Night owl again

Friday and Saturday were my first two night shifts. The first night went pretty well, though I was tired, and also discouraged to see that EVERYONE on night shift is yawning often by 4 AM, no matter how seasoned they are to night shift. Bah. I guess I had hoped it was possible to not be tired…?

Saturday morning I slept from 8 til 1, and then it was time to rush off to my soon-to-be daughter-in-law’s wedding shower. Somehow by the time I got out the door I’d spilled some of the fruit we’d prepared right on the floor, AND forgot to put mascara one eye. Luckily we’d done tons of fruit so the little I spilled was not missed, and there was a Walgreen’s on the way where I hastily bought and dabbed on mascara so that my eyes matched.

And the shower was an utter and complete delight. Truly.  Such a sweet time.

Driving home I realized I had a migraine due no doubt to lack of sleep. And so there was a stop at yet another convenience store, this time for Advil and coffee. And by the time we got home, it was exactly one hour til I had to leave for work. So I lay down and closed my eyes for half an hour. And then I got up and ate dinner with my family. And off I went to work again, headache subsided and by the grace of God somehow ready to carry on.

The first half of the night was quiet on the labor unit, which made the hours drag a bit, but I found some busy work, and even in the slowness could tell I was less tired than I had been the first night. And around 2AM, in came a momma in labor– hooray, hooray!!– and the last 5 hours of the night flew by. They were fun, even.

And then Sunday I managed to sleep til 2:30 in the afternoon, thanks to loud fans and room-darkening shades– ah the bliss!

My next nights to work are Wednesday and Thursday.  And judging by the difference between how the first and second nights felt to me, I’m thinking that this will be a lot better if I turn into a night owl again, even on my days off.  In the very early days of my blog, I’d routinely stay up til 2 or even sometimes 3, writing, then sleep til 9 or 10 in the morning.  So I think I may try to get back into that habit.  It’s 1 now as I write this, and tomorrow morning is quiet enough that I should be able to sleep til 10.  I think if I sleep that way Wednesday morning too, maybe the all-nighter Wednesday night will be less of a shock.  I’m yawning now as I type this— we’ll see how it all works! But we’ll give it a shot!  And hey, maybe I’ll even find some late night blogging time again!

This evening I am also excited to be booking a guest house for our stay in Ethiopia in August– at least the nights we’ll be in Addis.  It’s a 16 day trip altogether, and along with some time in Addis, which is the capitol city, we are planning to visit two outlying areas, which are each a 7-8 hour drive away from Addis in different directions.  This means that of the 16 days we’ll be gone, we will be spending 7 traveling, either by plane or car.  It will be an adventure!

In still other news, we are planning another 4th of July barbecue with our kids this weekend, featuring lots of water games as usual.  The grandbabies are big enough now to also participate in some simple games, so that should be really fun.   If you are looking for ideas for a bash of your own, here are some posts featuring previous years’ festivities: 2014 |  2013 | 2010.  Goodness, how have my kids gotten so grown??

Here’s hoping all is well with you!


Inside Out

This week we took Emily and Julianna to see the new Pixar movie Inside Out (trailer here).  It’s a movie that goes into the head of an 11 year old girl during a time of turmoil in her life.  She and her family have just moved to a new city, and she is struggling to find her place in this new life.

InsideOut2Although this movie is an animated film, it explores deep concepts.  It shows the wrestling match between all the feelings that exist inside every human during times of loss and challenge.

The five feelings voiced in this story are anger, fear, disgust, sadness, and joy.  They were shown as manning the switchboard of Riley’s mind, each taking a turn at control. As each feeling was shown, I couldn’t help but think which of the feelings in my life, and in the lives of my children, are most often voiced, and which are shoved aside, and not allowed expression.

Inside OutI’m one of those Pollyanna people who is most comfortable with Joy, often to the exclusion of all other feelings.  Joy is my comfy place.  And yet there are other feelings down deep, of course, feelings less comfortable, less socially acceptable.  Feelings that I don’t even want to admit.

