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Archive for June, 2010

My neighbor girls (ages 11 and 13), to whom I teach American History, saw this and immediately thought of me.

Perhaps it’s because I made them memorize all the Presidents… and the first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence… and the introduction to the Constitution… and the branches of government this past semester. ¬†ūüôā

I may be a tough teacher, but they were great kids.  Thanks for the present, girls!

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Our little family always hikes on Father’s Day weekend. ¬†With a wee one in the backpack and two little boys hiking on their own, we can’t do anything challenging right now… but thankfully, we live in Colorado and were able to hike to a beautiful alpine lake without too much trouble.

Here are some scenes from the day (and if this doesn’t make you want to move here — well, if you don’t already — then I don’t know what will):

Annie's first time in the backpack! (she wasn't a fan)

Bode's first time hiking on his own (not in the backpack)... can you tell he's excited?

Little men hiking up the mountain

Little Starrs, Big Rock... and Snow in June!!

We only had to hike a mile to reach our destination: St. Mary’s Glacier. ¬†Where else can you drive less than an hour from your house and get to the trailhead for¬†this?

The boys enjoying the glacial view... "can we please throw rocks in the lake now?"

And what would Father’s Day be without some quality time with the kiddos, Daddy? ¬†Not nearly as fun, that’s for sure. ūüôā

Some good ol' rock throwing

Cuddle time on the water with Daddy

When it was time to head back, #1 took the lead… as usual. ¬†We always pray that God will shape Jonah into a godly leader, so any practice he gets “leading the way” is good as far as we’re concerned.

Jonah the trailblazer, on the way down

We can’t wait to add another little one to this family picture… hopefully sooner rather than later. ¬†ūüôā ¬†Can you imagine?

The whole fam

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I’m still waiting for some pics from my sweet husband’s camera, so the Midwest trip recap will again have to wait.

But in the meantime…

In case you hadn’t heard — and didn’t read my cheesy sale-Eve poem — we had a garage sale to raise money for our adoption fees.

It was a ton of work.

I got fried by the sun despite numerous re-applications of sunscreen.

But man, it was great.

Honestly, I think the greatest part was the “before”… telling folks about our needs, and seeing donations pour in from people we would have never thought would support us so generously. ¬†It was ridiculously humbling and utterly uplifting. ¬†Often I was speechless (I know, shocker). ¬†ūüôā

And now, almost two weeks later, we have raised more than $1,500! ¬†And we’re still working on selling some larger items on Craigslist, which should add a decent amount to that total. ¬†Our goal was $1,200… so we were excited to beat it!

Here are some pics from the day:

Bryan milking his set-up effort ūüôā

Pre-sale (it wraps into the garage)

Our sign, letting folks know where their money was going

Bode wanted the best seat in the house; he didn't want to miss a moment of the action! ūüôā

The boys' little side business: selling pine cones they had picked up from the neighbor's yard. I think they made close to $1... they were pumped! Ah, my little entrepreneurs.

A close-up of the little sign Jonah made: "Pine Cones and Laefs for Sale" (how cute is that?!)

Another amazing surprise came from some of our dear friends back in Oregon, who decided to use their talents to raise additional funds for us; they turned their annual family piano recital into an adoption benefit.

And friends, these kids are unbelievably gifted.

Here’s just one highlight of many (from Nik, who – I think – is 15):

Um, yeah.  You just have to check out the rest of the recital.  I so wish we could have been there in person (long distance hugs to all of you!).  And during their concert, they collected $300 more in support!

So, we’re now almost two months in to the process, and here’s where we stand:

  • Application – PAID
  • Home study – PAID
  • Fingerprints – PAID (hopefully we won’t have to redo!)
  • Passport Renewals – PAID
  • Criminal Background Reports and Child Abuse Clearances – PAID

Not bad, eh? ¬†Our next big hurdle will be to pay for our agency’s fees ($4,300), as well as paying for post-placement reports (another $900); once that’s all done and the home study is wrapped up, we should be able to get on the list! ¬†The $1,800 we collected will make quite a dent in that total… and for that, we are extremely grateful to the folks who already have been so generous in their support. ¬†You know who you are! ¬†ūüôā

But we’re still praying and waiting for that next $3,400.

Yikes.  That number looks huge all typed out like that.

But God has taken us one invoice at a time… and the last one we got we were able to pay. ¬†So now we pray that the money somehow comes in for the next invoice.

One step at a time.

So… ahem… if you would like to help us… er… raise that next $3,400, we would really, really appreciate it (sheepish, humble grin).

Check out the donation details at the top of the right sidebar. ¬†ūüôā

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(sorry I’m a day late!)

True confession:  I pretty much hate this book.

I just had to get that off my chest.  Whew.

I don’t know at exactly what point in the reading my enthusiasm turned to skepticism turned to disgust turned to out-and-out hate, but I can tell you, despite not knowing the exact details of that little journey, by the time I finished the first half of the book I was indeed confident in my destination: ¬†absolute and complete disdain.

Just keeping it real here.

