Every so often I like to do a little reality check here on the blog. Recently I have come across multiple instances in a variety of setting where a mom expresses how the disconnect between what is posted by someone online either makes that mom feel exceedingly depressed because she doesn't measure up, or exceedingly irate because she knows the reality is not matching the persona. Fakebooking was a term used more than once. There is also an adoption disruption that is causing some concern in the adoption world, and once again, adoptive parents are wondering how to prepare prospective adoptive parents for the reality of adoption. If people really understood what they were getting into, would it make a difference?
As an adoptive mom who shares about her family, I find it a tricky tightrope to walk sometimes, this need for honesty while at the same time protecting my children and seeing life from different angles. I may not write about the hard all the time. Does that mean it is not there or that we have not experienced it? Hardly. Because of their hard past, our adopted children face challenges that are sometimes unimaginable. Trying to navigate life while healing from past hurts is hard. It is hard for the family; it is hard for the child. It is just the way it is.
I will sometimes be more specific about some of those challenges, mainly if I feel the information will help other parents. But there is so much more that I do not share or write about. Those stories, while they certainly impact my life, are not my stories to share. Just because I do not share them, does not mean they don't exist. If I focus on the lovelier aspects of our family's life, it is not because of wanting to hide the hard, but because I don't want to focus on it to the exclusion of all else.
What I really want to share is possibly one of the biggest lessons I've learned from parenting a lot of children: Things can be both hard and good all at the same time. When I was a younger mother, I had it in my head that for things to be good, fun, wonderful, that every aspect of them had to be just as I imagined it to be. There could be nothing to mar the moment, or that moment ceased to be good. I put untold stress on myself trying to make things perfect, or as close as I could get them. There was always a lingering fear, though, that something would come along and ruin it.
I have come a long, long way from there. It was a difficult path, filled with a lot of imperfection, not the least of which was my own. There has been a lot of hurt, a lot of fear, a lot of anger, and in some seasons not a whole lot of joy. When you have the perspective that everything needs to be just right in order for it to have any value, then in extremely difficult seasons, you will not see the good.
Yet is was there all along. Things in this world we live in are neither all bad or all good. People are just too complicated for that. It's actually how the entire world is. A world created by a loving God and called good, yet fallen and sinful. Everything is there all at once, all the time while we are on this earth.
This is what I come back to time and again in this season of my life. There is hard, some of it very, very hard. Hard to a degree which you will never be able to read about because it is not something that I can share. Yet at the same time, there has been great joy. Amazing joy and hope to the degree that I hardly dared to dream possible. It has all existed all at the same time, side by side, so obviously that even I couldn't miss it. And as I look back, this has been true all along. Joy and sorrow are not two different emotions to be experienced separately, at the exclusion of one another, but they exist concurrently. In hurt and pain, somewhere there is also something good to be enjoyed, and at the same time, there is also a tinge of sorrow and pain even at the most joyful moments of life.
Life is bittersweet.
No one ends up with anything more. No one ends ups with anything less. Assume that what people choose to show you is just a fraction of their existence. They do not have a perfect life, even if that is all they are willing to show you. Outside the frame of the camera lens are piles of laundry, cranky children, bad days, and great fear and sorrow. Just like you. Just like me.
The more children you add, the more people in your life whom you care about, the messier life is. The less you are able to control. They each bring their own pain and fear and complications. They might be difficult to love sometimes. By accepting them into your life, you open yourself up to the possibilities of more pain, but you also open yourself up for the possibilities of greater joy.
With some significant time spent with my best friend Amazon on Wednesday night, combined with some power shopping yesterday morning, I do believe that I will be able to pull off Christmas this year. There are still, of course, some odds and ends, but for the most part I am done.
How did anyone ever manage to be ready for Christmas without 2-day shipping? I know I did, I just don't know how.
