Archives for April 2015

Password, smashword

I had this post all ready to go the other day, but then my blog went toes up and now here it is a week since my last post.  The good news is that (obviously) the blog is fixed.  My computer is also fixed, finally.  Hooray!  And a final (also overdue) bit of good news is that I finally can announce the winner of my last week’s book giveaway Every Bitter Thing.  It is commenter #8 Suzanne Slagell.  Suzanne, email me your address and I will get this book headed your way.

Overall, work is going very well, but ohmygoodness– last week I was ready to scream from password frustration.  So.many. You see, charting on the OB labor unit  happens in two different computer programs, and nurses are also constantly moving back and forth between computers in patient rooms and  computers at the nurses’ station, with each separate program on each separate computer requiring a new login.


Some things have to be charted at the bedside, and other things can more conveniently be done at the desk, so it’s not like you can just use one computer.  You can also expect that any time you walk away from the computer for more than 5 minutes, you’ll be automatically logged out.  On top of that, labor and delivery nurses need to chart every 15-30 minutes. It is completely normal to have to type in your password three or four dozen times in 12 hours.

Three days of that, and last week I came home needing to pay bills, with the banking software logging out automatically every time I’m idle for 3 minutes, and John’s computer doing the same thing to me every time I went idle for 10 minutes.  And then came the grocery store and trying to remember the PIN # for my new debit card. This week I’ve come to a truce with the situation.  But last week– yikes= I was SO tired of passwords.

On the bright side, I got to help with TWO births last week, and another this week– an utter delight and privilege.  I really love helping laboring women. To make it even nicer, for all three of those births I got to work with the only two doctors who actually still know me from years ago when I worked.

Though lots of the workflow is still unfamiliar, I have the feeling that once I master the equipment and become familiar with all the various protocols, the stress level will go down markedly and I will be able to move through the day with less of the scatter-brain feeling and more efficiency.  Already the IV pumps that felt hard a couple weeks ago feel very doable.  I am feeling very encouraged overall.

Even better, the kids seem to be doing well at home.  We’ve been arranging fun activities a day or two a week for the younger girls, which they enjoy.  The kids are getting their school done.  It is fun to get texts from the teens now and then during the day, and the younger girls come snuggle with me on the couch in the evenings when I get home.  We’re making this work!

Good news in the mother of the groom dress department too.  I ordered the dress on the far right in this post, and ended up loving it.  I think it’d be a dab better if I lost 5 pounds or so, which I want to do anyway. (As infrequently as I’m managing to eat while at work, I’m thinking that’s going to be happening soon!) And I’m also trying to get back to running every couple days.  But my girls say it looks great just as it is, so I think it just may be the winner.

In other news, the new baby chicks that we got this spring are getting big.  I’l have to get a picture of them for you soon.  They are lots of pretty different colors.

I must head off to bed now, as I have one more early morning this week. Then Friday is a date with the grandbabies!  🙂  What fun!

Book giveaway: Every Bitter Thing

About three years ago at a blogger’s dinner for the Dot.Mom conference, I had the privilege of sitting next to Sara Hagerty with some time to talk for awhile. As a fellow adoptive momma, I felt an immediate kinship with her, and an understanding of some of her life. But the evening left me wishing I’d had time to visit longer, as I could tell that she is a beautiful person and I just knew there was a lot more to her story than we’d really had time to talk about. I had the sense there was lots more to know.

So when I heard a few months ago that her book had just been released, I was thrilled, and eager for this chance to know a little more about how God had been working in Sara’s family.  Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things  is a deeply thoughtful, sometimes heartbreaking, always truthful telling of Sara’s story through infertility toward adoption.  Whether or not you have experienced infertility or adoption, I think you’ll find her story to be compelling.

I have the privilege of giving away a copy of Sara’s book to one lucky reader this week.  I am planning on selecting a winner on Monday, and to enter the drawing, all you have to do is comment below.  Simply tell me you’re interested in the book, or if you’d like, share one sweet blessing in your life this week.

One thing I’m enjoying is my new co-workers at the hospital.  They’re smart and funny and energetic, and I’m looking forward to knowing them better.

If you would like an additional entry for this giveaway, share this post on facebook or twitter, and then come back to comment again and tell me you did so.  And as long as you’re in the giveaway mode, you may also want to go over to Copperlight Woods where Shannon is doing another adoption book giveaway, featuring her book Upside Down and my book Forever Mom!