Not that I didn’t know what I was getting in to… at least I thought I did. ¬†I noticed from the outset that Hayes would be operating from a worldview a bit different than my own; after all, she called people like me freakish religious fundamentalists who cower at the sight of their overbearing husbands (I still have to chuckle at that one). ¬†I could look past that.

Until she invited Karl Marx to the party. ¬†And reminisced fondly about ancient goddess worship. ¬†And assumed macro-evolutionary explanations (without support) for everything from hunting/gathering to the closeness of human family relationships. ¬†And spouted socialist “victimization/government entitlement” junk from pretty much every other page.

Thus the internal groaning began in earnest.

I took notes, I analyzed, I tried to be objective… then I just got ticked off.

If you know me, you know I’m not one to back down from battles, big or small. ¬†And believe me, there were numerous points in this reading where I wanted to slam the book down and rant about the ginormous holes in Hayes’ historical and evolutionary arguments, and the pedestals upon which she places uber-feminazi Betty Friedan.

And I wrote a scathing post about it.

Which I chose not to publish.

Instead, I decided to first read the rest of the book.

And my temper was… well, tempered.

Tempered a bit by these statistics, which hit you where it hurts (how can one not feel convicted after reading these?):

“(T)he average American adult spends twice as much time driving than the average American parent spends interacting with his or her children.” ¬†(72)

“The average American ingests approximately 14 pounds of chemicals per year in the form of food additives (such as colorings, artificial flavorings, preservatives and emulsifiers), pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, hormones, and heavy metals.” ¬†(79-80)

“Owing to this industrialized global food production system, over the last 100 years 75% of plant genetic diversity has been lost and 30% of livestock breeds are at risk of extinction. ¬†75% of the world’s food comes from 12 plants and only 5 animal species, making our global food supply highly vulnerable to disease and famine.” ¬†(80)

“It is estimated that 20-25% of Americans use psychiatric drugs and 10-15% abuse alcohol and illegal psychotropic drugs. ¬†7-12% engage in compulsive gambling… millions more compulsively view television, video games, and p**nography; play the stock market; overeat, shop for things they don’t need, and flee their helplessness and hopelessness in countess other ways. ¬†Increasingly the U.S. economy is based on diversions and anesthetizations.” ¬†(85-86)

“In the early 1950’s, the U.S. was one of the healthiest countries in the world, but by 1960, it had sunk to the 13th healthiest… Since then we have continued to fall, so that we are now 25th, behind almost all other rich countries and a few poor ones, as well.” ¬†(86)

And page 83… now THAT is just all goodness. ¬†That is exactly why I wanted to read this book.

If even half of the statistics cited by Hayes hold water upon examination (no, I have not back-checked them), then they are, at the very least, cause for pause.

That being said, I wholeheartedly disagree with what appears to be one of Hayes’ main premises: ¬†that to become radically domestic, one basically must embrace a “one for all, all for one” socialist mentality and politics. ¬†That one becomes more of a champion of the earth by making less money (and thus paying fewer, if any taxes); that one can — and should — be a “conscientious objector” to private health care yet at the same time be more than willing to accept taxpayer-funded government- provided health coverage.¬†¬†Apparently there is no such objection to RH’s using other people‘s money to pay for their dreams… just so long as they don’t have to earn it themselves.

I have a problem with that. ¬†To paraphrase former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher: ¬†The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money. In other words, Hayes’ approach may be viewed as ideal by those engaged in it, but on a mass societal level it simply doesn’t work. ¬†And in the meantime, it frankly frustrates the hell out of me: people who on one hand (very rightly) believe they are entitled to live their lives as they see fit and on the other ticked off (not rightly) that the government doesn’t simply hand them blank checks to do so. ¬†Unbelievable.

I know that only a few of the RH’s Hayes profiles simultaneously engage in a predominately non-extractive, non-income generating life filled with “fun and relaxation” while being “frustrated” that the government requires so many darn forms to qualify for free health insurance paid for by the taxpayers who, by choice or not, foot the bill. ¬†But the pedestal on which these individuals and families were placed by the author seriously put me over the edge.

So instead I will say this:

Women do, inevitably, feel a great void in their lives.  So do men.  Without Christ, we are always left with the nagging question:  Is this all there is to life?

Yes, the world as we know it is broken.  American society is broken.

We – you and I – are broken.

And I hate to tell you, but true personal fulfillment is no more likely to be found in a quasi-utopian urban homestead or in the challenge of “taking on a constructive role in society” (46) than it was/is in a high-powered, high-paying career or a plush vacation home with a panoramic mountain view. ¬†It’s not found in anything the Earth has to offer, friends. ¬†It’s found only in a Savior. ¬†With a capital S.

All that to say… it’s apparent Hayes and I come at this issue from drastically different places. ¬†Despite our immense differences, however, I am actually gleaning something from her interviews in the later chapters. ¬†Just because our “whys” are so different doesn’t mean our “hows” must also be.

So I will finish the book, I promise… in the hope I will get something beneficial out of it. ¬†In the meantime, if anyone asks for a recommendation in the “domesticity/anti-consumerism” genre, I will wholeheartedly recommend Crunchy Cons by Rod Dreher. ¬†Now THAT, although also not outwardly religious in nature, is a fabulous, helpful, useful read… likewise full of lots of Wendell Berry goodness but lacking the heavy socialist under/overtone.

