Friday, December 23, 2011
First, my fingers and toes go into revolt when the cold comes. I have increasing episodes of numbness and constricted circulation, especially in my fingers, during the winter months. Though this can easily happen during prolonged outdoor activities, it has often occurred indoors, too. I’ve read about Raynaud’s Syndrome online, but I don’t actually have a doctor’s diagnosis…just a pretty strong motivation to buy good boots and mittens, to layer up, and to stay as warm as possible!
Second, my sleep is definitely affected by temperature. Mike and I purchased our wonderful California King sized bed a couple of years ago when we moved to Quebec. We love it and the great nights of sleep it offers! We also love piling on the blankets when the weather turns cool. Right now, our bed sports our polar fleece sheets (a must for winter sleeping!), a thin fuzzy blanket, a down comforter, a bedspread, and a quilt with flannel backing. Still, curled up in bed under all those cozy covers, I often cannot fall asleep until I perform one warmth-saving activity. I actually must tuck my pajama pants bottoms into my socks so there’s no draft on my legs—or else sleep eludes me!
Finally, I have noticed that my weight seems to change with the weather. I am not actually sure if this is weather-related. It could be that the cold makes me shiver a lot. It could be conditioning from being raised in a family in which wrestling demanded certain food changes as the sport’s season commenced. It could be that I am busy with holiday preparations and just tend to eat less this time of year. But I’ve noticed for several years now that I tend to shed a few pounds just as winter begins to bring its chill—usually bringing my lowest weigh-ins of the year. (This phenomenon does provide a delightful freedom to indulge in all kinds of special Christmas treats!)
The kids are well aware of my aversion to the cold. It came up in conversation recently. Andrew vehemently declared, “Mom does not like winter because she does not like the cold.” Ethan followed up with this: “What Mom likes about winter is skating and Jesus’ birthday.” “And making really big snow angels!” said Abby.
Indeed, I won’t escape winter. And I might as well find some things in it that I do enjoy.
And I’ll definitely be keeping my wool socks, insulated underwear, ski mittens, and -40° boots. Oh, and I do love a good quilt wrapping near a fireplace, too!
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
As for the kids, Jadon's Pick of the Week is Curious George: The Donut Delivery. Jadon has a fondness for the curious little monkey, and he loves when we can find an unread book at the library. When I asked him about why this was his favorite this week, he said, "I liked it because he didn't know what a dozen meant. He thought it meant only one donut. He found out that there's a lot of donuts because of zeros!"
Other favorites from our library bag this week included the following reads:
Magic Paintbrush by Robin Muller
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Williams
The Bookstore Burglar by Barbara Maitland (which Abby read aloud herself!)
Suzy Goose and the Christmas Star by Petr Horacek
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
But I have been challenged this year to not only get things done, but also to cultivate awareness of my being in the midst of the scurrying. To be purposeful not only in writing lists and getting to events and completing tasks but also in checking attitudes and creating atmosphere and being well.
The effect of this resonated with me today as I did the laundry.
You see, laundry is a big task at our house. I mean, at least, that there is a lot of it. And it is one of those things that just has to get done regularly. Day in and day out, baskets of wash are sent down to the basement, dirty and stinky and crumpled, only to rise again clean and fresh.
Only, lately, the process hadn’t been happening so smoothly. Our 14-year-old dryer was not cooperating. It wasn’t that it didn’t get hot enough. It wasn’t that it refused to tumble. In those ways, the dryer seemed to function just fine. But, somehow, Mr. Dryer had developed an appetite for clothes. A tiny bit of underwear here. A little nibble of T-shirt there. An attempted swallowing of the drawstring from a pair of pajamas. I began to fear opening the dryer door. What might be trapped, scorched, between the drum and its casing? What favored piece of clothing might now bear the scars of laundering?
We started hunting for a replacement. Despite the complication of a small-sized basement door, we were able to locate a used Kenmore dryer in great condition. With assistance from Grampsie and Nanny, their pick-up truck and handiness with the screwdrivers, the replacement dryer made its way to our home and down through the narrow basement stairs. And it works. It dries our clothes without adding any holes or brown markings to remember the process by.
As I approach the dryer, I no longer sense anxiety, only thankfulness. Suddenly, I am grateful. I am joy-filled, even. This chore has been transformed because I have come to be something new. I still have to do lots of laundry, but it feels completely different.
So, I’m contemplating how my Advent might be different if I took the time to notice how I do all the things I do. At one point today, I checked in with myself—How am I right now?—and I realized that I was being hurried. That wasn’t my intention. And when I stopped to think about it, there wasn’t a really good reason for me to be that way at all. I decided then and there that I would be at peace instead. Then I continued about my day with a whole new approach, still doing but feeling completely different through it.
May I carry this lesson from the laundry basket through Advent this year!
