Monday, August 25, 2014

Only the beginning

On Saturday, we went to a friend's birthday party.  They had some little games for the kids, and the winners received prizes.  Katie did not win, and I definitely noticed how well she handled herself at the party.  There was no fussing or complaining; as far as I could tell, she didn't even notice that she didn't win anything.  I kind of forgot about it, but as she was getting ready for bath, the tears started coming.

"Mommy, I didn't win a special treat!"  "I wish I were (the little girl who did win)"  Copious tears, grief, pain...breaking my heart.

It was such a little thing, and no, we don't really need more coloring books at our house.  My first thought, of course, was "I can fix this!"  But the teachable moment won out, and we had a chance to talk about what happens when things don't go your way.

Because all I could think, as she cried in my lap, was how this is probably the first in a long line of endless disappointments for her.  Sometimes, it will be because mentally or physically, she didn't cut it (like the games at the party).  There will always be someone smarter or faster.  But at least as many times, if not more, it will be no fault of hers at all.  She will simply not be what they are looking for in a role, in a job, in a spouse.

When Katie said she wanted to be the other little girl who won, my first thought was to compare.  "Well, she doesn't have a little sister, and you do."  But comparison is not the answer, because you're putting someone down to feel better.  Susan pointed out later that if I can teach Katie to find her worth in the fact that God created her just the way she is, it'll help with the "not cutting it" situation.  But that wasn't on my mind on Saturday.
As she sat on my lap, I told Katie that in the end, God had a better plan for her.

Whatever plans she makes in her life, God knows the one that will best for her, and He'll guide her down that path.  Sometimes it'll be smooth, and sometimes it'll be a slammed door in her face.  I wish with all my heart Katie would learn now to accept that, because it would save her so much grief and heartache.  But I think that's one of those lessons that's best learned the hard way, and the long way.

Since I can't make her learn this lesson, I suppose my job as the parent is to tell the stories, over and over again, of how God brought His plan to fruition in my life, sometimes against my wishes, and how it ended up being the very best plan.  And to hold Katie when she cries.

Friday, August 22, 2014


The Peach Report:  We are a day away from clearing the peach tree.  Although not all of them are ripe, when it gets down this low, the gigantic green June bugs really mow through them.  I'm hoping to get enough for one last batch of peach jam.  Mmmmm.

The peaches swooped in and hijacked the blog, so I forgot to upload some of our recent adventures.  Here you go!

Washing the car!  Someone wanted to help...

...and two others were interested in a soapy bath.

My lab coat arrived in the mail, and Liz wanted to try it on.

"You'll need to memorize the entire periodic table of elements, along with all the atomic weights."

"Just kidding!"

We took our first trip to Krispy Kreme with the kids.  Brought back memories of my first trip...would you believe I ate six donuts?  I can barely make it through three now.  When the manager found out it was the kids' first time, she invited them back to the kitchen to make their own sprinkle donuts.

All geared up...

...and ready to go!

Chocolate dip and sprinkle bath.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Onslaught Has Abated

This has been my life for the last week.  I decided to keep track of all the peaches we processed this year, and we hit 400 peaches on Saturday.  At an average of 6 oz. each, that means we went through about 150 lbs of peaches.  I did that calculation three times to make sure it was right.  Cause that's a lot of peaches.  Now I feel more comfortable in saying we had over 1000 peaches on the tree, because we gave away a LOT of peaches (and ate a lot too!).  I still have a big bag of peaches in the fridge (hiding from the fruit flies).  Plus, out of sight, out of mind, because I am out of my mind with peaches.  :)

Sorted peaches.  In the front are eat/can peaches, in the back are pie/cobbler/peach butter peaches (bruised or slightly eaten), and in the bags are unripe peaches.  We have a lot more of those this year thanks to little hands who love to help!

The canning setup: peaches to peel, hot water for blanching, sugar syrup for canning, the "canner" pot (my stock pot), and lids in the back corner pot.

My last ditch effort when faced with a pile of peaches...peel and freeze.  Plus a bunch of peach pie bags and tubs of peach butter.  

6 pints peach salsa, 60 pints total canned slices, and lots of jam (peach, peach ginger, and peach raspberry).

Dried peaches, thanks to my friend's dehydrator.  So handy!  

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Peaches and Christian Character

Everything revolves around peaches right now.  Sorry.  My dreams, once again, involved canning peaches last night.  Given how many I've canned today, I'm sure I'll get a repeat tonight.  I wish so much that all of you distance readers could eat some.  Or take a bag.  If you are a local reader and like peaches, perhaps you should email me, text me, or call me.