But if I haven’t yet completely scared you off and you’d like to discuss what we’ve read thus far (and you can feel free to disagree!), I would love to hear from you. And let’s plan to wrap up the “how” section — the second half of the book — for next Monday. ¬†I promise you it’s more tolerable than the first half. ¬†I will share some of our family’s journey into domesticity, and I would love to hear yours.

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Pebbles

Annie’s hair has been growing quite a bit, and her bangs keep falling in her face. ¬†Since I can’t bear to trim them just yet, I opted for another solution.

I present to you: ¬†The “Pebbles”.

A view from the top:

Now she’s just bringing the cheese. ¬†You think she knows she looks like a prehistoric cartoon character? ¬†Where’s a dinosaur bone when you need one? ¬†ūüôā

One more… I just cracked up when I saw this, and only this, from the driver’s seat:

At least it will keep her hair out of her eyes for the summer. ¬†Besides, I consider working with those miniscule ponytail holders good practice for baby #4. ¬†ūüôā

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You may have been wondering where I’ve been. ¬†Whether I dropped off the face of the earth or something.

Or perhaps you haven’t wondered at all.

I forgive you. ¬†ūüôā

My friends, we were a’travelin’. ¬†All together, about 3,000 miles of a’travelin’. ¬†In the car. ¬†With three children ages five and under. ¬†And a very fluffy, shedding dog.

We don’t do anything halfway, people.

I’ll try to put pictures of that, as well as of our garage sale, up soon. ¬†Which, given my track record as of late, may be sometime in late 2012.

Sheesh, self.

So let me at least catch you up on the happenings of late around here:

… Annie has been a fussy mess.

… One of the many reasons for the fussiness: ¬†she cut two teeth (which, of course, I discovered several days AFTER they broke through the gums). Both molars. ¬†She’s 14 months old. ¬†I was shocked, I tell you. ¬†Shocked.

… More on Annie: ¬†Her weight check last week didn’t go great. ¬†She only gained one ounce last month. ¬†Although the pediatrician was encouraged that given her flu bug (did I mention that all three children had the flu last week?) and her teething she didn’t LOSE weight, we still have to come in next week to check her again to make sure she’s making that up. ¬†I am so grateful, though, that the doc gave her a second chance instead of just moving forward with the NG tube right away. ¬†So if you think about it, we’d appreciate prayer for that wee little bit of a child to eat her body weight in some high-calorie grub between now and then.

… We had our second home study visit last week. ¬†We were interviewed individually… which basically means I got to explain my rather complicated family background for over an hour while Bryan’s took all of five minutes. ¬†Okay, maybe ten. ¬†But still. ¬†ūüôā ¬†Our last one was scheduled for tonight, but our case worker is not feeling well so we’re now scheduled for next week. ¬†Which is fine because…

… We’re FINALLY getting fingerprinted tomorrow. ¬†And I FINALLY sent our passport renewals in last week. ¬†So we have another 4-6 weeks before we can wrap everything up anyway. ¬†And I just started on the other dossier stuff yesterday. ¬†But…

… thanks to a generous donation from a wonderful lady in my home town — as well as receiving payment for some side work Bryan did a few months ago — we were able to pay the entire balance for the home study! ¬†Praise God for His provision!!

… AND our garage sale last weekend netted almost $1,400! ¬†We’re going to list some of the larger items on Craigslist, so we’re hoping we can pay at least one of the agency fees ($2,150) with all the proceeds. ¬†Now THAT would be cool. ¬†ūüôā

Lastly, I’d love to move forward on the whole Radical Homemakers discussion at some point. ¬†How about we try to finish the first half (the “why” part) by next Monday, then we’ll do the “how” part the following week?

Like I said, I’m hoping cute kiddo pics are on the way in the coming days. ¬†I appreciate your patience!

XOXO  -N

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(I apologize in advance… as I am dreary from caring for sick kiddos, picking up donations, and working with tiny little neon price tags for far too long… and I never claimed to be good at poetry… and I’m pretty sure this is heavy on the cheese factor… nevertheless)

Ahem.

Twas the night before our garage sale
and all through the house
there was nary a walkway,
none even for a mouse.

All the sale stuff was sorted
and priced with great care,
in the hope that benevolent shoppers
soon would be there.

And what to my tired blood-shot
eyes did appear
but more donated items
to price… and a beer (for my equally tired hubby).

I sure hope with all this work
this stuff will sell quick.
If it’s still here on Sunday
I’ll likely be sick.

Down the garage door has come
with hardly a sound.
It is stuffed to the brim
like a ginormous mound.

The furniture, clothes, toys, games
and baby items should work
for some deal-happy folks
(but — hopefully! — few jerks).

Because all of the proceeds,
as everyone knows,
will help add to our family
ten more fingers, ten toes.

The sleepless nights will be worth it
when by the Lord’s might
our daughter comes home for good…
it will be a blessed sight!

Thanks to all… please pray all goes well!

-N

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