Tuesday, July 29, 2008

New look

So what do you think? (Just so you know, I love the new look, so the correct answer is, "Your blog looks terrific!") I can't take any credit, though. It all goes to my incredibly talented sister-in-law, Stefanie. She even made the big ugly house look good up there in the header. It looks almost charming in a line drawing. So if you need any design or web-stuff done, go take a look at her website: http://www.lilypaddesignworkshop.com/index.html

Thanks, Stef!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Finally...

(Welcome to all those joining in the Open House.  Though this post is old, my kitchen looks exactly the same right now.  It was easier to link to an old post than to write a new one.  Lazy, I know.  If you want to see what the dining room looks like, I'm afraid I'm going to make you work by clicking here.  There is no picture, but the panelling goes around the entire room.  Thanks for stopping by and looking at the big ugly house!)

I know you all have hardly been able to bear the suspense as you wait for pictures of our new kitchen. Well, your torture is over.....


Our new kitchen, complete with children helping make strawberry shortcake:
The inside of the pantry:
One side of the butler's pantry:
The other side of the butler's pantry:
The guest room:
Now, about that camera. I have a tip for everyone. If you think your digital camera is broken, try using a different memory card before purchasing an expensive new one. It could just be the memory card is bad. I speak from experience. The above pictures were taken by our old camera and this picture was taken with the new one:
So, I'm in a quandary. The old camera takes decent pictures, but I think the new one takes better ones. But, financially, I should really return the new one...it's cost wasn't really in the budget what with hospital bills and all. But the new one takes really good pictures...
And a bonus picture for making it this far. K needs a haircut, but we've been waiting to let the bald patches grow in a bit so he doesn't look even funnier after the haircut.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mom of Many

No, not me...considering the size of some of the families I know about, I don't even qualify. But Jenni at One Thing, has written a great post about being a "Mom of Many". Check it out; it's way better written and way funnier than I could ever to do, so now I don't need to bother.

http://rocksinmydryer.typepad.com/shannon/2008/07/what-id-like--3.html

Monday, July 21, 2008

This is not what you want to see on Sunday morning....

Yes, it is a raccoon, and yes, it is inside our house and not just inside the walls. We had optimistically thought we were done with the raccoon invasion. But the evidence would seem to indicate otherwise. I think we need to call a roofer to patch the remaining holes. They are so far up the exterior walls that J can't reach them, even with our tallest ladder.

So, back to the raccoon saga...there was an hour long stand-off between J and the raccoon, which involved a lot of staring at one another, except for the brief moment of excitement when J tried to put the trap over the top of the invader. J muttered something that included the word, "vicious" when describing the incident. Eventually, the raccoon climbed down off the radiator and chose to go out of the open window as opposed to the open trap. J was very disappointed, that the raccoon chose the window that is, not that the raccoon left. And, it was a filthy thing. I still have to clean the paw prints (and fur!) that is left on the wall.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Another victory for order and cleanliness

I had been threatening to do it for several months, but I could tell no one was taking me very seriously. But today, M and B offered to take A, P, TM and D to a movie during K's nap and I finally did it. Well, J and I finally did it...completely empty the little boys' room of all toys, that is. For a year now, that room has been very difficult to keep neat and orderly, much less clean. There was just too much stuff and even if the boys wanted to clean it up, it was just too difficult for them. Heck, I was often overwhelmed with the thought of trying to pick it up. So, I decided the only solution was to limit how much stuff there was to pick up. Don't feel too badly for them; their toys have just migrated to the third floor playroom. (Now that's a scary room at the moment. It's the last room that was affected by the remodelling which I haven't dealt with.) What are the boys left with? They have their dressers, a bin under the bed in which they can store special treasures (their definition, not mine), two dinosaurs each, a pop-up book each, and two baskets of board books for K. I think it's an amount that they can be responsible for. I have to say, it is nice to have the room actually clean. And without the obstacle course all over the floor, it is much easier to vacuum.

I have been on a sorting and purging kick for the past couple of weeks. I hate clutter and just can't think when it's around. It makes me claustrophobic. What with being preoccupied with waiting to bring K home, and then travelling, and then adjusting, things had gotten out of control. So, now I'm going back to my roots, so to speak. Before we lived in this embarrassingly large house, we lived in a small, two-bedroom Victorian. We stayed there until after P was born. (Yes, that makes four children in one bedroom.) It took a lot of creative organization to make it work. But we moved and the space made me lazy. Big houses take a lot longer to get messy than small ones, and I could have all the toys available all the time. But just because they're available doesn't mean they get played with. It's as if the children stop seeing them because they're always there. It worked so much better when I had to rotate toys. Only having a few out at a time and the rest in storage. Then when the novelty wore off, I would bring out some new ones and store the previous ones. It keeps the toys fresh, because they seem like new, and there is a lot less to get strewn about. I've decided that just because I have the space, I don't have to have everything out. I've also done the same thing with our pictures books. We have a small library's worth, but they weren't getting read, just used as stepping stones much of the time. (Even my constant shrieking of "Don't walk on the books!" didn't deter them.) Now we have only one quarter of them out at a time, sorted by season. With each new season, the old ones will be packed away and new ones, for the new season will come out. And they're much easier to store as many fewer bookcases are needed.

