Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fish Oil is...

something I should never allow us to run out of. At this moment I have a nearly six year old boy, screaming, actually that would be SCREAMING, in his bed, because he didn't get to use the bathroom of his choice. Now, I'm not a doctor, nor do I play a doctor on TV. Heck, I don't even like TV shows about doctors, but I do have some pretty strong anecdotal evidence about the benefits of fish oil. TM has always had impulse control problems...acting before he thinks, getting easily frustrated, temper tantrums, and very animal-like vocalizations (a lot of growling and such). These have all become more manageable over time, but they have virtually disappeared since I began giving him regular doses of fish oil. He is calmer, more reasonable, able to think more clearly, and is more patient. In fact, his behavior was so normal I began to wonder if I really needed to be buying fish oil at all. So when we ran out, I didn't rush out to buy it. A week after I stopped giving it to TM, we had our first major tantrum in months. That day I ran, well, walked very fast, to the store to buy more. Within a few days, he was back to his calmer self. So now, just in case I didn't learn the lesson the first time, I can see first hand the effects of going without fish oil. This time I let it run out for financial reasons (it's kind of pricey stuff) and it's been two weeks. This last week has not been a really good one for TM. We have had behaviors I thought we were done with and I'm suddenly remembering how hard I had to work to love him in those first difficult months. It is particularly bad timing on my part since his birthday is on Friday and he seems to have difficulties around the anniversaries of past trauma anyway. (With all his previous moves, there are a lot of anniversaries to navigate.) Not having the fish oil in his system to help moderate reactions is not helping. I'm hoping that we can have him a bit more regulated by Friday so he (and all of us) can enjoy his birthday.

For those of you whose children have experienced trauma, I would recommend trying fish oil if your children show the same behaviors as TM. It's been a very good thing for us. Actually the best combination has been fish oil plus a tablet form of acidophilus. Acidophilus helps promote serotonin (the chemical that contributes to feelings of happiness and contentment) production in the brain. Children who have experienced trauma often have lower than normal levels of serotonin and giving their serotonin levels a boost helps to boost positive feelings. I have found Deborah Gray's book, Nurturing Adoptions: Creating Resilience after Neglect and Trauma, to be a very valuable book.

Oh, back to the bathrooms. I'm not sure if it will make anyone feel better or not, but to those of you with fewer bathrooms than we have (which I realize is nearly the entire world), having more bathrooms does not stop the jumping around in agony outside the bathroom door. It would seem that each child develops his or her own favorite bathroom and becomes incapable of using any other bathroom. The child would rather wait...and sometimes wait too long...just to use the bathroom of his or her choice. Even if there is an available bathroom not more than 20 feet away!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Back again...

to the ER that is. This afternoon, right before lunch, there was a scuffle between brothers with the result that K ended up hitting his head on our DVD monitor, and sliced his forehead open above his left eye. It was fairly deep, and the kind of cut you look at and reach for your car keys. We packed some snacks for K, and loaded K and A (as an extra pair of hands) into the van. On the way to the hospital, I vaguely wondered where on earth I was going to park the van. The parking lot clearance is 6' 10" and I need at least 7' to make it. I ended up pulling up to the ER valet parking guy and explained my dilemma. He very nicely told me to park in one of the reserved emergency vehicle spots with my flashers on and that he would keep on eye on the van. I highly recommend lunchtime on a weekday for any emergency room visits you have planned. We were just about the only ones there and had to spend just a short time in the waiting area. (But it was long enough to have to ask the receptionist to turn the channel on the television. The talk show that was currently airing was so inappropriate that I won't even divulge the topic, but there was no way I was letting my 10 year old daughter hear what they were saying...I had already made her turn her head. Luckily there were fish to look at.)