I've started an online course through Ligonier Ministries.  Some of you will go, "huh?" and others will go, "oh, good old R.C."  R.C. Sproul has been a voice in my life since early childhood, thanks to my parents, and when I mentioned to my mom that I was looking for a more rigorous Bible study to do in the mornings, she suggested this:

The challenge level is between Sunday School and seminary (in her words), and it's been working out quite well.  I chose to begin with a course on developing Christian character, since that's been on my mind.  In the first lecture, R.C. talks about the three principal obstacles to Christian growth:  the world, the devil, and man.  I admit that at this point in my life, I view myself as the greatest obstacle to growth.

Case in point:  I don't think you all are properly imagining the immense number of peaches on our tree.  The overwhelming nature of trying to preserve them all.  The slight panic that edges over me every time I go out to pick peaches because it seems like we haven't picked at all (I'm sure at least 300 have come off the tree, and probably closer to 400).

But then someone comes and starts picking more than a bag (like I would...),and my sinful nature rears its head, and my pride and greed start whispering in my head.  "Those are my peaches!" "What if all the best ones are gone?" "What if there aren't enough for my other friends ME!"


Not to mention, it is (or should be) a delight to offer my best and most lovely to other people.  For them to take.  And this bounty is a gift from God in the first place...we have done mighty little to deserve this gorgeous harvest besides prune the blossoms and turn on the water occasionally.

So if I have offered peaches to you, and you are reading this, please come and take them, so I can practice spiritual growth.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Peaches and Christian Community

"You need a critical mass to start canning, and we're definitely not there yet."  

Famous last words.  We processed 120 peaches over the weekend--lots of canning and a big crockpot of peach butter, and there are three bags of peaches still ripening and a bunch more on the counter.  And we have barely begun on the tree.  

I'm also in the middle of figuring out how to deal with the low-acidity aspect of white I know why I've never canned our peach butter.  Unlike yellow peaches, white peaches are on the border of being high-acidity, safe-to-water-bath-can.  So yellow peach canning recipes may not be safe for white peaches, and I'm not sure how much lemon juice to add to our peach butter (which we usually don't add) to make it safe to can.  The solution, of course, is to get into pressure canning.  Yikes.  Or making jam, I guess.  David doesn't like jam, but I think other people do?

I've been thinking a lot about Christian community recently.  Pop quiz: what book did I order to read up on it?  We attend a pretty big church, and I feel like our experience with this church is/will be different from the previous churches we've attended in two ways.  

First, this is a church that could potentially be long-term for us.  In Arizona, we knew we'd be leaving after graduate school.  Even when we started attending our first church here in NM, I knew it wasn't the church we could stay in forever, at least not in its current manifestation.  In other words, it'd be changing a whole lot or we'd be leaving it eventually.  But this is the church we could stay in our whole lives, if God doesn't call us to move.  It's established, it's not going anywhere, as far as 'religious goods and services' go, it's got everything.

Second, this is the biggest church we've attended.  It's got two services, 500+ attendees total, and I'm coming to terms with the fact that we just won't know people the way we would at a church 1/5 the size.  I mean, our last church had about 30 attendees, and we could all hang out in the 'sanctuary' (there was really just one room) and let our kids roam while we chatted.  Just can't do that at this church.

For some people, the size might not affect how they invest at all.  But David and I are never going to have a huge circle of friends and be super involved in a bunch of things.  That's not how God made us.  I also bought "Introverts in the Church" and "A Quiet Faith" as part of these ponderings, because David and I are definitely on that side of the personality spectrum.  And I'm trying to figure out how to serve from our strengths, in the way that God created us, not in the way an extrovert-oriented culture thinks we should.

Which brings me back to Christian community.  How do we (David and I) invest in the Christian community in a way that works with our personalities in a church this size?  And what kind of community are we building around us?

But another, equally important question is, how do we balance involvement in the Christian community with our call to be salt and light in the world?  Because we need to be involved in a way that supports and encourages that, rather than one that becomes insular and all-consuming.  And that's a whole other set of questions to wrestle with...

...which is why I bought "Life Together" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  I figure that's a good place to start wrestling.  

Saturday, August 9, 2014

5 months

But first, the peach report:

I have been obsessively checking the peaches, but they are still mostly hard or not quite ripe.  It's hard to gear up for the game and then have to wait and wait.  You need a critical mass to start canning, and we're definitely not there yet.  But I did start freezing some of the windfalls, and there's a crockpot of peach butter going right now.
My goal was to count peaches this year, and although I've already processed a bit, I'll try to keep track.  I always say we have tons of peaches, but the scientist in me wants to quantify.

Okay, 5 months--what's new?

