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Earlier than I prefer to open my eyes on a Saturday, I was awakened by a three-year-old voice announcing, “It’s morning time!”  Sighing heavily, I dutifully lugged myself out of bed to hang out with Clara while the rest of the household continued to sleep.

Not too long after that, Simon joined us in the kitchen.  Ever a bundle of energy, he launched into the production of paper airplanes.  He created one design which he called a “butterfly,” of which he was particularly proud.

Somehow, Clara got her hands on Simon’s butterfly airplane and mangled it.  Simon was outraged.  I told Clara to tell Simon that she was sorry.  She refused.

I sat Clara on a chair at the kitchen table and told her that she had to stay there until she was ready to apologize to Simon.  She proved herself to be my daughter.  When I was little, I was not a fan of apologizing (I’m still not, which is why I try to behave so that I don’t have to).  I remember spending long, boring stretches of time on the big rocking chair in our living room not wanting to apologize.

Clara declared over and over that she didn’t want to apologize and wouldn’t apologize.  She cried.  She mentioned various things she would rather do–play with a puzzle, eat a piece of chocolate, make her own paper airplane.  She cried.  She repeated, “I don’t know what to do!”  She cried some more.  This went on for a long time.  Don came downstairs.  I’m not sure how Peter and Amina slept through the noise.

I remained patient and encouraging.  I gave her hugs.  I sat with her on my lap, off and on (sometimes she told me she wanted to sit on the chair by herself).  I told her that sometimes it’s hard to apologize, but I knew she could do it.  When she told me what she would rather be doing, I told her she could do that as soon as she apologized.  I modeled the words to say.

Inside, I thought that the fuss she was making was disproportionate to the situation.  Part of me thought, “She’s only three.  She’s so upset, maybe I should just let it go.”  But she was the one punishing herself.  I was ready to move on with life as soon as she made a simple apology.  She was the one who was choosing not to apologize, even though she knew the consequences.

Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do.  If we make someone upset, we should apologize.  These are important life lessons and she is not too young to start learning them.

I felt sorry that she was hurting herself and that she was so upset when it would have been so easy to just say the words of apology.  I realized that it was an echo of the sadness God has when He sees his children hurting themselves though their sins.  In the same way that I wanted Clara to just say she was sorry so we could move on with life, God longs for us to repent of our sins, as He is waiting to forgive us.

Eventually, Clara calmed down and apologized to Simon for wrecking his airplane.  Although it was not a very enjoyable morning, I hope that the way I handled the situation reflected God’s love for her.  I hope she learned something from the experience.  I did.

More staying home

I posted Sunday night that I expected the big kids’ school cancellation to be extended, but there hadn’t been an announcement yet.  Monday morning–yesterday–the governor of Michigan signed a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order directing people to stay home for the next three weeks unless “they’re a part of th[e] critical infrastructure workforce, engaged in an outdoor activity, or performing tasks necessary to the health and safety of themselves or their family, like going to the hospital or grocery store.” (from the State of Michigan press release)  This extends the out-of-school period another week for now, but it may not be the end of the story.

This also means no Mass for Easter.  It’s hard to wrap my head around the idea of not coming together in community for the biggest feast of the Christian year.  Last week, when the directive to avoid gatherings of more than ten people came from the federal government, our diocese suspended Mass, faith formation, and all other organized gatherings.  However, parishes were encouraged to keep their doors open so that people could come in and pray individually.  I stopped in at my church yesterday afternoon to do so for both the first and last time, as with the new state order, they locked the doors yesterday evening until April 14th.

Rather than dwelling on what we can’t do, let’s focus on what we can do.  We can pray.  We can spend quality time with the people we live with.  We can call or video chat with friends and family who live outside our homes.  We can read books or inspirational websites.  We can go outside to get fresh air and exercise, as long as we stay at least six feet away from other people.  This week, we can eat waffles for dinner to celebration the Annunciation on Wednesday.  Who’s with me?

Staying home

Like millions of others right now, due to the coronavirus pandemic, I’m staying home.  I’m finally at a point where I can do some blogging.