Come, thou long-expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Monday, December 5, 2011
We had several other honourable selections from the library this week. Swamp Angel (Anne Isaacs) is a fabulous tall tale that entertains children and adults alike with the outlandish exploits of a Tennessee maiden named Angelica and an enormous bear named Thundering Tarnation.
The Widow’s Broom (Chris Van Allsburg) delighted our older children with its lively storytelling and, of course, the secret twist at the end.
Owly and Wormy, Friends All Aflutter (Andy Runton) is a spectacular wordless (at least almost wordless) book. The children all really enjoyed figuring out what was happening in all the pictures in order to “tell” the story themselves! The pictures really are fabulous, and the predictable yet sweetly-conveyed plot makes most anyone smile.
Finally, we have really been digging into the “Benjamin” series by Paulette Bourgeois—the French variation of a Tapper favorite: the Franklin the turtle series. These are great for expanding our French vocabularies!
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
And that leads me to my next point…
2) Thanksgiving—After leaving New Hampshire (where we stayed with an amazing AWAA adoptive family with four similarly-aged kids and really cool parents—Thanks, Steigers!), we were able to travel on to Pennsylvania for American Thanksgiving with my family. This was a special time for all! Much love to Gramma and Pappy!
The Tapper and Steiger kids: fast friends
(Too much excitement to get many pictures with Gramma and Pappy!)
3) Mike’s Comprehensive Exams—While we were gone, Mike wrote Part 1 of his PhD exams, and then he completed Part 2—an oral defense—today! His hard work paid off as he did very well (HOORAY, DADDY!), and the other five Tappers also worked hard to give Daddy all the time and space required for this big accomplishment.
Perhaps all that brain-work puts stress on the scalp? Notice any similarities appearing here?
On a much less exciting note…
4) Tonsillitis—Abby’s got it. Again. Ugh. She ends up with throat infections every 6-8 weeks. This has been going on for about 2 years. She has finally been approved for a tonsillectomy, but there is a waiting list. In the meantime, we continue to deal with nuisance sicknesses.
Back to the good stuff…
5) Advent—We love this time of year! At this point, my children really cherish traditions (especially Andrew, perhaps because he is still making sure he understands his place and how things work here)…and I appreciate that they care about these things. Planning and getting things together does take some extra time, though. We have already been lighting our Advent Wreath during family meals and have cut and decorated our Christmas tree. We are also using a Jesse Tree devotional to walk through the Biblical story as we journey toward Christmas.
Looking for a Christmas tree!
What do you mean this isn't normal??!!!??
Monday, November 14, 2011
Jadon could not determine just one pick of the week, so, today, we have The Top Three of the Week! I have to say I agree—he has found three great reads!
First, “Nicolas, where have you been?” tells the engrossing tale of a young mouse who sets off to best the birds at berry-hunting, only to be both captured and then cared for by other birds. Its simple story-telling and pictures really captured Jadon’s attention, and he got the implicit message of peace-making and mutual understanding. Jadon put it this way: “He was actually thinking to tell them that the birds ARE nice.”
Next, “I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More” by Karen Beaumont is a hilarious and capricious look at one boy’s obsession with painting. The rhyming text and progressive storyline allows children to finish the phrase with the next body part to be (gasp!) painted. Jadon says, “It’s so funny! The pictures make me giggle. I especially like when he says, ‘What?!?’” (Which is, of course, in place of terminology for the backside body part that would rhyme with that word….)
Finally, Jadon found the classic “Make Way for Ducklings” by Robert McCloskey to be a “surprise” hit. I say “surprise” because, when we first brought the bag of library books home, Jadon could hardly be convinced to open this one’s cover. But once we did, he loved the story. This is his take on this favorite: “I like it since it’s funny. All the ducklings rhyme. At first, I didn’t like it because the pictures weren’t coloured. I didn’t realize it was gonna be cool, and they were gonna find an island.”
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
I was able to cut two jack-o-lanterns (into four or five pieces each) and squeeze the pumpkin parts into our large electric roaster oven. I let them roast for a couple hours until they were very soft. Then I scraped the flesh from the skin and mashed it in a large bowl. I repeated the process with our remaining two jack-o-lanterns.
This gave me A LOT of pumpkin puree! It was definitely time to pull out some favorite pumpkin recipes. This week, we've had Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake, Wild Mushroom and Pumpkin Risotto, and Pumpkin Carrot Swirl Bars (modified with dairy-free substitutes, of course!).
Meanwhile, there was still A LOT of pumpkin puree! After a little of investigative web-hunting, I decided to use my silicone muffin cups to make frozen half-cup portions of pumpkin for future use. (I call these my pumpkin pucks because, removed from the cups and stored in the freezer, they look like a bunch of orange hockey pucks!) I think I have about 24 cups of pumpkin in my freezer, and I am excited to keep exploring our pumpkin potential!
