A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

A Word On Current Events

Two things happened at the end of May/beginning of June.  The story of the death of George Floyd went viral, and one of the libraries in town opened for curbside pickup.  

Here's my facebook post from 6/2:  "I don’t consider myself a feminist, but I can acknowledge that I benefit from the work of feminists that came before me. In the same way, while I don’t consider myself a racist, I can acknowledge that I am part of the privileged class in the race situation. Instead of sharing divisive memes, or opining on a subject I’m not qualified to discuss, I’m taking this opportunity to learn more. I’m listening to Black voices as I sew. I’m reading Hidden Figures, which has been sitting on my nightstand for way too long. And I’m watching America’s Long Struggle Against Racism (Great Courses +) to better understand how we, as a nation, got here.

There’s a saying in the adoption world, “Hurting people hurt people.” We can easily understand the trauma that kids from hard places have, and why it makes them act out. We understand that an orphanage is less than ideal for babies and children. Can we not also admit that the Black experience in the United States today is also less than ideal and extend them the same grace?"

I'm realizing that I have a long way to go.  True confession?  In 19 years of homeschooling, we never did anything for Black History Month.  My excuse is the epitome of white privilege:  That doesn't really apply to us.  I'm sorry.  

So now we're learning.  I put 46 books on hold, covering the Tuskegee Airmen, the Underground Railroad, the Civil Rights Movement, and a variety of other Black History topics.  The first 12 books are here.  Jack, Hannah, Katie, and I are reading and absorbing.  

As a mom, I feel for moms (of all races) who are raising Black children, and especially Black sons.  I have 3 sons serving in the military, but I don't fear for their lives every time they leave the house.  I can't even imagine.

As Maya Angelo says, "When we know better, we do better."  Let's take this time to get to know.  To learn and understand better.  So we can do better.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

June Update

June.  Did we really think that 2020 would still be such a disaster in June?  I know I didn't.  Crazy.  Much like Grumman here, we've been doing a lot of laying around. 

I'm really pleased with how well Grumman eventually came around to the foster kittens.  Gives me hope that maybe next time will go even better.  I'm secretly hoping to eventually find him a sibling.  I think I want another long haired cat.  I love Grummy's floof.

Murphy, chewing on the plot of a cozy mystery... ironically enough, this book has a black & white cat on the cover.

 I fell in love with his Neapolitan paw pads, and his sweet purrsonality.

But all good things must come to an end, right?  Our foster kittens got big, and the time came for them to go back to SPCA for surgery and adoption. 

Eli's room got emptied out when he left in March.  We sort of restocked it a little to accommodate one of the adult children coming back home for a bit.

Paul built a bed, using a set of drawers we had in the garage.  I decided to donate my quilt to the guest room and update the bedspread in my room.  It's been almost 9 years.

Grumman gets a little weirded out by change, but he wasted no time in making himself at home on the new bedspread, once it was finally on, which was no easy feat, due to his "help."

I've ventured out to a little healthy grocery store that requires masks, as I feel more comfortable there than our regular, high volume, masks optional, grocery store.  In doing so, of course, I've discovered a few new foods.  They have pre-marinated, boneless chicken thighs.  This was the second flavor we tried, Baja, and these lil tacos were uh-mazing.  I cooked the meat in the instant pot until it was fork shred-able, and then we put it on a jelly roll pan and toasted it a little in the oven on broil.  Yumalicious.  Honestly, I'm not much of a cook.  Paul cooks fairly often, and Josiah does dinner semi regularly.  I'm more of a "defrost" than a cook.  But I made a mixed grain thing recently that I really liked, too, so I'm feeling kind of inspired lately.  I also found a Mexican soup mix that I added chicken and black beans to that turned out pretty good. 

So, yeah.  This was my Memorial Day weekend coordinating mask & nails.  Actually, I didn't leave the house all weekend.  This was taken Tuesday, when I went to the dentist.  My March appointment got cancelled, and when they called to reschedule it, I decided to go ahead and go in, because I'd popped a crown off the week before.  Otherwise, I would have been fine waiting.  I was the very first patient in 6 weeks for my hygienist.  It was an interesting visit.  Some people are more germ conscious than others. 

A few months ago, I had the kids at the school make paracord bracelets for Operation Gratitude.  Eli sent me this picture of the little pouch of goodies that he got right before getting on the plane to go from basic training to tech school.  Made me happy to see, in a roundabout way, the organization that we blessed, blessing another one of my boys.  (Sam got a package from them a couple years back, which is how I heard about them in the first place.)  I'd like to have the girls do letters to put into care packages. 

This pretty much sums up how Jack is spending his time.  Video games, Disney +, and peanut butter.  Aside from no school work, summer quarantine feels a lot like school year quarantine. 

Josiah did an art project with the girls.

Glitter pictures.

This was Josiah's hamburger.  Funny story.  After they were done, Josiah threw the glitter out the back door instead of pouring it into the trash.  Grumman likes to go out on the patio and roll a few times.  Let's just say, he had an extra sparkly personality that day. 

I was called into the girls' room, and greeted by a massive pile of stuffed animals. 

