Saturday, October 31, 2009

Therapy and the Therapist

In any other normal time, I would not have missed an opportunity to give in to the nostalgia of Baby Girl's one-year homecoming anniversary.

This last year has not been a normal time.

Baby Girl (and her parents and siblings, too, I might add) suffered through month after month of doctors visits, hospital stays, specialists, lab work and tests that I am quite certain
did little, if anything, for creating an ideal bonding experience.

Finally, sometime in the spring, we noticed the fog lifting. We were no longer on a first name basis with the pharmacy people at Walgreens and it seemed appropriate to discard at least two-thirds of our accumulated plastic medicine dropper collection. (Which still left us with several dozen. You know, just in case.)

And as her health dramatically improved, we began to relax. Just long enough for her doctor to notice that she (at 19 months old) was still cruising around the furniture and not standing unassisted.

Thus began our foray into the world of Early Intervention. Have you been there? It's a nice place to visit, but I'm keeping my passport close at hand, in case of a speedy departure. We've been evaluated, re-valuated, and screened. We've been classified, qualified and certified. Which won us two weekly hour long therapy appointments--one in Physical Therapy and the other in Developmental Therapy. The P/T therapist had one session with Baby Girl (who at 34 lbs and 3 ft. tall probably needs a new name...) and she started walking. Success--more so for the therapist's stats than for us as we knew she was close.

The D/T therapist was another story.

Little happened during those sessions that wasn't happening in our home already. And, truth be told, when a woman a decade younger than me with two children whose ages together don't total the number of arklings around here; I am a bit of a cynic.

Turns out that it wasn't just my cynicism at work, however, Baby Girl (who in addition to her physical stature also wears a plus-sized streak of stubbornness and strong will) had the therapist figured out at 'hello'.

And while Baby Girl's expressive language is clearly lacking, her receptive language more than makes up for it. Particularly when she heard the aforementioned D/T therapist's story about her own toddler's strong will:

D/T therapist: What's the matter Baby Girl? You don't want to play put the ball in a cup?

Baby Girl proceeds to pick up cup and ball and bails.

D/T therapist (to me): It's okay. My two year old is just like this.

Me (I don't think I said this out loud): I am just shocked.

D/T therapist (to me again): No seriously, (maybe I did say that out loud?) Why just the other morning, we were sitting at the breakfast table and my husband went to get something out of the freezer and my daughter saw ice cream.

Me: wondering aloud if this story is going where I fear it is.

D/T therapist: So, of course, she starts screaming for ice cream.

Me: Of course.

D/T therapist: Well, I looked from her to my husband and said to him, " Why on earth would you tease her with ice cream in the morning?"

***I'll insert here that I'd like to think that my expression may have mimicked the husband's because she scowled a bit at me and continued.***

D/T therapist: And I just thought to myself, 'You know, you have to pick your battles.' And I dished her up a bowl of ice cream.

Me: ?

D/T therapist: She did stop screaming.

Baby Girl (who has been within earshot this whole time) sauntered back in, dropped the ball in the cup and then looked at me--as if to say--"I am so done with her."

Needless to say, we have stopped D/T. And replaced it, with a more appropriate course of Speech and Language Therapy. Which was the intent of this post in the first place. I've found some fascinating information regarding adopted infants/toddlers and speech and language delays.

But I'll have to share it with you next time. Baby Girl is screaming. I need to go fix her some ice cream. ;-)

Halloween Fright

Now this is scary.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Yummy Coffee Cake

When we went on our apple picking adventure, the lovely people at the orchard gave us a pamphlet with some of their favorite apple recipes. We've tried a few, but by far, the recipe below has been the Ark's favorite.

Quick Apple Nut Coffee Cake

1 tube buttermilk biscuits
3 T. melted butter
1/4 c. sugar
2 peeled, sliced apples
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 c. chopped nuts

Dip biscuits in melted butter. Lay in 9 inch round cake pan. Lay apples on top biscuits. Mix cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle over apples. Sprinkle nuts over top. Drizzle with remaining butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


Since this recipe as written would barely serve as a snack for The Boy, necessity warranted that I triple it. And, as is typical around here, the children all vetoed the use of any type of nut. My simple solution to these two problems? Grease a 9 x 13 pan and triple the recipe. And, most importantly, drizzle a liberal coating of cream cheese icing (homemade or this one will work fine) to the top of the coffee cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. Simple and delicious!