My computer? Still broken.

It’s about time for an update from here, right? Here’s a quick shot of my new haircut– the light is funny but you get the idea.  It is a little harder to style than I’d like, but it is fun to have something different, and hopefully I’ll get quicker at it as I get more experienced.haircut

I’m still contemplating the whole wedding dress question.  Good thing I have awhile to decide.  I have a dress on the way to try– I’ll show it to you if it turns out to be a contender.

My computer is still out being repaired.  Between sharing a computer with my hubby and working full time this month, it is HARD to make time to write.  I do have a giveaway post planned for Wednesday, so stay tuned. But mostly when I sit down to write, I find myself wanting to reflect on all the life change related to my new job.

Part of it is just about the job itself.  Each work morning I wake up excited to go learn ALL THE THINGS– preferably yesterday- and get capable quickly. I even find myself practicing new skills in my sleep.  Last night I dreamed I had a really demanding patient who was frustrated with me, and demanding an IV even though I was sure she really didn’t need one. (Strange person, eh?)  My brain is definitely on OB overdrive.

But the rest of my mental energy of course is focused on my kids, and how they’re doing with all this.  I still want to be fully present and available. John and I have been watching a really good TV show called Blue Bloods–and in one episode the wise police commissioner/family patriarch said, “The hardest day at work is easier than any day parenting teens.”

Oh, that resonated with me. But it also made me wince,  and to wonder if part of the reason that this whole job thing felt okay to me at this point in life is BECAUSE teen parenting is so very challenging.  I don’t want to use the busy-ness of work– the importance of it, or even the whole getting-paid aspect–oh, the novelty– as an excuse to disengage from the home-drama.

I think a bit of occasional distance could be good, especially in the case of older teens.  Homeschooling doesn’t give you breaks from each other, and I think maybe (once this intense month of full-time work is done) my bits of time away could be a chance to regain perspective.  Maybe they will even appreciate me more?  (Or not…)

But just two weeks in, I can already feel the pull in many directions, the need to streamline.  John and I are talking about making the garden smaller this year.  I’m double-batch cooking every chance I get.  Leftovers are easy meals for the home folks.  I’m trying not to get to bent out of shape over cluttered corners and projects that aren’t getting done this month.  Major in the majors.

Sleep is important, and so is keeping laundry done and food in the fridge.  People are important– taking time to talk, to have the hard and the easy and the big and the little conversations.  Asking kids about school and finances and work and friends and the state of their hearts.

That’s a huge takeaway from this experience so far: I really, really need to be intentional about taking moments to talk.  When I’m here, I really need to be here.  Not on facebook or pinterest. My youngest two girls seek me out, and I naturally seek them out too. Our relationship is easy and fun and gratifying.  But I need to also continue to pursue these teens of ours.  Even the prickliest ones.  The ones who don’t think they need me.

Last evening I was up late, chatting with a bunch of the boys, about lip piercings and oddly-named Dutch Bros. drinks, and random other things. It was nice time. Then I was up early for a zoo date with three of my girls and some of the grandbabies.  I’m yawning today, and am considering a nap. But before I sneak in that nap, I’ll play a round of Phase 10 with my 10 year old and make a doctor’s appointment, and pay some bills. Dinner this evening is fried rice, with Costco pot-stickers on the side, so that should be pretty easy.

How are things with you?  I’d love to hear from you if you have a moment.  Be sure to check back in with me on Wednesday for a book giveaway from a fellow adoptive momma.  And thanks, as always, for reading.  I appreciate you stopping by.

For the wedding

Whew! I made it (almost) through week two of orientation. Monday I actually got to do just a little patient care, which was really fun. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed helping women in labor. Then Tuesday and Wednesday was a fetal heart monitoring class, which turned out to be very doable. My first bubble test in a whole lotta years and I got a 90%. 🙂 Somewhere along the way I also finally (4th try) whipped that FEMA test, the silly thing. All that’s left for this work week is a 4 hour breastfeeding class tomorrow. Piece of cake. 🙂   The kids are hanging in there just fine–but it will be nice to have Friday through Monday off and then only 3 days next week.


