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Welcome to my family blog. I have been married to Mike for over half of my life. I love my Savior, Jesus. I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom to six terrific, interesting children. My 3 oldest were born to me in my younger years, while my 3 youngest were given to me by God in my older years. I am very blessed. ~Cheri

8.28.2011

Another Anniversary

I almost let today's anniversary pass me by.  It is another milestone in our lives that I am sure will be remembered but not as celebrated as the years turn into a blur.

I remember that early morning flight...we all do.  We loved (especially Jack and Seth) heading to the airport when it was still dark out.  We caught our connecting flight to Chicago, and like our first trip to Eva, grabbed our breakfast of cinnamon buns and coffee.  We walked around O'Hare airport, looking in shops as we waited for our 12:30-ish flight to Hong Kong.


The flight to HK was long, but everyone did well.  Eva only fussed the last couple of hours.  We arrived in Hong Kong, tired, smelly, and sleepy.


After a long layover, we connected to Guangzhou and was at the White Swan by midnight.  We found out that we would meet Joy the next day instead instead of having a full day of rest.  I remember feeling anxious, yet excited that we'd finally meet the little girl we've been singing about for the last 7 months.



We met Joy around 4:30 pm.  She had a long bus ride from Wuchuan.  She was sick, quiet, and smelled like she had been dunked in baby powder.  But, she was ours.  She went from a scared little girl on that first day, not crawling, walking, or even eating solid foods to squealing, running, and eating on her own by the time we left China 2 weeks later.


Joy and Me the morning of September 12th.

We left China bright and early the morning of Eva's 2nd birthday.  And, what a birthday it was.  Eva has never been so rotten as she was for that 36 hour birthday.  She fussed, whined, screamed, threw fits.  It was hard on her.  We laugh about it now, but I remember going into the bathroom on that long flight home, sitting down and just crying and asking God to help me endure the long trip home with Eva.  Joy, on the other hand, was a little easier to deal with.  With a little singing, holding, and food, she was a happy girl.  Hats off to the wonderful United flight attendants who brought us treats and encouragement during that long flight.  They were probably glad to see us leave!

8.25.2011

This and That

Well, I barely have gotten one project completed before starting another one...or two.  I've decided to paint the fireplace mantle.  The builders did a lazy job when this house was built.  So many cheap short-cuts and the fireplace was not spared.  The mantle does not sit directly on the tiles, so you can see the sloppy grout job behind the wood.  I am hoping to get some wood trim to close it up.  In the meantime, I am forcing asking Seth to assist in the sanding.


My niece, Violet is over for the day.  She is the same age as the girls.  I consider her my babysitter because when she is over, I don't see my girls too much.  Is that considered child labor?  Anyway,  I fixed them some blueberry muffins for breakfast.  Out of all the food I have fixed her over the years, she has only eaten mac and cheese and my blueberry muffins.  Isn't Violet cute?


Joy likes my muffins, too.  It just takes her too long to eat them, or eat anything for that matter.  She will spend an hour at breakfast trying to eat soggy cereal or muffins.  I think the only thing she eats quickly is...mac and cheese...no surprise there.



So, after the other girls finished up their breakfast and went outside to do this:


...Joy is still sitting in the kitchen doing this...


I know.  She's cute and fun.  How bad can it be to have this little one sitting at the counter all day long talking to me?  Well, it is not too bad if you like to hear her constant sound effects.  She is always talking, humming, singing, making some sort of noise.  As I type this I'm listening to her mumbling about nothing.  There is no one else here at the moment and she is in constant noise making mode, except when she is asleep.  :Sigh:

We sort of started school around here.  Since I'm trying to fast track Seth, I got him started this week on his English/Lit and Music.  I found this amazing book at the library by accident.


It discusses various composers and styles of music, and it even includes 2 narrated CD's with portions of music of each composer.    I'm quite pleased because I was not sure how to teach this subject.  Seth finds it interesting (especially the section about the hot-tempered Bach getting into a fight with a bassoonist), which I'm surprised at considering his lack of taste in music.  And today, he starts his government class.

And here is Joy still trying to finish off that muffin.  Maybe I should take some lessons from her and eat slower and less.  I probably would not have this extra 10 pounds hanging around.


8.23.2011

Old News By Now

Today just after lunch I let the children watch a movie.  I needed to take a short rest since I went to bed late last night and got up early this morning.  So, I am lying there on my bed, knowing that I need to get showered and take the crew to soccer.  As I am getting up, our house starts to gently rock.  It was the strangest sensation.  Our house has shook before from large, loud trucks barreling down the road.  But, this was different.  I waited to hear a truck or a jet, but there was no sound.  My first thought after that was that we just had an earthquake.  So, headed downstairs and asked Jack if he felt the house shake.  Jokingly, he replied, "Yeah, we just had an earthquake."  Well, my thoughts exactly, buddy, but I did not say anything.  I went back upstairs and waited, feeling for more shaking.  After a couple of minutes I checked the local news online.  Sure enough, they were reporting a 5.8 earthquake.