But as much as I could identify with this movie because of my own internal life, it hit me even more deeply on behalf of my adopted children, some of whom have experienced great loss in life. I’ve struggled so much to help some of them break free of anger and sadness, and find their way to joy.

Before me on the screen was a vivid and compelling description of the way loss can make anger and fear and sadness take over a person’s soul, causing all joy to flee, at least for awhile. At the peak of her struggle to settle into her new life, Riley became almost a different person.   It was only after she found a way to voice all her feelings that she was able to come to a more balanced place, to embrace her new life, to appreciate the richness that even the hard feelings add, and to find joy again.

It was such a great reminder to me that we as parents need to show our children the way to that more balanced place, where they can safely express all the feelings, not just the pretty, socially acceptable ones.  In being open to all their feelings, we can love them more fully, more truly, and support the kind of balanced emotional health and well being that many people struggle all their lives to find.

Though the concepts were deep in this movie, they resonated with my 10 and 13 year old daughters, and we had some good discussion on our way home from the movies.  Have you seen this movie yet?  I’d be interested to hear what you think of it.

Other thoughts about this movie:

The Roots of Real Joy

The Inside Out of Grief


summer plans

Whew!  It feels like I’ve gotten to a place this summer where (hopefully) there will be a bit more breathing room.  I’ve finally made it through orientation to PART-time (2 days/week) work. The home-school conference is done.  And church camp is behind us too, including that part where I supervised 5 days of meals for 80+ people. It went well, and was actually not hugely stressful, but it is nice to have it successfully done.  Lots of fun was had by all, so much that the kids today are all going through camp-withdrawal.

Cousin fun at camp

Coming in July is our son Jared and his fiance Erika’s wedding and all those attendant festivities. Since we are parents of the groom, not the bride, there is not quite as much planning for us to do. But we are greatly looking forward to it all!

In August the four youngest girls and I will be traveling to Ethiopia for a visit, meeting up with my sister Sophie who will be able to help us with translating and navigating.  Along with spending some time in Addis, we are planning to visit Wollaitta, where Emily and Julianna were born, and Harar, where Lidya and Zeytuna were born and spent the first decade or so of life.  We applied for their passports a few weeks ago, and Sophie and I are just starting to figure out the best use of our precious 12 days of non-airplane time. Exciting, exciting!!

Except for reading, we’ll be taking the summer completely off school, so I think that will be nice.  I am hoping to have some pool days with friends, as we usually do.  I’m also hoping to do some major closet de-junking.  I have been inspired by this book The Life-changing Magic of Tidying: A Simple, Effective Way to Banish Clutter Forever.

It is a bit new-agey to suit me–the idea of thanking inanimate objects for their service makes my eyes roll. But a core idea of the book– to surround yourself only with what you love—  is a powerful and intriguing one. I have always found clutter to be a joy-and-energy-thief.  So this week I’m taking some of the ideas from the book to heart, starting with my bedroom closet and my bathroom drawers, and hopefully moving on from there.I will try to keep a tally of the total number of trash bags produced by this particular effort.

Have you read this book?  Done any good de-cluttering lately?  Feel free to join me in a de-clutter challenge of your own if the idea suits yours fancy.



Wholeness as a Mother

#WholeMamaMy daughter Erika and some friends are putting together a bloggy series titled #WholeMama. After reading Erika’s thoughts today, I  realized that for me wholeness has to do with knowing I’m in the right place at this moment in my life.  And it’s so interesting how that can change with your season of life.

When I was a young mom in Erika’s stage of life, with only tiny ones at home, I experienced a lot of emotional stress  juggling full time motherhood with part time work as an RN.  I remember calling home to hear a baby crying, and feeling torn, like I wasn’t where I was supposed to be.  Even though it was just part time work, that jagged pain was a hard thing to feel on a regular basis.  When finally I was able to be home full time, it was a great relief– such a feeling of being centered and balanced right where I needed to be.  Not that it was always easy– motherhood is almost always a challenging job– but in my heart I just knew home was where I needed to be right then.

