Wednesday, December 30, 2009

And so it begins

Today was the first day that we saw G. and L. trying to play with the same toy. It was so very, very cute. Remind me I said that in 6 months when it is not so cute anymore.

Toy in L.'s possession...G. is thinking she would like to play with it.

L. brings it nearer to G. without realizing the consequences.


G. is successful in taking it away from L...much to L's surprise.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The goods

I can finally share with you what I was so busy sewing before Christmas. Since my children all read this blog, I couldn't show you before hand. First, we have sleeping bags for A. and P.'s American Girl dolls:




Next are two play mats I made for TM and D. TM's is a farm background and D.'s is a forest. To store, they fold into quarters and are secured with a strap and button so they can hang on a hook in the closet. TM and D received some appropriate plastic animals as well.






Finally, I made a set of felt food for K. The set includes bread, donuts, tomatoes, lettuce, bacon, fried eggs, and whole eggs. These were so easy and fun to make; I think I may be making him even more in the future. He could also use some cheese slices, and cookies, and ravioli, and....


And because no post is complete without baby pictures, here are the girls in some cute matching overalls sent by their grammy (G. is on left and L. is on right):



Monday, December 28, 2009

Merry Christmas, part 2

Some scenes from Christmas morning...on to the presents:




I can't stand mess, so it's one person opening a present at a time, followed by cleaning up the wrappings. Only then may we move on to the next gift. It takes a while to get through all the gifts this way.
L. looking at her gifts...

And G. looking at her top. (Grammy is great at parity, both girls received the same toys.)



K. and TM playing with the play mat M. made for K. She made it out of felt...it's her own design. K. has played with it a lot.

D. and TM putting together their big Lego sets. This is how they each spent 3 hours on Christmas afternoon. Both boys were able to put together their sets with little help.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas, part 1

We have had a wonderful Christmas and hope all of you have as well. I have a lot of pictures to share, but will break it up into several posts since it takes so long to upload photos to blogger. We'll start with Christmas Eve...



Here is everyone before we left for church and the Christmas pageant.

We always host Christmas Eve dinner after the pageant. We had 23 sitting down, plus the baby girls. J.'s two sisters and their families and a Japanese grad student and his family joined us.


On Christmas morning everyone waits upstairs until things are ready. (Meaning the coffee is made and I have my contacts in so I can see.) Then the children line up youngest to oldest and come downstairs. This is a tradition from J.'s family; I had no stairs in my house growing up. The babies slept horribly that night, so J. and I had been up for several hours already. Everyone else started to wake up at the more reasonable hour of 7:45.



Gifts under the tree being examined.






The first thing we do after coming downstairs is light the candles in the advent wreath and the center Christ candle and have a prayer.


M. with G. (on left) and L. (on right)





Opening stockings.
To be continued...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

1 1/4 pounds of butter later we have...

Two pans of cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning and three dozen crescent rolls which are a gift for one of our nephews. (Because, you know, it just isn't a holiday if dough isn't involved.) This still leaves with just enough time tonight to bake the gingerbread layer cake which will be Jesus' birthday cake tomorrow night after dinner. The end is in sight! I have finished all my sewing and gift preparation and J. will finish the wrapping while I bake this evening. That gives me tomorrow morning to get the house ready, set the table for dinner, and fuss with people's clothes while J. runs just a couple last errands. Because if it isn't done by 2:25 when we leave for church to start to prepare for the pageant, it isn't getting done. But I think we'll be OK.

------
On a completely unrelated note...does anyone out there have a sewing machine that also functions as an embroidery machine? Do you use the embroidery function and wonder how you would live without it? Or, is my sneaking suspicion correct that it's a fun toy to have, but not really essential to life? I would love people's opinions!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ahhhhhh!

So this is what it feels like to be rested. The baby girls slept the whole night. That makes last night's uninterrupted 7 hours the second full night of sleep I've had in a year. I think I might be able to finish Christmas preparations today...I have one more gift to sew. Nothing like a good night's sleep to return one's (possibly misplaced) optimism.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A dose of reality

The discussion about our "white" couch in the comment section of this post makes me realize that perhaps some of you have an unrealistic picture of our life in the big ugly house. In order to disabuse you of the notion that we rival Martha Stewart for loveliness and organization, I will share some glimpses into what life really looks like around here.


