Adopted Joy Our Family's Adoption Journey Into Joy Mon, 01 Aug 2022 03:18:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Adopted Joy 32 32 14+6 Mon, 01 Aug 2022 03:15:30 +0000

Another year, another double-birthday-party for Jordan and Ruben! We all enjoyed celebrating Jordan’s 14th birthday today, along with Ruben’s 6th birthday. It was a simple affair with chili-dogs, chips, fresh veggies, dips and of course, cake for dessert.

So thankful for these two boys who light up our lives!

]]> 0
Rain Thu, 28 Jul 2022 20:17:45 +0000 Cloudy days are my favorite – especially here in the desert where I have to hide my Scandinavian skin from the sun! I haven’t been outside since my surgery, so it was lovely to step out into the back yard, sit under the lid, “breathe the free air”, and snap some pics during a little rainfall this morning.

I wonder which edits you prefer, the natural color, or the black and white?

]]> 0
Roasted Vegetables Tue, 26 Jul 2022 06:00:26 +0000 Another quiet day around the casa. Xavier, Alyssa and Elyany were still with grandma, so Natalie, Jordan, Efrain and Ruben have been here to keep us entertained. Efrain does a pretty good job of that – he and Ruben play non stop unless a screen is on, and it’s very intense and rambunctious!

I have had this bag of tiny new potatoes sitting in the pantry for a couple of weeks and finally today I sat myself down at my end of the table spot, ordered this and that to be brought to me, and I put together a batch of roasted vegetables. Ruben kept me company at the other end, working on some coloring.

Two full trays went into the oven, and when it came dinner time, after Dad had brought the missing three home from Grandma’s, there were 10 of us around the table and we gobbled up nearly all of it. There were requests to repeat this meal again soon!

]]> 0
The Storm, and the Aftermath Sat, 23 Jul 2022 23:19:20 +0000 After several months of anticipation, the day finally arrived on Monday for my surgery. I was all set for a 9am check in and 11am surgery time when they called on Saturday and told me there’d been a cancellation, and I would be checking in at 5:30am for a 7:30 surgery time! A bit of a switcheroo, but we took it in stride.

Everything went hunky dory checking in and, as usual after two failed attempts to stick the IV line, they called “SWAT” to the rescue. Why they always have to “try” first when I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they will need the ultrasound to stick it, is a mystery to me.

Anyway, although they said it is often a same day surgery, they had a challenging time with mine and decided to keep me overnight. Unfortunately I was stuck down in recovery until about 6pm waiting for a bed. My lovely and gracious recovery nurse confirmed my suspicions that the problem is not overcrowding of the hospital, but a lack of staff. This continues to be a problem throughout the valley and I pray more incentives will be offered to bring more healthcare workers to our area.

I had an uneventful night and Tuesday, after a four-lap walk around the “pod” where my room was stationed, I was given the ok to go home.

Since then I have mostly been sleeping, with brief intervals sitting at the dining room table or my desk. I’m gradually stretching those out longer, but completely willing to nap as often as necessary at this stage. The kids are more than happy to veg in front of the TV, although Ruben gets pretty bored. He’s papering our walls with watercolor drawings!

Yesterday, however, things got a lot more interesting around here when our two goddaughters, Malinda and Lisa, came over with their new babies – and one on the way! They also brought Lisa’s older boy Chris (8) and her nephew Nate (11), so there was plenty of noise and activity. They came mid morning and stayed until around 7pm, Lisa did some work for us, and we all got plenty of baby snuggles and (in my case) some sweet pics. I wish I could have held them, but that’s a no-no for a while here. Anyway, it was a nice diversion and definitely exciting for Ruben to have some playmates for the day.

My pics – wished I could have a few more of Malinda, but that will wait for next time.

]]> 0
The Calm Before the Storm Sat, 23 Jul 2022 15:00:06 +0000 Last week was a very quiet time around the house. We were finishing up our summer school early, in advance of my surgery and recovery, so we basically focused on that, some tidying every day, and relaxing and staying out of the heat wave and in front of fans. (And for me, taking a few pics and playing with edits.)

Here’s what some of that looked like:

]]> 0
Fixing the Fence Mon, 11 Jul 2022 06:18:34 +0000 This weekend Paul needed to take a work-trip up to the ranch. There was about a quarter mile of fence that needed to be repaired, and that is no small job. Thus it was that Thursday morning around 8:30 (after he’d started work at 4:30am) he packed up the truck, along with Xavier and Jordan and headed north. And, since he was away all weekend, he got nothing done around the house that needed doing, which means he has no time to do a write up himself. So he shunted all his Pixel 6 Pix off to me, gave me the gist of everything they did, and told me to blog it up. So, as best I can manage, here is what happened up north!

As I mentioned, they left Thursday morning, and arrived in St. Johns around noon. First stop was the grocery store so they could buy food for the weekend. That done, they trekked the 18ish miles out to the ranch.

