Monday, May 27, 2013

All Quiet on the (Mid)Western Front

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth--just hanging with my extended family.  Expect a return to normal next week!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Three Small Discoveries

1.  Luke is at the age where he just wants to move all the time.  I don't think it's necessarily a boy thing, since I remember Katie did the same thing.  Apparently the best way to get him to slow down and cuddle is a very high fever.  He woke up on Thursday and Friday from his afternoon nap with a temp around 103, and all he wanted to do was lay on my lap.  Poor little guy.  Thankfully it's gone--I think it was just another side affect of that infernal teething. 

2.  One of David's gifts is his ability to think very creatively and outside the box.  It's probably one of the (many) reasons he's so good at his job.  I believe we might have the makings of another creative thinker in Katie.  Our couch and chair abut and form a little space between them.  At one point we had them spaced a little farther apart so Katie could hide there, but now they're close together so the kids can climb on the arms.  We had some balloons stuck back there where Katie couldn't reach, and when she started fussing about wanting them, I suggested to her that she find some way to get them out.  She found the broom, and if you think like me, you are thinking she used the broom to pull the balloons out.  Instead she used the broom to pry the chair and couch apart so she could crawl in and get the balloons herself.

3.  My pacing seems to suffer when I use the jogging stroller (no kidding, you say).  I discovered on Saturday that even if it is, my non-jogging stroller pace is conversely improving.  I have a 30 minute play list, and this weekend I finished my 3-mile run with a whole song to spare.  So I've gone from a 10-minute mile to a 9-minute mile.  Yay!  It will improve even more when I hit the sea-level plains of Illinois for a few runs.  Unfortunately, I know from experience that while it's awesome to run at sea-level when you're used to high altitude, it's not so nice coming back.

Monday, May 20, 2013

One Step Closer

We got the email on Friday that our homestudy has been finalized, notarized, and sent to our adoption agency in Colorado.  We are officially one big step closer to adopting.  It sounds like everything else is at the agency for our dossier, so the next step is to submit everything to US Immigrations.  The estimated time for turnaround on that is a month, but as with most governmental paperwork steps...who knows. 

On the one hand, it's really nice not to have any more paperwork to deal with (at the moment).  On the other hand, it was nice having something to DO.  I've been reading a great book of adoption stories, and several of them have mentioned the importance of living, rather than waiting during this period.  We are blessed to have two delightful children who making living so much fun!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Take Your Running to the Next Level

Do you feel like your exercise routine is lacking?  Are you tired of just running longer, or faster?  Let me suggest an excellent way to take your running to the next level:

--double or triple the workout!
--legit reason to walk at any time (see above)
--plenty of room for water, keys, phone, and music device.
--if you think 50 lbs of kid isn't enough, you can add some weights in the bottom
--stares of amazement as you power up the steep hill (or possibly they think you are crazy)
--added arm and shoulder workout from twitching the stroller back and forth on the path
--great momentum on the downhill (hand brake a must)

--you are pushing two kids in a double jogging stroller...enough said.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

In the Boat or On the Water

We did another Lectio Divina for my weekly Bible study, this time on Matthew 14:22-23.  It's the passage where Jesus walks out to the boat over the water.  As we considered the passage, one reading asks us to meditate on where we would place ourselves in the passage.  I considered two options--hanging out in the boat after Jesus calms the storm, or walking out over the water to Jesus.  I liked the boat option better--the water was calm, the disciples were back together with Jesus, and they worshiped him and acknowledged him as God.  Calm, steady, straightforward, and at peace.  I wish our adoption would be like that.   
I'm not a huge fan of water, and after watching The Perfect Storm in high school, I was even more sure that sailing the ocean was not on my bucket list.  Our adoption certainly has the potential to feel like Peter's boat in the storm, buffeted by the waves because the winds are against it.  Well, it already does in some ways.  Even so, Peter was willing to a) ask Jesus to call him out, and b) actually get out of the boat and start walking to him.  Crazy man.  Unfortunately, Peter began to sink because he took his eyes off Jesus and focused on the winds around him.  I guess we're in the storm already, and the question is whether we will focus on Jesus or get distracted by the wind and waves that will most certainly come.  I'm sure we'll need to take courage, as Jesus reminds the disciples, especially once our daughter arrives home.  Staying in the boat would easier, but in the end, I guess walking on water would be pretty awesome.

