Friday, January 29, 2010

Quick Takes Friday


The snowpocalypse is upon us here in Tennessee. All the schools in the area are closed. I'm considering calling a short day here in our homeschool too. Even my husband's office is closed. It's obviously not that bad yet, but people down here can't drive in the snow and we are slated to get quite a bit of it today. Naturally, we'd had plans to go somewhere. I think we'll have to reschedule the babysitters.


In science this year, the kids are doing geology. Our topic for the week has been weathering and erosion. Yesterday on Youtube, I discovered this rather awesome song.


My husband's birthday was last week. I gave him a lovely icon of St. Justin Martyr. The kids gave him (their own idea and their own money) Grunt: Pigorian Chant by Sandra Boynton. I like to think we got both the sacred and the profane pretty well covered with those.


If you haven't run across it yet, go read Elizabeth Foss's post "I'm Sorry I Can't Do That." It is an excellent lesson I'm having to learn and relearn all the time.


I added some new links to my way too long list of blogs I like to read. Am I missing yours?


Took the kids to the violin shop last weekend to find out what size violins they need now. Violins are sort of like shoes. Kids outgrow them and never let you know. The seven year old needs a quarter-size and the oldest can move right up from his current half-size to a full-size. I think I'll probably buy something on eBay, because the violins listed around here on Craigslist are a lot more expensive and I'd have to drive all over creation to get one. Of course, both kids have reached the one year mark with playing and would be more than happy to quit. I don't want to make them carry on with an instrument that they hate, but at the same time I'd like to aim for some level of proficiency. Do you let kids quit activities the moment they dislike them?


Next week is the Blissdom conference. I'm looking forward to going and hoping it won't be too overwhelming for one who sometimes looks for a corner to hide in when confronted with a big crowd. Everyone else is posting fashion posts about what they are going to wear. I'm just hoping something fits over the expending belly. I'm about 15 weeks along, but I know people who look like this a week or two before they deliver. Sigh.

More Quick Takes to be found at Jen's place.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

God's Time

A few years ago, when we were visiting the Fathers of Mercy and talking to one of their novices about the new chapel they were building, I asked when it was supposed to be finished. "In God's time," he told me.

I suppose I've heard the expression before, but when I heard it that time, it stuck with me. Things don't happen on my plan or your plan, but in God's time.

I'm not terribly patient most of the time. I want things and I want them now. I rush. I fret. But once in a while, I see a little lesson peeking out at me about how I have little control over the timing of anything.

Most recently, I had one of those little revelations through the experience of potty training. Yes, some how I saw a glimmer of God's timing whilst sitting next to a toilet, reading to my three year old and bribing him with chocolates.

This summer, I decreed that my 2 1/2 year old would be potty trained. I was tired of changing diapers on a kid who could bring me diapers and wipes and tell me when he was in need of rash cream. We went for about a week. I was full of hope that his ability to perform on the toilet would translate to actual training. However, he never gained control of those functions, nor seemed to notice the need to go. We had a lot of messy accidents and I gave up. Not the right time.

Last week, my seven year old decreed that we should try again. She took her brother off to the toilet, fetched underwear from the drawer and we were trying again. After a few wet accidents, it clicked. I found him taking himself to the bathroom. He tells me when he needs to go most of the time and the mess and difficulty has been minimal. I hadn't intended to bother trying to train him until the weather was warmer. It wasn't my idea or my timing, but it worked.

I had waited and when a small voice (or actually not so small -- my seven year old is quite loud) pushed us forward things worked as they hadn't before.

Now I'm certainly not suggesting that my seven year old is the voice of God, but something prompted her to start this project when I refused to pay attention. And I don't even know whether God cares when I potty train my children. But learning to wait and be patient is certainly necessary training for Christians and in waiting for my son to be ready to advance, I had to practice waiting and remember that my schedule isn't always the best one.

So many things, from the little ones like potty training to the big ones like the lovely Divine Mercy Chapel are not completed (or at least not easily) in our time -- only in God's.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cold Houses

First, thanks to all of you who commented below. It means a lot to me.

And now -- the NY Times ran an article about people who don't heat their houses at all. This article is about extremists. But to some of our friends, we're almost as extreme.

