read (or, for the boys, look at) their Bible
-Color a picture of something from the Bible or make a picture for God
-Pray. I specifically encouraged them to ask God to help them with one of the sins they struggle with. And I gave them an example of something I might say to God during that time.

They were thrilled with the idea, and happily set out to have their time with God.

I set the timer and sat with my own Bible and journal, and Adelia beside me.

What I heard the first day:
Ella, reading a Bible story aloud from her Bible. Then singing loudly these songs: Jesus Loves Me, Blessed Be The Name, O, Happy Day. She told me later that she also prayed. And that she made up her own song about "I adore You."

Isaac, singing at the top of his lungs from downstairs in the tent. I couldn't make out what song he was singing but found out later it was "Pa Rum Pa Pum Pum" (aka: The Little Drummer Boy). I also heard him take a potty break and then he appeared at my door, after about 9 minutes, saying he was done. I gently reminded him that the timer would go off when he could be done, and that he should choose something else to do until the timer beeped. He went to find some coloring stuff. He later told me he had also prayed.

Isaias, who colored a picture of God and Satan, and a sword. He had done that and then moved on to playing quietly with some toys beside him. I asked him if he had prayed, and he said no, so I asked him to do so before he began his day.

We have done it several days since then, and if I've forgotten, one of the kids has eagerly reminded me. They look forward to that time. Yesterday morning I sent them each off with an encouragement to pray about one area of sin (that I've witnessed of late) in their lives.

So far, so good. I do think the 20 minutes is a bit long for the boys at this age, so we may tinker with the time (or activities during that time), but it seems perfect for Ella. Plus, it gives me an additional 20 minutes of quiet time at the start of my day! :)