I texted Jordan.  And she was really bothered by it.  She was on the 12th floor downtown at work.  I'm sure she probably felt it much more with the swaying of the buildings.  I texted Mike, who is out of town on business.  He missed all the excitement today:  an earthquake, and his son scored 2 goals in his first scrimmage soccer game.

 Seth with the ball.

8.20.2011

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

I have finally gotten all my school stuff together.


It will be an interesting school year.  Ivy is finishing up her 2nd grade DVD school year in about 55 more lessons.  I wanted to do a lesson every day this summer, but somehow we did not manage that.  I am schooling Eva and Joy more diligently this year.  Last year it was hit and miss with the two of them.  Seth has 4 credits left, which I am hoping to fast track (a whole other post).  But for the next 11 days, this is his book of choice:

 
Then there is Jack...that could be a whole other post, but I won't do that to you.  Jack learns differently.  Last year we did the Countries and Cultures with My Fathers World.  It was excellent!  He and I enjoyed that tremendously.  Jack doesn't concentrate too well.  He needs certain things to help him along, so I bought him this putty to play with while we school:


And, since he likes gory stuff, I bought him these for his reading material.  Now, before you look..don't judge me.  You have to understand that Jack does not feel real confident in his reading skills.  So, I thought I'd buy something that really interested him, to get him motivated, thus these:


It is the Graphic Forensic Science books.  They are set up like comic books.  As much as I'd love for him to sit down with a Sir Walter Scott or an Alex Dumas book, it just is not happening with him.  But, one day...one day I'm hoping he'll love to read a classic novel.  But, for now, this is what I'm letting him devour:


Yes, it is an autopsy book.  Also included in the set are Corpses & Skeletons, Crime Scenes, Criminal Profiling, Trace Evidence, and Ballistics.  Guys like this sort of thing.  I was even enjoying a little bit of it.  To even out his reading material, I did purchase him the anatomy course from Apologia.  I thought it would fit in nicely with the gory stuff.

I have always wanted to use these to help my children learn their math facts:


I finally made the purchase of the 4 basics:  addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  I am very pleased with them.  Ivy and Eva have been playing around with them.  They will really help Eva and Joy with their motor skills, too.  Joy is still struggling, but, Eva is starting to wrap them up nicely.

And thanks to a big dog that will remain unnamed, I found the corner of Jack's American History book chewed up!


So, other than my post from a couple of days ago (which still has my head spinning a bit) this is all that is going on in our house.  Seth's soccer games start this week (he is playing in 2 leagues, keeping very busy), and Jack starts his soccer practice.  I'm not sure when we will be starting our school year.  I'm trying to savor these last couple of weeks.

8.19.2011

No Words Necessary

Seth and Sgt. M.

8.18.2011

Another Teenager in the House

As if there is not enough drama in this house...we now have another teenager.


Millie is 13 and still her frisky self.  She gave us much grief trying to run away from us initially, but once she learned family was a good thing, she decided to stick around.  For some reason, I don't think Millie is going to give me much heartache in her golden years.  Although we don't know her exact birthday, we got her on August 18, 1999.  The vet said she was about a year at that time.  She and Jack are close in age.

8.16.2011

Chinese Food

We all liked Chinese food before we even adopted from China.  We have a few nice places in town that we frequent often.  We always thought they were just fabulous.  That is until we went to China and had real Chinese food.  Unfortunately, some of the amazing foods we ate in Beijing, Nanchang, and Guangzhou, we cannot get at our local restaurants.  So, I ventured online and to the local Chinese markets for some finds.  Because I love greens, I found this Bok Choy recipe.  I've fixed it a few times, but only Ivy, Jordan, Seth, Mike and I will eat it.  I could live off this stuff.


You want to buy the baby Bok Choy, and I steamed Jasmine rice and dumplings/pot stickers with it.


Ivy is always happy when we have this sort of meal.  She confessed to me last night that she did not eat greens in China.  I actually noticed that when we were there together.  I'm glad she decided to venture out of her safe box.

Joy is just a big starch ball.  All she wants to eat is rice and pasta in no fussy order.  Last night she had seconds only of the rice and pot stickers.  Eva did, too.  I took Jack to Wendy's for chili.  Such is life with Jack.

8.15.2011

I Must Have Perseverance; Character is Next

I must have perseverance because Romans 5:3-4 says, "And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulations brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;"

I don't usually tease with my blog posts.  At least it is not intentional.  I try to keep my life somewhat private.  So, I'm praying that this scripture truly comes to pass in my life because, well, life can be so difficult at times.  I don't know when the character or hope will arrive, but let it be soon, Lord, soon.  I am tired.