For those of you who haven't been following along here for very long, we live in a 101 year old house. It has 11 1/2 ft ceilings, lots of leaky gaps here and there, no storm windows, a rather inefficient electric furnace downstairs (upstairs has a nicer gas one), and while the attic is nicely insulated, we have have no plans to mess with the downstairs walls and their lack of insulation. To heat our house to what many Americans consider normal levels, would cost a fortune.

We don't have a fortune, since we've invested rather heavily in children instead. Therefore, our thermostat stays set at 60 in the winter. We wear warm clothes and slippers and when I set butter on the counter to soften for baking purposes, it doesn't soften appreciably. We also have a wood burning fireplace, which would never serve to heat the house, but on really cold days, does provide a little extra warmth and a warm atmosphere by which to sit and read. So far none of the children have turned into ice cubes.

Actually, believe it or not, you acclimatize. I have never been one to love the cold, and yet now when I visit a house heated to 70 in the winter, I find it a bit stifling. If I had my druthers, I'd probably bump the thermostat up a few degrees, but I like maintaining relatively low electric bills better than not having to wear slippers and a sweater.

I know we're a bit extreme, although not as much as those mentioned in the NY Times article, but I also have a few friends with old houses who keep their houses at 58 or 59, so we're not the only crazies out there. What about you?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Oops, I Did It Again

With apologies to my excellent NFP teacher, you didn't think we'd actually be good at following through on all those rules for very long did you? In fairness, my main goal was to make sure we had a longer space between kidlets than the last time around, and as soon as that was guaranteed my motivation waned considerably.

Expected arrival around the beginning of August.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Yesterday, marked the end of one of my least favorite parenting tasks -- teaching phonics -- and the beginning of another -- potty training. The five year old finished Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. This is the fourth time I've been through this book. Once with the first child, twice with the next (after we figured out that she was far sighted and hadn't been seeing the letters clearly) and now doing it once again. As one of my friends likes to say, "It has 100 lessons and you can teach your child to read with it, but it isn't easy." I'll be glad not to be reading the same crazy stories for a little while.

Yesterday afternoon, my seven year old decided it was time to work on potty training her brother again. We need to. He's way too old to be in diapers, but potty training is a big pain when they don't seem to notice the sensations at all. But once begun, I guess we need to continue. We tried during the summer and he didn't get it, but now he's pushing 3 1/2. The kids needs to learn. So here we are, hanging out at home, a lot.

I guess the five year old and I can be working on reading more books to the potty trainee.

Friday, January 15, 2010


The little guy is doing quite well. I had intended to update everyone yesterday and thank so many of you for your prayers, but it was a long day and I didn't quite get to it.

The day started very, very early for me. In other words, I couldn't sleep much the night before. And the day before, the doctor's office had called and told us that due to a cancellation, our surgery had been bumped up and we had to get there by 7 a.m. Which meant that after a restless night, I needed to get up around 5-ish so that I could drink my much needed coffee, eat something and wake up enough to drive across town to the Children's Hospital.

We waited until the last minute to wake up the Boy though. We figured a sneak attack would be easier for getting him dressed and in the car without food or drink on his stomach.

We got to the hospital and signed in at 6:58. And then we sat and waited for 40 minutes to be checked in.

A bit after that, we got called back to a room, where they took his vitals, asked a million questions over and over, and had a nice young lady come in to explain to my son directly with pictures and various pieces of equipment, all that he would be seeing. I thought that was a great idea for getting kids ready for the OR.

And then we waited some more. The Boy entertained himself with the stuffed animal he brought with him. What can I say, but that we are the Adams family. Stuffed rats are par for the course.

Finally, the nurse came and he walked down the hall holding her hand and they sent me back to the waiting room. And this is where the one highly annoying part of the morning started.

After they took him back to the OR, they told me to go to the main waiting room until they called me and said to tell the check-in woman, if I was leaving the area.

About 15 or so minutes later, they called his name and sent me to a consultation room. In the room was a note about how they call you in there early and not to worry if it takes a while for the doctor to arrive. No doctor arrived.

By the time it was an HOUR after the surgery started (which is how long they told me surgery and recovery would take) I thought I faintly heard the name Adams in the waiting room. So, I got up and went out. They told me they had been looking for me for practically the whole time. No one had looked in my consultation room (which was the farthest from the main hall) or called my name or anything (I had the door open). No one had bothered to note which room I was put in. When I was finally led to my son, who had woken up without me by this point, the woman I was complaining to, suggested me it was my fault, because I hadn't checked-in with the waiting room when I had gone back after the Boy went to the OR. Which no one told me to do! They just told me to check out if I left.

