Showing posts from April, 2010


In the past month or so, I feel that we have regained our equilibrium as a family. I especially feel that way when the babies have slept well the night before. For the first time in a long time we are not in process to adopt, not integrating a newly adopted child into our family, not pregnant, and not taking care of newborns. I look back on the past four years and wonder at how we managed to add four children in that time. Considering some of the difficulties we had in doing so, my only reaction is to say, "Thank you, Jesus!" Both because we have been given these wonderful children to care for and because only with His help can we care for them. It has been quite a roller coaster. And sometimes just like a roller coaster, it's best not to know how steep that first drop is until you're already strapped into the car...otherwise you might never get on the ride in the first place.

The other milestone we've hit this month is that it marks the time where TM has b…


The past two days have been the type where many children find a really good imaginary game to play together and it keeps them busy for hours on end. It started yesterday when A. and P. made a fort in their room:

Not to be outdone, TM and D. decided to make two forts in their room:

But then K. needed to nap this afternoon and the forts had to be (temporarily) abandoned. So a new one was made on the third floor:

I love days like this. I love how everyone gets along; I love the uninterrupted play; I love the use of imagination. But, perhaps you have picked-up on the fact that I'm just a wee bit Type-A. I am the most relaxed when the house is neat and orderly. Having so many children has been a stretching experience for me on that front...learning to be content amid the chaos. And as much as I like "fort days", I also have to consciously remind myself that the mess is OK and to just overlook it. It will get cleaned up eventually; these are not permanent installation…

Enforced family fun

I wish I could take credit for the phrase in the title, but that honor goes to friends of mine. They are the type of parents to whom I very carefully pay attention. Their children are just a bit older than mine, most being in college and beyond. They have always been the type of children, now young adults, that I would like my own to be like. So I watch and take notes and ask questions. (Everyone needs some family or families like this. Go search some out if you don't have anyone who comes to mind.) Anyway, the idea of 'enforced family fun' is from when their children started to get a little older and busy with their own lives and friends. It was a way of being sure that they all still spent time together as a family, doing fun things, whether everyone was really on board with the idea or not. It is a little tongue-in-cheek, since the children all have great relationships with one another and enjoy spending time with their family. All the years of working to develop good f…

Mental health day

That's what I am declaring today. We survived the weekend, though it all became too much for some members of the family long about 7:30 last night. I am happy to report that all three performances of Taming of the Shrew went wonderfully. I was very, very proud of these young people. I wish everyone could have seen it.

My children's choir's musical also went very well. Two weeks ago my hope was that they would be able to just get through it, but not only did they get through it, they did it very well. I always feel as though a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders when it is over.

But having two shows, in two places, on the same day, involving the same families is a bit tricky and something I'm glad we don't have to do everyday. I came very close to making a spread sheet for us, the P family and the H-S family in order to figure out who was taking which group of children when. We managed though, and only had one moment of, "Oh dear, we don't have enoug…

The remedie for towels which stinketh

Harken all ye whose towlings doth offend thy nose and make thy laundress' eye pour forth much tears. If thou dost lend your ear, I will tell my tale of how I rid these objects of their vile stench and made them spread a scent far more sweet and pleasing to inhale.

Two times I washed those yards of cloth, though 'tis true was vainly done, for no sooner was the portal to that wonder of machines unlatched than did I gag and weep because of the odoriferous smell. Fie! Fie on the rootlings seeking water in my pipes that caused such foulness into my home to seep!

To wash or not to wash, that is the question. Whether tis nobler to throw these objects on the dust pile or to continue in my weary task, that is what I had to ponder. Oh that this too too sullied cloth would clean.

