Raggedy Snaggedy

This is me trying to explain to Six why we had to cut the split ends and raggedy chunks off her hair for her first ever haircut for, which mom gave me permission to do but probably won’t remember she did. It’s much better now, and her hair is almost healthy enough to wear down without braids when she wants to, which is an accomplishment that only took us five months of daily oiling. Whew.

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Beets and Leeks #food #gf

Sometimes our resource worker brings us random bags of almost spoiled food.

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Today it was worn out lettuce, a whole bag of peppers, and two bags of beets and leeks.

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I cut the tops off the beets:

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And wrapped them in foil with a little bit of oil:

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And wrapped them up like baked potatoes:

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I cooked those in the oven at 375 for an hour, while chopping up the leeks:

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I cut off the root and the tops, and then sliced them in half, and then sliced them in half inch sections.

I sautéed those in the pan with a little butter, and added chickpeas for additional protein:

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Then I took the beets out, and could slip the “meat” right out of the skins. I diced them up and threw them in the mixture, adding a little salt and pepper.

That’s dinner! It was delicious!

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Table Setting

A normal day of normal work on a normal schedule is not so bad after the holidays.

It’s kind of nice after all the recent chaos we knew was coming, but couldn’t do much about, really.

I even was able to cook dinner for our family tonight, and that – besides school – is my second best most favorite thing to do.  It was simple, using things I could find, since I didn’t think to lay out any meat yesterday, but I got to do it.

And now that two kiddos are gone, and we are back down to four, I could finally split up Five and Six, who are about done sitting by each other at mealtime, and moved my chair back by Nathan.

Just to hold his hand while we ate was glorious, like our honeymoon moments of peace and rest.

There is less chaos now, less mess now, more time with each child, easier cleanup, more playtime, and less parenting like drill sergeants.  It is lovely, even nurturing.  We are all more ourselves already, and I think we all like it a lot.

Also, Three and Sister were both little thieves, and so we feel less violated already, I think, all of us having our things where we left them, us not missing random things from the kitchen, the other kids still having their toys when they come back to play, and no hidden hoards of other people’s things.

Life is much better, easier, and calmer already.

Nathan is finishing work, and since I finished homework last night, I took tonight to catch up with a friend, and in a little bit Nathan and I will have a date night with fancy cheese and a movie… and then I will sleep, which I am still in favor of these days.

Sleep is my favorite, right after homework.

Preacher Girl

Oh my goodness, I am on such a high right now, as thrilled and excited as last week was hard.

Because SCHOOL.

I love it so much.

School may be my favorite thing ever.

One of my patient families moved this week, so I had a chunk of time this morning to get caught up on classes before going to work.  When I did go to work, and needed to stay late catching those peeps who cancelled over the holidays and now need back into a regular schedule, Nathan helped out by taking the kids to the (indoor) playground so I could finish work.  Then I got to put them to bed while he went to symphony rehearsal, which gave me time to finish all my homework for this week!

And I didn’t neglect or fail anyone!  The house maybe, because it is a disaster, but not my family!

AND THERE ARE SO MANY BOOKS!

image1My Dead Sea Scroll books aren’t here yet, and I may be most excited about those.

Those and the leadership books, which are super uber duper awesome.

Most of the others are good, but things I know, which actually helps.  A LOT.  Having so many graduate classes had me concerned about what was being asked of me, but it is all working out perfectly.

Because, as it turns out, once you spend two years doing post-doc studies in Hebrew, then going back to Master’s level work in English is way easier.  WAAAAyyyyyyyyyy easier.

Who knew I grew some academic muscles?!  After spending two years having to wrestle with the Hebrew language in heavy, hard texts, just to even get ready for assignments, much less doing my assignments in Hebrew, then it seemed like nothing to read an easier text in English and process the material and get my assignments done!  What a relief!  I had no idea all that hard work in Hebrew would make my other studies so much easier!

By the time Nathan came home from symphony rehearsal, I was done with all my homework for this week!  I am so excited!  I have two more videos to watch that aren’t posted yet, and the quizzes to take after that, and of course there are papers and projects to get done this semester, but I can work on those on days I steal away while kids are gone and my work is done – if I am disciplined and just get it done, instead of being a lazy slacker just because I have some down time.

The impossible has become possible, and I am grateful.

We will not be in crisis this semester like I had thought, as long as I stay focused and on top of it so I don’t drown.  I also don’t think we will have to sacrifice nearly as much family time as I thought, except for my overnights at either hospital (for the ER shifts or for the chaplain shifts).  I think it is going to be fine and easily manageable in the evenings after kids are in bed and while Nathan is doing his creative work – writing or symphony or anything.  That way when kids are awake or Nathan is home, we can still just be together without school getting in the way.  I am so relieved of it that I could just cry.  It is still a lot of work, and still hard to handle so much, but now I know we are going to be just fine.  I couldn’t believe I got through all of it tonight!  But that’s why it felt so much easier and faster, because it was in English and not Hebrew.  Whew!  I know I keep saying it, but I could not believe the difference that made, or how fast my work went even with so much to do.