But all is well that ends well. He was there, happily sucking on a popsicle and not the least upset at my delayed arrival to his bedside.

Just in case you are extra curious. The boy was not having done to him what might normally be done shortly after birth, if you are going to bother with it at all. He was having some scar tissue fixed (caused by irritation from wet diapers and rubbing) that was impeding urination and messing with his bladder.

He was woozy yesterday and crying about the pain this morning when he woke up, but now after pain medicine, he playing and arguing with his siblings just like normal. I still need another nap or two to recover though.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Prayers Please

The three year old is going under the knife this morning. It's minor surgery, although any man will say that nothing involving a knife and this particular body part is minor. No mother would say anything involving knocking her kid out and slicing on him is minor. So there you have it.

If you can spare a moment, please say a prayer for the little guy.

And if you need a laugh, let me note that he is somewhat confused about what will be happening and has informed me that the doctors will be making it bigger. Heh. And I thought such concerns were only for older males and spammers.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


The youngest is weaning or perhaps weaned. She hasn't nursed in a day or two and we both seem pretty comfortable with it. It's been quite a while in coming -- slowly, slowly she stopped asking in the morning, in mid-afternoon, and then started biting me at naptime and bedtime after a few minutes to signal that she was done. She hasn't nursed a lot in a long time. She's 18 months old. Though I think nursing even longer is often best, I'm also all for following a child's lead on the subject, at least up to a point, but I do like to think it is generally a mutual decision.

I wasn't quite as happy when the now three year old weaned at 14 months, but I was pregnant and I didn't really want to tandem nurse, so I was going to have to let it happen eventually.

Generally these days, I don't think about myself as much of a Nipple Nazi, but I also don't get and never have understood people who set a specific weaning deadline for themselves and their kids. Why nurse for exactly a year or six months or whatever? Why not see how things go? I am pondering this especially these days as I see updates from an acquaintance on Facebook. First she was counting down the weeks until weaning was complete. Now she's sighing about how much easier it used to be to get her baby to sleep at night when she was nursing. Why wean then? Why not enjoy that time when getting the baby to sleep by nursing? Take the easy way.

After having weaned five children and 96 months of nursing under my belt, I know there are certain pleasures associated with not nursing, but in my experience kids stop on their own so soon. They don't keep it up forever. Every baby I thought I'd be nursing to sleep forever goes to bed all on their own now. They grow so fast and become independent so soon. The best snuggles disappear.

Don't force the snuggles and nursing smiles to vanish just because of an arbitrary deadline.

By the way, I'm not talking about you. Or you going back to work and pumping all the time. Or the person over there with constant illnesses. I'm talking about moms who are home with their babies and just feel like nursing is only for the one and younger set.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Link Within

Those Link Within posts at the end of each blog post -- annoying or interesting? Discuss.

Friday, January 08, 2010

The First Quick Takes of 2010


Tennessee, along with the rest of the South, has been hit by extra cold weather this week and even a little snow. It's not much, but enough for me to drag out various snow stuff. Clearly, I hold on to everything, because the last child to need the snow suit the one year is wearing was the ten year old.


As I predicted, the Christmas tree is still up. Today I am going to make a concerted effort to get everything off it and put away. Last year, instead of acting like normal people and taking the tree off somewhere for it to be ground up into mulch, we took it to the back yard, let it get really brown and crispy and in the fall we chopped it up and burned it in the outside fire bowl. I suspect the same fate awaits this tree.


Our first school week after a longish break has been going ok. I picked the right poem for the kids to memorize this week. The kids have been a little off schedule though, because they were in the midst of some of their lessons when we quit in December. Since they've gotten through things a bit faster than usual this week, I think today we'll concentrate mostly on art.


The five year old only has four more lessons left in the reading lesson book. This makes us both very happy. We read Hop on Pop together yesterday.


What really amazes me though is the five year old's ability to do math. The seven year old is math challenged. She works hard at it, but concepts seem to be learned one day and forgotten the next. It's something of a shock then to be walking past the five year old and have her just announce without any prompting or coaching that 5+5+5 is 15.