Do not despair for hope was not completely disappeared. In my sleeve I had yet one more trick which boldened me to test my luck anon. 'Tis time, 'tis time! In the bleach and soda throw. Double, double, toil…

Brains are cool

I'm re-reading a favorite book of mine, Endangered Minds: why children don't think and what we wan do about it by Jane Healy. I pulled it out because I was avoiding reading the new biography of Jane Adams. I had suggested it to my bookgroup friend, Ann, because the book received fabulous reviews and Jane Adams is a person I'm interested in. But, I guess I'm the only person who doesn't like this biography. I'm finding I just can't slog my way through it. (Sorry, Ann! I owe you an email.) But anyway, back to a book I do like. I've blogged about Jane Healy before, but I'll say it again...parents should really read her books, especially this one. It's the kind of book where I will come across interesting bits of information and read them aloud to whoever's in the room, or just mark them in the book. The information about the brain and how it developes, especially in regard to higher level language skills, is both fascinating and conv…

Just another day in the big ugly house

On one of the homeschooling email lists I am on, someone asked for people to post what their typical day looked like. This made me think about our typical day and I decided there is no such thing. Perhaps it's because this is tech week, but today has seemed a bit nuttier than usual. For instance, here is what my kitchen looked like this morning:

M.'s friend, AL, who is assistant director for the show came over to do M.'s hair and make-up. Since B. is playing a (very) old man, he needed a bit of make-up as well. He will also have a bald cap. Even before the whole make-up studio took over my kitchen, M. had been to the church and back to set-up all the microphones I will need for my musical dress rehearsal later this afternoon. (She, B. and AL are my sound people for that show...because they're not busy enough.) I had been to the store to find M. socks to go under her costume. And I believe that some math and English happened as well.

K. has been having a good day becaus…

Too cute not to share

Here's G. riding in the swing. (L. was napping inside.) I just want to reach out and pinch her cheeks.

On another not-so-cute note, those towels...well, they're still stinky. They look OK, but they smell. Even after 2 washes with detergent and Borax. Now they're going through again with vinegar this time. Anyone have any other suggestions? I don't want to get rid of them because I use old towels all the time; they are too useful and I don't want to have to use the good towels to do the yuckier jobs. But, if they are going to continue to smell like a sewer... Bleh.

Slogging out

I don't know why I bother to plan my days. I start out with a nice to-do list and inevitably something comes along to mess up my neat and tidy life. Take today and tree roots for instance. (Anyone with large trees and an older home knows what's coming, I bet.) It's now officially spring and spring means growing, green things. The trouble is, those growing green things tend to look for water and where better to find it than in the underground sewer pipes leading from our home. Over the weekend (it's always a weekend) the basement toilet began backing up. Thankfully, I had caught up with the laundry so there wasn't much on the floor. Also, the sewer service had a truck in the area and were able to come first thing this morning. And just as we suspected, it was tree roots clogging the line. The man who did the rodding showed me the large bag of tree roots they cleaned out. But, now I am left with a stack of fairly disgusting towels and a floor which needs a…

The Taming of the Shrew

Once again, we are heading into tech week for M. and B.'s theater group, Thin Ice. This time they are performing The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare. M. is Bianca, the pleasant, younger sister; B. is Gremio, the very aged suitor to Bianca; and P18, of the P family is Kate. It should be a wonderful production...come to see it if you live in the area and are free. The details are on the poster, but if you are having difficulty reading them, email me and I'll give you the scoop.

And because this next week won't be crazy enough, it is also the week of my children's choir's dress rehearsal and musical. Let's just say that the production is a bit in causing me insomnia rough. Life begins again on the 26th.

The wonderful world of email

I have Luddite tendencies and only use technology when it suits my purposes. Unlike some 17 year old girls in my house, I'm not going to ooh and ahh over the latest techno-gadget. But, then something like what happened this morning occurs, and I am oh so thankful that the internet and email exist. As I mentioned in a previous post, TM has been going through a rough patch with grieving some of his losses. In an effort to be sure the pictures he had drawn for his foster family reached them, I emailed Holt International, our adoption agency, and explained what I was looking for and why. I was really just seeking confirmation that Holt still knew where the foster family was and that they had a way to deliver communication. While I received this confirmation, I received something else as well. When I opened my inbox, there were three emails from Holt with 7 pictures attached. We have new pictures of the foster family, and some of them include the foster parents standing with a large po…

10 months old

How can these girls be 10 months old already? They are such a joy and the entire family continues to fall more and more madly in love with them. They are sleeping (for the most part), starting to take real naps, beginning to feed themselves, each have three teeth (two on the top and one on the bottom), and are both crawling. Interestingly, they crawl exactly the same way. On smooth floors, they move with one leg in front and one leg behind while using their arms to move. On carpets, they crawl in a traditional crawl. In the video, you can see one start out trying to do a traditional crawl and then switch to the funny crawl. I could sit and watch them crawl side by side for hours; I'm still surprised by having two.