  • I can't think the last time we ate dinner before 7 pm. We used to eat at a more reasonable time, but the babies seem to need to nurse right when I should be preparing dinner. It's hard to eat at six when that's the time preparations are beginning.
  • There are always toys everywhere, mainly due to K. I forgot what chaos-makers three year olds can be. K. is quite willing to help put away the toys, but doesn't quite understand that I don't want them to come out again immediately after picking up. Some evenings we don't get to the last scheduled pick-up time and I briefly think it would serve a robber right when he breaks his neck tripping though the mine field that is often my house.
  • Some days I don't get dressed until 11 am. By the time I've fed both babies, helped with various schoolwork questions and (if I'm lucky) started a load of laundry, it is often time to nurse babies again. I always hope we don't have unexpected visitors, though it's happened.
  • I have completely abdicated responsibility for breakfast. J., winner of the most wonderful husband award, has taken that on. It is even more impressive when you realize that we don't buy cold cereal. J. makes oatmeal, farina, scones, muffins, and quick breads to fill-up the ravenous hoards while I lie in bed either nursing or dozing...depending on the kind of night we've had. J. even brings me my first cup of coffee in bed. It's the life of leisure I have...well until about 8:30.
  • Evidently I have also completely abdicated all cleaning responsibilities if the state of my bedroom is any indication. Most of the rest of the house is clean and presentable because those duties have been divied-up between the children. But my bedroom is my responsibility and if I ever go too long between posts it wouldn't be unrealistic to wonder if I have been taken hostage by mammoth dust bunnies.
  • And if I'm not done in by the dust bunnies, my being buried alive in an avalanche caused by the papers that are piled about on my desk is another distinct possibility. The piling started because I had run out of room in the filing cabinet. Now I have a larger filing cabinet, but it is easier to continue piling than to sort it all out.

I could go on and on, but I'll spare you the gruesome details. I am continually asked how I manage 'to do it all' and I wonder what the 'all' is that I'm doing. Most days I feel as though I'm doing the bare minimum for survival. But in general I'm OK with that. I'd rather focus on spending time with my family and friends than trying to maintain a home that might grace the pages of House Beautiful. I do have my moments of wishing my house could stay clean and picked-up for more than an hour (minutes?) at a time, but that would mean my home wasn't filled with children and the price for a pristine house is a little too steep for me to pay.


"Cleaning and scrubbing
can wait 'til tomorrow
For babies grow up,
we've learned to our sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs,
Dust go to sleep,
I'm rocking my baby
and babies don't keep."

-Ruth Hulbert Hamilton

Friday, December 18, 2009

Truly Blessed

J. called me on the phone this morning from work, his tone serious. He told me that he received several Christmas cards in his box, as well as... During his pause, my stomach jumped to my throat, while my brain filled-in 'pink slip' to finish his sentence. But, no, a pink slip was not the other item in the mail. Instead, it was another Christmas card, unsigned, but with a note which said that since we do so much for others, the giver of the card wanted to do something for us. Inside the card was a substantial sum of cash. We both feel overwhelmed by it. And perhaps a bit undeserving as well. For while money is tight for us, that's really all that it is. Tight. J. has a job which pays the bills. We own our home; and even if we have to sell it, we will still have the ability to buy a new one. We have 9 wonderful children. That alone seems to put us in the over-abundance of blessings category.

But, still, I find it difficult to focus on what we have and not worry about what we don't. As I grow spiritually and continue my walk with Jesus, I find the past four years have been a period of God asking me if I really trust Him. Do I trust Him to bring children into our home? Do I trust Him to heal brokenness...both in our children and the brokenness I find in myself as a result of raising those children? And really the crux of it all is do I trust Him to provide for us financially? We have gone from a place where we really did not have to be concerned our finances to a place where I wonder when we call the realtor. But deep down I know it is not really about the house, but do I/we trust God to shelter us and provide for us. I do a lot of praying in the shower...there are fewer interruptions there. And once again this morning I found myself pleading with God to show us what direction we are to take, and wondering how on earth we continue on if things (job/house/income) stay the same. It was not five minutes after exiting the shower that J. called with news of the Christmas gift in his mailbox. I feel it is God saying that He will provide, we may not know what the long range plans are, but God will provide when we need it.

So, to the giver of the generous gift, if you are a reader of this blog, J. and I offer you a heartfelt thank you. Your gift offers far more than than just the financial help it provides. It is a symbol of hope to us that God has not forgotten us and that He hears our pleading for guidance.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Momma Mia!

