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Showing posts from July, 2010

Just two more weeks...

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until all my children are home again.  But before that can happen, we had to send B. off this morning for his two weeks of backpacking at the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.  Here he is with his backpack all packed:


This was taken last night as he was getting ready, this morning, he was in his scout uniform.  The 12 boys and 3 adults will take public transportation downtown in order to catch the Amtrak train to Philmont.  They will backpack for over a week and then take Amtrak home.  His pack was weighing in at ~18 pounds with all his stuff so he will have plenty of room to help carry troop supplies.  (I think the boys will be carrying between 25 to 30 pounds each.)  I think he's going to have a great time.  I can't wait until he is home and can tell me all about it.
I'll continue with our camping trip pictures on Monday... I was just getting to the really exciting part!

And the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down - Days 1 and 2 of our camping odyssey

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Here we are all loaded up in the van, ready to head out to Allegany State Park in western New York state.  As you can see, it's pretty full.  Without M. along, we were able to pull-out the back bench giving us more room for all the stuff one needs when camping.  What you don't see is the car top carrier on the roof of the van also filled with stuff.  I'm not sure where we would have put M. and her belongings had she been along.

The trip to New York was uneventful.  We did it in two days, though it was only a 9 hour trip.  After our 13 hour a day marathon to Arizona, this seemed incredibly easy.  We only managed to listen to one recorded book, Love, Ruby Lavender.  (It was a good book, I recommend it.)  By splitting the trip up into two days, we arrived at the campsite in plenty of time to get things set-up and sorted out.

Here are the troops working on putting up one the three tents which our family used.  A. and P. slept with their cousin at her family's campsite, all …

Life and death

I still haven't managed to dig out the camera to share trip pictures.  There is still a lot of laundry to do.  (B. leaves for Philmont Scout Ranch in two days and needs to repack.)  Plus, we have had a series of small events that make it difficult for me to sit down and upload pictures.

The first is that the monarch caterpillar which B. found a couple of weeks ago ate and ate and grew and grew and then left his jar.  B. found him... firmly attached to a wooden planter we had on the window sill.  It is actually quite a convenient place to watch him metamorphose into a butterfly.  Once he has finished forming his chrysalis I will take a picture of it to share with you.  They are really quite beautiful.

The second involves baby mice.  (Those of you who are squeamish about mice might want to just stop here.)  Yesterday, when down in the basement moving some laundry for me, B. discovered two baby mice, with their eyes still closed, crawling out in the open along the basement floor.  Le…

We're back

We made it back home last night, and after insisting everyone get into a shower/bath, we all slept well in our warm, soft, and dry beds.  It was a good, if soggy, trip.  I have plenty of stories and pictures to share, but it will have to wait until I go to the grocery store and do several more loads of laundry.  Maybe tomorrow.

In the meantime, click over here to read what P18 is going to be doing this coming year.  I've known her since she was four and have seen her multiple times a week since then.  It makes me a little sad to think that I won't have her popping by all the time.  But at the same time I'm very excited for her to have this adventure and can't wait to see what her future brings.

Travel news

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No one's target audience

You would think I would be used to the fact that I am no one's target audience.  I realize I view the world from a position that is slightly skewed very different from the populace as a whole.  Usually I am OK with this and I have to admit to sometimes cultivating this different-ness.  But there are other times when it is just tiresome.  Take shoes, for example.  Children's shoes and especially baby shoes specifically.  Evidently, lace-up shoes are just not hip enough for the North Shore and therefore the stores do not stock them.  (Warning, incredibly snarky comment to follow!)  Or perhaps the extra minute it takes to tie a shoe is just too much for certain overly busy mothers.