Someone commented earlier how they are starting to look very different. I agree and we are finding it easier and easier to tell them apart. But, I'm struck with how very similar they are in some of their developmental milestones and how mirrored they are sometimes...o…

Playing with lava

Well, lemon flavored taffy to be exact. As a part of our geography study, we have been looking into plate tectonics, which means we've also been reading about earthquakes and volcanoes. I was struck, while watching numerous exploding volcano videos, how similar lava and taffy seem. So we made taffy in order to watch what happens as it hardens. Plus I could throw in a candy making lesson as well.

The taffy, pre-pulled



K. (who didn't like the feeling of the taffy) and B.

D. and M.


The final results. Can you tell the age of who made what? I'm not sure how some of these will be eaten. Perhaps we will break it with a hammer.

Life with boys, or why my house smells like fishsauce...and the giveaway winner

My younger boys like to help. And while I appreciate their efforts, their 'helping' can often create more work than it alleviates. Take this afternoon, for instance. I had come home from the grocery store and asked children to help bring in the groceries while I nursed a baby. There I am, happily nursing, enjoying the fact the the grocery shopping is done for the week when two boys appear in the kitchen. One is crying and the other is holding a dripping bag, saying that the wine got broken. It takes a moment for my brain to kick-in and sort out the scene before me. A moment I might add, that the plastic bag continues to drip on the floor.

I was confused because I hadn't bought a bottle of wine, so there was no way the wine could have been broken. But I had bought fish sauce, which is in a similarly shaped bottle. Do you know about fish sauce? It is a key ingredient in Vietnamese cooking and is made from pressing the liquid out of fish that have allowed to ferment. Let's…


(If you are looking for the giveaway, go here.)

G. is in pink and L. is in purple.

Grand Opening and giveaway!

I've finally done it and opened an Etsy shop. (On my sidebar you can see the link to it as well as some, um, all I have in the shop.) My fantastically creative sister-in-law (who designed this blog) also designed the logo and banner for my new shop. Plus, I have been hounding her with questions about how this all works. She is a seasoned Etsy seller and has been so gracious (and patient!) with her time.

So now to the giveaway...I am giving away a custom item of your shoes (summer or winter) hat...child's hat...your choice and your choice of colors. All you have to do is stop by my Etsy shop (trust me, it will take less than a minute) and then come leave a comment here about what types of things for babies or children you would be interested in seeing for sale. Be sure to leave a way for me to contact you if you win. I will leave the comments open until Sunday night and then will draw for the winner on Monday.

I realize the pickings are a little s…


K. loves cars and trucks of all sorts, but his very favorite cars are the ones from the Pixar movie of the same name. He saw it for the first time while we were in Arizona and he can't get enough of them. A day or so ago, A. was sitting in the kitchen and announces that K. would probably really like a game based on the cars movie. I agreed he probably would, but that I wasn't sure that one had been made. She pauses for a moment and says, "I should make him one." We then went on to do other things and I didn't think any more about it. That is until I came downstairs and found A. completing this game for K. It is based on Candyland (or Lollypops as we know it) and she made the color cards out of construction paper, found line drawings of the cars characters and made them into playing pieces, and found a plastic trophy to be the Piston Cup. The winner of the game is the one who draws the Piston Cup card.I was impressed with A.'s follow-through and execut…

Language and grieving

I have been aware that TM's English language skills have been improving recently. He has been functionally able to speak English since he had been home three months, but I have been aware that deeper language skills have been missing. As he learns to read he has become aware of word differences that he was unaware of before, plus his listening comprehension has also improved significantly and he has been enjoying read-aloud chapter books and recorded stories more than in the past. I also believe that with these new language skills is coming an ability to put his feelings into words...something he has been unable to do before.

