Thursday, July 02, 2015

Did you know...

That continually hitting refresh on your email and facebook page brings neither the notification that your home study has been reapproved or the news that Gov. Rauner signed the adoption reform bill?

The continually hitting refresh on your email and facebook page also does not get the bills paid or the laundry done?

That eating lots of ice cream at night makes you feel good for a moment, but once again does not bring the news you keep hoping for?

That spending your time canning unnecessary food items at least gives you these food items on your shelf ? (Plus it stops you from eating them right now. See above.)

I think I may have developed a brand new psychiatric disorder:

Cumpulsive Avoidant Canning Syndrome


  • Patient uses canning equipment daily and sees no need to store it in between uses. 
  • Patient is willing to go to the trouble of canning even for small amounts such as 1/4 pints
  • Patient thinks this is worth it because those 1/4 pint jars are soooooooo cute
  • Patient spends time during the canning process planning what she will can next
  • Patient wonders as to the appropriateness of introducing oneself to a neighbor on another block and asking if she could pick their mulberries and crab apples
  • Patient plans what she will can with these commodities once she acquires them
  • Patient does not let family members open any of the newly canned goods and eat them
  • Patient, when not canning, is plagued by intrusive negative adoption thoughts and immediately goes back to canning
  • Patient finds herself only able to write about adoption and canning


  • Positive adoption news should mitigate the worst of the symptoms (as yet unproven, though blog readers sure hope so)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

When life gives you lemons... or kale

A good friend has a deal with a local company to pick-up their food that they aren't using and which would have been thrown out. When it is a particular large amount, she will bring some over to us. This week was a particularly large amount, which is why I found myself with a garbage bag of kale sitting on my kitchen table this afternoon.

Now, my children like kale chips as much (or more) than the next person, but even they cannot eat that many kale chips and I certainly couldn't find someone willing to turn them into kale chips. Not wanting it to go to waste, I spent the afternoon blanching kale to freeze.

See that spider? That would be the long metal utensil sitting on the bowl. I bought it at my local Vietnamese market and use it for everything. I actually don't know how I cooked before I bought one.

All that kale was turned into 64 cups of kale that is now in my freezer. I'll use it to throw in soups or sauces or in pineapple peanut stew. I'm also considering trying some in place of spinach in my stuffed spinach pizza.

Now, not only did I get a bunch of kale, I also was given a few avocados and lemons.

For the lemons, I'm in the midst of making some of them into lemon cordial which I'll can. It sounds like a really rich lemon syrup which will be good mixed with sparkling water... or sparkling something else. I'm dehydrating the rest.

I've never dehydrated lemons before, but they sound really intriguing. The avocados (if I can rescue any from my avocado-mad children), will be made into guacamole for the 4th and I'll freeze the rest. There were also three large bunches of celery. One I fed to the children as a snack and the others I plan on dehydrating and then crushing for celery flakes.

I feel as though I should just call this blog the preservation kitchen. On top of all that, over the past few days I've made 9 1/2 pints of strawberry jam, have four cups of dehydrated strawberries, and eight cups of frozen strawberries. B. also discovered a huge horseradish plant in the back yard, which he dug some of the root from. Bless him, he was also the one to grate the rather overpowering thing so we could use it. He made one batch of horseradish sauce in the refrigerator and have enough for ten more batches in the freezer. (My children adore horseradish sauce. Really they do. I know this is odd.)

I think we need to eat more beef to clear up some room in my freezers. It's just the beginning of the growing season.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Difficult to explain

Number of days IL has cost us with our daughters: 87

There are just no words.

Now, I know in the great scheme of things, 87 days, nearly three months, is not that long of a time. For instance, those three months leading up to Christmas every year go by at the speed of light. The three months of summer tend to zip by as well. (The months of January, February, and March, not so much.) In the course of a life time, three months is just a drop in the bucket.

I get that.

Yet, if you are separated from a loved one, three months is a long time. And it's not that those three months are the only part of the wait, they are just leading up to the actual wait which itself can take six months. Then there was the two or three months of the actual home study process... Those three months have pushed us to at least a year of waiting to bring our daughters home.