Monday, November 7, 2011
I also started a few other (diverse) reads. "Invisible Chains" by Benjamin Perrin explores human trafficking in Canada. "Unbroken Covenant with God" is an autobiography of Ethiopian church leader Markina Meja. "Sacred Marriage" by Gary Thomas asks how reframing marriage as, primarily, a holiness journey rather than a happiness provider might transform how we approach life and marriage. I think I've got a lot of ground to cover with these!
Jadon's Pick of the week is "Flags of the World" by Sylvie Bednar. If you don't know, Jadon has a significant appreciation for all things geographical. He is fascinated by globes and maps. (I once took him into a store on Wellington in Ottawa called World of Maps, and he was in his glory--would have stayed for hours, I'm sure!) He loves to find the 2 (!) pages in this book devoted to the Ethiopian flag and to compare and contrast the colours and patterns of all the different flags.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Fortunately, I have my daily encouragement from Abby in the form of notes and crafty creations, fashioned during free time at school. Today, she brought home the very cute family portrait below. (Note the greeting: Mom you oer the best Mom in the hol wrld.)
Monday, October 31, 2011
It has seemed that we have had less time for leisurely reading over the last couple weeks. Still, I have a few favorite titles to report. My current read is Fractures by Budge Wilson. It is a collection of short stories that vividly depict life among Canadian adolescents--each with profound insights into the challenges of relationships, life's hard turns, and self-discovery. I have found myself reflecting on these very engaging stories days after reading them, mulling over the thoughts and feelings of the main characters and recognizing the significance of the themes covered in this lovely book. I still have four more stories to go...whenever I can find the time!
Sunday, October 30, 2011
I will post the correct answers in the comments section of this post after trick-or-treating tomorrow night!
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Lots has been going on in the Tapper house lately. Here is a quick review of some of the recent happenings:
Both boys have started work on presentations/speeches due for class. Ethan's project was to create a hat out of recycled materials and present it to the class. I thought his "chapeau d'hibou" was charming! Andrew has chosen to write a speech on Wiley Post. (For those who don't know...he was the first man to fly solo around the world.) It is a treat to work on these projects together.
One day before school, Abby accidently tipped over a thermos of very hot water and burned her arm from wrist to elbow. Fortunately, our dear nurse Auntie Lee was near to help with proper bandages and needed encouragement. Everything is now healing well, but that was not a fun morning.
A friend invited me to join her at a local action group meeting emphasizing human trafficking. It was an interesting evening which provided lots of information about educational resources on the topic. Besides this, I took two key ideas away from the meeting and have been ruminating on them since. First, an emphasis on fair trade and human trafficking for labour purposes seems to be underrepresented in my experience of hearing about human trafficking within the church. Perhaps the fact that sexuality is such a hot moral topic causes the sex trade to overshadow other forms of trafficking within Christian circles. Or maybe it is just easier to say that human trafficking for sex work is wrong because it doesn't really cost me anything, not like changing my purchasing choices might. Anyway, that was my first line of thinking. The second idea related to the need for continued and significant attention to the ethical standards surrounding international adoption. As an adoptive mother, I believe in adoption...but I can see how easily human rights could be overlooked within the adoption industry. Ethical standards must be stringently maintained.
Andrew's hockey team had the opportunity to play a game at Scotiabank Place, the home of the Ottawa Senators. We parents were instructed to keep the location of the game a secret, so Andrew was pretty excited to see us pull into the arena. The other children also enjoyed this fun experience!
Monday, October 17, 2011
Jadon's Pick: This week, we picked up The Rumor from the library. Its cover describes it as "A Jataka Tale from India." From the vibrant illustrations to the Chicken Little-like plot to the patterned story-telling to the happy resolution, all four of my kids (ages 4-8) loved this story. Jadon did spot one "mistake," however...after the one hair leaves the multitude to discover the truth, Jadon was quick to notice that there wouldn't be one thousand hairs waiting for his return because now there would only be nine hundred and ninety-nine hairs!
Thursday, October 13, 2011
One hand shot up. "Oh, I think I know," our boy offered. "It's a kind of soup."
(And this is where we parents received the grace of laughter, sharing the joy of childish innocence, before taking time to explain the non-soup reality in Russia...)
(Yummm...here's our own borscht from earlier this summer! We used this recipe, and it was--by far--the best way I've found to use up all the beets from our local farm's weekly vegetable delivery.)
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
A Friend Like You by Julia Hubery—This lovely story has implicit messages about slowing down, appreciating beauty around us, being patient with others and ourselves, and enduring through challenges. The pictures are simple yet captivating. Jadon thought it was silly how monkey always wanted to go fast, and his favorite part was “those butterflies!” This was his pick of the week.
