Friday, October 28, 2011


Since our furnace duct work has been removed, and the temps are dipping down there these days, this is our favorite item in the house:

Isn't she beautiful?
I have never regretted putting a wood burning stove in our house. It has kept us warm during snow storms that took out the power, and it's just nice to snuggle up to after coming in from the cold winter air.  The kids also like to park in front of it after taking a bath!

We cut firewood every year to keep it going, and that is a great family activity as well.  As the saying goes- burning wood is the activity that warms you twice- once when you're cutting the wood, and again when you're burning the wood :-)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Housemoving- Day 2

The movers started banging in the basement this morning at 7:30 and continued throughout the day, getting the rest of the girders placed under the house.  Thanks to the gaping holes in our basement, it was a bit brisk in our house this morning!

And, since the house is already torn apart inside, we decided that we would go ahead and sand the wood floors that had been under the nasty icky carpet that we had torn up.  Its funny, but the more you fix, the more you notice that needs fixing!

4 passes with a buff sander to start out- tomorrow I'll work on the edging and the strip in the middle there where the repair was done.  I can't wait to see how it looks with the polyurathane coating!

And this is how we are living ....

Feels like we're camping.  No heat except the wood burning stove, the bathroom with the shower is off-limits because the plumbing on that end of the house is disconnected, most of our belongings are boxed up and furniture is crammed into rooms that it doesn't belong in. (I have an upright piano sitting in the middle of my kitchen, for crying out loud.)

I'm adventurous and all, but I cannot wait to have this over and done with.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The movers have arrived~

Look at what showed up in our driveway today..

These are the girders that will support our house as it goes down the road.

And yes, it makes me just a little nervous, thinking of our house being jacked up and driven down these narrow gravel roads.  I have visions of it tipping into a ditch- oh, did I say that out loud?

To prepare for the move, we have had to cut down all the trees around the house, which was painful in a sentimental we-took-family-pics-in-front-of-them sort of way for me, and a physical oh-my-back-is-killing-me-from-using-this-chainsaw sort of way for Loren.

We are also detaching our deck so that we can reattach it after the move.

I always knew my volleyball kneepads would come in handy.

We are told it takes around 5-6 days to get the house jacked up to prepare for it's trip down the road.  Until then, we are able to live in the house and watch the work being done.

Once all the utilities are unconnected, we will be homeless for a few days and will most likely stay in town somewhere.  Being the homebody that I am, I am digging my heels in and staying put for as long as I can. (I wish I had a cute cartoon to insert here of a woman hanging to the window sill by her fingertips- that's kinda how I'm feeling :-)

We will keep posting their progress over the next few days~

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A sad anniversary..

It's amazing what the human heart can go through and still remain intact. 

14 years ago today, 2 of my children, Travis and Erin, were in a car accident just 5 miles from our home.

Travis walked away from the accident.  Erin did not.

The one thing that I always feared the most came true.  And it turns out no matter how fastidiously, and carefully, and obsessively you watch over your children, you can't protect them from everything.  

Suddenly, you are a member of this horrible club, made up of parents who have lost a child.  And you are sure that you won't make it through to the end of the week, because your heart is breaking and you can barely breath.  

And the first year, it's as if you are underwater.  Things happen in your presence that you are barely aware of, because you are struggling to keep yourself from sobbing and melting into a senseless mess on the floor, every. single. day. 

And time goes on.

Suddenly, it's been 14 years since hearing the horrible news, and you realize that you are still in one piece.  Older, more compassionate, much more sensitive to other people's suffering, and so amazed at how resilient this old heart can be.

Erin, not a day goes by that I don't think of you, and look forward to seeing you again someday in heaven..
You are my first daughter, my precious Er-Bear, and you hold such a special place in my heart. 

Miss you SO MUCH!!!  Love you more than words can say.
xxoo Mom

P.S.  Keep an eye on your brothers and sisters- they need a Guardian Angel like you :-)

Friday, October 21, 2011


This face just says it all....


