Friday, April 30, 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 been a member of our family and lived with us longer than he was in Vietnam. As you know, we had a few bumps earlier in the month, but gaining contact with his foster family has seemed to have done wonders for his emotional healing. I know that grief is not a one time thing. As much as I would like to be able to check-off grieving as all done, it doesn't work that way. But reconnecting with people he loved so much has been a wonderful gift and it shows in his outlook on life. So the combination of his longevity of his place with us combined with contact with his foster parents has added to our sense of equilibrium.

But, as much as our family has reached a point of internal equilibrium, the external forces around us are doing their best to keep us off balance. As I've written before, our income and the house we are living in do not make for a perfect fit. And even though we've put off (and off and off) the decision to sell and move to a less expensive place, I'm afraid it has to be done. Our procrastination comes from the fact that deep down, we don't really want to. Even though the house at times seems like a huge burden (more for J. than for me), what with the leaking, disintegrating roof and all, it is also a wonderful house and location for us. It is difficult for me to imagine us living somewhere else. It would be so much easier if J. found a job which required us to move away. But, since there seems to a black hole everywhere J. applies, it looks as though we'll be staying in the area. So, I'm working through my own grief over our circumstances. Right now I seem to be in the anger phase...anger that our taxes are so high that families earning a normal salary and are committed to raising their children with one parent at home can't afford to live here. It all just makes me want to cry.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


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 installations. And, there will come a day when I look at my perpetually neat and ordered house and wish the mess-makers were little again and doing what they do best.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

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 familial relationships have paid off. This wonderful family did not happen by accident but was created by a lot of thought and effort.

Which brings me to why I'm mentioning all of this: a pamphlet I happened to come across advertising the new and exciting service of (wait for it...) planning your family fun for you. This company will plan all of your family's fun activities for the summer, complete with matching T-shirts, for the low, low fee of $270 (approximately, I don't have the brochure right in front of me). I'm not even sure where to begin with how wrong this is. Has our society so professionalized everything that parents no longer feel as though they have the ability to plan a family outing? How difficult is it to put everyone in the car and drive to the zoo for the afternoon? Outsourcing family fun seems to me to say, "I know we're all supposed to spend time together, but I'm too busy to expend any effort at figuring out how to do it myself, so I'll pay someone to organize it for us and we can check it off the list." Write the check and alleviate the guilt in one fell swoop.

The other benefit this company touts is that they will help you meet other families. I am aware that people feel more and more disconnected from their neighborhoods and communities, but I'm not sure paying someone to play eHarmony for your family is the answer. Slowing down and doing less seems to be the better choice, not adding another event on the calendar. No one is home anymore to get to know; they are all rushing from activity to activity. It's hard to get to know one's neighbors when the only contact involves waving while the car is pulling away.

Plus, having family activities doesn't need to cost money, or even involve going somewhere. It can be playing catch in the yard, baking cookies together, planting flowers, visiting a friend, taking a walk, or having a family game night. Simple is often best. And you could invite another family to join you. Be spontaneous and invite another family for a game of kickball. Invite another family home with you after church for lunch. (This might not work in soccer season. Sorry, I couldn't resist.) Have a dinner of stone soup with several families and help other families to connect with one another.

Most importantly, remember that as parents, you are creating memories for your children with everything you do. Edith Schaeffer in her book, What is a Family?, says, "Memories (not all of them, but some of them) should be planned with the same careful kind of planning one would give to designing a museum. A family life in retrospect should be a museum of diverse and greatly varied memories, with a unity that makes the grouping of people involved share at least many if not all of the overlapping memories. Memories don't need to be just a thing of chance collection, but can have some measure of planning."

Monday, April 26, 2010

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 enough seats!" We solved that problem with a second trip.

My restful sleep didn't happen last night, though. I'm thinking the babies didn't have quite enough time with Mommy yesterday and J. and I paid for it last night. Both babies were up at least three times each (I lost track after a while). This is when I find the whole twin-thing the most difficult. One needy baby can be tucked-in next to you, but for two large, needy, likes-to-kick-her-sister-in-the-head babies this solution doesn't work. We're all up, all the time. Consequently, any thought-provoking, insightful posts aren't going to happen today. Actually, I'm not sure any thought more taxing than making the grocery list (and I'm not even sure how successfully I'll do that) will be happening today.

So instead, I will leave you with a picture of my toothless boy. He lost one of his front teeth on Friday and I think it's so cute. The other front tooth is pretty loose, so I'm expecting that one will be going soon as well.

Friday, April 23, 2010

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 and trouble, tumbler turn, detergent bubble. Where two raging fires, bleach and soda, meet together, they do consume the thing that feeds their fury.

The ringing tone which signals all is done did ring and into the breach did I throw my hope. Would that scent of sewer fine'ly be no more? Ah, yes, the smell is sweet, with lingering memories of summer pools for swimming. 'Tis only needs the drying and the folding and all will be as twas before the ill-met eve of sewage.

(Happy birthday, William Shakespeare)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

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 convicting. I find I immediately pay more attention to how I talk with my children whenever I pick this book up.