It also means that I can spend this weekend playing with my kids instead of drowning in coursework, which is what I was worried was going to happen until summer time.

I am so excited to have my life back, unexpectedly, even though I know I can’t just blow it off.  I still have to get it done, but it feels so do-able now!  I am really so excited, I cannot tell you!

Even if it means I behaved myself and got it done, instead of going out for sweet potato fries with my friend.

But oh!  It feels like a miracle, such a burden lifted off me, and I am so excited to get these classes done, and to learn from the reading and assignments, and to get through this crazy 12 weeks!  This crazy 12 weeks that will not be as bad as I thought it would be!

The whole day was perfect, even getting new referrals to replace the family that moved, which I needed or I would have been under my hours at work and lost the little PTO I have left. Or not earned any.  Or something.  I am really not smart enough for all the new-fangled numbers at work now.

But I am really good at Hebrew!

And who knew Hebrew made English so much easier?!

OH MY GOODNESS, I CANNOT TELL YOU!

Besides saving our family, I am so excited that I will get to just enjoy my classes, instead of being stressed out by them.  It will be fun for me, play for me, the kind of thing that gives me energy and excitement and downtime in my life.

I also am liking the chaplaincy more and more the more I learn about it and get started in the program, though I am grateful for my clinical experience so that I am not starting out as green as some of the other new chaplains are.  We will see how that experience goes.

But tonight is my turn to sleep!  And I am going to claim every second of it!  On call for the ER was bad last night, and I think I didn’t get back into bed until 3 this morning.  I had to so consciously choose healthy food today, making sure I wasn’t reaching for food or drinks just because I was tired or to try and stay awake.  It really made a difference, and only once was I too tired almost, but a good walk in the crisp air outside helped and refreshed me to finish work and hug up my kids when they got home.

Now I will go to sleep, dreaming of my sermon texts just assigned me, and wondering what I will learn and what I will say, and giggling that this is my crazy life, and so grateful for this awakening after the hard years we have had.  This is good for me, I can feel it, and I am glad of it.

It’s funny how often Heavenly Father pulls us out of the mud by giving us work to do, yes?

Syllabus of Dawn

This was my pre-dawn breakfast:

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You can’t see it because pre-dawn means it’s still dark outside!

I had eggs on Ezekiel bread toast (my favorite), with green juice (not my favorite) and a side of dawn.

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My day began at 530, for a drive to get myself medically cleared to be rid of that stupid mask, and then start my work day. I did not know this morning that I would work all three jobs today, technically.

Here’s the adventure of how it went down:

First, my Monday morning family that takes up my whole morning rescheduled, which is completely lame, but gave me enough time – with lunch hour – to finally get to Hillcrest for hospital orientation. I barely squeezed it in, and only because I am not a real employee so did not have to stay for benefit talks or anything. But I did get my badge!

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As I finished there, I got paged by the hospital here, saying the supervisor was sick for the first time in years, so could I please come in and cover the ER? Well, no, actually, because even though I was gallivanting my way through errands, I do have an actual day job that takes top priority, and I was headed back to that. Except there was no one else, so they just held people for me! It was crazy! No pun intended. So I finished my regular day job peeps, the ones that did not reschedule on me, and then met Nathan and the kids at the ER at 7 this evening just so I could kiss and hug them as I headed to work there.

Oh, and Nathan brought my notebook I need for the ER shift, which was super sweet and participatory of him.

I worked until 11pm, and was very glad by then to be finished, but I still have the pager until 6am. My day was long, but I did not waste any time. Every break during the orientation, and every moment waiting on appointments or callbacks at the hospital, I spent pouring over each new syllabus for all my graduate classes that start this week:

Apostolic Writings and the Qumran Community
Systemic Theology
Spiritual Leadership Within the Organization
Homiletics
Old Testament
Clinical Pastoral Education

My Hebrew 2 final is next week, and Hebrew 3 starts the week after that. This is crazy. A full graduate load is normally considered three classes, or nine hours. I am taking seven classes, or 21 hours, including both Master’s and post-doc work. That is wrong.

I remember after I finished my doctorate, and how I collapsed, and how I knew I would never ever go back to school no matter what.

Except that I do love it so much.

And as crazy as it sounds, this is for me, and for me it is play.

I really, really love it.

Except this is extreme, even for me, but only for a limited time and for a specific purpose.

And I have a testimony – I know – that there is some reason it is being required of me.

Nathan, in the meantime, decided that having four kids is actually far more easier than six kids, even more of a relief than expected. Figure into that how the baby goes to sleep almost by 630, and the toddler by 7, and the six year olds by 730, and me out working… Well, let’s just say he finally got to do some new creative work – this time on assignment for the city of Bartlesville – and I think he enjoyed every quiet moment.