I've discovered over the years that I'm a much better mother when I feel the house is somewhat organized. I can relax and enjoy my children instead of constantly being annoyed by the mess I see around me. I've also discovered that organization can only come when I lessen the amount of stuff there is to organize. I'm working on holding onto things lightly. They are only things after all, and my relationships with people are so much more important. I don't want to wake up some day and realize that I spent more time caring for objects than enjoying my children. Anyone need a 6-foot wooden dinosaur?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Why 7 are easier than 2 or 3

Really, it's true. Although when I tell mothers of 2 or 3 that, they do have a habit of looking at me as though I've grown another head or two. But with 7, I can pay the bills (which really needed doing) while some of the middles can keep an eye on the littles, and the two oldest can make dinner. Even when the oldest needs to leave to go take care of a friend's pets, the third oldest can step in and fix the side dish. As dinner comes nearer, the littles get into the act by setting the table, carrying milk, etc. And so, at 6pm, when dinner is done, I can leisurely rise from my desk, with the bills all paid, pour a glass of wine, and join the family at the table. Ahhh...the luxury of having many children.

Monday, July 14, 2008

MAY CAUSE DIZZYNESS

appears in big, bold capital letters across all nine prescription bottles. As I'm doling out little white pills to everyone in the family, I have visions of staggering children falling over furniture and falling down stairs. As I take mine, I decide I will not be dizzy because I have dinner guests coming in one hour. The little white pills are to eradicate any possible parasites that we may have contracted from K who may have parasites he could have passed along. It's all very iffy. But now we can rest comfortably knowing that said pills are actively killing off any we may have. River blindness? Gone! Roundworm? Gone! Scabies? Gone! Gone! Gone! Which is good, because for the last week, I've been feeling itchy, but only when I think about scabies. Much like when a friend calls to say her child has lice and you can immediately feel the little things crawling on you scalp. (Feel free to pause here to scratch your own head.) But back to the communal drug ingesting...we all need to take two doses, each separated by two weeks. I suppose it's not too surprising that our local pharmacy didn't have enough for all of us and had to order it. I opted to wait for all the medicine to arrive before doling it out because I didn't feel up to having nine people on nine different time tables. Happily no one had any reactions and we now know that all the children, minus K, can swallow pills. I feel less itchy already.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Normal, everyday chaos

Life is starting to get back to normal. K. continues to stay healthy and his skin is healing nicely from his self-inflicted wounds. My family (both my parents, my brother, his wife and three daughters) came for the 4th of July and we sent the last group home yesterday. I have finished moving into the newly remodelled part of the house and can begin to think about some longer term projects. We've made it to the beach and to the park. We're starting to get back into a routine and it's lovely.

I'm not sure I quite fully realized the amount of anxiety I had been living with between January and May. The wait for K had become excruciating, and when coupled with major remodelling and spending half my time in the basement....well, let's just say I wasn't at the top of my form. It felt remarkably like the last month of pregnancy, except I wasn't the size of a house and it lasted for 5 months. It was the feeling of being completely overwhelmed with the smallest thing. Things I normally enjoyed doing, such as baking pies, were too much to contemplate. I just didn't have an ounce of emotional energy left-over. But, having K home, I find myself feeling the same type of blissful happiness as I experienced after giving birth. No longer being pregnant and having an adorable baby to boot was somewhat euphoric. And K is an adorable little boy. He brings such joy to our family with his eagerness to make people laugh and his willingness to snuggle close to all of us. He is oh so worth every ounce of anxiety, frustration, anger, and sadness that we felt waiting for him.

In other news, K had a hearing test done today to make sure that his language delays are not hearing related. I am happy to report that he passed with flying colors and hears normally. He has also added three words to his vocabulary: 'Dada', 'Mama', and 'up'. We think he might also say B's name sometimes as well.

I may still not have a camera (I know which I'm getting, I just have to order it...no way am I paying our local sales tax, it's robbery!), but I do have a new sewing machine and serger. These are my birthday presents from my incredibly generous parents. The sewing machine is a significant step up from what I had and I'm wondering if I'm a good enough seamstress to warrant it. M has inherited my old machine which she is thrilled about and A now has ownership of a small, basic machine that M used to have. I see sewing mania setting in here for the next few weeks. My only worry is that some little boys I know think that the serger is so cool that it may be more temptation than they can handle not to touch it. I'm going to keep my eye on them for a while.