It’s amazing how suddenly and drastically this pandemic has changed our daily lives.  Peter and Amina came home from school on Thursday, March 12th like any other day.  That Friday morning, we learned that at 11 pm on Thursday, the governor of Michigan had declared that all schools would be closed for three weeks starting on Monday.  Our local schools had a 2-hour delay due to a snowstorm, but then were cancelled altogether.  So, without any warning, the kids were out of school for three and a half weeks.  (Realistically, I’m expecting it to be longer, but no announcement has been made yet.)

The second of the three weeks that school was cancelled was supposed to be spring break.  For everyone’s sanity, I decided to treat this period as a cross between homeschooling and vacation.  I jumped into homeschooling right away and gave all the kids lessons to do that Friday.  I’m not giving Peter and Amina as much work to do as if they were fully homeschooled, just enough to keep their brains engaged, keep them learning, and give some structure to their days.  This past week (our first full week home), we did lessons Monday through Thursday.  I was already planning to take Friday off, but I was so sick that I spent most of the day in bed.  Next week, I’m going to try doing lessons Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, with Wednesday off.  That way, it’ll be two days on, one day off, two days on, two days off.  For me, having a balance between structure and flexibility is crucial, and I think that schedule gives a better balance than four days straight of working hard to keep four kids on track with lessons, followed by three consecutive days of much-less-structured time.

I rode out the early stages of the the pandemic hitting the United States being sick myself, but with strep.  Although I’m usually pretty healthy and can generally fight off a cold within a few days without feeling too bad, this strep hit me hard.  I was sick for ten days, three of which I spent mostly in bed, unable to function.  The first antibiotic I was given didn’t do the trick, but the second one seems to have taken care of it.  (I have one day of medication left to finish, but I feel normal again.)  I have a new appreciation for how nasty a bacteria strep is.

For Lent, I’d decided to divide up the Daily Decalogue of Pope St. John XXIII and focus on each item for four days.  Wednesday, March 11th was the first day that I was going to concentrate on the fourth item, “Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.”  Adapting to circumstances ended up being a far greater task than I’d anticipated, as that was the day I was first laid low by strep.  Two days later (while still focusing on item 4) was the first day the big kids were out of school.  There has been plenty of adapting since then, to cancellations of all kinds and shortages of items at the grocery store, among others.

Being sick, it was honestly rather helpful to have outside-the-home events cancelled, because I wasn’t up to dealing with them anyhow.  For nine days, I stayed home except for going to the doctor, and I didn’t really miss going out.  However, now that I’m feeling better, and as this time of isolation lengthens, I probably will start to miss going out and seeing people in real life instead of on my computer screen.

Brandon from Humans of New York said this is like the world war of our generation.  In these early stages of the pandemic, I’m reminded of the beginning of World War I, when everyone thought it would be over by Christmas.  No one expected it to drag out for years and have so many casualties.

On the positive side, with all this staying home, Clara is now potty-trained.  She hasn’t worn diapers during the day pretty much since this staying-home started and hasn’t had an accident in five days or more (I haven’t been keeping track; I was sick).  I’m still putting her in diapers at night but they’ve been staying dry for the past several days.

I have a list of blog posts I’ve been wanting to write for quite some time.  I’m hopeful that I’ll find time to do more writing soon.

Most kids who are available for adoption have siblings.  Sometimes their siblings are available for adoption with them, while other times their siblings are in care but not available for adoption, still living with birth family, have already been adopted, or have aged out of the system.  Sadly, it is not uncommon for siblings to be split up in foster care or in different orphanages (in some countries, babies and preschoolers live in “baby houses,” while school-age children live in separate orphanages).  There are places where, due to lack of resources and social pressure, families who have children with special needs place them in orphanages, while they raise their children who don’t require special care.  Whether an adopted child had a relationship with their siblings or not, the loss of their siblings is often one more loss that comes with adoption.

Sibling groups often wait longer for adoptive families than children who are placed individually.  Families may be concerned about the amount of extra work that comes with adding multiple new family members, may not have enough space in their home to add more than one child, or may be discouraged by the additional cost of completing the adoption or caring for the children.  Sibling groups in which one or more children have special needs may wait even longer.

I would like to introduce you to two sibling groups currently listed on Reece’s Rainbow.  I can imagine either of these sibling groups in my family, but we’re not in a position to start another adoption right now.  Even if we were, we wouldn’t adopt both sets.  Thus, I am spotlighting them here in the hopes that their future forever families might see them.