Here are some interesting excerpts (don't worry, I won't write all the ones I underlined):

"Before brain regions are myelinated, they do not operate efficiently. For this reason, trying to "make" children master academic skills for which they do not have the requisite maturation may result in mixed-up patterns of learning. As we have seen, the essence of functional plasticity is that any kind of learning -- reading, math, spelling, handwriting, etc. -- may be accomplished by any of several systems. Naturally, we want children to plug each piece of learning into the best system for that particular job. If the right one isn't yet available or working smoothly, however, forcing may create a functional organization in which less adaptive, "lower" systems are forced to do the work." (p. 67)

This is the background information for this idea:

"I often wonder how many children decide they are "dumb" about certain subjects, when the truth is that someone simply laid on the learning too soon in a form other than the one they needed to receive it in at the time. Thus, they were cheated of the chance to learn it in an appropriately challenging and satisfying way." (p. 69)

Of course, since I tend to delay formal academics with my children, I like any type of research that supports my theories.

And remember my post about crazy questions? This statement makes me feel a bit better:

"Children with insufficient language skills have difficulty requesting information or analyzing problems because they can't formulate appropriate questions." (p. 96)

These last two excerpts I find encouraging. Sometimes it is difficult to go against the tide and not have one's children scheduled every minute of the day, but instead involve them in the day to day activities of them home. When becoming involved in the disfunctional game of parenting one-upsmanship (which I try to avoid), admitting your children are not involved in three sports, private music instruction for two instruments, plus a couple of dance classes can be akin to admitting your children are allowed to eat wallpaper paste. While I don't often suffer from parental insecurity, it is nice to know I have some good brain research behind my decisions.

"Children with plenty of time to "waste" can be encouraged to seek out activities that are appropriate for an individual brain's stage of development. Youngsters who are hurried from one activity to another may get lots of sensory input but be shortchanged on the time-consuming process of forming association networks to understand and organize experience meaningfully." (p.74)


"Many children today spend a great deal of time in situations where competent adults are not available or involved in providing suitable scaffolding for inner speech and other problem-solving skills. These abilities are best learned in natural contexts, with real problems that have meaning to both adult and child -- such as helping in the kitchen, the workshop, the garden, the store, or other forms of mutual activity. Watching television does not suffice, since it is not an interactive experience and tends to suppress any tendency to talk through problems or ask questions about why things are happening. It also tends to focus on "magical" solutions and visual effects that defy true logic." (p.187)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

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 because I finished the shirt I was making him with Lightening McQueen material. I'm not sure we will ever get it off of him.

G. and L. have been spending some quality-time in the playpen these days. They don't seem to mind it too much as long as I don't overuse it. (You can see that G. is thinking she may be about done.) I haven't used a playpen since B. was a baby, but is has become essential with these two, especially since the doors on my bedroom don't latch and L. has figured out how to open them. I will look up and discover two little pairs of legs disappearing around the corner. I bring them back, they cry, they crawl to the door, open it and try to make another escape. It's cute the first time or two.
And my house is smelling like bleach. J. decided to take the day off from work. Between doing B.'s make-up and leaving early to get to my dress rehearsal (he's the drama coach) it just didn't seem worth it to go into school. Instead he is very sweetly mopping the disgusting basement. Isn't he a great guy?
So, what's left for today? One dress rehearsal and then the three oldest children have bell choir rehearsal after that followed by dinner. And bed.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

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.

Monday, April 19, 2010

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 good mopping. I am practicing avoidance on a major scale...I've paid the bills, done some filing, the kitchen needs to be straighted up, blogging ..I'm sure I could avoid the basement for the entire day. But, I guess I will be good and at least start a load of yucky towels (on hot and a double or more rinse). I think I will first raid B.'s first aid kit he made for his first aid merit badge, it contains plastic gloves. Otherwise I could see myself trying to figure out how to use some sort of gardening implement to get the towels into the washer.

I also need to give a major award to M. and B. They sat for us on Saturday night so J. and I could go see a screening of the film, Operation Babylift, about the airlifting of orphans out of Vietnam during the war. (You can see a trailer for it here. It was very well done, see it if you have a chance.) But, anyway, right after we left, D. threw-up. He made it to the bathroom, so there wasn't any cleaning and it seemed it was just something that disagreed with him as he was fine afterward. Still, as a babysitter, it's not something one wants to deal with. Then, when M. went down to the basement to get something, she discovered the whole backed-up sewer pipe issue. Being resourceful young adults, they gathered all the old towels and mopped up as well as possible and also moved anything that might be in line for getting wet. It was perhaps not their easiest night of babysitting. But they managed on their own and allowed J. and I our first real date since before the babies were born, for which we are exceedingly grateful.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

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.

Friday, April 16, 2010

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 poster they had made of all the photos I have sent them of TM over the years. We also have some more information that we didn't have before plus a couple of pictures of little TM which we had never seen. I'm tearing up again just writing about it. And on top of all that, as if it weren't enough, we have a letter from the VN social worker saying the foster family is going to write a letter to TM. As you can imagine, TM is beside himself with excitement. In fact, we are all rejoicing with TM today.