As I've mentioned before, D. has become enamored of physics. Quantum physics to be exact. And like his mother, when D. is interested in something, he reads and researches voraciously on his chosen subject. All this to say, he has been reading a lot of books about quantum physics recently. And like his mother, when he has read something really interesting (to him), he wants to talk about it. Which is why I found myself a captive audience while I was doing laundry earlier this week (no fool, that D.) as he expounded on the various theories of multiple and infinite universes. I believe I had become a plumber in one of his examples. After all of this, he turns to me and asks, "Did you get any of that?" I think I have yet to convince him that ability and interest are really not equivalent.
Along the same lines, when I asked D. if there was anything on his Christmas wish list I should know about, he shows me a picture of Nuclear Element Soap bars, but then mutters that he's not sure he really wants them.
The hand sewing continues apace. The very large stack of felt has been nearly used up, with five people making animals, blankets, shirts, pillows, etc. My DMC floss collection will never be quite the same. L. has even ventured into repair work, having sewed up every small hole which the stuffed animal collection happened to have. I will admit to being more than a little thrilled at this particular turn of event. The disaster in the play loft of scraps of felt and thread, thrills me a little less.
TM won the cool big brother award yesterday. L. was a little less than thrilled when I had to leave to take P. to her riding lesson and D. to the library. I offered to let her ride along, but she was a wee bit past the point of reason and didn't want to. As I was running out the door, I suggested to TM that he might want to get some chocolate chips or something out for distraction purposes. Instead, when I got home, he had rounded up the troops and let them help him bake some M&M cookies (from his own M&M stash) with him, and things we were well.
P. has finished her first semester of her first college level class, and thinks she did pretty darn well.
I don't think I can use my tamale pot again until we replace the sink in the kitchen. The pot is so huge and the sink is so small that it is very difficult to wash. J. has measured and believes that the sink I bought last spring will actually fit in the space, but being cast iron, he will first have to figure out how to support the thing so it doesn't come crashing down. I cannot tell you how excited I will be to finally have a sink my large pots and cookware will fit in.
A friend sent a picture of one of the stained glass windows in our old church. I do miss them.
It would seem I need new hiking boots, or some type of shoe good for cold and light snow. I took Kenzie on a walk in the forest preserve earlier this week, and because it seemed damp and wet and cold, put on my 20+ year old hiking boots. My feet were pretty soaked by the time I even reached the preserve. The seams have all opened up and definitely let water in. I guess in boots so old that is to be expected. I have heavy winter boots, good for feet of snow, but don't really want to lug those around on my feet if I don't really need them. It's too bad things don't last forever.
You know that scene in the movie, It's a Wonderful Life, where George Bailey comes home, and among other things, one of his children is practicing Christmas carols on the piano over and over over? I feel as though I live in that scene for hours every day. I'm not really complaining, because I'm thrilled my children are enjoying playing the piano. It's just so constant. One child will stop and move on, and another child will sit down. I can usually tell who is playing by what and how they are playing. H. has even gotten in on it. The lure of Christmas carols has pushed her farther than anything I could have done on purpose. She is also farther than I thought she would be at this point. Her rhythm still needs some work, but she is getting the notes. It truly is a wonderful life... if loud.
TM has completed several art classes this fall, and just finished another this past week. I love this painting that he made this time.
And with that, I will wish you a happy Friday. Everyone take a deep breath, and remember the reason we do all the stuff we do at Christmas time, is because it is supposed to fun and enjoyable. If it's not, take a look at it, and figure out if it really needs to be done.
Life with R. remains challenging. When I write that, I realize that challenging can encompass many ideas and degrees of difficulty. It feels a little disingenuous to even say she is challenging, because really for many hours of the day she is no trouble at all. (Of course there are some periods of time where her anxiety is totally ramped up, usually at 2 am, and then yes, it is challenging in all aspects of the word.) But it is this no trouble at all-thing which is so very difficult. You see, the reason she is no trouble is because she is perfectly content to sit on the couch and stare. Or sit at the table and do the same activity, over and over and over and over, for hours without a peep or comment. She can stand and watch me do things for hours without any desire to do something on her own. (This last is far more annoying than troublesome.) I think you get what I'm saying. It is not normal for a child to spend hours doing absolutely nothing and not complaining about it.