The first group is two brothers, “Evan” and “Ethan.”  (These are not their real names.)  Evan, born in 2016, has no medical diagnoses.  Ethan, born in 2014, has HIV.  Their Reece’s Rainbow page is here.  Don’t you just want to give them big hugs?

The second sibling set is “Elaine,” “Jerry,” and “George.”  Little sister Elaine was born in 2018.  She has HIV, a speech disorder, and abnormal cardiac function.  Her brothers, born in 2016 and 2014, have no medical diagnoses.  Their Reece’s Rainbow page is here.  Note that the older boy (the one with the outdated photo) is the one on the left on the Reece’s Rainbow page, though the listing reads like he should be the one on the right.  I put them in order from youngest to oldest here.  (It turned out kind of small, but you can click each photo to see a larger version.)  The younger two are in the same orphanage, while the older boy has already been moved and is thus separated from his siblings.  Is your family the one who will bring them together again?

You probably noticed that both of these beautiful sibling sets contain a child living with HIV.  Nowadays, HIV is a very easy special need!  Adoptive parents of children with HIV agree that the social aspect of living with HIV is more challenging than the medical aspect.  If you’d like to learn more, here is an essay by a woman who adopted a child with HIV and here’s another by a doctor who would rather have HIV than diabetes.

I have more information (including photos and videos) that I can share privately with interested families.  The country that these children live in has a quick adoption process (often less than a year from starting the home study to homecoming) and is relatively cost-effective for adopting siblings.  The estimated additional cost of adopting a sibling from the same orphanage is about $5000 (including facilitation fees, medical exam, visa, and flight home).  The estimated additional cost for a sibling in a different orphanage in the same region, if the court process can be combined, is $7000.  Please contact me if you want to learn more.

What you can do:

  • Pray for waiting sibling groups and for families adopting siblings.  If you wish, you can look at photolistings and pray for specific children.
  • Donate towards the Reece’s Rainbow grant accounts of waiting sibling groups and family sponsorship accounts of families adopting siblings to help defray international adoption expenses.
  • Support organizations such as Second Mile Haiti that work to support vulnerable families so that they can keep their children, rather than placing them in orphanages and potentially splitting up siblings.
  • Consider whether you may be called to foster or adopt a sibling group.
  • Share information about waiting sibling groups (like these kids!) on social media.  Many children have been chosen for adoption after their future forever parents first saw their photos or information shared online by a friend or acquaintance.

Please pray especially for “Evan” and “Ethan,” and for “Elaine,” “Jerry,” and “George.”  I’ve been to orphanages, and even a well-run orphanage is not as good for children as a family is.  The sooner these children go home with loving, committed families, the better!

I’ve been interested in whole food, plant-based (WFPB) eating for a long time.  I first came across the idea (though not that term) over a decade ago.  When Peter was a baby, I picked up a copy of Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book Disease-Proof Your Child: Feeding Kids Right.  At that time, I was eating a standard American diet with plenty of processed food, lots of dairy, and meat almost every day.  I didn’t doubt that the diet based on vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts, and whole grains recommended by Dr. Fuhrman was healthy, but I thought it would be impossible.  A few years later, I came across The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted by T. Colin Campbell and his son Thomas M. Campbell.  I was blown away by the scientific evidence they compiled to make their case for the importance of diet to health, and particularly, the negative effects of animal food consumption.  Slowly, over a period of years, I started to wean myself away from the standard American diet.  I stopped drinking soda pop.  I stopped buying red meat, pork, and ice cream (but still occasionally ate them away from home, as a treat).  I stopped eating obvious dairy products.  I started eating more fruits, vegetables, beans, and foods made with whole grains.  Although my diet still wasn’t amazing, it was definitely healthier than it used to be.  I knew I should be eating a WFPB diet, but I couldn’t commit to going all the way.

When I saw the documentary Forks Over Knives in 2017, it struck a nerve.  It felt wrong to keep eating the way I was, but I didn’t know how to make a major change.  Life was busy with hosting Valentine, the adoption process, and then integrating a new child into our family.  While I had plenty of excuses for not overhauling my diet, my conscience troubled me; I was neglecting something important.  I watched Forks Over Knives again in late 2018, seeking motivation.  Finally, in December 2018, I visited the website associated with the documentary.  When I discovered that the Forks Over Knives team was going to have a free 21-day Fresh Start Challenge beginning in early January 2019, I signed up.