Yes, we have finally received our cable.  Whew.  Kinda wondering if it would ever find it's way to our door.  After gleaning much wisdom from my adoption mentors on our Yahoo group and finding out that I can request the pdf file of my cable, I emailed the NVC, received this file,  and emailed it to my agency.

And the next day it arrived in the mail.  Good grief.

It's apparent to me that if and when we do a second China adoption, I will be so much wiser and it will take much less time because maybe I'll know what I'm doing.

For now, I continue to plug along in my ignorance, hoping that we get our Article 5 in record time, followed by our Travel approval (TA) from China. 

I was so hoping that we would travel in November, but it's just not looking like it now.  I didn't want my one trip to China to be done in cold weather so that we're stuck in the hotel, or so close to Christmas that we end up not spending the holidays with our children here at home.

I know that I'm demanding.  I wanted this trip that I've dreamed of for almost 30 years to be just incredible, full of exotic memories of exploring the sites and seeing Chinese culture up close.  And I wanted it to fit into my schedule, thank you very much.

But today, I happened to open my Bible and guess what Proverb it popped open to?

"Since the Lord is directing our steps, why try to understand everything that happens along the way?"  Proverbs 20:24

Not even kidding.  I just about choked when I saw it!  I had highlighted it from an earlier reading, and there it was, all righteous and whatnot.

So now that I've been reminded, I guess I will stop questioning all the delays and just sit back and try to enjoy the ride. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

While we wait

Waiting seems to be the theme of our days.

We are waiting for our Visa Center cable so that our agency can start travel requests to China.  The average 7-10 day wait has turned into 15 days as of today.  Our 2 week approval timeframe was up to 48 days.

We are waiting for the movers to get our house jacked up and moved to our other farm before the weather begins to get cold.  They start tomorrow, and they tell us it takes almost 6 days to complete.  We started this process in April.

We are waiting to get the wooden floors buffed and varnished once we get all of these other tasks done first because the movers need them done- cutting down trees by the driveway and removing the deck.  Until then, our living room is all boxed up and empty of furniture.

So while we wait, we are trying to go through our days as normally as we can. 

Today for homeschooling- we were working on Chinese characters for history. I told the girls that I needed to know which restroom to use on our trip, so they wrote our "Men" and "Women" for me.  Love my girls!

 Isn't it crazy-coincidental that this year our history core is Eastern Hemisphere and that we're learning about China right now?  Definitely getting me in the mood to travel....TO CHINA!

Doing Chinese caligraphy with an ink stick and brush.

So here's to getting our house moved and settled, and here's to receiving our cable so that we can move forward to bringing Quinn home. 

 Cuz we're just tired of waiting.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Quilted memories

Yesterday we went to Sioux Falls to celebrate two of my cousin's birthdays, visit my aunt in her new "digs" and have lunch together.

With the move came the necessity to downsize, so my cousins had spent many hours splitting up family momentos and photos, along with other unnecessary "stuff".  

Because of my love of quilts, I was bequethed this special momentum from many years ago, that belonged to my aunt's mother, my Grandma Mik.

Each family had made at least one square that would represent their family, and it was put together as a gift for my Grandma Mik for her birthday many years ago.  After 20 years,  it is somewhat ragged and showing the effects of use, but it is special to me and I will cherish it always. :-)
Meanwhile, I finally finished the quilt that I was working on for Quinn.  I picked alot of fun colors and soft textures, to stimulate her senses and also give her something that she will want to cuddle up with for comfort.  If you look closely, you can see her name and her birthday stitched in one of the middle pink squares.

Quinn Dec 16, 2009
  [Okay people, I've got the quilt done, her suitcase packed, and I'm READY TO GO!!!  So send the approval already!!!]