We are starting to think that when accents were being passed out, K. accidentally got in line with the Italians instead of the Vietnamese or Americans. Recently, he has started to add an 'a' on the end of nearly everything...and to top it off, the infections he puts on words sound very Italian as well. So as well as him calling me 'Mama mia', we hear, 'No napa, Mama, no napa!' or 'Playa me, playa me'. But our favorite. by far, has been, 'Make-a me toast-a, B.-a, make-a me toast-a!" It's been going on for about a week, but we're already seeing it start to fade as he becomes more and more adept at English. We'll all be a bit sad at losing our little Italian. But on the other hand, it is a delight to watch his language skills blossom. He now uses pronouns, regularly creates 4 word sentences, and is beginning to tell us about his feelings ('Dat scary, mama!'). It's been amazing to watch him go from no language or even babbling to where he is now just a year and a half later. God has truly answered my prayer which I prayed constantly while we waited for him: that his extended (and utterly unnecessary, IMO) stay in the orphanage do him no lasting damage.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

6 months old

I can't believe these girls are 6 months old today. They are such blessings; sometimes I still can't quite believe that they are ours. Everyone in the family is madly in love with them...even when they wake up every hour during the night. Here they are modelling their newest Christmas outfits which their Grammy sent. L. is on the left and G. is on the right.






They love to reach out and touch each other's heads (and eyes and mouths and...)


L. was not quite convinced that she was enjoying the photo session.


Don't these dresses just cry out for cute matching Christmas booties? It's all I can do to force myself not to drop everything and make them some. I find I constantly battle what I call "Class
Auditing Syndrome". It's that phenomena that occurs when you decide to audit a class along with all of the classes you're taking for credit. Even though you aren't being graded (or perhaps because of it), you become consumed with the reading and classwork for the audited class, while virtually ignoring the work for the for credit classes. Interest doesn't seem to play a part in the equation. For me, it all has to do with my reactionary nature. The minute I feel as though I must do something, it is exactly what I don't want to do...even if it is something I enjoy. So, while I need to be making Christmas presents, and it all involves things I enjoy, it is also exactly what I don't want to do right now. Maybe if I work really hard, I'll find some extra time to make a couple pairs of little green flannel booties with red polka dot linings....

Monday, December 14, 2009

I guess I didn't win

the writing contest I entered in a national parenting magazine since the winners were to be notified by November 30. I think I'm pretty safe to share my entry with you. The topic was, "What motherhood means to me" and there was to be a photograph included with the 200 (!) word essay. You know I tend to be long-winded, so getting something to just 200 words was the toughest part of writing it. Anyway, here it is:

I flipped through the mail as I balanced my five month old daughter on my hip. There, in among the bills and advertisements, was a postcard; a postcard from Nepal. My best friend from high school, who was now a single, well-paid lawyer, was off on another world adventure. Normally, her postcards didn’t bother me. It was fun receiving real mail from exotic locales, but this time was different. This time I had a baby daughter and the possibilities for world travel seemed a long way off. Looking at the postcard, I realized that in choosing to become a mother, I had also chosen not to take other paths. The rest of the day, I found myself thinking about all the “might-have-beens,” wondering if I was okay with choosing motherhood over adventure and excitement. As the days went by and my daughter grew, these questions faded into the background. Every so often, something would trigger the memory of that afternoon, but just as quickly, the demands of motherhood would take center stage again.

That five month old baby is now a 16-year-old young woman, and many other babies have followed her, but the memory of that postcard remains. The difference is that I know now that I took the correct path. I feel only relief that the “might-have-beens” about which I dreamed never came. I have not missed any adventure or excitement by choosing motherhood. Through being a mother, I have experienced, joy, adventure, excitement, sorrow, grief, anxiety, and love. Much love! And while trekking around the mountains in Nepal would have been thrilling, mountains can’t make you laugh or wrap small arms around your leg. Mountains can’t be sent out into the world to accomplish great things. And mountains can’t love you back.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Yes, I found the battery charger...or rather A. did at the bottom of the diaper bag. So instead of depressing posts about toxic chemicals, I can show you pictures of decorating for Christmas at Chez Curry.


Christmas stockings for each of us, compliments of my mother who made all of them. They are displayed on the couch for the picture, since to hang them we must double them up, having only 7 stocking holders. (I thought that was so many when I bought them 5 children ago.)

J.

G.


TM and A.


D.


L., held by B.



K. who was a little excited about the creche dolls I made (many years ago).


TM


P. -- in a rare moment of photographic cooperation

And one last bit of baby news...G. and L. had their 6 month check-up today and are doing nicely. They are nearly exactly the same size; 1 ounce difference in weight and 1/8 inch difference in length. And they are little tiny peanuts...healthy and happy...but peanuts all the same.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Not the post I was planning

So, all day I've been planning how I will post pictures of us all decorating our Christmas tree on Sunday. The camera's battery had run down (of course), so I went looking for the charger and extra battery which we had taken with us to Thanksgiving. I know the bag it was in came home because the CD's which were in it are where they are supposed to be, but I can't find the battery and charger anywhere. So I can't turn on the camera and I can't post any pictures.