It is sort of the parental fantasy, isn't it? The child who never asks for anything or causes any fuss and just sits quietly. I would give you a couple of days with a child like that, and I guarantee by the end of the week you would be clamoring for the loud, engaged, messy, and yes, sometimes bored children you are used to. Actually, if I am honest, the three or four hours she will do this in the afternoon is a step forward from when she first came home and would do this all day, every day. I have to take the forward progress where I can find it.
I think, though, we have solved a little, tiny bit of this ongoing problem. At least it worked today for a bit, and I'm willing to give it another shot tomorrow. We have this large exercise ball, the kind you can sit on, that somehow made the move, and has been causing me to issue vague threats ever since. Sometimes it comes sailing down the stairs, no one seems to know how, with the last time breaking a bowl on the coffee table. It very nearly became garbage right then and there. I'm glad I was too tired to do something about after cleaning up all the glass, because it has come in useful. One of R.'s many challenges is her lack of proprioception (where her body is in space) combined with extremely low core muscles. While both are slowly improving, I'm always on the lookout for more ways to challenge her.
It occurred to J. and I, that perhaps sitting on the ball while doing some of her favorite table activities would be the key to stopping her disassociation in its tracks. (And that's what she is doing as she sits staring or doing the same activity over and over, just sheer disassociation. She's not there.) I noticed that when I make her sit on the floor and play, she cannot disassociate. R. hates sitting on the floor because it is not overly comfortable for her (I won't let her 'W' sit), and because it is not comfortable she cannot disassociate. I think it is because she cannot space out that makes her dislike it so. I do make sure she gets as much floor play as I can get out of her throughout the day. What if sitting on the exercise ball at the table had the same effect?
Well, today R. wanted to play with her beads. Now, normally this would be an activity that I would heartily endorse at all times, because she likes to use a small spoon to scoop beads back and forth into different containers. It has a lot going for it. But, she will use it to lull her brain into nothingness, which ends up being the opposite of helpful. I have to limit her bead play very carefully, and to stop it before she begins using it as a crutch. She was more than happy to sit on the ball today if it meant that she got to play with beads. She can actually balance on the ball better than I expected, and didn't fall off, which I was a little fearful of. What was most interesting to me though, was after about 15 to 20 minutes of playing with beads, she packed them up and announced she was done. She has never done that before. I have always been the one to decide the bead play was finished. Even better, she had an idea of what she wanted to play with next. It was a wooden puzzle she enjoys, and I agreed, but once again she had to sit on the ball. Happy with her puzzle, she did just that. Once again, after about 10 to 15 minutes, when she had done the puzzle, she brought it to me and announced she was done.
I know it seems a little crazy that I want to limit her engagement with toys, but a 15 - 20 minute attention span seems far more appropriate for her current intellectual age. It means that she engages with more things throughout the day, and she spends less time disassociating. To me this is huge. I have always felt that until we can keep R. present and engaged with her surroundings for the whole day, we cannot hope to make any sort of progress. The appeal of not having to feel anything is always greater than engaging and learning new things, which we all know can be difficult at times.
We'll see what tomorrow brings, but anything that stops the disassociation which she is happy to comply with is a win in my book.
Yesterday was tamale day. Well, it was actually tamale day #2, but my sister-in-law and I put them together. (I promise, this is the last post about tamales, at least for a year.) My new tamale steamer was a huge success, though I had to get out my canner as well because we made a few bit more than I thought we would. Quite a few more it turns out. I had thought we might get ~120 and fill up my new steamer. We actually ended up with 263 tamales. D. and I ended up finishing putting together the last few at the end of the afternoon. Satisfyingly, we managed to make the masa and the fillings come out even.
After I had saved enough to give to my sister-in-law (who had to go home before they were all cooked), and after every person had eaten as much as they possibly could for dinner, I still filled a huge container for eating throughout the week for lunch as well as two a half gallon freezer bags which are now in the freezer.
I love tamales. I love getting to visit with family and friends while they are being made. I love being able to offer my family something they enjoy and that I don't have to limit how many they can have. And I love that it is only once a year.