And then it moved!

The girls thought this was hilarious, and proceeded to bury Josiah in animals, too. 

I have more to share, but I better cut this off before it ends up being a mile long.  If you made it this far, whew!  :)  Stay safe out there. 

Thursday, June 4, 2020

The Heart of a Hero - book review

Reading offers an escape from the COVID-crazy, upside down-ness of the world around us right now.  If you're looking for that escape, might I suggest The Heart of a Hero, the latest release from Susan May Warren? 

The Heart of a Hero takes you on a wild, heart-stopping adventure from the sailboat mishap beginning, to the "Omigosh, what happens next?" ending.  But the majority of the book is set in a hurricane.  I don't want to give too much away, but suffice it to say, this fast paced story is hard to set down.   

As usual with a Susan May Warren book, the cast of characters is varied and complex.  From main characters Jake and Aria, to the interesting supporting players like Aggie, a traumatized child whose father didn't know she existed, and a motley band of stragglers who shelter together out of necessity until the storm passes. 

I like the way the author combines romance and adventure with plenty of factual "local color."  For example, I know nothing about sailing, but the vivid explanations of the sailing scene in the first chapter make it so much more real.  Bits of the story take place around the world, and she infuses so much reality into these that you can almost see the sun sparkle on the Mediterranean, or feel the cold of a perilous Alaskan rescue. 

The Heart of a Hero is book 2 of Susan's Global Search and Rescue series.  Book 1 is The Way of the Brave, which I immediately placed on my wish list upon finishing The Heart of a Hero. 

The Heart of a Hero is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christianbook, IndieBound, and Baker Book House

Monday, May 25, 2020

Foster Kittens and Face Masks

I've been keeping track of my mask production in a composition book, and I did some counting yesterday and discovered I've made 363 masks, with more cut out, and I've given at least 60 away. 

(Sam and Annaliese's masks were made by me.  Eli's mask was not made by me, but I have sent him a couple, now that he has a new address.)

I love the horrified look on Grumman's face in this picture. 

This is Tobias/Toby.

And this is Murphy. 

They're staying with us for a couple weeks until they can get altered and adopted. 

It has been a sweet and welcome distraction to have baby kitties in the house again.

Although, when my lap is the nap location, I'm obligated to sit still until they're done napping, so I'm not getting all that much accomplished. 

I'm more or less okay with that.  These guys have had their issues.  We're doing eye drops twice a day, and they just finished a round of antibiotics, but surprisingly Grumman has come around to the idea of them being here.  He was totally freaked out by the kitten we fostered last year, so this is good progress.  He's been sparring with them, and I even noticed a little social grooming.  I don't think we'll see them napping in a pile by the time they leave this week, but it gives me hope that Grumman may not have to be an only child forever. 

So, now that we're no longer matching lipstick and nail polish (not that I ever was, really), how about matching your face mask to your shoes?  Grumman had to get in the shot to see/sniff what I was up to.  Notice the kitten scratches on my foot?  My legs pretty much look like that from the knee down. 

We're getting really close to the end of the school year.  Katie's math assignments this week were "play a math game."  So I had her do online drills (xtramath.com) and use geometry and spacial reasoning skills to fit the pattern blocks into the hexagon tray one day...

...and the triangle tray another day.

Photo from Zach.  They're settling in to their new place, and the boys went fishing and Brayden caught a fish!

Eli made it through a weird COVID version of boot camp.  He's now an Airman!  Proud of my boy, but missing him, as well.  Very disappointed that we weren't allowed the graduation experience that we had with Zach when he became an Airman.  But he's healthy, and waiting to start tech school, and I hear from him more often now that he has his phone back. 

Remember our twin visitors from a couple years back?  Well, times are hard for their family, so I cleaned out the girls' closet and took them over 3 bags of clothes to replace a load of mildewed laundry.  On a slightly related note, I took 2 loads of baby/kid clothing/supplies to our crisis pregnancy center, since they're one of the only organizations in the area accepting donations right now.  Most of this was stuff I'd been hanging on to since the twins left, "just in case" Paul changed his mind about fostering.  I let it go because 1) that doesn't seem to be happening, and 2) I'd rather have someone be able to use those things than have them sit here and make me sad. 

With all the crazy guidelines being floated about school for the fall, we're still contemplating what The Plan will be for our students.  I'm open to homeschooling, as I know it would be far easier than the "distance learning" nonsense we've done the last couple months.  We'll see! 

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Hiking The Grand Mesa

Anyone else really bummed about the libraries being closed for quarantine?  I miss easy access to books.  So I was thrilled when the opportunity came for us to review Hiking the Grand Mesa!

I asked Katie to tell me about the book, and she said, "At first, Cooper was sad because he couldn't see his friends and family," and I thought to myself, wow, that's really relatable these days.  "But then, they explored, and had an adventure, and it was really fun."

Although Amazon lists Hiking the Grand Mesa for ages 5-7, older children will enjoy it, too.  The vocabulary is challenging, and there are lots of words to each 2 page spread. 