But I’m actually writing here today because I need some clothing advice, or maybe some completely new ideas. You may remember that our oldest son Jared is getting married to his lovely Erika in July.  So exciting! I’m hunting for a mother-of-the-groom dress that blends with their wedding colors.  It is an outdoor evening wedding — not super formal–and is likely to be quite warm.  Above are a few of the dresses that have caught my eye.

This first one on the left isn’t available in my size, but I have included it because I’d love to find something similar.   Next up is one that might be a little short, comfort-wise, but I like the scoop neck, the simple elegance, and the pattern of the fabric. The one in the center is another that looks simple and elegant. The 4th one is very feminine and pretty, but I am afraid that on a not-teeny frame it might look too frumpy — something I do NOT want to be.  I like the final one a lot, but of course there’s always the question if it would be flattering to me.  Who knows?

Anyway, I’d love opinions on what you think might be pretty and elegant, as well as any hints about places to look, or dresses you’ve spotted that might also fit the occasion. I think maxi dresses are flattering on me, but if I went that route it would need to look like a maxi dress not a true formal. Figure-flattering, but not too showy or low cut. It is SO tricky to find something lovely, flattering, and age-appropriate.



A brand new week!

The winner of last week’s adoption book giveaway is commenter #30, is Rebekah of BekahCubed. Email me your address, Rebekah, and I’ll get your books headed your way!


Whew!  We made it through our first week of mom back at work!  My head is swimming with random factoids that I learned in orientation, to the extent that I found myself dreaming about computer charting last night.  In my dream it was going very well– let’s hope it goes that well in real life.

The kids did really well last week– checked off their check-boxes and seemed to have gotten a decent week of school in without me.  I’m glad this orientation month is happening at the tail end of the school year as subjects are winding down.  Two of the girls are already completely done with math as of this week, and most everyone is on track to be done by mid-May.  So that feels good.  Even if things don’t happen quite at full speed now, the majority of our school year is already successfully completed.

SaffronLast week Emily and Julianna spent 3 afternoons at their oldest sister Amanda’s house, which was nice for all involved.  Emily and Julianna got to do something unusual and fun, the teens had quiet time at home, and Amanda  (resting after the birth of brand new baby Saffron) had some good help as her little sisters played with the preschoolers and helped with dishes and cookie-baking.  (The essentials of life, right?)

I was assigned boatloads of online education to meet employment requirements. Among other things, I learned surgical fire prevention, fall prevention, and workplace violence prevention.  Most of the learning went well, but I totally bombed a test on the inner workings of FEMA– anyone else ever have to take that one?  My eyes glazed over in the middle of an involved 2 hour description of FEMA heirarchy and disaster management work flow, and my hope to get by on cuteness and good luck pretty much failed. 😉  Sadly I will need to retake that test.  The website didn’t even have the grace to tell me which questions I got wrong or how close I was to passing.  Bah.

However, I aced the first of three classes/tests on monitoring a baby’s heart rate in labor. (Whew!)  I was really pleased that I still remembered the vast majority of that information. Still to come: the next two fetal heart monitoring classes, an EKG class, adult and infant advanced life support, and a 16 hour breastfeeding class. (Apparently breastfeeding 7 kids does not give me an automatic pass. 🙂  ) It’s a good thing that (despite the FEMA failure) I’m generally a person who likes to learn.

This week I only work three days, which I’m hoping will feel fairly easy compared to last week’s five. In preparation for the week,  I made a big pot of soup to serve as a couple of easy lunches.  Julianna’s hair is freshly braided.  Meals are planned for the week.  The whiteboard is re-done to reflect the new week’s schedule, and I think we are just about ready to hit it again.

My computer will probably be in the shop this whole week, which means John and I are sharing one computer.  But I’ll try to check in with you a time or two more. What’s new with you?  Are you making plans for the summer?  What else are you looking forward to?  I’d love to hear from you if you happen to have the time….

Day 4

Just heading off for day 4 of orientation and wanted to check in with you all. I’m hanging in there with orientation– sometimes doing fine, and sometimes feeling like an utter dunce.  (So far it’s the equipment that is making me feel more foolish than the computer charting– go figure!)  But I am sure it will all come together.

Today after work I need to take my computer to be fixed– for weeks I have been coddling the spot where the power cord connects to the computer, and since the bad spot is actually IN the computer, not the power cord, it is unfortunately going to be a harder fix.  So off to the shop it goes.