I Love You, Blue Kangaroo by Emma Chichester Clark—Our children love all the books in this series! The emotional reactions of a stuffed toy seem to somehow resonate with them. A great way to introduce empathic reasoning…
Cock-a-doodle-hooooooo! by Mick Manning—This cute story explores the joys of diversity from the perspective of some barnyard fowl. My kids especially love the last wordless illustration. (I’ll leave that for you to discover yourself!)
Music from the Sky by Denise Gillard—A sweet story about a little girl and her grandfather, who enjoy a playful morning together. Jadon was particularly thrilled with this story…perhaps because it involved music, perhaps because the girl has brown skin like him, perhaps because of the teasing tone between the characters…
Big and Busy: How Things Go by Roger Priddy—This book provides lots of great information about how different transportation machines work. Jadon eats this stuff up! Then, of course, he has to share all his knowledge! So, as we’re driving together in the van, he may pipe up with some random piece of information like, “Did you know Sir Isaac Newton figured out forces?” To which Mike responds, “Wow, Jadon. So, what’s a force?” Jadon doesn’t bat an eye. “It’s a pull and a push,” he answers. Mike turns to me and says, “Kristy, you might want to ease off on the preschool stuff…”
Run, Turkey, Run by Diane Mayr—This rhythmic tale of a turkey’s Thanksgiving escape is pure fun and surprise! The children were blissfully quoting the book from memory by the week’s end.
The Secret of Saying Thanks by Douglas Wood—This book may have been a bit less captivating for my children, but the words of its last page have become a theme at our house. Since reading One Thousand Gifts and thinking more about intentional thanksgiving throughout the year, these words rang especially true: “We don’t give thanks because we’re happy. We are happy because we give thanks.”
Sunday, October 9, 2011
For the harvests of the Spirit,
Thanks be to God.
For the good we all inherit,
Thanks be to God.
For the wonders that astound us,
For the truths that still confound us,
Most of all, that love has found us,
Thanks be to God.
--Frederick Pratt Green
Happy Canadian Thanksgiving from the Tappers!
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Monday, October 3, 2011
I also reread a few chapters of No Biking in the House Without a Helmet by Melissa Fay Greene, a humorous yet thoughtful celebration of the author’s real life family, which includes four children by birth and five by adoption. After the past few weeks of Andrew’s hockey evaluations which culminated in him being drafted for an “A” team, I particularly enjoyed the chapter entitled, “A Jewish Guide to Raising Star Athletes.” Actually, there are many parts of this book that made me laugh out loud as I remembered parts of our adoption journeys and imagined some of our likely future family adventures.
Jadon’s pick of the week is The Most Obedient Dog in the World by Anita Jeram. He liked the “surprise” ending. I liked the reinforcement of our weekly theme of obedience and the simple storyline.
Other favorites in our library bag this week: Richard Scarry’s Naughty Bunny, Manners in the Lunchroom (actually, we really like this whole Way to Be! Manners series), A Sick Day for Amos McGee, and Wake Up, Mr. Noah.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
This past week, I’ve had my nose in a few different books. I finished “The Tiger Rising” by Kate DiCamillo very quickly. I had picked up this book as a potential read-aloud with the children, intrigued by its inside cover description as a narrative about hidden emotions. While I found the characters convincing and the narrative skillfully weave themes such as life’s challenges, dealing with painful feelings, and relational community, I think I will save this book for a while before reading it to my kids. They may need some additional maturity before the plot’s ending twist can be viewed in perspective with the book’s central themes.
I’m also in the midst of “How We Decide” by Jonah Lehrer and “Finding Sophie” by Irene N. Watts. The former is another neuroscience special that has numerous fascinating accounts of scientific experiments and researchers’ interpretations of the inner workings of the human brain. The latter is a young adult novel about a displaced teenager in post-war England.
Jadon’s “Book of the Week:”
“Port Side Pirates” by Oscar Seaworthy, illustrated by Debbie Harter
This book contains a wonderful, sing-song, rhyming text with a repetitious refrain. The bright, imaginative illustrations feature interesting characters and captivating activity. In addition to its cute and simple storyline, the book includes appendixes which note some very remarkable pirate facts, including information about various kinds of ships, pirate history, and details about the lives of famous pirates.
Children’s Book Honorable Mentions:
“Blue Goose” by Nancy Tafuri—teaches about colors and color-mixing in a cute, simple story
“How Do You Count a Dozen Ducklings” by In Seon Chae—with engaging narrative and charming illustrations, this book introduces the concept of multiplication
“Monkey Tales” retold by Laurel Dee Gugler—funny classic stories
“Sam’s First Library Card” by Gail Herman—entertaining book combines information about library services with a lesson about honesty
“Warner, Don’t Forget” by Lynn Seligman and Geraldine Mabin—another cute story with a figure-it-out ending