Showing posts from September, 2010

Squeaky shoes and sunny days

I think I mentioned how my friend brought the babies some squeaky shoes from China.  In case you don't know what they are (shoes, not babies), they are children's shoes with a squeaker in the heel, much like a squeaky dog toy.  When the child walks, the heel is depressed and the shoe squeaks.  With each step.  Every single time.  And L. loves her shoes.  Heck, she just loves shoes in general... to the point where she took a pair of shoes to bed with her because she didn't want to let them go.  I think I foresee trouble ahead with her in that department.  Here is a video of L. walking around in her squeaky shoes. 

Some days are so nice that you just have to cancel your regularly scheduled school activities and head outside.  Yesterday was one of those days.  (Though, A., who is reading over my shoulder as I write this, would like to point out that she did all of the work she had scheduled.  Perhaps it was just me that cancelled stuff.)  But when it is warm and sunny and you…

Dinner for eleven

As I have mentioned before, we eat dinner together every night.  During last night's dinner, several thoughts passed through my head that I thought I would share.

First, I think everyone is in a growth spurt.  (Well, the children, that is.  J. and I don't need to have growth spurts.)  It used to be that if I cooked two pounds of pasta, it would give us plenty for dinner and also some leftover for lunch the next day.  The past couple of times we've had noodles, there has barely been enough to satisfy everyone at dinner, much less have any left for another meal. Actually, leftovers in general have been few and far between.  I'm afraid the bad news is that it is time to go from doubling to tripling when I make dinner.  (Or depending on the recipe, to go from tripling to quadrupling.)  It makes me think of the picture book, The Seven Silly Eaters.  There is a line in it about the children growing, but their appetites growing with them.  I need bigger pots and pans.



The clothes situation around here was getting truly dire.  TM and D. have grown so much that they had very few clothes that fit.  They were showing a lot of ankle.  Yesterday I finally bit the bullet and went shopping for them. 

Now the key to clothing so many people is to never buy anything at full price.  And if you can get things at a thrift store or a rummage sale that's even better.  So, my first course of action when clothes are needed and I don't have them in my basement is to head off to my favorite thrift store.  Mondays are always half price so it's the only day I go.  It was a particularly fruitful excursion.  Here's what I found:

This pile contains:  11 pairs of pants (both jeans and dress pants) for TM and D.; 8 long-sleeved button-down shirts (both casual and dress) for the same boys; 1 pair of pants for K.; 3 button-down shirts for K.; 3 pairs of boys' dress socks; 2 skirts for A.; 2 skirts for E.; a skirt, a jumper, a blouse, and a long-sleeved for …


If children came with parenting manuals, life would be so much easier.  While life with TM is relatively easy now, there are still times where his past trauma rears its ugly head and I feel as though we are back to square one.  We have found that if we can head off these moments before he reaches absolute meltdown he can regain control and not disappear.  (During these times, when it is really bad, he does seem to disappear; he's just not there.)  There are a couple of tricks we have started to use which seem to help. 

First,we deal with some of the presenting problems and not the impending fit.  When he is starting to completely lose control, his feels his skin itching so badly he begins to claw at himself.  I know it must really feel itchy, but I also know that it is a symptom of mental distress.  If I express concern about his skin itching and carefully rub lotion on it, it can often calm him down enough to begin to see reason.  His muscles will also often feel as though the a…

Apple picking

Today, we spent the day in Michigan with our friends the P. Family and the H-S family apple picking.  It was a bit overcast and cooler than it has been, but it didn't rain and there were still lots of apples on the trees even though it was late in the season.  Here are some pictures from our day:
M. with G. and A. with L.  (The big girls volunteered to carry the babies in the backpacks.)
Picking apples... and eating them.
E. and A. with L.
E. (In my ratty black sweater that doesn't come off from September through May.)
After we picked all the apples we could manage, we found a place in the orchard to have a picnic.  It was a beautiful orchard and not nearly as crowded as some we have been to.
Some of the picnickers
More picnickers
The babies strapped in their chairs again.
But, since it wasn't muddy or wet, they were let loose for a while.
The big kids had fun, too.  Here is A. holding her father, J., and baby G.
We came home with 7 half bushels of apples:  1 of Macintosh and 6 of …

Pumpkins? What pumkins?

I don't see anyone hoarding stocking up on pumpkins.  Oh, these?  These are just a few things I picked-up at the store yesterday.  J. called me obsessed in the store.  (It's become our big date recently, going to the store together.  Are we wild, or what?)  I blame it all on the after-effects of last year's pumpkin shortage.  I'm not going to be caught-out again.  What you see is what I consider to be the bare minimum in pumpkin reserves.

So what are we going to do with all this pumpkin?  Well, the pie pumpkins are going to be cooked into puree to be used in pumpkin pie.  (I think pumpkin pie made with fresh pumpkin is the best.)  Have you ever used a pie pumpkin?  The food blog, Annie's Eats has a great tutorial complete with pretty pictures and everything.  So, I'll just send you there instead of recreating it myself.  As if.