Now how do I know that aside from buying them online, purchasing lace-up walkers in a real store where they can be tried on is not an option?  Let me tell you about the last two hours.  Before we go camping I thought it would be a good idea to get some shoes to cover G. and L.'s little feet, so I a…

It's a hard life

There have been several instances over the past several days which have reminded me of the importance of positive parenting.  You know, where your interactions with your children are positive and you can compliment them on good behavior; you can spend more time smiling at your children than frowning; you can enjoy their presence.  It is so easy to get stuck in the negative.  Criticizing the fault is so much easier than acknowledging the positive.  One reason is perhaps that our children's positive behavior does not cause the same emotional reaction as poor behavior.  At least for me, when confronted with my children's negative behavior, I know that when I react, I am reacting more to the fear that it raises in me than I am to the actual behavior.  I have fear that my child will always behave this way, or that their bad behavior is somehow my fault, or that others might think poorly of me because of how my child is acting.  Fear is not a good place to parent from.

I am resolvi…

Real friends

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This past weekend was our Vietnamese adoptive families reunion.  I now have a whole lot more real friends, as opposed to the virtual friends I had before.  The weekend was wonderful, getting to meet with people who I've only had contact with through the internet.  It was quite a busy weekend, too.  There was dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant:

We also joined everyone at the zoo.  Well, the children and I did.  J. drove around (and around and around) the area looking for parking because the parking was closed because of a fund-raiser that was going to be held at the zoo in the evening.



Here's B. with the babies, though it was perhaps not the highlight of his life.


And here I am with a couple of friends, adoptive moms, and fellow bloggers:  Ann of Crazy for Kids, me, and Annette of Taco, Sushi, and Pho.  (Ann is also my long-distance book club buddy.)  After the zoo, everyone came to our house to have Chicago stuffed pizza.  I am happy to report we had more than enough pizza.  I wa…

Poor Guido

I've mentioned before how K. is a huge fan of the movie Cars.  Consequently we own a lot of Cars-themed stuff, including quite a few of the car characters.  They are much played with and toted around from here to there.  The problem with them being toted everywhere is that they have a tendency to get lost.  (This toting only happens in the house.  I learned long ago to not ever let beloved toys be carried around as we are out and about; it's just not worth the trauma.)  After a while, the missing car will turn up again and there will be great rejoicing.  The little forklift, Guido, has this happen to him more often than the others.  He is very, very small and it is very easy to set him down and lose him.  But this does not explain why J. found Guido in the toaster the other day.  Yes, there was a small die-cast metal toy in our toaster and he had obviously gone through more than a couple of toastings.  It is a small miracle that Guido did not cause a small electrical fire.  Gu…

Our guests arrive tomorrow

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I checked the TMI website this morning and there was an update on the Samoa team.  They all arrived safely and are heading to the coast today to where they will be doing construction work.  You can read the update here

Not much else to report here.  I am using the coming weekend house guests as an excuse to do some cleaning and organizing that I have been putting off.  The schoolroom and kitchen were yesterday, and the third floor playroom and my bedroom are today.  You can tell I'm being a bit pathological about this since my bedroom doesn't really need to be tackled.  But the more organized my house is, the more relaxed I am, and I figure a relaxed hostess is a positive thing.  Right?

I often joke with my friends that all they have to do is look at the state of my kitchen sink and they will know exactly what my mood is.  A clean and organized sink says that I am feeling calm and in control; a messy, stacked and disorganized sink says either I haven't been home all day…

Cleaning frenzy

I have 6 people (from two different families) coming to stay this weekend and am hosting a pizza party for 40 on Saturday night.**  Why is it that I am more compulsive about cleaning my house for people who have never been here before than I am for people who are over all the time?  Maybe it's because I start looking at my house with new eyes and think, "I live like this?!?"

Oh, and I got to talk to M. on the phone yesterday!  The team was all at the Orlando airport waiting for their first flight and each person was taking a turn calling family.  It was, of course, one of the times I was out yesterday, but for once I actually answered my cell phone.  It was so good to talk with her.  She sounded wonderful and was very excited about actually heading off to Samoa.  (Where she should be by now.)