I will check in with you on Monday and let you know who won the book giveaway– thanks for all your entries!  I also wanted to let you know that for the next week, my homeschooling ebook Practical Homeschooling for Real-World Families is going on sale sometime in the next 24 hours and will be only $2.99!  So check it out if you haven’t had a chance to do so yet!

My computer power is down to 24%, so I’ll have to check back in with you later– have a great weekend!


Win TWO adoption books!

First off, I wanted to mention that if you like podcasts, I had a fun (and somewhat  rambling) conversation recently with the lovely Julia, from the blog Running on Om  which you can listen to right here.

Today I’m teaming up for a adoption giveaway with the lovely Shannon of Copperlight Wood.  We are offering one lucky reader a copy of each of our newly-released adoption books.  As you know, mine is called Forever Mom: What to Expect When You’re Adopting and Shannon’s wonderful offering is called Upside Down: Understanding and Supporting Attachment in Adoptive Families.

We decided to do this giveaway together when we realized how well our books complement each other.  Our messages are very much related, but each has a slightly different emphasis.  My focus is very much on helping families be better prepared for adoption.  Shannon also talks about this, but focuses in depth on the ways that friends and extended family can be prepared to be a strong support to families facing adoption challenges.

By necessity, adoptive parenting is going to look a little different, especially when parenting kids who’ve arrived in your family at older ages.  And having experienced some of those challenges in our own families, Shannon and I both put our hearts into writing messages of hope and faith and encouragement for others also walking this sometimes-rocky path.

If you are interested in winning a copy of each of these books, you can enter this giveaway in several ways.  First, comment below, and tell me your interest in or connection to adoption, whether it be your own, or a friend whom you’d like to encourage with these books.  Second, for an additional entry, share this post on facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter, and then come back here and comment again, telling me where you shared about this giveaway.

I’ll announce the winner of this book set next Monday.  And be sure to keep your eye out at Copperlight Wood as well, since Shannon will be offering this giveaway soon too.

Because He lives

How sweet to hold a newborn baby
And feel the pride and joy He gives
But greater still the calm assurance
This child can face uncertain days, because He lives

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living, just because He lives

Saffron Merry

Today we  joyfully welcome a precious new granddaughter, born yesterday, and rejoice in the risen Saviour from Whom all hope comes.

Frugal Friday- and free spring art

This coming Monday starts my orientation for my new job–yikes!  At odd moments  nervousness hits me– I’ve been at home SO long– how will everyone survive??  I’ve been coping by reminding myself that tons of people work, even with much younger kids at home.  Once we find our groove we really will be fine, I’m sure. But to feel proactive about this whole thing, and to ease my nerves, I’ve been planning obsessively.  I resurrected my trusty white board from where it was gathering dust behind the piano, and got next week’s menu all planned.  Super easy stuff, with  various family members all taking turns being in charge of a meal.

Wednesday I made a couple casseroles for the freezer, made a crock pot full of chili, part for this week and part for later in the month.  I also browned ground beef for  tacos one night next week.  I always feel industrious when I get meals in the freezer for later, and it will make it much easier to resist the lure of fast food.

menus and checklist

I also printed an April checklist for each of my kids, detailing the 6-8 things they each need to do daily for school and to keep the household running smoothly.  It’s all normal stuff, but usually I’m around to nag keep everyone on track.  So I thought a checklist was in order. To keep it more fun, I’m offering bribes for successful checklist completion– things like Dutch Bros. gift cards, movie tickets, M&M’s, and Color Me Your Way color books.  I don’t think the bribery will be a long term thing.  After the first 5 weeks, I’ll be going down to two days a week, and also school will be nearly done for the year, but for now I’m just focusing on making April as smooth and simple as possible– and a little more fun for the kids.

Last week I bought myself a cute little lunch box, complete with a freezer pack and a bunch of little storage containers– very fun.  And again, stuff like this will make it easier and more appealing to eat food from home instead of grabbing food while I’m out.

Let’s see….what else is happening around here? Each season I like to decorate our main living area with something seasonal– flowers, wreaths, etc. Emily, my resident artist, has been having fun decorating my chalkboard for me in a seasonal way.  Here’s my Pinterest board with fun chalk decor ideas that have been our inspiration.

