Quote of the Day


Digging to America by Anne Tyler

I just finished Anne Tyler's Digging to America, a story that appears to be about two families that adopted from China Korea, but is, in fact the story of one of the Grandmothers as she grapples with her "otherness". She immigrated from Iran.
"Oh," she said, " sometimes I get so tired of being foreign I want to lie down and die. It's a lot of work, bring foreign."
The two families strive to be friends, though they annoy one another and privately criticize each other's ways. For me, this makes the novel hard to buy into, as I can't imagine these as real people who call this a real friendship. Why bother trying to be friends with people you don't actually like?
It wasn't just age that made the difference (although that helped, no doubt); it was more that she had winnowed out the people she wasn't at ease with. [ . . . ] "Why should I bother? This is one good thing about getting old: I know what I like and what I don't like."
Why wait until we are old?



Chef Dandy

Both of our children have a lot of anxiety about food supply. They love love love to go to Costco and fill the cart. They love to unload the groceries and put them onto the pantry shelves. They love to gaze at the over-stuffed fridge and freezer. They love to straighten and tidy the food shelves.

And they adore getting to help prepare food. Today Dandy bravely plunged his hand into the whole chicken and pulled out all the icky stuff, rinsed the whole thing out, tucked seasonings under the skin, and held the legs while I tied the string. He popped it into the pan and I put the pan into the oven. He was so proud of himself at dinner tonight that he had made the chicken. Demystifying the process of how food gets to the table seems to help him a lot, as he is a boy who likes to know how things happen.

So know he knows how to make bread and roast chicken and make salad. He's learning practical skills that ease his emotional/psychological anxieties. And I don't have to stick my hand in the chicken anymore.


rye bread: stand mixer & bread oven

This is one of my favorite recipes. It makes a big loaf which slices nicely into sandwich-size slices and also keeps for days before tasting a bit dry -- from then on it makes wonderful toast.
Rye Bread

1 1/3 - 1 1/2 C water
3 Tb butter, cut up
2 2/3 C bread flour
1 1/3 C rye flour
3 T gluten flour
3 T brown sugar
2 T caraway seeds
1 t salt
1 1/4 t breadmaker yeast

recipe heavily modified from Best Bread Machine Recipes

Put ingredients into your stand mixer and run mixer on low for 20 minutes. Pull the dough off the hook and out of bowl (I just balance it in one hand for a minute). Flour inside of bowl and return dough to bowl; leave bread hook in place.

et dough rise until double (about 2 hours) and then pop the bread hook back into the bowl. Knead for 4 minutes.

urn oven on to 400-425 and put the empty bread-oven into the oven to preheat.

et dough rise until double (about 20-40 minutes) and then put the dough into the hot bread-oven.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when thumped.



home-schooling resource

We are home-schooling this summer, trying to get Dandy prepped to jump a grade so that he will be in a class with children closer to his age. Also, I am planning to home-school Chickadee for kindergarten as I am just not ready to share her yet. So I have been surfing for resources.

Tonight I found a great resource for helping kids learn to make their letters in the proper sequence, which is important for learning cursive down the road. This pdf lets you type in the target letters or words and then generates dotted lines and directional arrows. It is exactly what I have been looking for. I can type in whatever I want the kids to practice on.

I also found this site which generates addition worksheets.


Christianity Today review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Print this review by Christianity Today and hand it to all the muggles in your circle that think Harry Potter is of the devil.



Friday Poetry: Beowulf - Seamus Heaney translation

Beowulf. What is not to love about this story. Monsters! Heros! Water Journeys! Treasure! Faithful friends! I love love love Seamus Heaney's Beowulf: A New Verse Translation. Here is the opening:

So. The Spear-Danes in days gone by
and the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness.
We have heard of those princes’ heroic campaigns.

There was Shield Sheafson, scourge of many tribes,
a wrecker of mead-benches, rampaging among foes.
This terror of the hall-troops had come far.
A foundling to start with, he would flourish later on
as his powers waxed and his worth was proved.
In the end each clan on the outlying coasts
beyond the whale-road had to yield to him
and begin to pay tribute.

Afterwards a boy-child was born to Shield,
a cub in the yard, a comfort sent
by God to that nation, He knew what they had tholed,
by long times and troubles they'd come through
without a leader; so the Lord of Life,
the glorious Almighty, made this man renowned.
Shield had fathered a famous son:
Beow's name was known through the north.
And a young prince must be prudent like that,
giving freely while his father lives
so that afterwards in age when fighting starts
steadfast companions will stand by him
and hold the line. Behaviour that's admired
is the path to power among people everywhere.