**Some of the families who adopted from Vietnam through our agency (Holt) are having a reunion weekend of sorts in Chicago.  (Can you reunite with people you've never met in rea…

Up, up, and away

Many people that I care about are leaving on planes today to go to far off places.  First, M. and her team fly today to Samoa by way of Denver and LA.  We received a stack of letters from her yesterday; it was so nice to hear from her.  She is doing well.  These two weeks of training have turned out to be a good experience which she has ended up enjoying.  It sounds as though she has some wonderful leaders and teammates (previously mentioned tent-mate aside).  They have been learning basic construction techniques as well as doing team building exercises.  She has had classes in layout, carpentry, trusses and bricklaying.  In her letter she was very excited to announce that the cinder block wall she and a teammate constructed had been judged the best wall the teacher had ever seen students built.  A picture was taken of it so she can show me this marvel when she returns home.  They have also been doing puppetry, some drama, and music.  Evidently, the team has some pretty good voices an…

Twirly Skirts

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I am loving the look of twirly skirts on little girls.  The only problem is that we had only one twirly skirt to share between two girls.  How do you decide which girl gets to wear the cute skirt?  So I decided to try and make one.  L. is wearing the denim one that I already had; G. is wearing the multi-colored skirt I made.  Not only am I pleased with how it turned out, it also makes me feel virtuous.  All the material was either thrifted material or thrifted sheets, which is good since there is a lot of fabric in those tiers.  The bottom ruffle was nearly three yards long before I gathered it.

In the following pictures you'll also see L. doing her new favorite activity... holding onto someone's fingers (B. in this case) and walking.  I am actually hoping these girls learn to walk soon.  We are going camping later in the summer and I've done the crawling-baby-in-the-dusty-campsite-thing.  I don't really feel the need to do it times two.

And lastly, I came across an art…

Responding to comments -- there's a recipe at the end as a reward for slogging through the post

There have been some comments on some recent posts that I wanted to respond to.  First, I have loved hearing about everyone's rabbit stories.  Thank you for sharing them.  Since I have been telling people about our bunnies, I have heard quite a few stories about mother rabbits having babies in ridiculous places.  It makes our front yard look like quite a reasonable choice in comparison.  For those who are interested, the baby bunnies have all hopped away.  The day after we sat and painted them, the boys reported that the bunnies started hopping out of the nest in various directions.  A few returned that evening but the next day they were gone, with none of them returning.  They must have been about 4 weeks old.  We did some research and discovered that baby rabbits get fur and open their eyes by 3 weeks old and the mother then leaves them, returning only to feed them.  This is about the time (we think) that we discovered them.  We were aware of their presence for about 4 or 5 days…

Mixed messages

Once again, listening to the radio and driving is perhaps not something I should do.  Especially, if I find myself heartily disagreeing with what I'm hearing.  It's just not safe because I'm so distracted.  (It's moments such as these where I realize how far I need to go before I reach my goal of becoming serene.)  Since I survived the drive to the grocery store and back, I can now share my thoughts with you instead of talking out loud and banging on the steering wheel. 

The topic was benign enough: a woman who has written a book of devotionals for young mothers was being interviewed.  And really, I wasn't terribly interested and was only listening with half an ear.  That is until I realized that the author was using the terms "young mother" and "mother of infants and small babies" interchangably.  So I start to pay attention.  Not because I was ready to take offense.  I know I am outside the norms by being an older, experienced mother with bab…

M's Team Photo!

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Since I think Facebook is creepy and don't participate, I am happy that there are those out there who use it and can send me important information.  Such as this photo of M's Team:

M. is in the very center in the dark blue T-shirt.

Thanks to Jason for the tip!

They're not little, tiny babies anymore, are they?

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B. took a whole series of pictures of the babies last night.  They are looking more and more like toddlers and less and less like infants.  (sniff)  G. is in pink and L. is in white.



And as a public service announcement:  If you agree to host a sleepover for your daughter and three of her friends, it is perhaps not a wonderful idea to have it right after you pick the four of them up from a youth group event where they were playing messy games and were told to wear old clothes they didn't care about.  I only realized what I had done when I went to pick them up and the four of them came out of the church each carrying a plastic bag that they could use to sit on in the car.  It would have been useful to have four showers last night.  There is also a bathtub full of four sets of fairly disgusting clothes which are soaking upstairs.