Today was tamale preparation day. Tomorrow my sister-in-law is joining me and we will spend a good chunk of the day making tamales... I'm hoping to get at least 120. But in order to spend the day making tamales, I had to spend today getting ready to make tamales. (There's a reason this only happens once a year!)
So far today I've poached two chickens, so I could make broth for the masa and to make the green chili chicken filling. I've also boiled and soaked so many chiles that my sinuses may never be the same. I'm all done except for the red chili and pork combination that is currently slow cooking in my oven.
So many chiles. There were also fresh jalepeno and Anaheim chiles.
It's not a great picture, but this is the finished chicken and green chili filling.
Broth for masa.
Pork and red chili sauce. That sauce is thick and is made from 18+ chiles.
But really what I want to tell you about are the terribly fierce guard dogs which live in our house. Kenzie has always been a bit territorial, which I really appreciate when I'm home alone at night. He can sound incredibly fierce. Olive likes to copy whatever Kenzie does. She also is extremely protective of A. No one should ever try to get between Olive and her person in a threatening manner, because I cannot guarantee what would happen. Both dogs have big barks that sound a little scary if you don't know them.
It's nice the dogs love their people. It's nice to be protected. (I think.) It's certainly loud sometimes. It's also nice to be alerted to someone in the drive or in the yard. When the dogs do start in on their crazy barking, I will always check on what's going on. Sometimes it's just a dog from next door, but other times it is someone who has come up the drive. It's good to be aware of these things.
Well, today, in the middle of the cooking, both dogs start going berserk. Their hackles are up and they are not sounding at all friendly. The barking just does not stop, and I think they both would have gone through the glass of the doors if they could have figured out how. People start heading towards the windows thinking it must be something terribly serious out there. To hear the dogs, you would not have been out of line to think that indeed the zombie apocalypse had begun right in our very own yard. I like to have some warning before the zombies arrive, so I start to look out the window at what is causing the dogs such major distress.
I look. And I look. And finally I spot what is so very dangerous and distressing. What is this thing that is causing the dogs to act like wild slathering beasts, as they bark and bark and bark next to their friend the quail?
Today was the day my two friends and I drove an hour south of me to pick-up our bulk orders. I now have 50 more pounds of oats, 50 more pounds of wheat berries, plus other necessary things such as salt, sugar, cocoa powder, and the like. Oh, and I picked up another large food grade storage bucket, because we needed to have a place to store the game bird feed for Q. This amused my friends enormously. It actually amuses me enormously as well, though I'm the one who has to figure out where to store another bucket. (It's more difficult in this kitchen. In my kitchen in the Big Ugly House, I had designed the pantry to accommodate my dozen plus buckets.)
While being able to buy in bulk is helpful, what we really look forward to is going to pick it up. This is because it means several hours in the car (without children) and uninterrupted time to catch up with each other. And because we leave in the morning, there is no way we could get home without also having lunch as well.
Today was even better since we added in a little thrift store shopping. Elburn has a great thrift store that I have become a frequent visitor at. My friends also really appreciate a good thrift store, so we had to go. I scored a couple of very nice scarves for 69 cents each. I also picked up a couple of small Christmas gifts.
But most of all, it's just a giant excuse to spend some time together. Between us we have 28 children. While a good half of these children are grown, it is still a bit difficult for us to find time to see each other during the course of our ordinary days. Me moving an hour and a half away has not helped the situation, either. So twice a year, we use the bulk order pick-up as an excuse to clear our schedules and spend time together. We've been doing this for well over eight years, possibly a lot more, I lose track. It has becomes a sort of sacred time in all of our calendars. Not all of us can make it all the time, but for the most part, we do our best to make it work. Really the only downside is that the fourth member of our twice yearly bulk food excursion team (the H-S mom) moved and cannot join us. I really don't know why she doesn't want to come to Illinois from the west coast to purchase her oats!
So now I'm stocked up again, both on food and time with friends. Once we figure out the snow clearing situation for our drive, it can feel free to snow with abandon.