Shield was still thriving when his time came
and he crossed over into the Lord's keeping.
His warrior band did what he bade them
when he laid down the law among the Danes:
they shouldered him out to the sea's flood,
a chief they revered who had long ruled them.
A ring-whorled prow rode in the harbour,
ice clad, outbound, a craft for their prince.
They stretched their beloved lord in his boat,
laid out by the mast, amidships,
the great ring-giver. Far-fetched treasures
were piled upon him, and precious gear.
I have never heard before of a ship so well furbished
with battle tackle, bladed weapons
and coats of mail. The massed treasure
was loaded on top of him: it would travel far
on out into the ocean's sway.
They decked his body no less bountifully
with offerings than those first ones did
who cast him away when he was a child
and launched him alone out oer the waves.
And they set a gold standard up
high above his head and let him drift
to wind and tide, bewailing him
and mourning their loss. No man can tell,
no wise man in hall or weathered veteran
knows for certain who salvaged that load.

Then it fell to Beow to keep the forts.
[ . . .]

You can hear Seamus Heaney reading the "Prologue" from Beowulf. This site shows how different translators dealt with the old English. Even if you are quite sure Beowulf is boring and you are never ever going to be interested, go listen to Heaney read the Prologue in his warm fuzzy accent.

Did you know who is considered the top dog in Beowulf scholarship? None other than our beloved J.R.R. Tolkien, who -- when he wasn't busy inventing entire fully functional languages for Elves or scribing the adventures of hobbits, wrote The Monsters and the Critics.


:: this post is part of Semicolon's Saturday review of books.
:: this post is part of the Friday Poetry Roundup at Check it Out.
:: this post is part of A Carnival of Bookworms hosted at This is the Life.

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preview of coming attractions

Tomorrow I'll be posting on this poem and the translator. Can you, without googling the lines of the poem, tell us what poem it is?

A few miles from here
a frost-stiffened wood waits and keeps watch
above a mere; the overhanging bank
is a maze of tree-roots mirrored in its surface.
At night there, something uncanny happens:
the water burns. And the mere bottom
has never been sounded by the sons of men.
On its bank, the heather-stepper halts:
the hart in flight from pursuing hounds
will turn to face them with firm-set horns
and die in the wood rather than dive
beneath its surface. That is no good place.



birthday report

She had a great birthday. Pancakes for breakfast. Little dance class. Lunch in a restaurant with G'pa (his first restaurant since the accident). Play in the park. Go see Grandma and Grandpa. Birthday phone calls. Play in another park. Dinner with Papa. Presents. Cake. Happy sleep.



help! adoption blogpost roundup

Our adoption blogpost roundup #3: travel is not getting a lot of entries. If you enjoy reading the posts, please help spread the word.

Here's the coding if you want a button and a link.



Happy Birthday Chickadee!

A year ago today, this was our post on our old blog, Jamie & Suzanne Go To Russia, At Last.

Today our lovely daughter turns five. I don't know if there will be a party or a treat or a gift. I like to think there would be, but there probably isn't. When we gave the children little goodie bags they were awe-struck. Not with the goodie bags, but with the concept of individual ownership. I don't think that these are children accustomed to receiving gifts.

Our birthday wishes for you Chickadee are so big, and so small.

  • We wish for you a speedy court date and a favorable ruling (this it the big part).

  • We wish for you a bit of birdsong, as you loved the chirp my camera made.

  • We wish for you a touch-up on your nailpolish, as the polish we put on has surely faded and you so clearly loved having your nails sparkle pinkly at you.

  • We wish for you three square meals a day, tender care-givers, and the opportunity to learn and to laugh.

  • We wish you were here.



and more on bats

The only thing worse than been awoken by a bat circling your bedroom is discovering that the bat has a puncture wound and that he is leaking bat blood. EEEEWWwwwwwww. I do wish our kitties were not so generous; they always want to share with us.




We spent yesterday at the Darrington Bluegrass festival. Last year it was 106 degrees and we melted. This year it was solid pouring drenching rain. We wore raingear and sat under umbrellas and plastic sheets; when it was all over I stripped the kids in the car and wrung water out of their under-things. We were soaked. Fortunately it was not cold, just cool and the music was great. We got to hear Country Current (the Navy bluegrass band) and Rhonda Vincent and the Rage. This all was, of course, the day after I stayed up all night reading Harry Potter.