Just a few links

1.  Head over to The Homeschooling Blog where I will be guest blogging on a fairly regular basis.

2.  Did you notice the new button on my sidebar?  It's a link to my wonderful sister-in-law's site; she designed this blog.  If you have any web design or graphics you need done, take a look at her work.  Plus she's really nice.

3.  Raise your hand if, like me, you remember watching the Disney cartoon about the bears who pick-up the garbage to the song that begins, "First you pick it up, put it in the bag..."  You just gotta love that last week of school, huh?  Anyway, for some reason I have been wanting to show this to my children.  If you share my need to relive part of your childhood, here's a link to the cartoon.

Cute pictures

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So, the baby bunnies really do exist and I have pictures to prove it:



If you were just walking across my front yard, not looking where you were going, you would step right on them.
Of course, we had to spend some time painting them this morning.  It turns out that painting baby bunnies is fairly difficult.  Some people tried and gave up, choosing to paint something else.  Some didn't even want to attempt it.  And some gave it their best shot.  Here is TM's drawing:

And here is mine to give you a reference for TM's:



Since I promised cute pictures in the title, here is one we took Friday night of P5 and TM:

I'm afraid we did a rather rotten job of taking pictures on the Fourth, so I don't have any to share with you.  I do have a funny story, though.  As well as having a cookout with the P family and H-S family, it was also the birthday party for one of the H-S sons.  An ice cream sundae bar was part of the party, so everyone chose their toppings and took their ice cream …

Survival of the dimmest

A few weeks ago, we noticed a rabbit digging a burrow in the middle of our front lawn.  We thought we had scared it away, because surely, two seven year old boys trying to pet the rabbit would scare any small mammal.  But then two days ago, D. comes screaming into the house that there were baby rabbits in the front yard.  Being the kind and understanding mother that I am, I, of course didn't believe him.  (See sentence no. 2, above, for my reason.)  When A. came in, close on D.'s heels, and confirmed the presence of the rabbits, I started to pay attention.

While I have never actually seen the five baby bunnies, enough of my older, reliable children have seen them that I now believe in their presence.  B., in fact, spent 45 minutes yesterday, luring baby bunnies out of their burrow with basil leaves.  I think that we must be host to a particularly un-rabbity kind of rabbit.  These rabbits don't run when approached by people, even if those people are 7 year old boys.  And it…

Four years

Today marks the fourth anniversary of adopting TM.  All of us have come such a long way since that afternoon in Danang, watching our new son work on demolishing the ceremony room and shorting out the air conditioning.  Where the agency representative told us more than once that what we were doing was irrevocable.  Realizing that this was going to be far more difficult than J. and I had ever imagined.  We've come so far I can hardly believe it sometimes.  Not only was that first year marked by learning to help TM process and manage his extreme anger and grief, but probably more difficult was realizing the illusion that I had it all together was just that, an illusion.  During that period I discovered the depth of sin that lived within me.  Anger, grief, frustration, and despair in one person have a tendency to bring out those same emotions in others. 

In hindsight, the whole process has been a gift.  On the most obvious level, we now have a son whom we adore.  And one who is all t…

M. update

We received a letter from M. in the mail today!  She sounds as though she is doing well.  She is tired, hot, and perhaps a bit homesick, but seems to weathering the experience well.  I have a prayer request for her, though.  Her tent mate, A., is the one person on the Samoa team who is not there voluntarily.  It sounds as though TMI was one of two choices given to her by her parents, with the other choice being not a wonderful option.  As a result, she is doing everything she can to be sent home.  Since M. has to live with the situation, I would ask that you pray for M. to be filled with patience and grace toward her tent mate and also to pray for A., that what ever is happening with her spiritually and emotionally be healed. 

It was so nice to get a letter and know that she is managing.  The training in Florida was always the piece I was most nervous about for her as I looked at the schedule.