Hebrews 12:1-2
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, 
and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.   
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, 
who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, 
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  (NIV)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Be Still My Soul

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

I sing hymns to the kids every night before they go to bed.  It's a pleasure to revisit old hymns and introduce them to my children, but I also find that God uses these times to speak to my heart as well.  My soul has been rather restless this past week.  I've been thinking about where our daughter is and what she's going through right now.  I think it's been brought on by watching Luke--he's the same age that our daughter will (probably) be when she arrives, but she certainly won't be at his developmental stage.  It's hard not to compare her first year with Luke's first year, and all the things she'll have to deal with.  We don't know if she's in a foster care situation or an orphanage, but even if she's in the best situation possible, it will still be hard for her when she arrives.  I try really hard not to think about the worst case scenarios.
I sang Be Still My Soul to Luke, and then when I put Katie to bed, the bookmark was on I Must Tell Jesus.  And that's what I do.  When we sing in church, I pray that someone is singing to my baby.  When I hold Luke in my arms and pray with him, I pray that in her orphanage or home, there is someone praying over her too.  And I try to remember that Jesus will bear her burdens along with mine.  

I must tell Jesus all of my trials;
I cannot bear these burdens alone;
In my distress He kindly will help me;
He ever loves and cares for His own.

I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
I cannot bear my burdens alone;
I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Knitting for Patience (and Photos!)

There have been several scientific studies on the therapeutic benefits of knitting.  Most benefits are the same as any meditative activity, and I've certainly found that my stress levels decrease with regular knitting.  Although I can't say for sure, it also seems that when I don't knit regularly, my stress levels seem to increase.  I usually have two to three projects on needles:  a simple one for my knitting group (portable and doesn't require too much concentration), a second complex one for when the kids are asleep, and then a big one to pick up when I'm between projects (usually a blanket).  I finished my blanket a couple weeks ago, and the hat (complex) and skirt (simple) were finished last week.  Instead of picking up a new project (or three), I did a flurry of of my least favorite parts of knitting.  Lack of patience and increased stress go hand in hand, so I figured it was time to knit for patience.  I've cast on a lovely shawl/scarf using a 100% silk yarn that just glows.  :)

Here are some of the fruits of my finishing flurry (coming to an Etsy shop near you...someday...):

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Through the Valley

This morning in our weekly Bible study, we studied Psalm 23.  It's one of those Psalms I'll be able to recite from my grave, but I really enjoyed revisiting it.  I was struck by several things as we meditated on it.

1.  "He makes me lie down in green pastures."  This morning I imagined a very busy sheep, wanting to move on and move on, gently being hooked with a shepherd's crook and guided to a nice, quiet spot in the meadow.  It does seem like this month is already super busy, but it's really just our weekends.  However busy our days and weeks get, I still need to make time for meditation and rest.

2.  "The valley of the shadow of death" and the "evil" that we shouldn't fear.  As a child, I think I imagined something along the lines of Pilgrim's Progress--a dark valley with monsters hemming me in.  Now, it seems like the evil to fear is my own sin nature:  for example, a few things this week have really tested the limits of my patience.  If I don't have enough patience now, when I only have two relatively easy children to deal with, how am I going to do it with a third, needy child?  It is something I worry about, but I don't need to. 

The end of our meditation (we were using the Lectio Divina steps) was to consider our 'call to action' from the passage.  While I may not have infinite patience (I don't), God does, and He is always with me.  I'm going to view this time before our daughter arrives as a time to practice finding that rod and staff (and the comfort they bring).  Maybe Katie and I need to memorize a specific passage of Scripture together--one that will remind both of us that fussing and whining (or losing one's temper) only causes problems.  I'll be analyzing the not-so-great days to see if there is a pattern.  I am a scientist, after all.  :)  And I'll be reminding myself that His strength is made perfect in weakness.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Yarn and Adopting

I haven't really addressed the money side of adopting, but part of our money is coming from my teaching pay.  That money is limited by the number of classes I want to teach, which is only one at this point.  I'd probably have to teach during the day to do a second class, and between the time away from the kids and the money out of my pay for a babysitter, we decided it wasn't worth it at this point.  So I cast around for another money making opportunity.  My brother assures me there's money to be made in blogging (he actually suggested v-blogging...hah!) if I can just find the right topic.  But I don't really like blogging enough to try and make money off of it.

There is one thing I love to do, and that is knit.  It's one of the few things I can do while the kids are playing that won't be interrupted by their requests for attention.  It's easy to look up from knitting for 30 seconds to see that amazing dance move, less so when you're deep in a good book.  So I'm going to try selling the things I knit.  Etsy is the easiest option, although we have a pretty good craft show circuit around the holidays.  If all I had to do was knit the things, I'd be really set, but apparently there's more to setting up an Etsy shop.  Well, there is if you want to sell anything? It seems like most of the 'How to Start an Etsy Shop' articles are focused on people who want to eventually quit their jobs and craft full-time.  I'd love to make enough for a plane ticket, and maybe whittle down my yarn stash a bit.  I'm not sure the choice of a name is as important as they make it out to be, but I still need one. 