Instead of doing a happy, cheery post about Christmas and family fun, I find myself needing to write about Vietnam and Agent Orange. (I bet you are all hoping I find that battery charger soon, huh?) Our local paper has been running a series looking at the after affects of Agent Orange on both the Vietnamese people and on Vietnam veterans. I found today's article particularly disturbing because it focused on the Vietnamese children, some living in institutions and some with their parents, who were born with significant birth defects. To see a picture of children, who look very much like one's own sons, born with such devastating issues is upsetting to say the least. And then when the map shows that some of the heaviest concentrations of Agent Orange were sprayed in the areas where one's sons were born it begins to be personal. Especially when the boys in question were each born with mild to moderate birth defects. We will never know for sure whether each boy's anomalies were a result of heredity, or poor maternal nutrition, or as a result of Agent Orange...or some cocktail of two or three. But some small part of me can't but help worrying just a little bit. It seems that Agent Orange somehow combines with a person's own genes and becomes a generational problem. As a result we just don't know what their future holds. Of course this is true for all of us, every day. We know it was God who brought these boys into our family and God will lead us through any difficulty which may come our way in the future. But it is a sobering thought to ponder.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Tackling Mt. Everest

of laundry, that is. Do you have any idea how much laundry a family of 11 makes in one week? By the time you factor in clothes, towels, cleaning cloths, and sheets, it's a significant amount; we're talking a pile several feet tall. I had avoided the laundry ever since we returned from Thanksgiving, so that has been my project for today. Things were getting desperate...the supply of underwear is not infinite. And just when I think I finally have everything sorted into laundry bins, I go back downstairs to discover someone has thrown a new pile down the laundry chute. This little game has happened three times already today. Where was all this dirty laundry living? Were my children hiding it and keeping it for a surprise? Or does it just, as I have always suspected, multiply all of its own accord? My overly fastidious children aren't helping, either. Just now I went into the younger girls' room to discover A. changing her sheets. I'm all for changing sheets, but considering the amount of laundry I've already done and what is left to do, I think she could have waited a week.


To make all you who have your laundry under control (and even those of you who don't) feel better about the laundry in your life, I really should have taken a before picture. Unfortunately, I didn't think of it until after I had it all (well, except for A.'s dirty sheets and the basket full of dirty laundry I found in B.'s room) sorted and the first 5 loads done. So, instead of a picture of a frighteningly large pile of laundry, I will share a picture of two cute babies from the morning.



L. on left and G. on right


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Sisterly love

Yet another picture of G. (on left) and L. (on right). They are getting better at sitting up which provides their older brothers and sisters with more opportunities for baby hilarity. Tonight A. and P. decided to prop the babies together in the boppy pillow. When L. slouched down a bit, her should came a little too close to G. who decided she might as well see if it tasted good. And of course, the first thing A. and P. thought to do was not to rescue L., but to grab the camera instead.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

In which I have a brief pity party

This morning I ran out and did a small bit of Christmas shopping. Thanks to a gift card from one friend and a great discount card from another I was able to get a couple of items that I wouldn't otherwise have been able to purchase this year. (I need to be a bit cryptic since all my children read the blog.) As a result I found myself in a department store. A type of place, I might add, that I haven't been in for several years. I was successful in my venture, but then I decided to just look around for a bit since I was there. I had heard that there were some great deals in the children's department, so that's where I headed. This was my mistake. I didn't really need any clothes for my children. Some girls in my family have so many clothes that their dresser drawers sometimes don't shut. (Though this could also be a folding, as opposed to an amount, problem.) But there I was anyway, looking at baby girl clothes. Really cute baby girl clothes. Baby girl clothes which would be absolutely adorable on my already adorable baby girls. But alas, none of them was marked down quite enough to cause me to take out my checkbook. This was when I decided to go home, feeling quite sorry for myself that I couldn't buy whatever I wanted whenever I wanted to.

By the time I arrived home, I had given myself a stern talking to, spent some time counting my blessings, and regained most of my good sense. The whole experience reminded me of why I avoid malls, stores, and catalogues. If I am not aware of everything that is out there to buy, I am perfectly happy with what I have. I have plenty and don't really need anything. And often, my want list is actually fairly short as well. I would venture to say, I spend more time feeling as though I have too much and work to get rid of it than feeling like I need more. But...there is nothing like browsing through a store with all the shiny, new, exciting things on display to create a sense of discontentment. And it doesn't take long. I was in the store for less than an hour, but that was all it took to make me feel as though my lot in life wasn't very good.

I had thought that I had become immune to the ploys of marketers. My experience this morning teaches me otherwise. I will go back to vigilantly guarding what I let my mind focus on, because I discover it is all to easy to focus on my perceived lack instead of focusing on my abundant wealth.
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