I don't know about what is happening in your house, but in mine, children feel the need to constantly give me the number of day (or house, depending on the child) until Christmas. I do not find this relaxing. Besides the constant reminders that Christmas is coming, here are some things that have happened here this week.
There is a midweek program at our new church that G., L., and Y. have been loving. This past week was shopping week, where they got to redeem the stickers they had been earning for doing things such as memorizing Scripture and such. In some ways, Christmas came early for these three. Two nights before the actual event, L. announced that she was not sleeping well, because she was excited about shopping night. That gives you sense of the level of excitement these girls had about it. I hoped it lived up to their expectations. I think it did, because today was kind of a bust with the left over excitement. It was sweet in that not only did they find things for themselves, but they each collected things for each other as well. All those annoying tchotchkes I worked to hard to divest ourselves of before the move? Well, it was for nought. But the masses are happy.
The girls loves the program so much that they also spend all of Wednesday making Christmas cards for their leaders. Y. let me take a picture of the card she made. For the record, I helped her spell 'merry', 'is', and 'you'. Not bad for not quite two years home, huh?
And a close-up of the words.
After 20 years of homeschooling, I think I'm just going to have to accept the fact that we become unschoolers for the month of December.
When A. was a life guard her first year, all of the old enough guards all went sky diving together. Yes, A. went to. She was looking at the disk on my computer and put a picture on my desktop so she could send it to herself. I feel as though that makes it fair game to share, don't you?
I have set up a wrapping station in my room so I can try to wrap gifts as I get them. So far, I have wrapped zero gifts, but the youngest girls have wrapped what looks to be 100. I have managed to stop some of it, but other times, they get past me. It seems they see this not only as a fun activity using paper and tape, but also a way to clean out their rooms of unwanted things and getting credit for giving those things to someone else. So for my older children reading this, I have no idea at all what is in the possible dozen extra gifts you will all get to unwrap on Christmas morning. Please act surprised. And happy. A lot of tape went into the wrapping of those gifts.
Olive is now well over 60 pounds and is quite tall. Tall enough that we realized that Kenzie looks rather short and stocky. He used to be a big dog, but not anymore.
G. was riding in the car with me somewhere this past week, when she asked me, "What is your favorite thing about Christmas? I think my favorite thing is having everyone all together and happy." She can be the sweetest thing.
Of course, the above is tempered by this. At the shopping night G. bought herself a large plastic play knife and the girls gave K. a set of hand-cuffs. When I go to pick them up from their art class, I realized that K. was hand-cuffing himself and G. was waving her plastic knife around in the art studio while they waited for me to get there. I have now made the rule that toys are not to be taken to art class.
We finished up Peru this past week, and flew home. Everyone decided that it would be nicer to be home for Christmas. We may make a very brief trip to Easter Island before the holiday if time allows... and I get myself organized.
L. has taken her hand sewing up a level, and is now starting to create clothes for her stuffed animals. I think I am going to have to lay in another supply of felt, as the first supply is quickly dwindling.
Tomorrow is bulk order pick-up day. What excited me most about this is getting to see friends I don't get to see often enough these days.
If you don't recognize that line in the title, it's from Proverbs 31:25b, talking about the excellent wife. I find it to be a Biblical passage that many women have very mixed feelings about, myself included. It's a great thing to try to live up to, but, geez, can anyone? Instead of inspiring, I feat it too often becomes demoralizing. But that's not really why I'm bringing it up today.
What I want to discuss is the idea of the excellent wife laughing. I don't know about you, but I have always found the line to feel a little incongruent. I mean, here you have this woman who is so good at so many things. She doesn't waste time, she gets up before dawn, she stays up late at night, working, working, working. I always picture her if not actually frowning, at least looking stern. Relaxed and laughing just doesn't seem to fit a woman who is never idle. Has anyone else felt this way about this verse?
Then today, a friend posted a quote from Martin Luther which I had never heard before.
"You have as much laughter as you have faith."