In the great scheme of ER visits, this was pretty short and easy. The cut was too deep and pulling open too much for the ER staff to glue it back together, so K ended up with 7 stitches. The worst part for him was having to be strapped into the papoose. I admit to stepping out of the room. I didn't really want to watch (unlike M who was disappointed there was no hand mirror so she could watch as they were stitching her up a couple of years ago). I also didn't want him to associate the trauma of being strapped in a papoose with me, either. We are at a great spot right now and I would much prefer to be viewed as the person who swoops in and rescues him when it's all over. We even made it home in time for us all to be on time to our children's choir rehearsal this afternoon. But, really, I'm done, truly and completely done with doctors and hospitals and emergency rooms. I know that 4 visits to the ER over the course of 15 1/2 years of parenting is pretty good, but if our current rate of visit continues, we will have more than made up for the first 13 1/2 ER-free years.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Just for fun

My sister-in-law passed along some hand-me-downs that a friend passed on to her. There were several pairs of jeans for the little boys and these two, cool, high-tech shirts:


Also note the sporty new haircuts. J is getting a lot more haircutting practice these days. B isn't sure he wants to be a practice subject, but then his bread business supplies him with a modest income so he can spring for his own haircut. (Which I wish he would do soon. It's becoming increasingly more difficult to find his eyes under all his hair.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I suppose this makes me feel better

I'm afraid this is going to be a continuation of my 'obsessed with [the lack of] money' theme that's been going on here the last week or so. In my effort to find tasty yet cheap recipes to feed my family, I came across the USDA's chart of the current cost of food. According to that chart, on the frugal budget, our family of 9 should be spending ~$1068 per month on food. That's over $200 a week! Well, thankfully, we don't come close to that (and that's including cleaning supplies, diapers, bulk orders, etc.) While I'm happy that it appears I am doing a good job of keeping our monthly costs down, it also depresses me a bit. It seems that my dream of averaging just $100 per week on grocery costs may be more of a pipe dream than I had thought. It's a good thing that nearly everyone likes beans...in fact, K loves them. It's poor TM who eats them grudgingly; they are not his favorite food. Although, by the time we are out of this particular season of life, he may have developed a taste for them.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Homemaking vs. House keeping

I'm a sucker for books about homemaking. When we were at the library last week, I saw The Better Homes and Gardens book of Homemaking. It looked promising, so I added it to my pile. But, I have to say, after looking through it, it is as disappointing as most books on homemaking are. The trouble is, I believe that authors (editors, publishers?) are confusing the art of homemaking with the act of house keeping. House keeping involves the cleaning, organizing, and general running of a household. It is important, but, in my opinion, is somewhat superficial. It doesn't get to the heart of what a home is. I have been in houses that were immaculate and tastefully decorated, but they were houses, not homes. They felt sterile; as if they were missing their heart. I don't feel the need to read books on house keeping. I know how to do it...even if I don't always do what I ought...and, frankly, once one has read the tome, Home Comforts, there is very little left to say.

No, what I want is a book that discusses what makes a home. How do we go about turning the set of rooms we live in into a place of comfort and refreshment? I want a book that reinforces the importance of making a home and provides encouragement in doing so. I want less mechanics and more thought. I want something that feeds my soul while it encourages me to feed the souls of my family. The best example I can think of is Edith Schaeffer's The Hidden Art of Homemaking. But surely, she is not the only one to write such a book. I'm beginning to think I may have to write it myself.

One more quibble about the BH&G book I first mentioned. The section on household help belonged more in the universe of television than in the real world. First, families in this book's world have 3 children at the most, and then, the writing makes it sound as though the mother is totally overworked. Second, the idea that hiring outside help is unaffordable for some doesn't exist...no mention is ever made that this might not be economically feasible for some. And third, this book seems to inhabit a world where children are merely a thing, something you acquire because it's nice to have. Why do I say this? Because, right there in the household help section, along with window cleaners, cleaning ladies, and upholstery maintenance person, is child care provider. It truly does look like children are merely one more thing that requires cleaning and maintenance. Surely children and their care warrant a different level of importance. In fact, it seems that a section devoted to the care of children would make more sense than a few throw away comments that would indicate you should give the same amount of thought to the question of who cares for the children as to who washes the windows. Who knows, maybe they're really expensive windows....

