Monday, October 26, 2009

Too busy to blog

Why is it that everything always seems to end up on the same weekend? And why do I add to the craziness by deciding to take on huge projects such as making G. and L.'s christening/dedication/baptism (fill in with what you are comfortable with) dresses? That is the bulk of my sewing, since most everyone decided on wearing an already existing Halloween costume. I only have to make P.'s. (She is going as a chimney sweep...which has the effect of causing B. to whistle 'Chim-Chiminy' almost non-stop.) On top of the girl's and K.'s christenings and Halloween, we also have TM's 7th birthday as well.

So, instead of blogging, I will be sewing, nursing, baking, nursing, shopping, nursing, cleaning, nursing... I can't even leave you with pictures of the cutest babies in the world because the memory card on the camera is full. Which is another thing that must be taken care of before the weekend. Ugh.

If I'm still standing by next week I'll have a host of pictures of far too many family events to share with you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

...and the winner is...

It's time to announce the winners of the hat giveaway. The winners were chosen at random in a highly scientific and highly technological way. That is, I wrote the names on pieces of paper and drew them out of a hat. And now the moment you've been waiting for...

The winner of Baby Blue is Divine Contemplations, the first entrant. I don't have your email address, so if you'll contact me at thecurryseven at sbcglobal dot net with your information I can send it to you.

The winner of Not-So-Floppy is Elizabeth L. I know how to get a hold of you, and maybe I'll even return your Tupperware at the same time.

The winner of Orange Leaves is Helene. I have your email address, so I'll contact you as well.

Thanks for entering everyone.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Discovering the Obvious, Part 1

I spend a lot of time nursing. I think I've mentioned that before, right? Since my book supply can't seem to keep up with the time I have to read, I also then, have a lot of time to sit and think. As I sit and ponder about things such as: why some days go better than others, or ways to get done what needs to be done, or what causes figurative dark clouds to hover above my head some days; I feel as though I am discovering things I should have already known. Maybe I did know them, but have never articulated them, or I knew them at one time, but forgot them. Whatever it is, I want to give myself a dope slap upside the head for not thinking of it sooner. Because when I actually think about it, it seems so blindingly obvious that I can't believe I haven't known it all along.

Since I have had more than one of these moments recently, I will share my discoveries with you one at a time, because no one wants to read a 20 paragraph blog post. My first obvious discovery? It is the fact that I don't do transitions well. Usually when discussing transitions it is in regards to helping children navigate them. But I find, even as an adult, that it is very difficult for me to move from one activity to another. Once I'm doing something, I want to keep doing it. I have an 'all or nothing' personality. (Which is a nice way of saying I'm pretty compulsive about whatever activity I'm engaged in.) It's also why, when I have a small chunk of time, I am unlikely to want to start anything, because I know I won't be able to finish it. I believe I end up wasting a lot of time because of this.

But while time management could be a potentially interesting area for discussion, I believe my difficulty in transitioning has greater implications in regards to child rearing. If I am in 'active parenting' mode,that is, being engaged with my children, paying attention to them, or just having them present with me, I am able to be patient with them and (usually) enjoy their presence. I don't have to be actually doing something with them--we can be working in tandem on our own projects--but I have to know they're there. But sometimes I do things without them present. Either they are at someone's house or I have been somewhere alone (it happens), but I find moving from an 'adult only' mode to 'active parenting' mode to be extremely difficult. It is at these times where I find I have the least patience and I get easily irritated that these little creatures are bothering me. Of course if we have been separated, it is precisely at these times that the little ones need my presence the most. I am constantly in awe of J. who is able to manage this type of transition so seemingly effortlessly on a daily basis. When he walks in the door from work, he faces instant parenting. It is not unusual for him to be bombarded by all the children with hugs and the need for them to share, right now, everything that happened in their day.

As a result of my 'discovery', I'm working on two different things. The first is how to prepare myself for the obvious transitions between being away and active parenting. The second is one which I think will make a difference in how my daily life feels. There are some days when I move into 'non-active parenting' mode. Those are the days when I keep sending children to another room, or to another floor, or outside. If I am truthful, I am spending just as much energy to keep the children away from me as I would to find activities for them to do next to me. And because I find it so difficult to move between modes, the day does not continue to improve. In the end, I have spent the same amount of effort, but I end up feeling far worse about myself in the first instance. I need to remember that the small effort to create a positive atmosphere and to remain engaged pays huge dividends in my relationship to my children.

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Don't forget, the giveaway ends tonight. Add a comment to be entered in the hat drawings.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Where does the time go?