Unfortunately, there are no pictures to document this scrumptious cake. Not because there is never a crumb left (although that's true), but because my digital camera has developed a nasty case of interference on the screen and I can't get any pictures!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

From Sunday's Sermon

"Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it." -- Helen Keller

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Seven Minutes of Flu FAQs

This video was created by the Will County Health Department. H1N1 Clinics begin this week in the Fox Valley. You can find more information at the Kendall County Health Department and the Kane County Health Department.

We're definitely planning to get all the arklings in for the vaccine asap! How about you?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What About God's Will?

Did any of you catch Jen's post about God's will? If you didn't head on over and read it--even the comments.

I'll wait.

As a mother, but more specifically as an adoptive mother, the scenario she describes caught my attention immediately. I read it and re-read it while somewhere in the recesses of my mind a thought continued to escape me. Until now.

What I find so interesting is not the question that was posed, but the narrow scope of response to it. I'm beginning to think that the devil straps blinders on to Christians as soon as the waters of Baptism have dried. Not that the responses were narrow-minded, mind you. The comments were categorically in support of the caller. And it is a good thing to see Christians encouraging and supporting one another--looking for the silver lining, as it were, to her dark cloud. There are plenty of Christian circles where the bus doesn't even make that stop.

But still. About midway through the comments I had a feeling that I just couldn't shake. The responses felt lacking. There was a quality of falsehood or impossibility or maybe they were, in my mind, simply inadequate. But why? What was it that continued to nag at me? I attempted to put the thought out of my head, but to no avail. Until finally something clicked. There was a cavernous gorge that refused to be bridged in this situation. In my situation. In any Christian's situation.

The disconnect comes with the presumption of this caller and the subsequent comments that a life lived in line with God's will equals a life void of struggle and suffering. There's the rub, eh? No wonder the woman caller was beside herself with worry about her situation. People mistakenly believe that a Christian life, lived according to God's will, is a cake walk. Particularly Christians.

I won't do anyone the disservice of pointing out the times--especially online-- where people have publicly declared that the unraveling of their lives was a direct result of their not following "God's will". The beautiful scripture from St. Matthew's gospel is often quoted to illustrate their point:

"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light." Matthew 11: 28-30
The conclusion reached by some, then, is that being in accordance with God's will means a life of ease and lighter loads. And if you're not. Well, then, look out.

But does it really?

Have you ever seen a yoke? The kind a farmer might have used to harness a pair of oxen together? The yoke alone might weigh roughly 100 pounds. But compared to the approximately two tons of oxen hitched to it, it seems small--almost insignificant. Its significance, however, is integral to the success of the difficult work the oxen must do.

And right there, in the seemingly irrelevant yoke referenced by St. Matthew , is where those two polar opposites of suffering and joy intersect with God's will.

The farmer yokes his oxen together by virtue of the fact that if they were left to themselves the difficult task at hand would be nearly impossible to accomplish. As a matter of fact, the oxen will be completely dependent on this piece of equipment throughout their work. If it breaks, it could endanger the people with the oxen as well as the oxen themselves. Not to mention that there will be great stress on the yoke as the work progresses and the oxen themselves grow in size and stature. A good farmer (and probably anyone with an 8th grade physics education) knows that a longer yoke is necessary for pulling simple loads while the difficult work of pulling a heavy burden requires a short yoke, where the animals are yoked closely together for greater combined strength.

What would I have told the woman caller?

I think I know now.

I would have offered her encouragement of a different kind, I think. I would have reminded her to pray for God's will and then to yoke herself tightly--with the shortest yoke possible--to God. Because the Christian journey isn't always easy--even when we are following God's will. And it is always in God's will to drawn us ever closer--and yoke us ever tighter--to Him.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

One Benefit of Being Busy

I would never have tried out this recipe if I wasn't so pressed for time. It just sounds wrong. But it was right. Oh, so very, very right!