Immediately upon arrival the trouble started. You see, a while back a family member wanted to spend a few days out at the ranch, so Paul gave her the key to the gate padlock. However, said family member never made it out there, and didn’t want to keep holding on to the key in case we needed it, so she put it in an envelope and mailed it back to us. When the envelope arrived, it was rather light. Evidently, the envelope had ripped and the key had fallen out along the way. And so it was that they pulled up to the gate, padlocked tight as a drum, with no way to get in. Well, no way, that is, except for the trusty hack-saw the Paul had, with great foresight, brought along for just this task.

It turned out to be no small task, but at last they made it through and up the drive to the cabin, where he met with a second problem. When he inserted the key into the lock handle, it wouldn’t budge, nor would it come back out for love nor money. After fighting with it in vain, there was no help for it. Out came the hacksaw once again, and off came the door handle. He was eventually able to get the key out, once the entire mechanism was dismantled. Fortunately there is still a deadbolt on the door, so the cabin is secure, but he will have to buy a new door handle and install it.

After all that nonsense, they got themselves settled in, made a fire, and had some hot dogs and s’mores while watching the sunset.

Early Friday morning, they got up and headed down to the valley to take care of the business for which they came: fixin’ the fence. The boys were a huge help, learned quickly how to fasten the barbed wire nice and tight, and worked hard all morning and into the afternoon. Unsurprisingly, after they’d finished up, they both took a well deserved nap!

Around 5ish, our neighbors Gene and Amy came over and Amy brought a nice pot of spaghetti she had made for the hard working guys. They sat around the fire chatting until around 8:30pm, and were getting ready to go when all of a sudden, through the gate at the bottom of the drive, a herd of cattle came rumbling into the property! Well that certainly caused a ruckus! Paul spent who knows how long trying to chase them out the gate again, to absolutely no avail (on foot, in the dark…), and at last gave up and went to bed, hoping they would get thirsty and find their way out again.

Saturday morning when he went outside, there they all were, still hanging out at the Heidmann hacienda. So once again, he started trying to herd them out. He’d come at them from one direction and they’d run all the way to the far corner, so he’d have to traipse over there and try again. Eventually he figured out a way to trick them and they found their way out the gate, but not without a couple of calves wriggling through the fence and causing some more damage that needed fixing. Fortunately the boys, who by now were quite expert at such repairs, were able to take care of it without any supervision.

Finally rid of those pesky cows, Paul hitched up the water-hauling trailer to his truck and they went into town to refill the water tank. They noodled around in town for a while and then came back, verrrrry slowly along the dirt roads, with their heavy load of water. It took about twice as long as usual to drive out! But they made it without incident and got the water into the tank on the hill above the cabin.

After that they decided to take a hike up to Bald Spot Mountain (that’s just our name for it) – there’s a steep trail that goes up to a pretty high lookout, and halfway up there’s a bald spot – a meadow with a huge rock in the middle – that we have hiked on several occasions. We have pics of our older kids when they were young, up on the rock, as well as on the tip top of the mountain, so it brings back good memories to take our new kids there as well.

The rest of Saturday was uneventful, other than a downpour that chased them inside with their plates during supper. Apparently there was more rain during the night because when they headed out to come home on Sunday morning, they had to drive through some epic mud puddles before they reached the pavement (I suspect all three of them rather enjoyed that part of the trip). This has to be the dirtiest I have ever seen Tom Truck!

And that is that for the Fence Fixing saga. And even with stopping at Grandma’s to pick up Natalie and Ruben, who spent the weekend with her, they still managed to get home and cleaned up in time to make it to the 11am mass. Nicely done!

]]> 2
July 4th: An Unexpected Adventure Tue, 05 Jul 2022 20:15:48 +0000 “A man’s heart plans his way,
but the Lord directs his steps.” — Proverbs 16:9

Once upon a time, there was a man who made a plan. “And when you make a plan, you have to stick to the plan,” as we say in our family.


Apparently our plan to get up at 4am, pack up the whole crew and get over to the Scottsdale Waterfront to take some blue hour and sunrise photos was not on God’s agenda. Everything was ticking along famously – we arrived in the neighborhood, parked in the empty Scottsdale Fashion Center parking lot, and all walked happily along, the children running here and there, peering in the windows at the very fancy furnishings, and then, when we were about a half a block from the canal, one wheel of my wheelchair missed the ramp by a couple of inches and crunched down the curb to the gutter. And that was the end of that photo walk. Broken wheel, I was going nowhere.

Paul turned around and retraced our steps back to the van while the kids and I hung out beside the ghostly quiet street next to another empty parking lot and waited. I decided, what the heck, I’m not going to waste this time, even if I’m not at the posh place I intended to go, so out came the camera and I snapped away right where we were. It’s a little weird trying to do street photography when you are stuck in one spot and can’t move around to get different angles, but I liked some of the shots I got anyway.

Since Dad had promised the kids a McDonald’s breakfast after our photos, that was our next stop after loading us all and the broken chair into the van again. We found one in short order, wondered if it was even open as we saw no cars anywhere around, but Paul checked the door and it was open so we piled in there and gave them their first mega order of the day.

On the way out to the van again, I snapped a few more pics in the parking lot of the flora and fauna, then it was off again to our next stop – Paul decided to drive us all over to Garmin just so I could get some shots of him with the kids by the big sign out front.