We missed each other, though, after our spoiled days of being together so much over the holidays. He didn’t forget about me, though! I came home and fell on him, exhausted, and crying. I apologized for crying, because really my day was long but not even hard. Everything went smoothly, and I got extra things done, and I was not even overwhelmed… except for being exhausted. I told him that today was fine, but I do not know how I can do twelve weeks of today.

He smiled at me, kissed my forehead, wiped my tears, and said he knew how I could do it… with cheese, he said.

He pointed to a plate by my reading chair, full of apple slices, Swiss cheese, sausage, and almond thins. How sweet was that?

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I love that guy. I really do.

And today was perfect, even if close in timing: Three and Sister left just as I had to go to work and the new semester started, peeps cancelled on me long enough for me to get that awful orientation out of the way, and I made it back to work just in time, and got stuck at the hospital waiting on callbacks just exactly long enough to finish the homework I needed to do, and now I will just barely make it to bed before midnight, which will give me just exactly enough sleep.

For because my Father-in-Heaven promised “sufficient for my needs”.

And I believe Him.

Hard Knock Bath

Bath day is always exciting.

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If the babies were mine, I would wash them together, since they are both girls and so tiny, and let them play together. But because they are foster kids, we cannot. So even though we have two boys and two girls and two babies, that is six separate baths, start to finish.

Something exciting always happens in between.

I start with Six, so her hair can dry while I bathe the others. Then I can oil it and get it braided last thing, which always takes half an hour at least just for a simple braid. Two or more take an hour at least.

Mom! I fell on my nose!

Sister is next, so that her hair can be dry enough for me to brush before it is time to go. She is fast, and more independent, and her turn always goes quickly as she can dress herself completely.

Mom! I ran into my face!

Five, who is now six, is the first boy to go because he can dress himself (finally) but is very, very slow. He is a happy fellow, and can complete the task of getting himself dressed – but without prompting, which I am not available to do on bath day, it takes him a good forty-five minutes. He is finally doing his own shirt buttons, though, so I am super proud of him for that. His Occupational Therapist had been working hard on that with him, and we think that may be an area he has some damage from his early brain injuries!

Mom! The baby ate a tissue!

Three goes next because he is the slowest eater of the other kids, and that way the boys can get dressed in peace while the girls are busy being prissy at the other end of the house. He is the fastest self-dresser, and usually dressed dressed before I can even catch the toddler to get her in the bath for her turn.

Mom! She colored on the dresser!

Toddler goes next, and she is learning to wash herself. She can finally hold her head back so she doesn’t get soap in her eyes, and she can wash her yummy and legs and arms. I am so proud! She loves the bath, and would stay and play as long as I let her.

Mom! He swallowed toenails!

The baby is not thrilled with bath time, but the more she becomes human, the more she starts to like it. Today she splashed for the first time, and laughed for the first time. I am so glad! The emotional torture of parenting wears me out, with all this I-am-sorry-you-are-miserable-but-I-am-required-to-do-this-with-you.

Mom! I picked blood out of my nose!

Those are actual quotes from things I heard from the kids this morning, as I worked my way through bath time.

Nathan is awake now, and trying to make it to church even though he is sick.

Three and Sister have short-timer’s, realizing they are leaving so they don’t have to follow the rules if they don’t want to follow them.

Sister even told me this morning:

I love you guys, but I need a break from this place and can’t wait until I am gone from here tomorrow.

The feeling is mutual, girlfriend.

In the meantime, Six has finally realized we both have bionic ears and that makes us cool.

She also realized she has hair like the new Annie, and so said to me this morning, “we need to tell my other mom I am not white.”

I nearly spit out my orange juice.

It’s true, though, and good for her.

They are loving the new Annie, though we still watch the old one since the new one isn’t out yet. They struggle with the “maybe” song. We think of it as the happy family dream, and so associate it with adoption even though we know it is a birth parent song. To them, it will always be a birth parent song, and they will always be wondering, and they will always be wishing those birth parents were happy and healthy and together. It just is, and for them, those are big feelings. So they usually ask to skip that song.

They really like the “hard knock life” song, though, and they are young enough to think it’s cool to have a song about foster care. They also like role playing the song, and so temporarily have renewed enthusiasm for cleaning up the house, which I am okay with. Toddler got a broom from Nathan’s parents for her birthday, and Six asked for a housekeeping cart for Christmas, so they use those to clean up and put on little dances while singing the song. They are so funny!

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Vacation

Three and Sister in the pullout couch bed.

Baby in pack and play.

Toddler on the couch.

Five and Six in sleeping bags.

Nathan’s parents in the extra apartment, and us in the main bedroom.

And tomorrow, Jessica gets baptized!