I'm excited to be going to Blissdom once again this year. It was fun the past two times and I'm lucky it's in Nashville close by. I'm way out of my league with people who want to make something or some money off their blogs, but it's still interesting for those of us who are definitely just in it for the entertainment value.


Happy Elvis's birthday! That random fact is stuck in my head, because my best friend from college always liked to state that her birthday fell between Epiphany and Elvis. She also shares a birthday with Millard Fillmore. And there is your random trivia of the day.

More Quick Takes at Jen's.

Thursday, January 07, 2010


Yesterday, the kids woke up to some golden chocolate coins left by the Wise Men and during our morning circle time, we sang We Three Kings, of course. I was inspired by this post of Karen Edmisten's to try making King's Bread. I didn't use her recipe, as good as it looked. Instead, I used the recipe for Panetonne from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, except that I braided it together and twisted it into a crown shape. When it was baked and cooled, I made a simple glaze of orange juice, lemon extract and powdered sugar and slathered the bread in it.

Needless to say, it was well received.

Camera Found

I found my camera in a drawer in my dresser. I never keep it in my dresser. I'm not sure how it decided to leap in there or who helped it, but it was surely hiding out there. The lost has been found though and thus I can now show you a very belated Christmas shot of the kidlets.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Return to Normalcy

Today my husband is back at work for the first time since Christmas Eve. The kids did school for the first time in a while. Really, we haven't done many normal school days since Advent began. Violins were practiced. Math was done. Reading lessons and spelling quizzes returned.

Our Christmas tree remains up until the real Epiphany on Wednesday (or more likely until Saturday) but the air of Christmas and holiday freedoms have faded away.

I'll miss sleeping in and having my husband to keep me company, but I think getting back to the every day and ordinary has a certain pleasure to it. Leaving the routines behind for a bit makes me look forward to rediscovering them.

Are you back to the grind, did you ever leave or like some of my college professor friends can you goof off for another week or so?

Saturday, January 02, 2010

A Christmas Letter, After All

Well now, I seem to have dropped off the blogging planet, but life interfered with computer time. Whilst away from the computer, we, of course, celebrated Christmas and the arrival of 2010, as well as the 12th year of our marriage. We managed to get together with many friends and do lots of stuff. One part of that stuff included Christmas letter writing. My blogging about the lack of Christmas cards for the past many years must have spurred my husband into action. He pulled out the cards I bought three years ago and the letter he started writing last year, put it all together and we actually sent a few out. I had intended to include a photo, but I seem to have misplaced my camera as soon as I took photos of the kidlets in their Christmas finery. Ahem.

And thus, I present to you the (edited for the web) Adams' Christmas letter. If you didn't get one in the mail, I probably forgot to tell the one in charge of such things to put you on the list. But now you can't complain any way.


Observing that the number of Christmas cards from friends this year was outnumbered by the number of cards from the vet, the chimney sweep, and other people whom we have to pay to associate with us, we were reminded us once again that many of our friends and relations have no idea where we live or that we’ve added two people to our family since we last wrote a Traditional Christmas Form Letter™, way back in 2005.

Actually, we were reminded of all this last Christmas, when the forwarding order at the Post Office was most definitely expired, and resolved then to write a Christmas letter, and then a New Year letter, and then a Groundhog Day letter, and then an Independence Day letter until we came full circle and resolved to write a Christmas letter, which this is, because Christmastide isn’t done for a few more days yet.

So, as is customary in a Traditional Christmas Form Letter™, we will note that we-are-very-happy-and-our-family-is-perfect-and-our-children-are-oh-so-adorable-and-smart-etc.-ad-nauseum. And with that out of the way, herewith some relevant statistics:

Justin: Lawyer. Going grey. Dabbles with gardening, carpentry, housecleaning, cooking, child-rearing, and criminal defense, the latter two items not being related at this time.

Jordana: Mother. Not going grey, no way, no how, so just shut up about it. Homeschools the more sentient children, nurses and wipes the bottoms of the less sentient children, cooks, sews, gardens, and cleans, sometimes at the same time.