And I wanted to tell you about some free stuff!  I have a picture frame in my kitchen, in which I like to rotate verses, pictures, and the occasional wise quote.  A couple weeks ago I was looking here Craftionary  and here One Sutton Place and found lots of cute free spring printables for my picture frame.

(And as fun and with-it as all that sounds, I need to confess that I just barely took down my last bit of Christmas decor which apparently I’ve been blind to for months– a wooden snowflake thing hanging where it was almost the first thing visitors would see.)

We have tulips in the front flowerbed here, but there’s still frost on the grass many mornings, and we still fire up the wood stove for a few hours each morning to take the chill off.  I’m looking forward to more spring and warmer weather.  Are you enjoying your spring?  Is it warm yet where you are?As always, I’d love to hear about your frugality efforts.



Kitchen Project: Tile Backsplash

We’ve been gradually, gradually working to update our kitchen, and I am excited to show you our latest project– a shiny new backsplash!

Here’s the tile that we started with.  I slapped it up a few years ago, and never got around to grouting it.  It was fine at the time, but after a few years I was ready to see it go.  The little racks on the wall are plate racks– they’re out of here too.


When we went to rip off the tile, big chunks of the sheetrock wall came away as well, leaving quite the ugly mess. Some of it was patchable with mud, but in several places John had to cut out the ruined sheetrock and patch in new sheetrock.

Where the sheetrock got ugly

Here’s the wall with the sheetrock replaced.

patching holes

Then here it is with the mud on and smoothed out.

wallboard and mud

Once that was sanded smooth it was finally time to begin with tile.  Here’s the first section all laid out.  The tile comes in 12 inch by 12 inch sections, with individual tiles held together by a mesh backer.  That allowed us to cut out sections of tile where the outlets needed to go.

First course of tile

Here’s a closeup of tile around an outlet with new outlet covers in place. There’s no grout yet, and you may be able to see the tiny t-shaped spacers holding sections of tile apart where the sections of mesh backer came together. New outlet covers

Those little spacers turned out to be a dog to get out of all the cracks.  That’s what we were doing in this photo. I think we should have removed them the same day instead of waiting until the next day.

Picking away at the extra grout

The scariest part was the grouting process, because as you wipe off the grout, it smears all over the face of the tiles, making them muddy and ugly-looking.  Wiping the faces off with a damp sponge, per directions, helped clean them some.  But there was still a persistent film that we couldn’t fully remove until the next day when the rest of the grout was dry.

I was nervous about doing the silicone line at the bottom edge, but it turned out well enough that I went on to do new silicone around the kitchen sink AND around one of our bathroom sinks.  (The trick? Painter’s tape on both sides of your line so that it won’t spread further than you want it to.)

Before grout

Finally,  here are the ‘after’ pictures!  You should be able to click on the photos to enlarge them a bit.

Tile (14)

Installing a new tile backsplash





 Thoughts afterward:

I’m very glad that we chose one-inch tile for my first tile project.  I ended up only having to cut half a dozen tiles at the edge of one light switch, and almost all of them chipped or broke in half the wrong direction.  Thankfully the edge of the outlet cover hides them, and grouted they are plenty stable and should not cause any trouble.  You’ll only see them if you know exactly where to look, and it’s back in the corner behind the coffee pot, so it really is a non-issue. But looking back, a better way to handle the broken bits probably would have been to simply cut them off the mesh sheet and add in other individual tile that I actually was able to cut without breaking. Tile (9)

If we’d chosen large tile, I think the cutting would have been a lot harder and probably we’d have needed a wet saw. And given my lack of expertise, I’m glad this isn’t an area that gets buckets of water like a shower wall.  It was a low-stakes beginner project.


If I had it to do again, I might pick a lighter or more neutral color of grout– not pure white because I think that would be terrible to keep clean.  The darknesst of what I chose, however, made the tile lose a little of its sparkle.  The color was called ‘nutmeg’ and ended up matching a little too closely, I think.  But overall I am happy with how it turned out.  And even though in the middle of grouting I said I would never, never again install tile, I confess to wondering where else I might be able to practice my tile-laying skills.  Maybe I could get even better at it.

Installing a new tile backsplash


Past Kitchen Projects

2013: My new kitchen floor

2014: stain and hardware to refresh the cabinets

2015: New ceiling lighting