This struck me rather forcefully, and immediately called to mind the excellent wife. At least for me, it made that line about laughter suddenly make a lot more sense. Not only was the excellent wife productive and capable, it also says she was wise and kind. Wisdom in the Biblical sense is knowing and fearing God. She must have had great faith. And if Martin Luther is correct, then with great faith comes great laughter. Of course she laughed.
And of course she laughed at the time to come; the future. Think about it, our fear is more often than not rooted in what the future holds. Unless we are in a terribly dire situation where we are fearful in that moment, the rest of our fear is all about imagined possibilities of the future. I am the queen of this. I can go from normal to panicked in about three seconds just from misusing my imagination. Since very few of these imaginings ever actually come about, no matter how very possible they feel in the moment, that's a lot of energy spent on absolutely nothing. And when we are fearful (about the future), that usually makes us less than pleasant people to be around. I know I'm not a lot of fun when I'm busy convincing myself the sky is about to fall. I'm certainly not laughing.
On the face of it, it doesn't seem as though it would be a faith issue, but it is. I may say that I believe that God's in charge, that all things work together for an ultimate good, but my actions reveal otherwise. If I truly believe that God has my best interest at heart, then why do I spend far too much time being fearful about what is to come? What is even crazier about all this is that I have story after story after story of how God has repeatedly proved His faithfulness to me time and again.
What if we really lived in a way that reflected what we said we believed. That things may not turn out as expected; that God may ask us to go through some hard stuff; but through all of it, God is with us, and ultimately things are going to turn out for the best. God really does have our back. What if we believed this to the extent that we lived like it.
It would be joyful. We don't have to worry about things because God is taking care of it. The burden of fear and worry could be lifted off our shoulders. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. If we truly believed this and lived it, we would laugh. It would come bubbling out of us for the sheer joy of it all. There really should never be such a thing as a dour and overly serious Christian, because truly believing in what God has promised us would make us into the exact opposite. We are to be joyful. Joyful people laugh.
Does this mean we won't ever be sad or disappointed or angry? No, of course not. Life, while still in God's hands, is also being lived in a fallen world and we cannot escape these things. But after the hard, we are promised joy. I also have been learning that even through the hard and painful parts of life, there are still joyful parts of it to be found, living side by side. This side of Heaven, joy and sorrow live side by side, and the older I get, the more I experience both of these things happening at the same time.
We know the end of the story, though. We don't have to wonder or fear. The best really is yet to come. And for that we can laugh. We can laugh like young children living in a secure and loving family, because in God's eyes, that is exactly what we are.
I know I've written about this before, but it is lost somewhere in the bowels of the blog, and may never see the light of day again. A conversation on a social media venue made me remember it, so I'll revisit it.
I have learned that my (or anyone else's) decision to homeschool can feel threatening to others. Here's why:
Other mom: Where do your kids go to school?
Me: Oh, we homeschool.
What the other mom hears: I have chosen the more responsible and valuable option for educating my children. It is because I am so much more patient and able than other mothers who send their child off to be educated by someone else. I must love my children more than you love yours.
What I meant: I homeschool my children.
Yes, I happen to think that I have made the best decision FOR MY FAMILY. If I didn't think this, there were not be much basis to continue or on those hard days when I wonder what the heck I was thinking. Trust me when I say that I have enough on my plate with my own children to give even half a thought to how you choose to educate yours. When I say I homeschool my children, it is a mere statement of fact, and not in any way a value judgement against you, the public school parent.
The trouble can come when a parent is sharing about difficulties their child is having in school. Not only have I jumped off the traditional schooling path a long time ago, but the path is so far away from where I currently am, that I wonder why someone puts up with a child having such severe issues with the school system. When you see one way of educating a child as just that, one option out of several, than it becomes easier to see the problem as that particular path and not with the child. I know I am not the only one to see things this way, though others are often a little quicker to throw out the homeschooling life preserver. I guess I should add, 'out loud,' because I will admit to thinking it.