It's been quite the day of gifts. Before the incredible emails arrived, I was planning on blogging about this:

My mother sent me a huge box filled with fabric and patterns. So do you think she loves me? I can't wait to sew with them. It's a shame my family wants to eat everyday...otherwise I would be sorely tempted to go shut myself in my bedroom and make cute baby clothes. Thanks, Mom!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

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...opposite hand preference, opposite teeth coming in, often crawling with opposite leg in front. It's just interesting to watch.

(L. is on top and G. is on the bottom)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

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.

Monday, April 12, 2010

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 just say it has a somewhat unique...and potent...smell. And here were my two darling boys dripping it through the house. I managed to convince the boy holding the bag to at least put it on the table and then sent him up to wash his hands...with soap. The other boy was still distraught for unknowingly opening up the van door which I pile all the groceries against. (With the back seat in the van, there is not a whole lot of room for groceries.) I was also a little peeved because I needed that fish sauce. TM had been craving Vietnamese food and I had planned several Vietnamese meals this week. Since the bottle was glass, I couldn't just pour the remaining contents into the old bottle, but I could strain it! Using a colander and a paper towel I managed to strain out the broken glass and pour it into the old bottle. But let me tell you, having a large bowl filled with fish sauce in the kitchen does not help with the whole aroma-thing.

It could have been worse. The whole bottle could have broken in the house and there could have been other things in the bag soaking up fish sauce. And to think I was just feeling a little annoyed at the bagger at the store because she sometimes has a tendency to put single items in bags. I've never been so glad for her profligacy with bags. I'm also glad it's not freezing outside so we can leave some doors open and let the house air out.


The winner of my grand opening giveaway is: Rebecca I'll leave a comment on your blog to let you know, but if you see this you ahead and email me: thecurryseven at sbcglobal dot net

Thanks for everyone's ideas...I'll be putting more things in the shop as I find time.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


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

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

Friday, April 09, 2010

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 slim, but I plan to do a bit more sewing over the weekend. Plus, like all things, I find unless I just dive right in, nothing ever happens. I've learned long ago, waiting for everything to be ready means never beginning.

So, go find yourself a cup of tea and a cookie and pretend I am offering them to you as you walk around my store. Thanks for visiting...and thank you, Stef!

If you're having trouble finding the store, here's a direct link.

Thursday, April 08, 2010


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 execution of her idea. Best of all, it is a playable game and one that K. can manage. Since he has discovered a love of games recently this is wonderful. The game options for non-reading children are pretty slim. Everyone has been pretty happy to play it with him since it is also a fairly short game to complete. And even if no one is around to play, K. likes to drive his car markers around the race track.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

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 fear. Grief at losing such important things and people and fear that it would happen again. I should have seen this coming. For the past several days, he had been mentioning to me that he has had more than one mother in his life. Perhaps if I had initiated some conversations, I could have at least derailed the behavior leading up to the melt-down. But I know that nothing I do can take away the grief; all I can do is walk through it with him. I know it is better that he begins to talk about this pain that he carries around. I did worry before that he had feelings he didn't know what to do with because he couldn't name them. All too often those feelings would emerge as rage, understandably so, but difficult to deal with none the less.

I am once again angry at what this small boy has had to live through at such a young age. I hate to see him hurting and I wish I could snap my fingers and make it all better.

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 to let go of trying to parent on my own and let God parent through me. That is where the 'pray without ceasing' line comes in. When I was younger, I used to find this a difficult command. How could anyone ever do that? But as I parent, it's all I can do. Being a mother only works really well when I pray my way through the day. Believe me, there is always something to pray about. And it's not just 'Help, what do I do now?!?" types of prayers (though they are very frequent). It's also prayers of thankfulness and rejoicing. It's confessing my too numerous faults and receiving God's grace and peace. I am so thankful that God is the better parent, both because of how He parents me and because of how He parents my children...if I let Him. It can be hard (and scary) here in the trenches and I sometimes wonder how God can ask me to do this. But my imperfections serve to show God's greatness. If He can use me, even me, He can do anything.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

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

Monday, April 05, 2010

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 curious, I did get G.'s dress done. Here are the girls in their Easter finery:

The bows are clipped to the tiny amount of hair they have on the top of their heads, but as you can see with L.'s bow, it was a troublesome adornment.
We hope you all had a blessed Easter.

Friday, April 02, 2010

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 wine (well, grape juice) and dripping it on their plate as we counted off the ten plagues. One child commented how they never get to put their fingers in their glasses. We used a slightly abridged Haggadah that I bought when we were at Focus on the Family earlier this month. It was a great introduction to doing a Seder. Next year, though, I think we will tackle the whole thing and use a full Messianic Haggadah such as this one.


And some more baby pictures because babies in summer dresses are too cute. It is increasingly difficult to get a picture of them both together because of their ability to move.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

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 nearly 18 and 19 pounds. I love chubby babies, so it's been particularly nice to get to see all that baby skin today because they got to wear one of the sundresses they didn't get to wear in Arizona.
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