These days, with this new job of mine (again back at work part time, again helping women give birth) I’m not experiencing that feeling of being torn at all.  I love my work.  I’m necessary and useful and I make a difference at a crucial time in women’s lives.  Each day at work, my heart hums with a contentedness, knowing I’m where I’m supposed to be.

But on my days off, I’m equally glad to be home.  Here is also where I am supposed to be.  I think the difference is my season of life.   These days my youngest ‘baby’ is 10– old enough to happily hang out with dad and her siblings a couple of days a week– but also young enough to greet me joyfully and ask for a game of cards or a trip to the store together on my days at home.  Work fits now, where it was ungainly and awkward and sometimes downright painful before.

I think sometimes you have to try things out, to find out what fits in your life and what won’t– at least not without a whole lot of shoving and shuffling.  Other times you can listen to your family and your instincts and with a little luck and a little grace, have the sense to steer clear of what won’t fit.

Remembering also, that some things will fit now and others can wait til later. We don’t have to do it all today.   Or all at once, ever.  Just open your hands, and fill them with what fits today.

That’s enough.  Really.


For more #WholeMama musings, visit the linkup at the bottom of Erika’s blog post.

Hello from Saturday

AquariumJulianna, Emily, and I went to the aquarium and the park together with the grandbabies and their parents this morning. Very fun.

Aquarium (2)Tomorrow evening is my very first night shift and beyond that I only work two other shifts for the rest of the month. So it should be getting a bit quieter and more like normal life around here this summer.  I am hoping to post a bit more often.

This afternoon I need to mail a package, buy more printer ink, pick up Emily after a birthday party, and pick up a car from the shop where the A/C is being repaired.

For dinner tonight I think I will try this recipe in my pressure cooker Indian Butter Chicken. And that’s about as exciting as it is around here today. What’s up at your house?

Modcloth and pizza

Today I went to the first of two days of the Idaho homeschool convention– presented two of my three sessions, and ended up really enjoying the day.  Always during the days right before such an event, I worry-wart about how it will all go.  But all went well and I had lots of really nice conversations with people. It was extra fun because today I was talking about homeschooling AND adoption, so the people who showed up were ones that I had tons in common with, and (hopefully) could be a good encouragement to.

When I got home from the conference this evening, there was a lovely big box from Modcloth. Lidya and Zeytuna have been asked to be bridesmaids in big brother Jared’s wedding next month, and both they and I have been dreading the hunt for just the right dress.  The only stipulation is that it be navy and knee length, but we all have been imagining traipsing from store to store looking and looking and not finding anything that they (ok, and I) like.. So we’ve been putting it off.  Finally we talked it over and decided to just order several options all at once on Modcloth, let the girls try them on at home, and hope for the best.  One evening last week Lidya and I sat down and found four dresses that looked possible, and ordered all four. Conveniently the girls are the same size, so they could each try all four.  And lo and behold, this evening they each found something they liked.  Hooray.  I adore internet shopping, especially when it works that well.  I will return the ones they don’t want next week.  Now all we have to do is find them sandals, which I think should be way easier than dresses.  I hope.

Because pizza is always a winner

In other news, lately I have been cooking so infrequently that last night Ben came home from work at Dominoes with four pizzas, and methodically loaded most of the slices into a big leftover container that he then stuck into the fridge.  Apparently his mother can lo longer be counted on to feed him.  Poor boy.  In my defense, there has been food in the house.  It just mostly consists of peanut butter, cheese sticks and ingredients that require actual cooking effort.  But I start in to part time work on the 14th, which should be much better for the food situation, especially since I can be home for dinner even on the nights that I work.  I can’t say I’ve missed cooking.  But the kids have certainly missed my cooking.  And I have been pinning a few more pressure cooker recipes lately, so maybe there’s hope.

Also Ben-related, he has just been made a manager at Dominoes, which I think is pretty darned good for a kid who just turned 17.  :)

That’s all I have for now.  Except if you’re now craving pizza, here’s our recipe for the actual homemade kind.  Have a great weekend!