By the way, I just have to add that I am always so proud to take my kids to gatherings, because they pull out the manners that they may not use around Mom and Dad all the time, and they are AWESOME around others!  The girls didn't complain one bit about all of us old people sitting around and visiting at an Assisted Living home, and they were friendly and able to hold a conversation with an adult. 

They make this momma proud!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Falls and Science Doings

Pastor Steve, Sharon and I took our Hi-League kids on their monthly outing, this time to the Falls Park and then to the Kirby Science Museum at the Washington Pavilion.  The weather cooperated nicely and it was hard to leave the sunny Park to go indoors for the Science center, but once inside, the kids quickly got to work having fun.

Hi-League in front of the Falls
Sears Pose!!

Boys and a muscle car

Up on the tower balcony
Kaylee, Bri, and Lani- the 3 Musketeers

Jedi force

Building an arch

We ended the day with a Dairy Queen run to celebrate Lani's upcoming birthday, and just because ice cream sounded SO GOOD! All in all, a good day for some Christian Fellowship.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


With all that has happened this past year, I find myself looking for answers everywhere, including Christian music. 
Whenever I hear this song, it makes me hope that our struggles have been for a reason.
Meanwhile, Quinn is waiting and we are chomping at the bit to go and get her.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Canning Season is D.O.N.E. !

Frugal Friday~

"An Army marches on it's stomach."  Napoleon

Canning is a wonderful way of saving money, eating healthier, decreasing pollution and fuel consumption (Oh yes it does!), provides you with a good amount of food stored for emergencies, and even satisfies your lofty pursuit of reducing your carbon footprint.

Canning season in our home starts in June with jams, and ends with root crops- my last item was parsnips.  My gardens are basically emptied, with the exception of some lettuce we are using until it freezes, and Italian parsley that is growing still and will be cut and dried later this month.

Here is a list of what we canned or froze this year:
Green Beans- 50 qts
Carrots- 12 qts
Jam- rasp  7 pints
     - blueberry  4 pints
     - cherry 7 pints
Pickles- sweet 8 qts
          - dill 7 qts
speghetti sauce- 29 qts
salsa- 74 pints
tomato sauce- 25 qts
chopped tomatoes- 21 qts
parsnips- 2 qts  12 pints
beets- 12 qts

raspberries- 9 qts
peas- 13 qts
corn- 16 qts
brocolli- 8 qts
blueberries- 12 qts
rhubbarb- 3 qts
sliced sweet peppers- 6 qts

This month, we will also be butchering a pig and a steer, so the freezers will be almost full.  We still have chicken that we butchered last January, but ended up not raising meatbirds this year because I wasn't sure when we would be moving the house!  Luckily we still have some in the freezer, and maybe can get some more meat chicks once we move to the other farm.

Last year, we also made a trip to the apple orchard near us, and we are allowed to pick all the windfall apples we want for free, so we had put up over 20 qts of pie filling, 15 qts of applesauce, and had lots of apples stuffed into any available fridge space!  

We also have lots of peaches left over from last year's canning, so I didn't do any this year.  That's good inspiration for me to make more peach pies this winter :-)

Our cold storage consists of over 140# of potatoes stored in boxes in a storage shed to stay cool, onions drying on screens to be also put into the shed once they are dried, and a box of butternut squash.  My pumpkin sadly bit the dust due to a blight that hit all the area pumpkin patches, so we won't be canning pumpking this year.

Wish I could end this post with a picture of my canning shelves, filled with jars full of good things to eat!  However, since our house is being picked up and moved within the next 2 weeks, I have all of the jars boxed up so nothing falls and breaks.

Even if you don't have the room for a large garden, or have the time to tend to one, putting in a small kitchen garden for lettuce, onions, and a few tomato plants is a great start.  Every little bit is one more step towards self sustainability.

So, I guess my army is ready for winter :-)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Going Green takes Gr$$n

Okay.  So, we're moving our house, and we are having to make WAY more decisions about materials and processes than I thought we would have to make.  To me, it was just a quick "unhook", pick up the house, drive it 7 miles to the other farm, put it down, and rehook it, right? 