Want to make it even simpler? I browned over 5 pounds of ground beef at one time and froze 1-2 pound bags of it. Not even a greasy skillet to speak of for my troubles. Now, if I really wanted to get all high-speed, I'd enlist the help of one of these bad boys to help my clean-up!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

From Sunday's Sermon

On the authority of the Church:

It is as with the cemetery worker who once stated, "I've got all these people under me, but none of them will listen."

Friday, October 16, 2009

New Adoption Book

How have I managed to miss this one? It's a pairing of two greats, in my opinion. Dr. Ray Guarendi (adoptive father of 10 and psychologist whose words still echo in my head from time to time) and adoption. Dr. Ray's book Adoption: Choosing It, Living It, Loving It is now available! A few reviews of the book are posted here.

I especially like his motivation for writing--that "Maybe some couple will adopt because of something they read here," he writes. "Maybe some child unknown to me will get a mom, dad, family, brothers, sisters, and more."

If his book does that for even one child, it will be a runaway success!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Natural Garden Control

I am happy to report that all of your suggestions were as helpful as they were effective--which is more to the point!

I'm not sure what finally put the little leaf munchers over the edge--but something did.

We ended up using a combination of Japanese beetle bags, coffee grinds, and soapy water (thanks, Denise, Michelle, and Rhonda!)

Unfortunately, once we had taken care of the pests, our garden was hit with late-season blight and we had to pull of our nightshade veggies out of the garden. Fortunately, most of my non-blighted tomatoes were ripe enough to go from green to ripe on my kitchen counter. After all our garden plagues this summer, I'd say it's a good thing we don't need to rely on our own abilities for sustenance.

All these early Americans we've been reading about? It's a wonder to me that they didn't all starve to death--or at least the line of gardeners I'm descended from!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Early Explorers

Our past week has been a whirl wind of explorers of early America. Beginning with St. Brendan, the Vikings (what exactly was so great about mead, people?) and following through Christopher Columbus to the early colonial settlements.

It's one of those occasions where I find myself pining for the, relatively-speaking, ancient history of my New England youth. I tried and tried to find a wonderful colonial village in the Chicago metro area but to no avail. There were people here at that time, don't let me mislead you, but they were not the colonial people with whom I associate the 17th and early 18th century. (Oh to live within driving distance of the Plimoth Plantation again!) I am, however, trying to embrace my mid-western history and discovered an interesting little game on the early exploration of Illinois. It's brief, but worth a look.

Plus, now I have even more reason to extend my stay on the East coast next summer....Field trips!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Reason Number 2

The other day I was feeling overwhelmed. Too many appointments, too many commitments. More than enough of everything to go around--except me. How could I possibly meet all those needs for all those people? I hadn't a clue, but I knew Someone who did so I asked for help. And as is always God's way, a simple request is often met with joyful abundance.

Extraneous commitments were dropped. A few appointments were rescheduled. Priorities were rearranged and the tide began its easy ebb out to sea. Sighs of relief were breathed. Most of all by a grateful me.

But, God wasn't finished yet.

In my inbox came an email--a totally random, out-of-the-blue email. With the subject line: The 10 Most Important Things You Need to Know About Homeschooling and a suggestion to "check out #2". So, I clicked through and found The 10 Most...article and had to smile as I read number two:

"2. You are qualified to homeschool your children if you love to read to them, love to spend time with them, love to explore the world with them, love to see them learn new things and, most importantly, love them. Again, don’t doubt your ability! "

One more wink from God, I'd say.

And, just in case you're interested, the rest of the Top 10 Reasons can be found here.

Friday, October 09, 2009

At Long Last!

I only "discovered" this show (and by default, this wonderful story line about Pam and Jim) last year. It's been the date night show of choice for the Captain and I ever since. And even though we're not finished watching the final episodes from last season, when I heard that a wedding was in the works, I set my DVR and cried right alongside Andy Bernard as the whole staff joined in the festivities.