Well, John has the pool going and swimming has begun, so it must officially be summer.  This week my experience of summer has been in tantalizing little whiffs of freshness as I come in and out of the hospital morning and evening.  Soon, the night shifts begin, which thought has me anxious now and then– tho not when Jared (23) laughs easily and reminds me of what a night owl I am.  It’ll be fine.

And–hooray!  I’m getting the hang of being circulating nurse for c-sections.  Not perfect at it yet, but I’d say I know what I should be doing a good 85% of the time, which is a 100% improvement over my prowess a month ago.

A couple weeks a very sad thing happened to my Fitbit.  It is the kind that clips onto a bra strap, which probably gives you an immediate guess about what happened, right?  Yes, through the wash it went.

After looking at various options, I decided to replace it with the Fitbit Charge — I am looking forward to seeing how it works. In an average day at work, I put in a good 3 miles, and just wearing a gadget makes me more inclined to go the extra mile, literally.

Off to bed.  Tomorrow is another busy day!  Run anything interesting through the wash at your house lately?



Weekend happenings

First off, I wanted to mention that I’ll be speaking at the CHOIS homeschooling convention next weekend, on Friday about adoption and the homeschooling family, and on Saturday about joy in the journey. Friday I’m moderating a discussion time about the decision to adopt.  I would love for any adopting homeschoolers in the Treasure Valley to come join the conversation!  Or stop in and say hi at my book table in the vender hall– I’ll be there both Friday and Saturday.

Yesterday I zipped over to the DMV with my girls to get Lidya’s new car registered, and (I was hoping) Zeytuna’s driving test.  Except it turns out that the DMV has recently changed its rules about foreign-born adoptees, and we didn’t have quite all the paperwork needed to prove that she is a citizen.  Nevermind that I’d already given them copies of her birth certificate and adoption decree clearly showing she’d been adopted by US citizens. Nevermind that there are many websites that clearly tell that children in her situation ARE already citizens.   We were refused and will be going back another day with even more paperwork.  Bah.

Tomorrow we’re planning a graduation party in the park for Ry, our unofficial 11th kid.  It’s supposed to be 93–whew– so I am planning on lots of watermelon, ice and lemonaid to go with the hot dogs.  Should be fun!  Bless him for suggesting the park as a good party location– our yard is NOT company-ready.

I feel like the busy-ness of life lately has been catching up with me.  My full time orientation stretched a bit longer than I first thought it would, but there are only two weeks left, which I think will be really good. I keep feeling like little things are sliding through the cracks, and we’re definitely eating a lot more fast food and easy stuff than usual.  It will be good to be down to two days a week, and hopefully the night shift thing will work well too.  (We’ll see!)

What do you have going this week?  Any fun plans this summer?


Could there be anything better…

… than five adorable little grandbabies all in a row?



Five sweet kiddos


Well, how about grandbaby #6, due in September?  Her big brother is holding a new little outfit, all ready for her.  :)  We feel so very blessed!




Five  (plus one!)



And while I’m sharing photos, here are a few more photos from our trip.  I’m sure I didn’t get everyone included in this little sample, but we were all there at one time or another and much fun was had by all, including many games of pinochle and lots of time on the beach.  You can click on the photos to enlarge them.


Ocean dreams

I’m sitting here in a sunny house with the roar of ocean in my ears, and sunshine flashing off water before my eyes, and all around me is my family.  It’s our week at the beach, a big long exhale of relaxation for us all in the midst of the busy-ness of life.

ocean view

Here my kids have time to play pinochle with their grandparents, and work on puzzles together.  Kids are playing video games.  This morning John and our youngest girls have been trying out a skim-board on ocean waves.  I’ve snuggled with grandbabies and carried then around long enough each day that my biceps are sore.  We’ve read stories and played games and eaten meals together and cleaned up afterwards together.  We’ve shopped and watched TV and lazed around eating too many snacks. We’ve taken long walks on the beach. We’ve even celebrated a certain kiddo’s third birthday.