Silly me :-)

We are having to decide whether to stick with a propane heater/furnace, thermal heat (big investment) or use the electrical one from the other house, changing out the duct work under the house for something sturdier, and complete basement construction. (We have had an old basement that flooded each spring, so this will be a new experience for us- to actually be able to USE our basement.  What ever shall I do with all that storage space.......?)

Decisions, decisions.  And with every question we get from a contractor, I can her a "Ka-Ching" sound in my head.

Being the Mother Earth News reading hippy that I am, of course, I would love to plant solar panels on the roof, dig a cold cellar in the basement, slap a greenhouse on the south side of the house (which we really ARE considering) and put up an unsightly turbine to provide for all our electrical needs.

I would also love to do any reconstruction with recycled lumber/windows/materials, but those types of resources are hard to find in the rural midwest. We do have a Habitat for Humanity outlet, but the materials there are limited, and mostly include appliances and hardware, items that we don't need.  By the way, Loren said a big NO to compostable toilets.

So much for all of my Green talk.  Every carbon-footprint-reducing step that I have tried to take the past 10 years almost always get put on our Wish list because of the price or the availability of the know-how.  With this move, I'm not doing a whole lot better.

I guess I'm going to have to be proud of the fact that we are actually recycling our whole house by taking it with us!  We also managed to salvage alot of beautiful wood trim, hardwood flooring, doors, windows, sinks, and other items from the older house before it was torn down.  We hope to incorporate them into the basement and mudroom. 
Before tear down
Meanwhile, I hope the people at Ogden Publications where Mother Earth News is published aren't rolling their eyes and considering taking me off of their mailing list.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Catch up on Fall Activities

With all the emotional ups and downs I've been experiencing these past few weeks, I have become very negligent on documenting some important moments in my children's lives!

Sept 23 was Bri's 11th Birthday- of course, we told her she had to do year 10 again because we weren't ready for her to become 11 yet.  She was not amused!

She plans out her birthday weeks in advance, and it includes shopping and lunch out with Grandma Lee.  We hit Pizza Ranch, followed by shopping at Ys Buys and Walmart.

That Friday she had friends for a sleep-over, and Loren and Luke went to the Washington Pavilion for a Boy Scout lock in.  (yah, no boys to bug them!)

Since cows need to be milked, party or no party, Bri was able to give a little milking demonstration to her friends.

Milking was followed by a game of kick ball, sleeping under the stars on the trampoline, and waking up to make smores on their makeshift campfire.  Bri is not a girly-girl, and I love that about her :-)

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl!  You are beautiful inside and out. :-)

Luke wrapped up his football season with a game on Oct 3rd against Canistota. We are very proud of him!   We really enjoy cheering him on, and I think Loren has been reliving some of his high school football memories. :-)

Luke is #15
#15 gets the touchdown!!
NOT the waterboy :-)
After the game-  Doesn't Loren look proud?!

[Notice the t-shirt Loren is wearing.  He lost a bet with a co-worker who is from Canistota, so when their high school team beat us last Friday night, Loren had to wear their team shirt to work!]

Other stuff:
  • Loren's homeplace gets torn down tomorrow, so we have spent days pulling out items from the house to keep.  He's removed alot of sentimental items for his Man Cave, plus alot of beautiful features, such as the oak hardwood floors, to be used in our house.  Who knew ripping up a house could be so exhausting?
  • We are meeting with various contractors during the week, trying to finalize all the details for the house moving. 
  • Had a snafu on our USCIS filing and didn't realize we had to include the Chinese version of our LOA, so we had to get that fixed.  Sadly, this will probably add to our wait.  We sent off our application on Aug 31 and we are still waiting......
So much going on- I hope it all comes together so that we won't be homeless for long, or have our house up on blocks when we leave for China!