I don't think I was ever any happier at a wedding.

Okay, maybe my own.

But this one runs a close second.

Pumpkin Carving

It's that time of year again.

Oh,'s almost that time of year. Cut a fall loving girl some slack, won't you?

Besides this pumpkin or this jack o'lantern might actually make it all the way to Halloween without rotting.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Drive Thru History

As a part of our American History studies this year, we are entrenched this week in the study of the explorers of Early America. On a whim, I picked up a copy of Drive Thru History: Episodes 1-3 from our local library (my favorite place to shop).

I couldn't have been more surprised (or pleased!) when I arrived home and noticed the Focus on the Family stamp on the back of the DVD case. We settled in at the end of our school day to view the first episode, which covered Christopher Columbus, the Khan-Polo Connection, Florence and Amerigo Vespucci.

It was even better than I had hoped.

Not only was the content thorough and well-presented, but the series manages to weave the importance of Christian figures throughout. What a pleasant surprise!

Sure, everyone recognizes the names of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. But do you know what motivated Columbus to choose the name Santa Maria for one of his vessels?

And, if I remember my own school days correctly, our great land derives its name from the explorer Vespucci. But do you know where he got his name?

The people at Coldwater Media are on to something good. Take a look and see.

From Episode 1-The Discovery:

DTH :: Episode 1 INTRO from ColdWater Media on Vimeo.

From Episode 2-The Pilgrims

DTHUS :: Episode 2 INTRO from ColdWater Media on Vimeo.

From Episode 3-Boston and the Revolution

DTHUS :: Episode 3 INTRO from ColdWater Media on Vimeo.

Additional trailers and discussion guides are available at the Drive Thru History site.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

From "All Things Girl"

This weekend, I was again delighted and encouraged to spend time with my eldest daughters and a multitude of faithful mothers and their daughters continuing our study of the All Things Girl book Mirror, Mirror on the Wall...What is Beauty After All?

We shared these two clips from the Dove "Campaign for Real Beauty". Take a look at them if you've never seen them before. They are quite illuminating. And, of course, I couldn't let the opportunity to let this timely article, written by Elizabeth Foss, pass by our topic of "Dignity, Self-Image and the Media".

Monday, October 05, 2009

Blogging In Morse Code

As the new school year started, I had been contemplating how (if at all) to make use of the blog throughout the year.
I had already dealt with the creepiness of total cyber-strangers leering at the photos of my children on here and (as you may have noticed) removed most of the arklings' photos.
I knew that I still wanted to have a place to document our days and memories that would be easy for me to maintain. But, and most importantly, I wanted to make sure that my time here did not detract from my primary vocation as wife and mother (including teaching!)

My solution?

A style of blogging I'm calling "morse code".

When I have time to sit and write something well thought-out, carefully edited, particularly poignant--I will. These longer posts are important to documenting our journey, but the reality is that I can't do that often if I'm living intentionally offline--where eager learners beckon me to teach and God's call to ministry is firmly on my heart. Where providing for my family's needs are a light yoke when I don't overburden myself elsewhere--including online. Where I can delight in the trials and tales of my children without the concern or need to share every single anecdote with the world wide web. Some of those moments, while possibly perfect for a journal, will be kept not on a keyboard but in my heart instead.

When I don't have the time to write it all down, but have a few minutes to share an interesting link to a place we've been, an article I've read or a recipe we're eating (and, oh my, there are a few out there right now!)--I will. These shorter posts fill in some of the details of our life and never required a lengthy diatribe anyway.

Short--short--long. Short--long--short--short.

Morse code blogging.

I think I like it.

Friday, October 02, 2009

A Day of Astronomy

For my local readers...A Day of Astronomy is an event you might like to take advantage of tomorrow. Our upcoming science unit is Astronomy--and this event is FREE! I don't think you'll have to ask us twice.

A Little Something on the Side

In my spare time, (insert maniacal laughter here) I've been helping our local Catholic family network hop on the information superhighway. Stop by and check out our new site. If you live in the Fox Valley area-- check back often. There's quite a bit going on!