Friday, April 30, 2010
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
Not to be outdone, TM and D. decided to make two forts in their room:
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
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
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
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
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
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
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
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
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 rough...as in causing me insomnia rough. Life begins again on the 26th.
Friday, April 16, 2010
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
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
Monday, April 12, 2010
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
Friday, April 09, 2010
So now to the giveaway...I am giving away a custom item of your choice...baby shoes (summer or winter)...baby hat...child's hat...adult 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
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.
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
His Hands His Feet Today
Monday, April 05, 2010
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.
Friday, April 02, 2010
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
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.