Oldest Boy: Age 10. Brownish-blondish, tall, gangly, brown eyed. Sweet, curious, obsessed with Lego blocks, political paraphernalia, coins, stamps, books, and whatever other new thing he discovers in the next five minutes. Career plans include Lego designer, paleontologist, Pixar artist, and President of the United States. Voted most gregarious and pedantic. Does laundry. Annoys sisters. Incapable of holding a baby without dropping it. Excellent conversationalist.

Oldest Girl: Age 7. Blond, blue-eyed, petite, vivacious. Drama queen, acrobat. Voice like Lauren Bacall’s. Does not smoke, as far as we know. Refuses to acknowledge pain. Reads, writes, draws, sings loudly and off-key, with enthusiasm. Wears glasses (far-sighted). Voted most inexplicable, perplexing, and remarkable. Can and does beat up ten-year old brother, yet exhibits maternal instincts. Capable of holding babies without dropping them. Excellent dramatist.

Middle Girl: Age 5. Brown, wavy hair, dark brown eyes, honey-colored skin, petite. Learning to read. Excellent pouting skills. When not chuckling or pouting, produces ear-splitting screams. Bouncy, prone to sudden bouts of chuckling, prone to sudden and inexplicable mood swings. Having learned to write name, has autographed entire house and furnishings therein with initials. Voted most likely to rat out siblings on the slightest pretext.

Younger Boy: Age 3. Blonde, blue-eyed, petite. Viking-like physical appearance and behavioral tendencies. Dangerous to himself and others. Double-dosed with testosterone. Hobbies include picking fights with anyone and anything bigger than himself, which is about everyone and everything, climbing to dangerous heights and falling down, sustaining at least one noticeable injury per day. Mechanically inclined. Voted most likely to burn and pillage the English coast line, hotwire family car, and operate chop shop. Voted best smile. Also voted best wicked smile, best wicked-gleam-in-eye, and best disregard for personal safety and the law. Excellent pugilist.

Toddler Girl: Age 1. Brownish-blondish-reddish hair, blue eyes, petite. First word: “meelk!” Climbed, then crawled, then walked. Vicious right-hook, usually delivered to just older brother, or to anyone when “meelk” is not timely delivered. Pleasant smile, unpleasant scream.

Hobbes: Age 6 (42 I.D.Y.). Brown, black, and reddish hair, with a tinge of grey around the jowls. Hobbies include threatening anyone who dares walk down the street, or the mail man, or neighboring dogs, and hapless stray cats who taunt him from on high.

The Purple House: Built 1909. Purchased from an exotic dancer, who painted it purple, in December 2006. Moved into in January 2008. Features include 11-foot ceilings, original wood work, multiple fireplaces, 4 bed rooms, hardwood floors, nosy French neighbor across the street, mentally ill neighbor next door, nosy American neighbor straight out of two houses down, extensive termite damage that the termite inspector, of course, did not notice prior to our decision to purchase, and under-framed roof complete with bowed and cracked rafters. Other names include the “Money Pit,” the “Mr. Adams’ Dream House,” “We’re Never Doing this Again,” and “Why Justin and Jordana Will Never, Ever Consider Themselves Wise Real Estate Investors.” Has a big back yard. The purchase of the Purple House, along with the birth of the Small and Terrible Three Year Old in 2006, would be why we didn’t manage to get a Christmas letter out that year, and the never-ending renovation of the Purple House, which still wasn’t done in December 2007, would be why we didn’t get a Christmas letter out that year, either. December 2008, we were just lazy.

By the way, during the approximately eight-month renovation period, we lived in the home of two dear friends whom we can attest to be, literally, long-suffering, as we were there when the suffering took place. What a blessing it was to be taken in, and an even greater blessing to not be kicked out as we repeated, each month, at first delusionally, then despairingly, “we’ll be ready to move in next month.”

The year 2009 has been dull and, given the interesting times with which we have been blessed and/or cursed the preceding three years, blissfully so. We’ve expanded a garden, done a bit of house repair, made only one trip to the ER, and otherwise just muddled about. We’re healthy (most of the time, except when the children infect us with something, which is not infrequently), we think of you and the many other people who have blessed our lives (except when the children are fighting, or singing raucously, or otherwise inflicting chaos, when we just hide in our bedroom in a fetal position), and we hope you and your loved ones are well. Given our wretched failures in regular correspondence, we shouldn’t dare to say this, but we are shameless and so humbly request: please stay in touch.

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