So, we got home last night at 1 am and fell into bed. Today we gathered at my parents' home for a 4-person birthday bash. This was Chickadee's first birthday party EVER and she loved it. Lovely presents were exchanged and cousins played and a good time was had by all. She'll be 6 on Tuesday.



Harry Pottery and the Deathly Hallows

It's 12:22 and I am home with book in hand. I'll read all night.

7:23 - finished - it was awesome - going to bed now.



Friday Poetry: Skerryvore by RL Stevenson

Skerryvore (from the Gaelic Sgeir Mhor meaning big rock) is an scrap of land off the west coast of Scotland. In 1844 a lighthouse was built there; in 1885 Robert Lewis Stevenson published A Child's Garden of Verses which included these two poems:

For love of lovely words, and for the sake
Of those, my kinsmen and my countrymen,
Who early and late in the windy ocean toiled
To plant a star for seamen, where was then
The surfy haunt of seals and cormorants:
I, on the lintel of this cot, inscribe
The name of a strong tower.

Skerryvore: The Parallel

Here all is sunny, and when the truant gull
Skims the green level of the lawn, his wing
Dispetals roses; here the house is framed
Of kneaded brick and the plumed mountain pine,
Such clay as artists fashion and such wood
As the tree-climbing urchin breaks. But there
Eternal granite hewn from the living isle
And dowelled with brute iron, rears a tower
That from its wet foundation to its crown
Of glittering glass, stands, in the sweep of winds,
Immovable, immortal, eminent.
~Robert Lewis Stevenson

edited on 8/3 to add that the lighthouse was designed by Alan Stevenson, Robert Lewis' uncle.

Here is the coding if you want a button and a link to this week's Friday Poetry Round-up:


:: this post is part of the Friday poetry roundup over at Mentor Texts


adoption blogpost roundup #3: travel

36 hours of travel. That's what we endured as we brought our children home last fall, this just two days after a 9 hour flight across Russia. We were joyous wrecks when we got home.

As accreditations start up again, other families are going to be gathering up travel tips. Let's share our hard-won wisdom.

Remember to link to your travel post, not to your whole blog.

Here is the coding for the link to this post, if you want to promote this round-up on your blog. I'll keep Mr. Linky open through July.

Adoption BlogPost Round-up #3: travel Participants
1. Suzanne\'s Trip One posts
2. Suzanne\'s Trip Two posts
3. Rachael: Fun Things to Do with Kids in Moscow, Part I
4. Julie--Part 1
5. Julie--Part 3
6. Julie--Part 4
7. Jane--Traveling Vicariously
8. Elle - Travel tips from the BTDT
9. Debbie Tips & Links
10. Rachael: Fun Things to Do with Kids in Moscow, Part II
11. Rachael: Part III, (that\'s all)

Learn more about Adoption BlogPost Round-up #3: travel here.


Harry Potter and the Inklings

A great article about Harry Potter and why it is so amusing that many Christian organizations shun the books.


more on Harry Potter

I polished off book 6 last night, so I have all the books fresh in my memory.

Questions and theories:

Who is RAB? Regulus Black (Sirius brother, left Voldemort) disguised as Crookshanks?
Whom does Snape really serve? I still think Dumbledore.
Was Dumbledore dying anyway from the poison when Snape cursed him?
Was the Dumbledore that drinking poison really his brother Aberforth (looked alike) who had been the keeping a low profile as barman at Hog's Head? Did Aberforth step in to die in Dumbledore's place? This would mean that it was Aberfoth in the cave.
Did Snape really throw the avada kedavra curse at Dumledore? or some other non-verbal curse. Why did Dumbledore fly up and back, when usually the avada kedavra is a drop-dead curse?
Was Dumbledore an amigius? The cover-art of the special edition shows the trio riding on the back of a bearded dragon. Hmmmm.

I think Dumbledore's death was faked to prop up Snape's credibility with Voldemort and that DD will reappear as a amigius dragon (it's the Order of the Phoenix, after all).

And I think that Harry's scar is a horcrux, but Harry is not. I also think that by taking in a little of Harry's blood (Goblet of Fire) Voldemort has made himself vulnerable to the redemptive power of love, and it is this, not clever curses, that will do him in.

What do you think?



works for me: jamming with a turkey baster

A couple of days ago I was canning sour-cherry jam and inadvertently overfilled one of the jars. Pouring the excess back into the jam pot would have made a sticky mess. Hmmm. What to do?

The turkey baster was near at hand; it worked wonderfully.


:: this post is part of Works for me Wednesday