Other things we make with pumpkin around here are, of course, pumpkin bread and pumpkin cookies.  But there are also pumpkin scones whi…

English muffins

One of the things M. really loved about her time in Samoa this summer were the English muffins which her team leaders made them all for breakfast.  She raved about them so much that I asked her to get me the recipe.  Yesterday was the first time that I had enough unplanned time to try them.  Here is how they turned out:

I tried one to be sure they were edible and they are indeed very yummy.  They are particularly good with cherry butter.  (I have gallons of the stuff, you know.)  Want to make them yourself?  I'll share the recipe with you.  Actually, I'll give you the recipe as it was given to me and then I'll give you the recipe the way I actually made it.
First, the original way:
6 pkgs. yeast 3/4 c. very warm water 2 TBSP sugar 3/4 c. butter 5 1/4 c. milk 6 tsp salt 18 c. flour
Dissolve yeast and sugar in water.  Melt butter in milk, add salt when lukewarm and add to yeast.  Add 12 c. flour.  Beat batter well.  Cover and let rise one hour.  Punch down and add the rest of the flo…

Tet Trung Thu

Last night we (us, the P. family and the H-S family) celebrated the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival.  We had Vietnamese cucumber salad and ginger chicken, Chinese dumplings and a beef stir-fry, and the not-so-traditional spinach lasagna for the people who preferred not to eat Asian food.

The moon, which very kindly made an appearance.
After dinner we began lighting lanterns for the lantern parade.  (The H-S family bought them on their visits to China and we supplemented with some bought in Chinatown.):

Yes, we are using real candles.  They are votive candles and they are hot-glued to the lanterns.  Plus, the grass was pretty wet if one happened to drop.  The lanterns were more likely to go out on their own, though, and we had no accidents.
Many children walking around with lanterns.  This was taken with a flash.  It really looked more like this:
After the lantern parade we had pineapple-filled moon cakes which were very good.  Those who thought they might not enjoy eating a moon cake had the …

15 months

The girls turned 15 months old a week ago today.  L. is walking everywhere all the time and G. is starting to take more and more steps... no doubt to keep up with her sister.  Here are some baby pictures from yesterday.  (I can still call them babies, right?)  L. is in blue and G. is in orange.

In other family news, M. has decided that she is going to teach herself cake decorating.  Here are her first attempts at decorating cupcakes.  Not bad, huh?  I think that her brothers and sisters are going to like this new hobby of hers very much.

Vietnam adoptions

I wasn't really planning on blogging about this.  But between Ann's comment (not that there was anything wrong with it... it just made me think) and various posts I've seen on the Adoption from Vietnam Yahoo group, I guess I am going to anyway.

Recently, The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism requested information through the Freedom of Information Act regarding adoptions from Vietnam.  (If you want to read about it, head here.)  Following that was a follow-up article based on this information.  What comes out is the hideous under-belly of international adoption.  Whenever you combine desperate Westerners, huge amounts of money, greedy humans, and vulnerable children, the results can be devastating.  Reading through these reports is heart-breaking and the only people who win (if you can even use that term) are the ones who walk away with the money and are never prosecuted.  It is not the birth parents who were lied to in one form or another, not the adoptive p…

On my mind

As I was thinking about what I should write, I realized that what I've been obsessing about these days is adopting again.  Yes, I know I have nine children.  But I still feel as though someone may be missing. It is a kind of yearning that feels much the same as what I felt before we began TM and K.'s adoptions.   And there is always room for one more, isn't there?  Heck, I still have four empty seats in my van.

But, seriously, this has to be a God-thing from the beginning.  There are so many hurdles, I can't even begin to imagine how it would all work out.  Shall I list them for you?
Our family size.  We do not qualify for many types of adoption.  In Illinois we have exceeded even the expanded capacity limit for a foster care license.  And without that license, we cannot adopt out of foster care; cannot have a birth mother choose our family to place her child, even if that child has special needs and could be difficult to place; cannot adopt out of disruption, even if t…

Salt dough maps

Since we're studying the Mississippi River, I thought it would be fun to have everyone make salt dough maps of the river.  Plus, it would give us an excuse for making salt dough, which is always fun to play with.  First we made the dough:

We made blue for the water and green for the land.  While I was mixing in the food coloring into the dough (no, I did not let the 7-year-old boys help me with the food coloring), each child was given a piece of cardboard, upon which they sketched the Mississippi River, Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and the Gulf of Mexico.  Once that was done, they took the salt dough and filled-in all the spaces they had sketched.
A. helping K.
Want to make your own salt dough?  Here's the recipe that I used.  (It's from the book, Kids Create! Art & Craft Experiences for 3-to-9-Year-Olds by Laurie Carlson.)  I doubled this recipe and it gave me plenty for five children to play with.
1 cup flour 1 TBSP salad oil 1 cup water 1/2 cup salt** 2 tsp cream of ta…

Painting at the zoo

Some friends (the usual suspects... the P family and the H-S family) and I decided to take some of our children to the zoo yesterday afternoon.  So we piled the middles and littles in the vans headed down.  (The oldests were in rehearsal.  Well, except for A. who wasn't in the scene which was being rehearsed.)  Our first stop was the children's area.  It was an incredibly quiet day and we nearly had the place to ourselves, so we decided we could manage the climbing area.  After you see what it looks like, you will understand why it is not much fun when there are hoards of children present.
Some of the 15 children we brought climbing in the structure.
More children in the climbing structure.

And what did the babies do while everyone was climbing?  Pretty much this:
G. on left and L. on right
After having climbed to their hearts' content, we headed off to other areas of the zoo.  We saw some lions:
TM on right
And then we headed to the wild dog exhibit which was our 'real'…