Always this time is a highlight of my year, a time where we actually slow down for awhile and enjoy each other.  Ahhhhhh……

And now I’m sitting here trying to get brave enough to tell you about our big crazy-audacious ocean dream, one that John and I have held close to our hearts for a lotta years.

Ever since our very first vacation trip to the Oregon coast on our honeymoon,  we’ve been dreaming of having our own house near the ocean. It sounds crazy and pretentious to even write it, and–  I know, I know–  not frugal in the least.  But the beach has always been our happy place. One of the reasons we drive old cars and go to thrift stores and cook at home is so that we can afford this much-anticipated week or two at the beach each year.

For the past five years, as we’ve gradually gotten closer to paying off our own house, we’ve been looking at land on the Oregon coast, wondering if we could have a space here all of our very own.  And finally last fall we found a lot on a hill looking out at the ocean listed at a really doable price.

We bought it, and we’ve jokingly christened it our mid-life crisis.  It’ll be a few years before we build, but it feels really good to be moving from the dreaming stage (gradually) toward the doing.  First up is to pay off of our current house– 9 more months should do it!  Then we’ll save up a good solid down payment for the new build and go from there.  We’re so excited!

IMG_1984 (457x640)What we’re planning to do is build a house on the lot that would work well for large groups like our family.  Times together are so precious, and I love the idea of designing something that would wisely utilize a space for maximal efficiency for a big group, and make time together easy and comfortable.

In a decade or so of renting vacation houses for our clan,  we’ve learned a lot about what works and what isn’t essential.Sure, size is nice, but layout of the space, and location of bathrooms is a lot more important.  We’ve stayed in homes where the master suite is a palace, and all the other bedrooms are microscopic.  That’s not what we’re going for.  We’d like space where many people can feel comfortable, with great places to gather and also comfy places to be alone. It’s a different kind of frugality, I think, to make every square foot be functional for a big group. If you follow me on Pinterest you’ve seen some of the home ideas that have caught my eye.  I’ve also had help from a really neat computer program called Chief Architect Home Designer .  What fun it’s been to design and dream and rearrange on the computer screen.

The current rendition of our dream plan is 6 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, and 3200 square feet.  Big, yes. But there are no mega-closets, no mega-master suites, no two-story entries. It’s a comfortable two level home with kitchen, dining room and living room on the top level so we can sit and see the ocean while we visit.  (The very first photo in this post is actually a picture of ‘our’ view as close as we can get it so far, from the next door neighbor’s deck.  :)   And to tell the full story, we’ll be looking over the neighbor’s roof tops to see that view of ocean.  But it’s a big lovely view anyway.

We’re thinking to build the house with three master suites so several couples can have private space, with one of those suites being wheelchair accessible so folks can travel with their elderly parents or others who are in wheelchairs. We also plan to  install a stair-chair to make the entire home accessible.   There are bunk beds and extra sleeping spaces  for cousins, and John also has ideas for a really neat play space that I’ll tell you more about later.

KiteOur hope is to offer the home as a vacation rental during the parts of the year that we wouldn’t be using it ourselves.  Best case scenario: it could provide us a bit of retirement income.  Or who knows? Maybe it will only  rent out every now and then, and simply defray a bit of the cost of our own vacations.  We’ll be doing some of the building ourselves to keep the costs affordable.  And I’ve been doing tons of research about vacation rental properties.  I love the idea of making a beautiful welcoming space that would be a place where wonderful memories are made for many families, not just our own.

It’s SUCH a big dream that it feels audacious and nutty to even tell you about it.  But we’re going forward step by step, and waiting to see when doors open finance-wise.

I’ll keep you posted on the whole process. In the meantime– I’d love to hear from those of you who’ve rented homes before, or even considered it.  Do you ever vacation with a large group of friends or extended family? What features are essential to you?  What kinds of things are deal-breakers? I’d love to hear about what’s important to you when you’re vacationing with loved ones.