A friend, trying to wrap her head around adoption commented to me on my use of "my" daughters in reference to R. and Y. It astounded her a bit that we would claim them so unabashedly as our own without having met them. This is where it gets difficult to explain.

If you have adopted, you will understand completely what I am talking about, if you haven't, I'm afraid that sometimes it seems as though adoptive parents speak a different language and there is a break down of communication. You see, in order to go through the adoption process, with its ups and downs, frustration, mountains of paperwork, government bureaucracy, and cost, you have to feel at a deep level that this child is yours. The process is too horrible to do for fun. Yes, you can fall in love with a picture and love that child in your heart. You dream about them, plan what you will do with them, imagine holding them and kissing them, think about what life will be like with them. They will have your name, be yours as long as you live, you will be present for the milestones of their lives... just as with your other children. They become your children even before the paperwork is signed to make it legal.

If you speak with parents who have had something go wrong with an adoption between being matched with a child and actually processing the paperwork, they will tell you it is like a death. It is a real child that will no longer be a part of your family and these parents grieve accordingly. Yet, it is a hard because so few people understand the depth of connection with a picture.

It is one of the first miracles of adoption, that parents can so wrap their hearts around a child they still have yet to meet. (Of course, there is the process of adjusting from the imaginary child to the actual child standing in front of you... but that's a whole separate post.) This picture becomes your child. Your really truly child. The one you will fight for and love and defend with every mama bear instinct that you possess.

Imagine that your child, the one that lives in your house with you, was suddenly transported to another country and placed in less than ideal living conditions. You would move heaven and earth and spend any amount of money to go and get them. To bring them home. And you wouldn't rest until you did that. If someone truly dear to you was far away and needing your help to come home, it would become your obsession. Of course I acknowledge that my story only correlates so far. A child who is known and lives with us will elicit strong feelings, and I agree that these feelings are greater than for a child who is still a stranger. But here is what I want to try to communicate, if ever so poorly. While a real, known child will elicit extremely strong feelings and need to protect that child, for those of us in the adoption process, something has happened and we feel about these children whom we only know from pictures and videos, in a very similar way. They are ours and we need to bring them home.

To wait is painful. We are missing children whom we realize we don't really know, yet love to such a great extent that we are willing to put ourselves through this pain to bring home. Parenting is often one constant act of sacrifice, and for adoptive parents, this sacrifice begins long before the child is known.

Please Governor Rauner, sign HB 3079. Right now it is only you who is slowing down the adoption process so atrociously in Illinois. How would you like it if some government official decided to use your child as a pawn in his political game? Just sign the bill.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The very hungry caterpillar

By chance I came across a little tiny monarch caterpillar on one of the milkweed plants last week, so of course, I brought him in. Having learned the hard way last year that it is important to wash the milkweed leaves thoroughly before letting the caterpillar eat them, he has thrived. In fact, having done this a time or two before, I would say this is the hungriest caterpillar we've ever had. Usually, I can get away with giving a new leaf once a day. Not with this guy. Recently I've had to change his leaf twice, sometimes three times. He eats so much. And if I don't provide him with new leaves, then I find him crawling all over the windowsill to search for new leaves on his own.

The little people love him and so had to name him. G. and L. were standing there when I first brought him in and at first suggested something mundane such as stripey. However, my two youngest are anything but mundane, so not being content with the first suggestion, stood there a thought a little longer. L. suddenly bursts out, "Let's call him John Avery Whittaker!" G. joins in with, "YES! Let's call him John Avery Whittaker!" So John Avery Whittaker he is. It did throw some older children for a loop at first when I asked for someone to go get a new leaf for John Avery Whittaker, We soon cleared up the confusion. For those whose children do not listen to Adventures in Odyssey non-stop, John Avery Whittaker is a character from the radio show.

Eating... which is what he does best

At home, for now, in his jar

Thursday, June 25, 2015

In which I amaze and astound you with my photographic prowess

We went strawberry picking today and picked 7 baskets, which I think are 14 quarts. It wasn't too hot and not too sunny, with only a drop or two or rain. Really, rather ideal weather for berry picking. I threw my iPod in my pocket since I thought it would be easy to use to take pictures.