Finally we went to a nearby park and the kids were able to run around, play in the playground, and I got a few pics of duckies and a dragonfly that persistently buzzed around the surface of the water in the vicinity of the park bench I was occupying. I handed off the camera to Paul and he got some playground pics as well before I finally got too hot to stay any longer – it was practically 7 by then!

So, for a morning that diverged radically from what we originally planned, it turned out remarkably well.

]]> 1
The Last Gift Sat, 02 Jul 2022 07:47:47 +0000 With mother’s burial complete, the last of the inheritance money was distributed. I have thought and prayed and researched for many months about what to do with my portion. I wanted to find a way to honor her memory and decided the best way to do so would be to upgrade my Canon 6D to the new mirrorless EOS R6, and continue to learn and grow as a photographer by photographing, primarily, her beautiful grandchildren as they grow up. She so loved seeing and sharing my photos, and I know she would approve.

As soon as it arrived, I couldn’t wait to start snapping. I didn’t even wait to set up the menus or configure anything, I just smacked the new Viltrox 85mm F/1.8 lens on there and started shooting while sitting around the table doing our summer school. It was a DREAM! I couldn’t be more thrilled with how well the eye autofocus works – with children who rarely sit still, finding a focus point has been a struggle. This system is light-years faster and “stickier” at finding and keeping that focus right on the eyes. So much fun! And that 1.8 lens – wow! Stunning bokeh, I’m in love.

Here are my first shots (and as always, click to enlarge, the quality is much improved at full size):

This is only the beginning! Woohoo!

My next challenge is to figure out Lightroom, which I need to do if I want to shoot Raw. I am sure once I figure out the basic workflow the rest will come pretty easily, but right now I’m stuck on things as basic as how to import and organize. Once again, YouTube is my best friend. I know I will find the information I need and someone to walk me through it there. Sometimes, the internet is an awesome thing.

]]> 0
A Final Goodbye Sat, 02 Jul 2022 07:15:01 +0000 It’s been a couple of weeks, or just a week and a half I guess, and I haven’t posted here because I just wanted to process the finality of mother’s burial on June 22nd. Due to both health and financial constraints, neither Jeff nor I could attend the burial. But Doug’s family was almost all in attendance, save for niece Catherine who had Covid. I was very, very thankful to Doug for making a video of the short service for Jeff and I and the family here to watch. It was simple, but so precious to see that all the family were able to help pour the dirt in and bury the urn. Somehow it feels complete.

Rest in peace, beloved Mom and Dad, Oma and Opa. We love and miss you so, and eagerly wait for our reunion in Heaven!

]]> 0
Poetry, Literature, and Logical Fallacies Thu, 23 Jun 2022 05:56:08 +0000 Summer school this year is heavily reading-centric. Reading is so important! I try to walk the fine line between challenging classic literature and stories that are fun enough to keep them interested, which can be tricky. Then again, there are so many rabbit trails to follow with this many stories, and this many kids asking questions about the meanings of words and so forth… days that feel like little progress was made in the books are often days that involved so much interaction and exploration! This is another reason why I love homeschooling.

Our poems so far (all taken from The Harp & Laurel Wreath) include:

The Little Turtle by Vachel Lindsay (Ruben memorized this in less than an hour… gotta get something harder for him!)

Ellie is working on the second stanza after only two days on The Owl and the Pussycat.

From The Angel’s Alphabet by Hilda van Stockum, B is for Balaam’s Ass has challenged Alyssa’s sense of propriety and involved a lot of giggling…

J is for Jacob’s Ladder is Efrain’s section – and since they’re working together on their memorization, when they’re done, he and Alyssa will switch.

The Height of the Ridiculous, by Oliver Wendell Holmes. Jordan and this poem – I don’t know why – just seem made for one another.

The Wild Honeysuckle by Philip Freneau is Xavier’s challenge for the week.

For Natalie I figured she might as well take on something huge, so I gave her Lepanto, by G.K. Chesterton. She’s very much rising to the the occasion!

Reading for the summer looks like this: Ruben is listening to Household Stories by the Brothers Grimm

Elyany is reading: The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum

Alyssa is reading: The Black Stallion, by Walter Farley

Efrain is reading: Farmer Giles of Ham, by J.R.R. Tolkien (and at night, for fun, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. He waited – purposely – to start until he turned 11!)

Jordan is reading: Dreams and Dragons, by Linda Burklin

Xavier is reading: The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom

Natalie is reading: The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

With this wide variety of fare you can imagine the conversations go in many directions.

And speaking of conversations going in many directions, our after dinner discussions are increasingly interesting as well. We’ve been working our way through a deck of cards that defines all kinds of logical fallacies, and that was interesting enough; but tonight Paul decided that our kids, who absolutely LOVE to argue (what kids don’t, I ask?), need to learn how to argue properly. So tonight we started with the Ad Hominem fallacy and the Straw Man fallacy, using the questions “Do Aliens Exist?” and “Should drivers licenses be granted at age 16, or 21?” My, this got lively in an instant! There were ad hominems flying in every direction! It was an enormously useful time of teaching, and lots of fun too. Family dinners, man. They’re the best.

]]> 0