I am well aware of the aphorism that in raising children, the days go by slowly, but the years go by at the speed of light. Or something to that effect. Knowing something, though, does not make it any less shocking when it happens. Tomorrow, M. takes the PSAT, which means that in less than a year, she will take the SAT and ACT. And you know what happens after that don't you? The next thing I know, we'll be loading her stuff into the van and dropping her off at college. Yikes! (Note to self: do NOT start sniffling now.) To make matters worse, B. has been very interested in all the college websites M. has been perusing and I'm realizing he is not very far behind.

But at the same time, while life is moving just a bit too quickly for my two oldest, my two youngest insist on nursing. A lot. Which gives my days a rather slow feel. (Well, slow that is, until I realize it's 4 o'clock and the only thing I've accomplished is nursing, correcting some math papers, and, if I'm lucky, throwing in a load of laundry.) It's as though I'm living in a bizarre science fiction movie where I'm living in parallel universes at the same time.

And now a few updates on various family members: G. and L. turned 4 months old yesterday. They can both laugh out loud and the favorite activity among their brothers and sisters is to try to elicit laughs. They are such happy, funny babies...except when they're hungry, and then they are sad, pathetic babies.

K. saw a pediatric dentist yesterday, which went well. The most surprising news is that, despite his cleft, he has the correct number of teeth. This is fairly unusual, and not what we were expecting at all. This good news was countered by the corroboration by the dentist that K.'s tonsils are ridiculously large and could be harboring bacteria. (Thus explaining the horrible breath K. sometimes has.) I'm starting to see the writing on the wall that a tonsillectomy is in his future. Bleh.

And one last note...don't forget to comment on the giveaway post. Right now your odds are looking pretty good that you have a chance to win something.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A bonanza of hats giveaway!

I have been obsessed with making hats recently, in a effort to find matching sun hats for G. and L. As a result, I have several different test models kicking around my house which I'm not going to be using. My excess is your gain, as I am going to give them away. How do you win? Leave a comment telling me which hat, or hats, you would like. I love reading comments, so anything else you have to say is welcome as well. You can enter up through next Tuesday (10/20), at which point I will hold a drawing to see who wins. Now, on to the hats...


L. is modelling the smallest hat, which as you can tell, is a little small on her noggin. It has a 16 1/4" circumference. It would fit a newborn and A. discovered that it also fits the Addy American Girl doll to a 'T'. We'll call this hat 'Baby Blue'.


L. now models a larger hat, with an 18" circumference. It is made from a slighter stiffer fabric and is lined, so is not quite as floppy as the others. It would fit a toddler...or a baby with a larger head than L.'s. We'll call this the 'Not-So-Floppy Hat'.


G. wanted to get in on the modelling, so she is sporting an orange leaf number with brown ribbon trim. It is the same size as the hat above. Something bizarre happened with the picture and it is just a solid ribbon; in the photo it looks as though there is something attached to the ribbon. This is P.'s favorite and she wishes it were big enough to fit her. This one is "Orange Leaves".
So, go ahead and enter for one, two, or all. I look forward to hearing from all (10) of you!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Names

I love naming children. At earlier stages in our parenting, I would have names in line for future children, often several names 'on hold' at a time. We never set out to have a naming pattern (all names starting with the same letter, for instance), but over time we realized we had fallen into a pattern. Through no advance planning, the first several children all ended up with family names and each started with a unique initial consonant. Once we realized the patten, it then became our 'thing' and we continued the pattern with subsequent children.

This is all well and good when one is dealing with one's own birth children. But adding adopted children into the mix adds a layer of complication, especially if a different birth culture is involved. We never take the naming of a child lightly, but the naming of our adopted children was an issue that we spent considerable time pondering. How should we balance the child's history, birth culture, involvement of birth parents, and current reality all in one name? Our conclusions, we have since discovered, are a minority view among adoptive families, but they are the ones which we felt most comfortable with.

We have chosen to keep some part of our sons' Vietnamese names and give each of them Western family names as middle names. We use their Vietnamese names as their common name. Several factors played into this decision. The first was that we were not adopting babies. These were children who had lives before joining our family; lives which included Vietnamese names. Both J. and I felt very strongly that taking their names from them, on top of everything else, was something we just couldn't do. One of our sons was named by his birth mother, adding another level of connectedness to his past history. I also spent a lot of time discussing names with other Asians. While not adoptees, they are immigrants who have learned to live in a second culture. In talking to them, they felt that names provide a clue to who the person is who bears that name. Some of them, though not all, had Americanized their first name, but still had an Asian surname. The surname provided the clue that the person bearing the name was Asian. I heard stories about Asians with very Gaelic sounding names, and the surprise they were often greeted with when others discovered they were Asian. Given our surname, we wanted to use names which would not cause others surprise when matched with the face. We also wanted to honor our children's Vietnamese heritage and show our pleasure in it. Our children are free to use their middle names (and sometimes TM will spend an afternoon wanting to use his middle name), but by choosing to commonly use their Vietnamese names we feel we are helping to show our acceptance of who they are.