I know my readership is an intelligent bunch, so I'm hoping you'll help me out here.  It could be something related to knitting, adoption, or just a nice catchy name.  The hardest part is going to be finding something that isn't already in use.  Here are a two that fall under nice catchy name:  TwistyTwirly and CurlyWhirly.  They are from one of our favorite books.  KnattyKnits already has a facebook page, although no shop on Etsy.  KniftyKnits is taken.  LifeOnHisPath is an easy, obvious one, although I don't know if I want to associate this blog with my etsy shop, since I'd be mailing things from my home.  There are already 33 shops with the word 'Adopt' in the title, and over 1000 with 'knit.'  JoyfulKnits and KnitForJoy are taken...well, you get the picture.  Any ideas?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Feed the Freezer

I love my freezer.  We always write an acrostic for Thanksgiving of things we're thankful for, and almost every year that I've had it, the freezer has made it on there.  It brings me great pleasure to open the door (it's a full-size upright, because I hate freezer diving) and see many meals, ready for a brief venture into the oven or microwave before serving my family.  This semester, though, I've been leaning pretty heavily on it for my teaching nights, and I just haven't found time (energy?) to put things back into it.  When I cook, I always try to make enough to freeze at least one extra meal, but I just haven't been cooking much freezer-friendly fare (stir fry...not friendly).  It's actually been kind of nice to sort through what's in there and eat some of the older things, but I'm getting to the point where I'm finding things I should probably just toss.  Like the Tuna Tortellini casserole that I just didn't like the first time...I don't expect it to taste better the second time around.
So I've got another project to add to my list--a two-parter, really.  I'm getting a little antsy about the low volume of ready meals, but I really should finish sorting through everything.  Once I sort through it all, I'll be able to see what raw materials I have, like ground beef and a whole turkey (or two).  At that point, it'll be a little easier to plan some meals around what I already have, and plan out some big cooking days.  I'd love to get to this started in May, but I already feel like the month is packed.  Does anyone else feel that way?

Friday, May 3, 2013

On Sisyphus and Dishes

Of all the quotidian tasks that seem Sisyphean in nature, I find emptying the dishwasher to be the worst.  There's a small sort of pleasure in filling the dishwasher with dirty dishes, in moving jammy plates and empty coffee mugs from the counter to the racks, and then closing the door on all that messiness.  Running the dishwasher usually happens at the end of the day, when all the big pots and pans have been hand washed and the counters have been wiped down.  But we always seem to make more dirty dishes before the dishwasher is emptied, and so I find little satisfaction in the pristine white plates and tidy piles of forks, knowing more will take their place so soon.  My only consolation is reminding myself that unlike Sisyphus, I have children who can someday take this onerous task from me.  

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Summer Projects

So, we're still waiting.  I feel like that's what you'll be reading for the next who knows how many months.  :)  I think we're close to finishing our homestudy, but it depends on some references getting in (outside our control to a certain extent).  We are finishing up the pictures this weekend, but we're still waiting to talk to our doctor about the medical special needs list.  I should ask my counselor if that's for their agency or for our dossier--if it's not for the dossier, it's not as pressing. 

In other news, my class is done!  I taught intro to chemistry at our local community college this semester.  It was the same class that I taught last semester, so most of my notes and homework were already done.  Even with the prep from last semester, lecture classes just take more work than lab classes.  I was also teaching two nights a week (instead of during the day), so dinner had to be ready pretty much when David walked in the door.  If I just had to show up and teach, this would be a dream job.  I really do love chemistry, and especially love seeing my students figure it out.  So while I'll miss the teaching part, I'm happy to put prep and grading aside till a later date.

Now that I'm done, I'm taking stock and thinking about some summer projects.  Oh, and I'm cleaning up all the piles that have piled up over the last month.  Here's a few things on my plate:

--Bible Memory Passage notebook:  Bible was the most important 'subject' in our home school curriculum.  We studied passages verse-by-verse and memorized them.  Although you could probably stand me up in my coffin and I'd still be able to recite Psalm 1 or Psalm 100, I'd be hard pressed to recite more than the first few verses of Hebrews (at one point, I could recite through Chapter 11...).  Although I'm excited to start the same program with Katie, she's probably at least 6 months away from it (if not longer).  In the meantime, I want to start brushing up on the passages I memorized.  Our family made a habit of reciting passages after supper, and my goal is to have a notebook with all my passages so we can start doing that too.

--Manipulatives for Katie:  I have some trusty homeschooling books from Mom, so I'm going to start with the math manipulatives from WorkJobs II.  I'd also like to go through some of the preschool craft books and find ones that are appropriate for Katie.

--More organizing:  Right now, we're making our living area the play area too.  David tells me about keeping all his toys in his room, but I don't think that would work as well with little kiddos.  We put one of the bookshelves back in Katie's room and replaced it with a bin/shelf organizer.  Now I need to figure out how to keep the top of Katie's play kitchen from being the catch-all pile place.