I realize that not everyone can homeschool. If you are working, it makes it extremely difficult. I also realize that not everyone wants to, and that's just fine, too. But remember, just because I say that we are homeschoolers does not mean anything more than that. And if a parent shares that their child is struggling with the school, and a homeschooling parent suggests that homeschooling might help, it is not thrown out there as some kind of magic bullet, but because that parent has found something positive in homeschooling and feels it would be wrong to not share what was working for them, with someone who is struggling.
People seem to me to be so very touchy these days. It's almost as if we have lost the ability to understand that we are all different and will choose different ways to do things. That one person's choice doesn't really have any bearing on another's. In my many discussions with people about homeschooling, I have found that the people who have the most difficulty with it are those who have not spent a lot of time thinking about why they are on the path that they are. It's almost as if my choosing something different than the standard, accepted path causes too much cognitive dissonance in the other person. There's nothing like realizing you had a choice, but didn't realize it until after you had de facto made one. Interestingly, these are also the same people who then assume to know exactly what homeschooling looks like. The subsequent conversations then tend to be frustrating all the way around.
So, just in case you missed my main point, if someone says to you that they homeschool, and you do not, that other person is making no judgement on you, but merely stating a fact. This would seem a simple thing to grasp, but the evidence in the several social media venues I've seen recently would indicate otherwise.
M. and I have this conversation fairly frequently, that is, we each have so many things on our want-to-do lists that we just don't know how we will ever fit it all in in our lifetimes. It can be frustrating. There are so many things to do, and really, so little time. Here's some of my list at the moment, though it is subject to constant change. The trouble comes that I do a lot more adding than subtracting. I also realize my list takes on a rather stream of consciousness hue.
Do more sewing... get a dress form and really figure out how to sew for myself, make more of the children's clothes, etc. etc.
Make more quilts
Make more crochet and knit projects... I really want to make a ripple stitch afghan
Continue to hone my spinning skills... I would love to have some fleeces to spin
Raise sheep, so I have those fleeces (plus, they're cute)
Learn to do dying (of fleece)
Get my riding skills back up to where they were... and I would love to add endurance riding into the mix
Learn to drive horses
Learn more about equine therapy... possibly getting certified (or whatever one does)
Go back to school and get my doctorate in educational psychology
Spend more time learning about nueroscience
Spend more time working on learning French and Mandarin... so that I can move on to Italian and Vietnamese (I should probably have written, "Become a polyglot")
Spend more time writing... trying my hand at fiction?
Write a book or two
Practice doing more book making/binding
Read more books
Play the piano more
Learn to play mandoline
Learn to play hammered dulcimer
Do more baking
Learn how to do those cool decorated cookies using color flow icing
Do more embroidery
Learn more about gardening
I'm sure I could keep going, but you get the idea. I flit from thing to thing, depending on my mood and schedule. I've always been like this, and often had the "Jack of all trades, master of none" line told to me. M., my Jack of all Trades child, did a little searching and discovered this line didn't use to be as derogatory as current usage has made it. The whole thing is,
"Jack of all trades, master of none
though oftentimes better than master of one."
That is so much nicer, isn't it? Still there are just too many interesting things in the world to do and learn and explore, I just don't get it when people say that they're bored.
Having a family party with lots of treats, some friends, and getting the tree decorated and decorations all put up has become a family tradition around here. It gets a little trickier as people get older and have different schedules. A. missed a lot of it because of work, which didn't make any of us happy. She was there at the beginning and very end, though.
Before we could start in on the party, we first needed a family photo. I may do this every year. Get everyone home from church, and while they are still in their dress clothes, hold lunch and comfortable clothing hostage until the photo is taken. We actually got several good ones to choose from this year. I rather remarkable feat considering there were 14 people and 2 dogs. (We decided that adding the cats and quail would be a near impossibility.) Here is one of the out-takes which cracks me up. The odd perspective makes it look as though it is "Family picture with giant dog in front". What I do like is that you can see the side of the house so nicely.
And then it was time for the party... and food. We also had M.'s roommate who has now joined us for probably more than four years, and another family friend. In a rare instance of not being long-winded, I'm just going to share some of the many pictures and not say anything. I think it's pretty evident what is going on. I took some, D. took some, and TM took some.
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