I am so happy to be back to ordinary life. Life is not always calm and predictable, but the moments when it is can be so refreshing and renewing if we don't spend them looking for the next exciting thing or worrying about the next trouble. I am particularly bad about this, but my goal for the immediate future is to enjoy the peace and enjoy my children.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Two years

Two years ago today, TM became our son. This is a fairly big milestone for him since he has now been with our family longer than any other placement he had previously. And as he is now 5 1/2, this fact nearly breaks my heart. I hate to think of my boy being moved so often. Is it any wonder he harboured so much anger at being moved to a fifth placement in 3 1/2 years?

It all seems so long ago now, and we were all such different people. TM has become such a delightful boy. The other morning, as I was lying in bed recovering from being in the ER most of the night, I hear running feet going downstairs and TM's voice calling out cheerfully, "Hello everybody! Oh...no one is down here." Can this be the same boy who for months after coming home, would take hours to be able to face the world each day? There were more rages after waking in the morning than I can count. I am not the same person either. I have seen sides of myself, both positive and negative, that I didn't know existed. To live with a child who openly rejects you, can be a difficult thing and I learned how much I depend on the reciprocity of affection in my children. I have also learned that I can harbor great amounts of anger myself. But I have also learned that if I allow God to work through me, I am capable of things I never dreamed I could do. I have felt God's love and support during these two years as I never have before. There was a great quote I heard on the radio this morning that I believe sums up the past two years: that God wants to take us through times of trials into times of testimony. Without the trials, our testimony to God's power is flat and unexceptional.

Safe and good are not always the same thing. The safe thing would have been to have never ventured out onto this path of adoption. We had five beautiful children already, did we really want to take a chance and mess that up? During the darker moments I experienced two years ago, I would have run back to the safe path if I had been allowed to. I'm so glad I wasn't given that chance. The lessons I've learned, the love of God I've experienced, and the son I've gained have far outweighed the struggles I went through. Hallelujah!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Home again, home again

(E)
K was discharged from the hospital this afternoon. He is much, much better and is back to being his happy, goofy self. I'm not sure the doctors ever really came to an agreement, or that they ever really figured out what was going on, but this is their best guess:

Several days ago, K developed a rash that was causing him to scratch his skin raw. (It wasn't getting better, and I had already decided I needed to take him to the doctor this week.) The rash was caused by either a yeast infection, a strep infection, or (and this is the infectious dr's favorite) a form of super scabies. This would be a type of scabies that is unaffected by premetherin cream. Whatever the cause, the open skin seems to have been the pathway for a secondary bacterial infection which was the source of the redness and fever. K is now on antibiotics for the infection, an oral anti-itch medicine, and an oral scabies medicine. And, since we all live with him, the rest of us will also be taking the anti-scabies medicine as well. (I realize that this is making everyone have second thoughts about crossing our threshold...it makes me have second thoughts as well.) The important thing is that it all seems to be doing its job. Wellness, here we come.

(J)
While we certainly hope that we never have to do it again, the folks at Children's Memorial Hospital were very nice. They all agreed that K was cute as a bug, and the head infectious disease doctor had lots of questions about international adoption. It was disturbing, though, to realize that most (and possibly all) of the hundreds of doctors and nurses with whom we interacted were younger than we are. Many of them were residents or fellows, which means they're probably about 17 years old. While looking out of the window of K's room, I was suddenly struck with the realization that I'm now older than lots of people. I know that may not seem profound, but it is odd to begin to think of oneself as the old guy in the room. (My apologies to our friends who are older than I. If I feel old, you must feel ancient!)

I can also vouch for the fact that the fold-out armchairs in the hospital are adequate cots, but could be improved if they were covered in something other than vinyl. Even with a sheet spread over them, they end up feeling very damp and clammy after a night's restless sleep.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The good news is that K has gained two pounds,

but we found this out when he was being weighed in the ER last night.

After dinner, he spiked a very high (>104) fever and turned very red. It was a very impressive imitation of a boiled lobster. We took him to the ER and after 6 hours there (where he was poked and prodded in every conceivable way), they transferred him to the children's hospital. J had the night shift, which included a ride in an ambulance, and I came home and slept. We switched for the day. K is doing better, but still, no one seems to know what's wrong. It seems to depend on the time of day and the team of doctors. The dermatologists seem to think it is a viral infection working its way out, but the infectious disease doctors are leaning toward a form of super scabies. (That one makes me itch just to think about it.) I suggested to the nurse before I came home tonight that maybe, some time soon, all these doctors might just want to discuss it amongst themselves and pick one. I'm sorry to say the nurse didn't laugh when I suggested they do a coin toss.

It's late and I'm tired and going up to bed. I'll post an update once the doctors get around to sorting it out.
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