8.10.2011

Joy-ism

Joy is not one to say anything too clever or witty.  She is usually very matter-of-fact, plain and simple.  But, every now and then Joy says things that is so out of character for her.  For example today, some friends stopped by briefly.  The girls were running in and out of the house during that time, playing.  A little after they left, I asked Joy if she said hello to our friends.  She replied, so un-Joy-like, "No....I freaked out!"


Maybe your children say this sort of thing.  Mine do not.  I guess that is why I thought it was so amusing and worthy of a short blog post.

8.09.2011

Because You Asked

These Chocolate Dulce De Leche Bars are soooo good.  I have not eaten them.  Well, sort of.  Since I cannot eat gluten, and graham crackers have gluten, I just scrape the top layer of chocolate and goo off and savor it for a while.  I don't even have the vocabulary to describe it.  They are rich.  Very rich.  So rich, that my sweet-a-holic son will not eat them.  So, because you asked and deserve it, here is the recipe:

CRUST

18 graham cracker boards, crushed
4 TB sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted


FILLING AND TOPPING

3 TB cornstarch
2 TB milk
2 cans (14 ounces each) sweetened condensed milk
4 TB unsalted butter, softened
2 TB light corn syrup
8 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
1 tsp vegetable shortening (oh, yeah)

1.  Heat oven to 350.  Line a 13x9x2 inch baking pan with nonstick foil:  overhang short ends slightly.

2.  Crust.  Stir the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, salt, and butter in a bowl until evenly moistened.  Transfer crumb mixture to prepared baking pan; press crumb mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan.  Refrigerate 30 minutes.

3.  Bake the crust at 350 for 17 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove to a rack and cool completely.

4.  Filling & Topping.  Stir together cornstarch and milk.  Bring condensed milk, butter, and corn syrup to a boil over medium-high heat in a small saucepan, stirring constantly to prevent burning.  Whisk in cornstarch mixture; cook 2 minutes, whisking, or until thickened.  Pour over crust, spreading level.  Bake at 350 for 8 minutes or until topping starts to bubble.  Remove to a rack; refrigerate for 2 hours or until cool.

5.  Microwave chocolate and shortening for 1 minute or until melted, stirring halfway.  Stir until smooth.  Spread evenly over filling and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes or until set.  Use foil to lift bar from pan to a cutting board.  Cut into 16 bars.

FYI:  Because we are vultures when it comes to sweets at our house, Jordan cut down on the cooling times by putting them in the freezer instead of refrigerator for shorter time periods.

8.08.2011

Death By High Fat Content aka Chocolate Dulce De Leche Bars

Jordan made these last night.  Shame, shame, shame on her.  She has always been a great baker, but her regular cooking skills need some fine tuning.  She and her future husband may just have to survive on love and baked goods.



So, these babies have 456 calories (maybe less since I cut them into smaller pieces), 20 g fat (12 of which are saturated), 63 carbohydrates, 7 g protein, 1 g fiber, 269 g sodium, and get this...50 mg cholesterol!  Don't ask for the recipe...I might be charged with something.  Who makes up these recipes anyway?

8.06.2011

You Know You Are Getting Old...

...when summers fly by as quickly as it did this year.  Remember the lazy days of summer when we were kids and it seemed as if we would never get old?  Remember when 40 seemed ancient?  What grand times!  Now, summers are so different.  The good thing about home schooling is that we can make them last just a bit longer.  But, yesterday, we headed to co-op to get the children's pictures taken.  Co-op does not start until September, but they all look forward to going back every semester.  Don't you just love these fake smiles, especially Jack's?





Seth is not participating in co-op this year.  I'm sure he will be greatly missed!  We have big plans to graduate him a bit early if at all possible.  He hopes to join the military this time next year.

8.04.2011

Dishwasher Dilemna

Usually, Ivy and Eva take turns emptying parts of the dishwasher.  One day Eva will do silver, Ivy will do the dishes.  The next day, they alternate.  I told them they had to keep track of what they did.  They can't.  There always seems to be a conflict.  So, I started writing on the calendar whose turn it was to do the WHOLE dishwasher.  The girls just looked at me.  I'm not good at remembering any more than they are, so I came up with this:


Since Ivy emptied the dishwasher last night, she had to put and "E" for Eva.  It is now Eva's turn to empty.  Once Eva empties, she will replace the "E" with an "I".  I think that will solve the problem.  Eva happily walked into the kitchen this morning, bright eyed, saying, "It's my turn to empty the dishwasher!"  Then, I happily replied that they were not even clean yet.  Amazing what a little letter can do for a chore.

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