Even though we may not be able to travel to distant places physically right now, we can still visit them in books like Hiking the Grand Mesa.

Join Clementine on a Desert Adventure in the Colorado Dobies! 

Join Coover, Conrad and their mighty dog, Clementine, as they explore one of the most unique landscapes in southern Colorado--the Grand Mesa! Their grandma takes them to the Dobies, a series of steep hills made from adobe clay that formed as the nearby volcanoes, now extinct, eroded. At first, Coover feels a little sad and lonely, but as he is introduced to the rich wildlife--from woodpeckers to toads, cattails and sunflowers--he feels stronger and more confident. As both boys tramp through their imaginative journey, the vivid history and beautiful scenery awaken them to a new world full of possibility and friendship. By the end of the day, everyone is happily exhausted and ready for the next adventure!

"Barbara Torke's ebullient paintings set a joyful mood as two adventurous boys and their valiant dog explore the ecology of the Colorado Dobies, an emotional landscape that at first seems barren and solitary, but, as the boys learn, is full of life. The story is about how imagination and companionship defeat loneliness, and the beautiful illustrations provide the rich texture of a vibrant journey of friends learning how to thrive." --Sarah Treschl, Kurt Johnson award winning writer

"A fun and insightful adventure with vivid visual descriptions and language that engages and challenges readers--both young and old. The paintings leap off the pages and into your imagination. A poetic and visual treat!" --Marisa Donnelly, author of Somewhere On A Highway 

"Hiking the Grand Mesa comes to life in every sentence--brilliant images, constant movement and supportive interactions as the characters explore nature, enjoy each other's friendship and build upon shared imaginations. What a wonderful reading experience! You can share the adventure with everyone in your family, young and old!" --Steve Staley, professor, author and grandfather

Be sure to check out the first in the series -- Ice Breaking: The Adventures of Clementine the Rescue Dog

From Loving Healing Press www.LHPress.com

Available to buy from...

Page from Hiking the Grand Mesa: A Clementine the Rescue Dog Story by Kyle Torke and Barbara Torke
Ice Breaking: The Adventures of Clementine the Rescue Dog
Join Clementine on a Winter Adventure in the Great Outdoors! 

Clementine and her two boys set out for adventure on a snowy morning, mittens and imaginations in tow, and discover, among the many wonders revealed during a day outside, the miracles of cascading ice falls, a warren of rabbits, and golden fish in a frozen pond. When they return home, their imaginations are warm as a fireside!

"Ice Breaking brims with lively, engaging illustrations. I love a children's book with real art. Many modern children's books take shortcuts, but Ice Breaking is a book to keep on the coffee table to enjoy again and again." -- Markee Travis, Delta County librarian and artist

"Clementine the Rescue Dog steals the show from the humans during their fun romp, and she shows them how to climb the snowy banks of their imaginations. They delight, and you will enjoy their marvelous adventure!"" -- Steve Rabey, author of Star Struck and other books

"I love the softness portrayed in the illustrations. Clementine is incredibly expressive. The simple escapades of the children are enchanting and full of joy. What a pleasure to immerse ourselves in their play!" -- Carol McDermott, poet, teacher and school board member

"I am delighted to see Barbara Torke's humorous and expressive illustrations enhance the story of Clementine and her boys. The furry friends come alive in Barbara's creative hands: winter becomes welcoming and bright!" -- Maryellen Miller, artist, gallery owner and writer

From Loving Healing Press www.LHPress.com

Available to buy from...

About the Authors
KYLE TORKE: An adventure with children returns the adults in their company to a state of innocent wonder, and the transformative power of an alien landscape that forces us to look, really look at what is around us is a great joy. Grand Mesa is just such an adventure. As a writer, Kyle Torke hopes the best detail, the clear image, and the precise sentence will keep our eyes open as we read and then as we wander outside to see the world again-fresh now. He has published in every major genre (most recently a book of nonfiction, Tanning Season, as well as the first Clementine Adventure: Icebreaking!) and has taught at colleges and universities for nearly twenty-five years. He lives in Colorado with his family (wife Sarah and college-age sons Conrad, Coover, and Hunter and two canine friends, Nut and Bean). We encourage everyone to adopt from a rescue shelter and spay-neuter all pets! Take lots of walks and explore the world with children and dogs, our best guides.

You can also follow the author here...

BARBARA TORKE: A painting is a new lens on the world, a vitalized way of seeing the truth of flowers or people. We find our true emotions in the bursts of color and images that surface from our dreams and our daily interactions. Barbara Torke has been painting since she was a child on a farm on Colorado's Front Range, the great prairies. She studied art and education in college and has a BA and an MA. She taught art at the elementary school level for many years and now is a master teacher of other artists. Barbara lives on the Western Slope of Colorado, at the foot of Grand Mesa with her partner, Dale, and a bushel of cats. She has four children and five grandchildren, along with a multitude of dog friends and grandpets. She loves animals, camping, reading, swimming, and writing. Barbara is best known for her whimsical watercolors and pastels of dogs and pickup trucks. Learn more about Barbara's art at www.BarbaraTorkeArt.com.

You can also follow the author here...
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