Wednesday, August 30, 2017


It's only 9:30 a.m., and I already need a do-over on this day.  It started early, fighting with Sarah before school.  While Noah was at driver's ed, I had a couple errands to run.  I drove to Dollar Tree and parked before I remembered it doesn't open until 9:00.  So I drove to Kroger, parked, went to get my purse...realized it's in the other car.  I scrounged up all the loose change and emergency bills I could find, and counted a little more than five dollars.  Can't buy much with that, but I went in to see what I could do.  I ended up with enough marked-down items from the produce section that I could turn them into lunch: kale, mushrooms, and beets.  I had to put the apples back because I couldn't afford them.  I was too ashamed to go to the regular checkout lane with all my pennies and dimes, so I went to the U-Scan and fed them into the machine, which took a long time. 

After Noah's class, I decided to make zucchini muffins for breakfast while he started on his English lesson.  I poured hot water into a cookie sheet and put the muffin tin on top of that.  My plan was to bake the crud off the cookie sheet and also to keep the muffins moist while they baked.  I stupidly didn't open the oven door before I got to it with a pan that was stupidly too full of hot water.  I needed Noah to open the oven door but didn't want to disturb his adverb lesson, so I tried to balance the pan and do it myself.  I dropped it and spilled hot water all over myself and the floor.  After I cleaned all that up, the muffins were ready to go in the oven. The recipe said to bake them for 10 minutes.  After 30 minutes, they still weren't firming up, so I scooped them into bowls and told Noah we were having warm zucchini pudding for breakfast. 

The day is still young, so I'm hoping I can start doing things right and redeem the rest of it.

Monday, August 21, 2017


I arrived at the school ten minutes early, like I always do, to pick up Sarah.  I left home in a rush, wearing a big tshirt, flip flops, and shabby black pants covered in cat hair.  My hair was a disheveled mess, and I didn't smell great because I hadn't had a chance to take a shower yet.  I thought, "Good thing I won't see anyone."  You know already that this isn't going to go well, don't you?

The bell rang, and kids started flooding out the doors. I looked at each kid, but I didn't see mine.  After ten minutes, no more kids were emerging.  At first I was annoyed, because it was less than two hours till I had to drive her to gymnastics, and I still had to make dinner.  A few minutes later, all the kids had cleared out, and Sarah was nowhere in sight.  I knew they kept the doors locked and I wouldn't be able to get in and look for her.

I'm an educated person, but as I sat there staring at the locked-up building, I just couldn't think of what to do.  No ideas at all came into my head (in hindsight, I have several).  So I called Mike and said something intelligent like, "I can't find Sarah. What should I do?"  While he was still questioning me, a man in a suit came out of the school.  He looked important.  I hung up on Mike and lunged at Suit Man with my big shirt and cat hair pants flapping in the breeze.  I said something inspired like, "My daughter didn't come out. Can you help me?"  He asked me her name, and when I told him, he said, "I think I remember her being called to the library after school."  He took me to the library, and there she was.  The school had been having trouble getting her ipad set up for the past two days, so she had been called to the library to get it fixed.  She told me that Suit Man is the principal.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Day in the Life

6:23 a.m.--Alarms start going off.  People are getting up, eating breakfast, getting ready for school.
7:30 a.m.--Leaving for school. Praying a blessing over each student in the car.
7:40 a.m.--Dropping off Sarah at the junior high.  She gets out, steps boldly in front of the car in the other lane, and puts her hand up like a traffic cop.  The mom in the other car stops, and we smile at each other about Sarah.
7:45 a.m.--Dropping Noah off at the high school for driver's ed.
8:00 a.m.--Quick trip to Kroger, then settle into my parking spot by the driver's ed door.  I do my morning devotions in the car now.
8:50 a.m.--Noah comes out, and we go to We Care, Inc. to load canned vegetables onto a trailer to take to Community Harvest Food Pantry. 
 10:00 a.m.--Home to work on math, English, biology, Korean, and history.
10:05 a.m.--Noah's friend's dad offer Noah a job at 1:00 today.  He will be helping tear out old flooring and install new hardwood floors.  It's a good opportunity to gain real life skills and earn some money, so I adjust the schedule.  Now we're going to get math and English done before a long P.E. class at 1:00.  Biology, Korean, and history are going on the back burner for now.
I read somewhere that burning bay leaves increases the mental ability to focus.  This is certainly a time when we need to focus on math and English, so we burn a few.  Noah said, "I don't think this is going to help me focus.  It just makes me want to play with the fire."  But I notice that he attacks his math with more focus than usual.
Marty comes along after awhile and eats the charred bay leaves.  Then she sprawls on Noah's math book, so he switches to English (thus learning compassion and adaptability).  He stays focused on it and does a great job. We go over the corrections together, and then he goes back to math, because Marty has moved to the floor.

12:15 p.m.  Lunch break.  Vegan quesadillas, cherries, vegan cookie dough dip.

12:50 p.m.  Taking Noah to his job site.
1:00 p.m.  Scurrying around starting dinner and doing a bunch of little chores that nobody will ever notice: emptying  and reloading the dishwasher, emptying the vacuum, cleaning up cat puke, going through the mail, watering the garden, etc.

2:45 p.m.  Time to pick up Sarah, quiz her about her day, and listen to her stories.  Her favorite subjects (for today at least) are science, art, and lunch. 

3:15 p.m.  Homework with Sarah. Petting Shiloh on my lap.