This evening was a tough one. It was the first time that he was able to really articulate his grief at losing his foster family and leaving Vietnam. Of course it wasn't so simple as that. It was a long road of unexplainable behavior throughout the day which also involved a use of language we had not seen before. But, in the end, it was grief and fe…

Pray without ceasing

Being a parent is a humbling experience. Nothing else in my experience brings me to my knees so often. (Yes, it's been one of those days.) I am rarely the type of parent I want to be and very often feel like a fraud, especially when others tell me how wonderful they think I am or how special I must be to raise 9 children. I know for a fact that I am neither wonderful nor special. I am instead short tempered, impatient, ungrateful, uncaring, and very imperfect. I react instead of behave purposefully and I am shown daily the depths of my own sinfulness. Really, it's not a pretty sight. But I keep going, keep getting up in the morning, keep trying to be a better parent because I am continuing to learn that I do not do this hard thing on my own. Oh, every so often (ahem, all the time) I forget myself and try to parent without divine help, but very quickly I'm reminded that it doesn't work. I need God's help. Actually, I need more than God's help, I need …

Real moms

I am thankful that I don't get the 'real mom' question very often. You know, that one that asks a variation of, "So, do you know who his real mom is?" somehow implying that my relationship with my adopted sons is somehow less than with the children I gave birth to. My bloggy friend (and real life friend, too...I can testify to how 'real' she is) has a wonderful post about being her children's real mother. Go check it out.

His Hands His Feet Today

He is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed!

Some pictures of the family from Easter weekend:

Dying eggs with the H-S family...14 children, 12 dozen eggs, 25 cups of dye, and 0 major accidents.
Easter morning:

Each child has an Easter basket with some token gifts, plus we usually do a couple of family gifts. Everyone is very excited to watch the new DVD series by Phil Vischer (of Veggie Tales fame). We've never done the Easter bunny-thing, but there was some confusion about where the baskets come from. As the children were waiting upstairs for everyone to finish dressing, I heard one boy ask the other, "Who fills the baskets?" The second boy replied, "I'm not sure, I think it's Jesus."

After church we hunted eggs. It was a beautiful day and we were able to hunt outside; a very uncommon occurrence.

Easter dinner was shared by us with J.'s two sisters. There were 21 of us and the cousins had a great time playing together. We were just missing J.'s brother and his family. And if you're …

Seder dinner recap

Our Seder dinner was a great success. Here is the table all set and ready to go. We used A.'s china and everyone had a 'grown-up' glass to drink from. (Yes, the 12 year old has a set of china. J.'s mother was in an antique store soon after A. was born and spied a set of china named 'Eugenie'. Since that is A.'s middle name, she decided that baby needed it and brought it home.) We had quite a feast...matzo ball soup, leg of lamb, passover rolls (made with matzo meal), charoset (chopped apples, pecans, cinnamon, sugar), a green salad, with brownies (made with matzo meal) for dessert. I am once again struck by how perfect a Seder is for teaching children. It involves all the senses: sight, smell, taste, feel, sound. It is a wonderful way to remember the passover story and to demonstrate what Jesus and His disciples were actually doing when they were celebrating the last supper. Everyone particularly enjoyed being able to dip their finger in their wi…

Maundy Thursday

I'm taking a break from cooking to do a quick post. Since today is Maundy Thursday, the day of the Last Supper, we are having a family Seder dinner tonight. We have done this once before, about 7 years ago, with the families of our fellowship group. I found it so meaningful that I've often wanted to do another one. Last year was not the year since by Easter, I was only doing the bare minimum due to being very pregnant. Between various children and myself, we've prepared most of the food. Now I need to set the table and then convince everyone they want to come in from the record breaking warmth, wash up and put on some nicer clothes. A. will be thrilled. She announced the other day that she wishes that we dressed for dinner. I have to admit I love any excuse for using the good china and crystal.

And for the baby groupies...they went for their 9 month check-up this morning. They are very healthy and are the exact same length and one pound apart. That makes them nea…