With considerable investment of time and energy to try new foods and learn new habits, I made it through the Fresh Start Challenge last January.  I didn’t know if I could do it all, but I decided to take it a week at a time.  The first week’s goal was to eat a WFPB breakfast every day.  Since I already did that at least five or six days a week (I’ve been having a chocolate smoothie for breakfast almost every day for the past couple years), I decided to add evening snacks (anything eaten after dinner) that first week.  The second week’s official goal was to eat WFPB for breakfast and lunch; I made my personal goal to eat only WFPB through lunch (including morning snacks) and after dinner, so I was only eating non-WFPB foods for afternoon snacks and dinner.  The third week’s goal was to go all the way—breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  True to its name, every week was a challenge, but I pushed myself to rise to the occasion.  I will always remember how proud of myself I was the first day that I ate nothing but WFPB foods.

Unlike any other New Year’s resolution I’ve ever made, I am still eating WFPB as 2019 comes to an end.  A crucial component in accomplishing this is the support offered by the Forks Over Knives team.  Their e-mail newsletters keep me motivated with success stories, informative articles, and a wide variety of recipes to try.  For the first couple months, their official Facebook group was my lifeline.  I don’t know anyone in real life who eats this way, so finding a welcoming online community with a wealth of experience was extremely helpful.  I could not have done this all on my own, but with the encouragement and advice of those who have forged the path ahead of me, I am making this stick.

I have faced numerous challenges in following the WFPB diet and I am by no means perfect at it.  From the beginning, my goal was to get to 90-95% WFPB.  Because I am basically healthy and have no chronic health conditions, I allow myself “treats” here and there; I couldn’t commit to never eating certain foods again.  A slice of turkey at Thanksgiving, one of my family’s traditional almond rolls at Christmas, or a bite of brownie when my husband bakes a pan won’t do me too much harm when the rest of the foods I eat are health-promoting.  One of the hardest parts of eating WFPB is eating away from home.  Few restaurant meals are WFPB and it can be difficult to find foods that come close.  I basically give up eating WFPB when eating at someone else’s house; I don’t want to burden them with preparing something different for me or seem rude by not eating what they have prepared.  Potlucks are not too bad; I bring a WFPB entrée that I can eat and usually someone brings fruit.  Even eating at home is not always easy.  Despite me subjecting my husband to the Forks Over Knives documentary, he has not chosen to change the way he eats.  As the rest of my family continues to consume a standard American diet, I often cook the equivalent of two dinners—one for them and one for me (which they are welcome to eat, but usually don’t).  I feel guilty about serving my kids foods that I know are detrimental to their health, but as long as my husband is not on board and there are unhealthy foods in the house, the kids are going to eat them.  I encourage my kids to make healthy choices, but I don’t have it in me to fight over what they eat every day.  Most of my challenges in WFPB eating stem from the fact that I’m an anomaly in following this diet; I hope that as this way of eating becomes more widespread, there will be more restaurant options and greater social acceptance.

Despite the challenges, I feel good about eating WFPB.  I can draw parallels between eating WFPB and living a Christian faith.  Both are counter-cultural; doing the right thing is often quite different from what society expects or encourages you to do.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  The truth is that a WFPB diet is the way to eat for a healthy life.  Once your eyes have been opened, you can’t pretend that you don’t know.  Many people experience dramatic weight loss and health improvement after making the change to a WFPB diet.  As I was not overweight and was basically healthy to begin with, I didn’t experience a significant improvement in my health, though I did have a modest weight loss.  When I went for an annual physical in the fall, my doctor didn’t see the need to order blood tests.  While of course I’m happy to be healthy, I was disappointed not to have my blood tested, as I was curious to see how the results would compare to tests done before I started eating WFPB.  With time, certain aspects of WFPB eating have become easier.  I have found many new recipes that I enjoy.  I have figured out some quick-and-easy WFPB foods so I’m less tempted to cheat when I’m tired or pressed for time and there are no WFPB leftovers.  My tastes have also changed, so even when I do have a treat, I often don’t enjoy it as much as I expected.  It’s easier to pass up unhealthy foods after several disappointing experiences of eating them.  The successes I experience and the conviction that I am doing the right thing keep me motivated to continue eating WFPB.