4:00 p.m.  Continuing dinner preparations.  Veggie and rice stir-fry after Mike gets home and before gymnastics.

5:10 p.m.  Taking Sarah to gymnastics.

7:30 p.m.  Home.  Time to relax and all be together.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Hiking at Mathiessen State Park

We hiked with friends today.  Mike is on vacation this week, so he got to go too!
 We started at the upper dells.  Noah quickly realized that he didn't wear the right shoes for this treacherous terrain.

 He ended up carrying his shoes and hiking in his socks.

 We stopped near here to have our picnic lunch.
 After lunch, we hiked to the lower dells.
 The kids climbed this slippery rock face and slid down the waterfall.

 Too old for climbing and sliding, we just enjoyed watching the kids and the beautiful scenery.
 Sarah slipped on the slippery rock and cut her chin and inner lip. For some reason, I happened to have a little fist aid kit, so I was able to mop up the blood, disinfect the wound, and bandage it. She washed her shirt when we got home and was glad the blood came out of it.
 I crawled through a cave to take a picture of Noah and Liza in the water.
 The whole gang.
 Sarah and Liza, joined at the elbow, hiking back to the parking lot after a fun day.
I was the only one who brought a change of clothes, and Sarah needed it more than I did, so there she is, dressed like me!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Biological insults

Yesterday, Noah learned in his biology book that there's a bacteria called euglena that uses light to create its own food.  If no light is available, it will feed on dead organisms.

Today I was scolding Noah for leaving all the lights on in the basement.  His defense was, "I didn't want the euglena to have to feed on dead organims."  I said, "They'll be feeding on YOU if you don't go down there and turn the lights off."  He then called me a parasite. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Time flies when you're having fun!

We had such a great day that I actually lost track of time.  I'm pretty sure that's the first time that's happened.  The funny thing is...we didn't do anything spectacular, just a regular school day at home.  It's horribly hot and humid outside, and we didn't have anywhere we had to go (until evening when Sarah had gymnastics).  No phone calls, no screens, no friends at the house.  We started the day with our usual Bible reading and prayer, then we started our new read-aloud book, which is Davy Crockett's autobiography (finally finished The Scarlet Letter -- hooray!).  Since we had plenty of time, we decided to make a nice dinner together.  Sarah said she wanted to make Asian envelopes.  They are pretty labor intensive and time consuming, but we all love them.  I didn't have everything we needed to make them, so Sarah and I went to Kroger while Noah finished his biology and math.  Here's the recipe:

I haven't made it since I've been vegan, but I realized it would be easy to veganize it.  I just used vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, and chickpeas instead of chicken.  Sarah wasn't able to help, which I'll explain later, but Noah and I worked together and got it done in less than an hour.  He made the sauce while I chopped the vegetables.  He also helped wrap the filling into envelopes. They came out great, and he said the vegan version is just as good as the way we used to make them. I agree.

We also had this delicious salad I found at Kroger.  It had a lot of terrific ingredients that you just shake up in the bowl. It even came with a fork.  The regular price is $3.99, which I would be tempted to pay in a pinch.

And now for the best part of the day and the reason I lost track of time and Sarah had to go to gymnastics without dinner (Noah and I made it after she left).  I've been working on teaching the kids to read Korean.  It took less than a week, and today's the day they both started reading!  It was SO much easier and WAY more fun than teaching them to read English.  I started with teaching them consonants one day, reviewing them the following day, vowels the next day, and another day of review.  Then I taught them how to put them together to form syllable blocks, and today we could all sense that they were on the verge of reading.  They broke through and started reading at the same time, and it was just beautiful.  I got out their adoption paperwork and showed them their names in Korean, which I've done before, but this time they could read them themselves!  We spent some time writing their Korean names, and then all the sudden Mike was home from work and we hadn't even started making dinner.  I couldn't believe it was that late already! 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Sarah's going to school

It has been decided that Sarah will be allowed to go to public school this year.  She thrives on the social interaction and independence that she gets when she's away from home.  She proved that by working at Camp Good News this summer.  I think she will do great at school.

She's been ridiculously excited about going shopping for school supplies and locker decorations.  Today a new restaurant in Peoria was offering free lunch, so we went there to fuel up for the shopping trip.
 My lunch bowl at Core Eatery. 
 Look how excited she is.
 Back in my day, we didn't decorate our lockers (or at least I didn't).  It was just a utilitarian thing that held my supplies.  Now there are $15 DISCO BALLS for your locker!  Absurd. 
 There's her disappointed face when I told her I was only paying for supplies that are necessary, which does not include things like disco balls, magnetic wallpaper, shelves, locker rugs (!), and color coordinating magnets.  She put back several items at that point, but she spent $20 of her own money on magnetic wallpaper, magnets, and a couple other frivolities.  I did buy her a pair of gym shoes and promised her that I would make sure she has all the actual supplies needed before school starts, but I'm not just paying whatever Target is charging.  I have to research the back-to-school sales and get the best deals.  She told me I was taking all the fun out of it.
 Spiderman watched her do a handstand at Target.
 Then we came home to do our regular schoolwork.  Noah is taking a biology class, and he had an experiment today that involved studying bacteria under a microscope.  He had gathered specimens from a lake several days ago, and then fed the bacteria things like egg yolk, hay, rice, and soil.  He stored them in the
 hot humid garage.  When he opened those containers today, the smell almost made us sick.  It was truly disgusting what was growing in there.

 Even Shiloh covered her nose,
but she still wanted to get her paws on that bacteria-water!