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Counting my blessings

Not much has changed from last week: Our property taxes have still nearly doubled, with the bill due next month. It is of the variety that makes one think the assessor's office accidentally added an extra '0' on the end. Our roof still actively leaks in the rain. Trust me, rain dripping on plaster ceilings is not a pretty sight. (As an aside, I have a new circle for Dante. I had already added a circle for people who wallpaper ceilings, but now I am adding one for homeowners who put a 4th layer of roof on a house.) IL is still large family phobic. We truly believe we are called to adopt again, but the state of Illinois and many home study agencies don't hold that same belief.

But, I have been blessed with a terrific sense of peace. I know that we are in God's hands and that He will take care of us. So, instead of dwelling on yuckiness, I want to dwell on my blessings. There are so many, but I will only list the top 10. 1) I am married to, arguably, the greatest husband in the world. 2) We have seven healthy, beautiful children whom we love and enjoy. 3) M's knee continues to recover. She can now bend it and use it in ways she hasn't been able to since May. 4) We are able to eat three meals a day and pay our bills. 5) We have wonderful friends and family living both near and far who love us and whom we love. 6) We live in a house with ample space, both for living in and for providing hospitality. 7) My parents have given J and I a gift of a four day trip to New York City next June. We will be joining them for when the choir from my dad's church goes to sing in a concert at Carnegie Hall. Plus, J's brother and his wife (my blog designer) have agreed to care for our children while we're there. 8) We live in an culturally diverse area rich in museums, parks, and culture. 9) The teen years of our children (at least those who have reached this point) have been a joy. We are constantly amazed at these two young adults...at their self-assurance, at their compassion, and at their love for their siblings and others. And 10) That libraries are still free and we live 1/2 a block from one. I know this doesn't seem to carry the same weight as the others, but when a family reads as much as we all do, it becomes one of the necessities of life.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Because it's all I can do

"When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest in His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is shifting sand,
All other ground is shifting sand.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He still is all my hope and stay.

On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is shifting sand,
All other ground is shifting sand."

-Fanny Crosby

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The scoop

The moral to this whole surgery-thing is to listen to and believe your children. Back in June, when M hurt her knee, she said it felt as though her knee cap had slid out of joint, then popped back in and that's when the pain began. In my continuing effort to win the 'worst mother of the year' award, I didn't quite believe her, gave her some ice, and told her she probably just twisted it and it would get better.

Imagine my chagrin when the pediatric orthopedist was showing us the pictures he took of her knee during surgery (yes, we now have pictures of the underside of M's kneecap...I wonder how we should frame them?), and told us how she injured her knee. Yes, you guessed it, her kneecap had slid out of joint and when it popped back into to place it sheared off a 1.5 cm piece of cartilage from the end of her femur. The surgeon was able to remove the cartilage, and although she has some scarring where it was broken off, it shouldn't affect her. We are thankful it was in a part of her knee that is not weight bearing. If it had been, it would have had far more serious consequences.

M continues to recuperate nicely. Her knee is a little painful, but very manageable. She is able to move around pretty easily and has some crutches if she needs them. (TM and D are very jealous of the crutches.) We are also now the proud owners of the Polar 300. It is really just a cooler with a hose and a pump that circulates ice water through a tube to a wrap that goes around her knee. It is to help the swelling, though it is covered with warning labels that frostbite may occur if used improperly. Since I'm sure we paid the equivalent to at least a month's worth of groceries to own this glorious contraption, I've been trying to think of some practical use for it when M's knee is all healed. I'm not planning on anyone having anymore injuries, so its intended use is out. Any ideas?

So, having made it through M's surgery, I can go back to worrying about other things...the roof we can't afford to replace, IL's adoption laws and my realization that we may be done adopting unless we decide to move, the property tax bill that's coming (moving may not be such a bad idea), and so on. Perhaps the surgery was a nice mental break...it was at least a change.
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