All that said, we did change part of one boy's name. Most of his VN name was virtually unpronounceable by English speakers, including his new parents. With the help of a Vietnamese friend, we chose a name which was easier to pronounce and also the name of a VN historical figure to tie him to his birth county's history. We combined part of his given name with the new one to make a hybrid first name. The only downside to our decision is the initial mangling of the name when people see it for the first time, and sometimes they are misspelled. But this can happen even with Western names. J.'s name is very often misspelled and I'm sure many people pronounced Hermione wrong the first time they read it.

I feel I need to add a disclaimer to all of this. There are many reasons why people choose to name their children as they do. Just because this is what we have chosen to do, please do not assume that I am unaware of the many good reasons for choosing a different path....or that by not having chosen that path ourselves we think others are wrong. It just means we had different priorities in making our decision.

One last story about names. Yesterday our church voted to call a new senior pastor (who we are very excited about) and there was a reception to meet him afterwards. When we introduced ourselves, he heard TM's name (though we usually use just the second half) he said, "Did you know that the word 'M-' in Hebrew means 'with God'? Your name reminds you that God is always with you." TM is very proud of his name and I love that he has yet another layer of meaning to it. TM carries with him, in his very name, the reminder of God's redemption.

If you want to read more about names head over to Grown in My Heart and their blog carnival on naming.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Monster vegetables

Yesterday a friend brought over some excess beets and chard from his garden. As you can see, these are not your average chard and beets, but are the 'large family' version of these vegetables. (Feed 11 people with just ONE beet!) As I write this, M and B are tackling the chard and beet greens while I hold a baby. I plan on freezing all of this and using it when the more average-sized chard from our garden is depleted.


Here is K. next to a leaf of chard. I'm not sure whether this picture highlights how big the chard is or how small K. is. He had his yearly physical yesterday, and he has finally made it onto the US growth charts! OK, so he's at the first percentile, but at least he's on the chart now.

Here is L.; G. was dozing and I didn't want to wake her up with the flash. L. and G. also had doctor appointments yesterday. They are still peanuts, but growing well and are healthy. And their pediatrician told me that his official, clinical opinion is that they are very cute. Now I must go and help my children in the battle against the mutant vegetables. (Thanks C.!)

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Peace

L. on left and G. on right
It's not until I have a couple of hours when the babies are having a good nap that I fully realize how much time I spend nursing. I was able to get my kitchen cleaned up before dinner time today and we may just eat before 7pm tonight. I love them dearly, but they are definitely a lesson in letting go of my own agenda and learning to enjoy the moment.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Finally!

I mentioned a few months ago how there were still families waiting (and waiting and waiting) for everyone's favorite Vietnamese province to approve their pending adoptions. I am so excited to announce that after two years of waiting, the last two families will travel to Vietnam to meet and adopt their children. It has been a long, hard road and we are so happy for them. Eighteen months of waiting nearly made me certifiably insane, I can't begin to imagine how two years feels. So if you're in Vietnam-withdrawal like I am, here's one of the family's blogs so you can follow along too.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Opting Out

This post is probably not going to surprise a single one of my 10 or so readers. This morning in the paper was an article about a new study that was conducted about the education level of stay-at-home moms. It would seem we are a far less educated group than was thought and that the phenomena of educated women leaving the workforce (opting out) to stay home to raise children was not nearly so large as was supposed. It seems to be so small as to not even count as a phenomena anymore. The overall tone of the article seemed to imply, "Whew...that crisis averted!"

I'm not going to expend too much energy on the tone of the article. It was what I've come to expect when the job of mothering is discussed...a tacit assumption that staying home to raise children is a second-best option. What I'd rather discuss is the phrase 'opting out'. Does anyone else find this term as derogatory as I do? I know the thinking is that women who have degrees somehow 'owe' society something and the only way to pay what we owe is to be gainfully employed. By not choosing employment, we are selfishly keeping our skills and knowledge to ourselves and somehow hindering the advancement and betterment of our society and country. Wow, who knew that such magnificent things awaited me if I went out and got a job?


But, as those of us who stay home, know, that when we 'opt out', we are actually opting in. We are opting in to being on the front lines of raising children. We are opting in to being available to volunteer in community programs. We are opting in to having time to help neighbors, friends, or family in time of crisis. We are opting in to being a presence in our neighborhoods which might be otherwise deserted during the day. Our degrees are not wasted because we are not earning money. They helped us gain knowledge and explore new interests and ideas. We still make use of these skills and knowledge whether we bring in a paycheck or not.


And on a different note, a couple of pictures of the babies for my mom. It's hard to be a grandma a couple of thousand miles away from grandbabies.


L. (Who just learned to roll over front to back and back to front today.)

G.

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