I encourage you to learn more about whole food, plant-based eating and try it for yourself.  If you haven’t seen the Forks Over Knives documentary, take two minutes to go watch the trailer now, and find the time to watch the whole thing soon.  If you’re a reader, pick up one of the many books on the subject—Plant-Strong: Discover the World’s Healthiest Diet by Rip Esselstyn is an easy read, or choose The China Study if you like to see scientific data.  Explore the Forks Over Knives website; there is a wealth of resources there.  If you’re up for it, make a New Year’s resolution to complete the Fresh Start Challenge; the Forks Over Knives team is doing it again for 2020.  The orientation e-mail goes out on January 1st and the challenge officially begins on January 4th.  Even if you’re not ready to commit, you can get on the Forks Over Knives mailing list (scroll to the bottom of this page to sign up).  Educate yourself and start making changes to improve your diet and your health—it’s a worthwhile journey and I would love more company!

Find more 7 Quick Takes (about who-knows-what other topics) here:

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My husband, Don, and I recently went on a cruise from New York City to Atlantic Canada (Halifax, Nova Scotia and Saint John, New Brunswick) and back.  While I was hoping to do some serious writing on the cruise, vacationing got in the way of my plans.  However, I did manage to type up a few thoughts and observations from my travels.

  1. We don’t even have a stoplight in my entire zip code, so New York City is very different from where I live. It was fascinating and stimulating.  Everywhere I looked, there were interesting things to see and so many things to read—signs and notices and advertisements.  It was exciting to visit, but I can imagine that it would be stressful to be bombarded with so much information all the time if you lived there.
  2. There are so many tv shows and movies set in New York City that it seems familiar, even though this is only the second time I’ve spent any appreciable amount of time there (the first was in 2017 when we took our host child “Valentine” to JFK to fly back to Ukraine). On our ride from the airport to our hotel, it almost seemed like we were passing through a caricature of the city.  Among other things, we passed a shop that specialized in taxi parts, a manufacturer of Statue of Liberty replicas, a bagel bakery, several delis, food carts on the sidewalk, and lots of graffiti.
  3. I took advantage of the opportunity to attend a Haitian Creole Mass. We specifically chose our hotel because it was located close to the subway line that went near the church.  I was impressed to see probably 50-60 people at a Saturday morning Mass.  I arrived early and they were saying the rosary; I lost count of which decade I walked in on, but the first one I heard was in English and the rest were in French.  The Mass was conducted in both French and Creole (the standard prayers were in French, but the readings and the homily were in Creole) with some Latin thrown in for good measure (the Sanctus and Agnus Dei).  After the effort I put into memorizing the Our Father and the Hail Mary in Creole, I was a little disappointed that they were both said in French (which I also have memorized, from my days as a French teacher in Catholic elementary schools in Ontario).
  4. While we were in Brooklyn on a Saturday morning, I saw a surprising number of parents and children out and about. However, I did not see anyone with more than two children.  I suppose the expense and pressures of urban living result in people choosing to have smaller families.
  5. Sitting on the cruise ship, looking out at the Atlantic Ocean stretching to the horizon, reminds me of sitting on the shore of Lake Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake by surface area, which I am lucky enough to live near. They both inspire me to reflect on the fact that there is so much water in the world.  The number of water molecules out there dancing around is just unfathomable.  They are all touching each other, all connected, all the way from Lake Superior to Lake Huron to Lake St. Clair to Lake Erie and over Niagara Falls and through Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence Seaway and out to the ocean.  Then the water molecules are all touching and all connected, all the way to Europe and Africa and beyond.
  6. One unexpected bonus of our itinerary is that for most of the cruise, we were in the Atlantic time zone, an hour ahead of Eastern time (where we live). It meant that we could stay up late and sleep in without actually messing up our body clocks very much.  Normally, I would find it scandalous to go to bed at midnight and stay in bed until 8:30 am, but it’s equivalent to 11 pm and 7:30 am Eastern, so it’s not that bad (though still later than I would go to bed and get up at home).
  7. Don is dreaming about going on a world cruise someday, maybe after he retires. Financial considerations aside, I’m not sure it’s a great idea.  Our trip was less than a week and I was already looking forward to being home.  The food was amazing, but I couldn’t eat that way every day.  I missed my own food.  I missed my kids (though by the time Don retires, they should all be grown up and moved out).  It makes me feel a little guilty to have someone make my bed and clean my bathroom multiple times a day.  We faced challenges in sharing a cabin when one person wanted to watch tv and the other wanted quiet to read or nap, or when one person went to bed or woke up earlier than the other.  I don’t know that I would enjoy being on a cruise for almost four months.  Seeing new places is enriching, but fifty or so different ports might just be too many to take in in that period of time.  Fortunately, it’s not a decision we’ll be making any time soon.