It's feeling more and more like we have an almost two-year-old rather than a newly adopted child.  There's still a lot of toddler issues to deal with, of course, but I feel like they are mostly the ones that come with the territory.  She understands most of what we say to her (where she wants to is another story, of course), and the day-to-day operations seem to be getting a little easier.  For example, instead of coming to me and crying at my feet when it's time for a meal, I can say "if it's time to eat, where do you go?" and she says, "chair" and runs to her chair.  She's getting a bit pickier about eating, which is both encouraging and annoying.  At least she trusts that there will be more food and she can afford to turn up her nose at that delicious chicken shawarma.  Now we're getting into no pushing and trying to share, but like I said, normal toddler stuff.  :)

One potential issue for cleft lip and palate is speech.  It has been a little hard for me to judge Liz's speech, partly because she's learning a new language, partly because it's been a while since I had an almost two-year-old, and partly because our kids were both pretty early talkers.  So we made an appointment for an evaluation with a speech-language pathologist who specializes in CL/CP.  Within a few minutes of arriving, the SLP said she could tell Liz was perfectly fine.  Yay!  By the end of the evaluation, she placed Liz in the 'advanced' category and said just keep doing what we're doing.  I guess that's lots of reading and talking.  We talk a lot in this family.  :)

A friend was reminding me how nice it is to be able to look back on 5 months and see how much progress Liz has made, rather than looking forward and focusing on what is still challenging.  I was reminded again of how gracious God has been in Liz's life.  We (and others) prayed and prayed for all these things, and I know God must have delighted in saying, "Yes!"

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory..."  Eph. 3:20-21a

All done with ear tube surgery!  Bear got a mask and hair cover.  :)

I like to help out

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

5 months...will have to wait

I was inspired to restart my blogging at this point because Sunday marked 5 months that Liz has been with us.  Of course, August is also shaping up to be a super busy month...the peach invasion has begun, Katie has her preschool open house next week before starting the week after, and David may have to travel or put in some extra hours this month.  And I start teaching at the end of August--a lab I've never taught before.  So my resolve may be tested a little.

Our router stopped working too...ugh...and all the pictures are on my computer.  I'm too tired to fiddle with trying to get access to them.  So the 5 month update on Liz will have to wait, since it wouldn't be complete without the very cute post-surgery photo.  (ear tube surgery)

Many aspects of life are cyclical, and it seems like I'm either in 'put up' or 'use up' mode when it comes to food.  I've written about my freezer love affair before, and I've definitely been putting it to good use in the last three months.  It's beginning to look a little bare.  Thankfully, I feel like we're finally at the point both food- and attention span-wise (for Liz) where I can do some major cooking projects.  I really need to transition into 'put up' mode...because our peach tree is positively drooping with its precious load.

My goal is to can at least 50 pints of peaches, not to mention all the peach butter, peach pies, frozen peaches, etc.  The crop has been really late this year, so I took advantage of the delay and made some spaghetti sauce, chili, and casseroles to put in the freezer.  I'll need some easy meals when I start teaching, since I'll be getting home right at dinner-time.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Back to Blogging

So, I took a break from blogging.  This blog was a great outlet for processing all the waiting that went into adopting, but once we finished the waiting period, it was a) more crazy at our house, and b) harder to choose what to write about.
First of all, know, with these guys:

b) what to write about...I never intended this blog to be about my kids.  Although it may be a losing battle in this day and age, I want to respect their privacy to grow up without all their foibles, mistakes, and challenges spread across the internet.  Like when Luke decided he wanted to sit in big church with us this week...and then threw an absolute fit because I drank all the juice (failed to prep him for communion).  Oops.  Granted, I feel like that was my mistake, not his, but still.  And there is so much going on with Liz, it's hard to know what to share and what to keep private.  I'm dealing a lot with my kids right now, so if I've chosen not to write about them, what do I write about?

Truthfully, it's not like I haven't gone through a lot in this transition from two to three kids, from biological to adopted, but it's been messy.  I've figured some things out, realized I didn't quite have it together, understood what I need to be doing, faced the fact that knowing doesn't make it easier to do...but it hasn't been a nice, logical, easily documented progression.

We were talking in my Bible study about times of spiritual growth, and I immediately thought of the last year...the process of adopting really stretches you, and I do feel like I grew spiritually through it.  As I considered it, though, I also realized that blogging helped me process and document that time of spiritual growth.  In some ways it feels like the last five months have been a little stagnant in that department, but as I look back and examine it, that's not true at all.  I just haven't been processing and thinking about it the way I did before Liz arrived.

So I'm going to try and do this regularly again, partly to examine and document how God is working in our lives, partly to work through some things, and partly to write some letters to my future self, because we might be getting on the adoption train again...

Finally, I really have some cute kids here, and I guess it wouldn't be a problem to post a few more pictures of them.  :)

She has since learned to climb up the slide...yay for older sibling examples. 

Katie made a game called "Monster" that involves trying to run from one side of the yard to the other.  Of course you have to avoid the monster.

No idea what's going on here.  Possibly Liz is upset because the popcorn is not IN HER MOUTH.

My friend threw a shower for us, and her gift to Liz was this little red bench.  She didn't even know how much Liz loves little chairs.