In theory it was. I whipped it out of my pocket occasionally and took some pictures. I couldn't really see what I was taking because the glare made it hard to see. Evidently, I haven't quite figured out where exactly the camera is on the silly thing. This one is the best... it's L. (Who, by the way, was a terrific berry picker, outlasting nearly everyone.)

(I'm including these others because I like to make my children laugh. And believe me, they will laugh... so will you.)

Here is K., or is it G.? It's hard to tell. I took one of them both, but they both look like this... a nice picture of my finger.

Here's another one of L.

I guess you can tell that the glare wasn't so bad when I took this one, huh?

K., L., and H. (P. and G., who both seem to be fighting small colds were collapsed in the van.)

So now I have all these strawberries. They taste very good. I suppose I now need to stand up and start doing something with them. I have plans for jam, frozen berries, dehydrated berries, more jam...

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Birthday gifts for canning fun

I had a birthday earlier this month as well, and wanted to show off my birthday gifts.

Isn't it beautiful? (Thanks, Mom and Dad. They don't even know what they got me as they sent a check.) It's 7.8 quarts and made by Lodge. It also weighs possible more than K. I have a smaller dutch oven that I found at a rummage sale several years ago, but it always feels just a bit too small for the amount of food that I am preparing. This should take care of that problem. It should also make some wonderful jam, which is another reason I bought it. Now, I just have to figure out where to store it. It's a tiny bit huge and the weight would not be good for my pull-out cabinets.

The dutch oven purchase was inspired by these two books which I had checked out from the library. I fell in love with both of them and now own them. They are Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry by Cathy Barrow and Saving the Season by Kevin West. (Due to my recent computer disasters, I haven't yet found my link for my Amazon Associate's links. If you have them, use them, and maybe when I have a free moment, I'll see if I can find them myself.) I was already feeling the lack of home canned goods in my pantry due to virtually no canning last summer, but these books have inspired my to get back on that horse, plus to try new things.

Yesterday I finished pickling some juniper-pickled cocktail onions and some home-made pectin. (Both from the Mrs. Wheelbarrow book.) That pectin... it's still a work in progress. I was using windfall apples from the apple tree on my brother's (mother's... difficult to explain) farm. The yield was not quite what I had expected, but I have started an email exchange with the author (who replied to my question right away), and I may spend the rest of the summer experimenting and figuring it out. I love, love, love the idea of making my own pectin from apples that would just be thrown out.

Don't rows of little jars on the counter make you so happy?

Monday, June 22, 2015

June 2015 Birthday Bash

We have a lot of celebrations in June... six birthdays and one anniversary. Then when you add in various camps, trips, graduations, weddings, Father's Day, well, it gets to be a bit much. Which is why the past Saturday found us celebrating four birthdays at once. It was the only day everyone was free, what with camps and such. We sang Happy Birthday four times; to G. and L. who turned 6, to D. who turned 12, and to B. who turned 20.




and B. (with TM)

And we did presents for four people.

L. and G. (Sorry for the photo quality. I was using my iPod and I haven't quite gotten the hang of it yet. Much to my children's amusement and bafflement.)

L. and G. received desks (that needed to be put together) from their grandparents. Can you tell L. is a little bit excited?

D. received a camera from his grandparents. He is also a little bit excited.

Of course, there were the audience members watching.

Well, B. wasn't really an audience member, but I don't have any pictures of him opening presents. That's the trouble with not being a little kid any longer... the camera is no longer focused on you all the time. Or maybe that isn't a problem, if you never really liked having your picture taken in the first place.

K. and M.


B. and H. H-S

Photo bombed by D.

Yesterday was Father's Day and J.'s birthday. We had more pie, but we didn't sing. It was a pretty low key birthday. Today is our 24th anniversary. It just never stops, does it?

Here are some photos from this morning of everyone enjoying the IKEA play stand that we gave to G. and L.

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