There you have it!  Now you can head over to This Ain’t the Lyceum to check out what kind of 7 Quick Takes other bloggers have written this week.

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I foolishly thought that I’d have more time to blog after the school year started and the two older kids transitioned from homeschooling to regular school.  As always, life is busy, but I squeezed out some time to put together an update for my adoring fans who might be wondering how my family is doing.

  1. Peter is off to a great start in his freshman year in high school. He’s keeping up with his school work reasonably well and he survived marching band season (our first snow wasn’t until the day after the last football game he had to play at).  In addition to Scouts and moving up to our parish’s high school faith formation program, he’s now involved in several clubs and activities at school.  I’m looking forward to seeing him perform with the JROTC rifle team at the Veterans Day ceremony next month.
  2. Amina, on the other hand, hasn’t had quite as smooth a start in middle school. Let’s just say that school is giving her many opportunities to learn to be responsible for herself.  Academically, she is getting plenty of support from the school, which I appreciate.  On the social/behavioral side, she’s still finding her way.  She enjoys going to school and being a cheerleader, and she is excited to have started our parish’s middle school faith formation program (I didn’t send her to faith formation last year, as she wouldn’t have understood enough of what was going on).
  3. Simon, as always, is a bundle of energy and big plans. He is becoming quite a reader; among other books, he’s read the first four Laura Ingalls Wilder books and just this week, he picked up the first Harry Potter book from the library and polished it off in four days.  Not bad for October of second grade!  He was enthusiastic about selling popcorn as a Cub Scout fundraiser and sold over $600 worth.  Last week, he was involved in an intensive theater experience.  The kids auditioned, got their parts, and started rehearsing on Monday, then rehearsed every evening until they performed on Friday and Saturday.  Last year, all three school-aged kids did it, but this year it was only Simon.  It’s a great experience, and although it makes for a crazy week, it’s only one week.  This year, they did the Jungle Book.  Knowing that in advance, I read the book to him this summer.  He was a jackal and had a lot of fun with his part.
  4. Clara is happy and cute. She loves going to her preschool class at our weekly homeschool co-op and she is always excited about going in the pool with me during Simon’s swimming lessons.  She enjoys being read to and often looks at picture books by herself, retelling the stories from memory and from the pictures.
  5. While “balance” is elusive, I’m finding it easier to manage homeschooling two kids rather than four. Our house is calmer during the day when the big kids are gone, and I’m not as stressed about trying to meet everyone’s needs.  I can never quite seem to get school done and get caught up with all the housework; I feel like I could do it if only Don didn’t go out of town this week or Simon didn’t have play practice that week or I didn’t have to take kids to dentist or optometrist appointments, etc.  However, on the whole, I’m getting things done that need to be done.
  6. So far, the biggest downside of school is transportation. Peter’s school doesn’t provide transportation out-of-district, so he needs to be dropped off and picked up every day; usually Don takes care of it, but not always.  Amina rides a bus in the morning and some afternoons, but she has cheerleading practice or games three days a week, so I often have to pick her up.  We’ve already looked into driver’s ed for Peter.  There is only one driving school here that he can attend and there is more demand than they can meet, but we’re hoping to get him in a class in the spring.  It will certainly be more convenient when he can get himself to and from school and his various activities, but that’s over a year away.
  7. My in-laws are coming to watch the kids while Don and I escape for a low-budget cruise vacation. We’re using airline miles to pay for our flights to New York City, hotel rewards miles for a hotel room there (we’re flying a day early in case of bad weather or mechanical problems—flights from our little airport are often delayed or cancelled), and the cruise itself was a fantastic deal because it’s the last New England/Canada cruise of the season.  We’re looking forward to spending some quality time together with no child-related interruptions.

That’s what’s going on here, in a nutshell.  Find more 7 Quick Takes at This Ain’t the Lyceum:

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