Showing posts from September, 2012

Revisiting some past posts

I am completely going to cheat on writing this post and link to a bunch of stuff I've already written. Today was one of those hectic days where I feel as though I can never quite catch my breath. First, I spent a long time sitting in the boys room "encouraging" them as they picked it up. Then I went and had my hair cut and helped back to the color I was born with. (This part of the day was absolutely necessary due to a passing comment asking about my grandchildren earlier in the week.) From there I went and picked up some paper so that we can make paper lanterns tomorrow so we are ready to celebrate the Moon Festival on Sunday. After quick bite to eat, it was back out to the grocery stores. Dinner preparations had to immediately follow because B. and A. needed to leave for their youth group's fall retreat. After putting children to bed this is the first moment I've had to even think about blogging and I don't have a lot of energy to think about it even now.



H. has come down with her first cold since we have come home. I should have known something was up when she turned down the trail mix snack (complete with chocolate chips) that we had this morning. It was a very unusual occurrence. And then my normally perky, animated girl was looking droopier and droopier. When all of this finally connected in my head and J. checked her forehead, she was indeed running a slight fever and when asked admitted that her head hurt. Sigh. I forget how long the path is to a child being comfortable enough to be vulnerable. I'm not sure she would have told us if we hadn't asked.

H. was given some pain reliever and tucked into bed and after a few minutes A. came to get me to say H. was crying in her bed because she didn't feel well. She must have felt horrible since we have only seen tears once before when she got hurt. Tears are a very big deal. I felt so badly for her. I know that it is hard to be away from what is familiar when you feel sick. (R…


I am part of a group of people at our church who are starting a ministry aimed at orphaned and vulnerable children. In our meeting last night we spent some time discussing where we were initially going to put our energy and focus and it was decided that we needed to start locally and in ways that didn't seem overwhelming. To that end, we are going to be working on bringing Safe Families to our church and encourage the membership to go through the training to participate. (Fellow church members... consider yourselves warned about what you're going to hear me talking about. A lot.) We are also going to look into where we can help serve the many teenage mothers in our community because we all agreed that this population is the modern day widow of Scripture.

We decided to go in this direction for the moment because sometimes looking at the big picture can just be too overwhelming. And an overwhelmed person cannot make good decisions or sometimes even act to make things better. We …

Happy National Punctuation Day!

Or so J. tells me that's what it is. So I decided to blog about it, because I really like grammar and punctuation. At least I like it when it is well-used, but I will admit to being vaguely (OK, very much) disturbed by poor punctuation. I am likely to correct it in books... even library books. I have yet to actually deface a public sign due to poor punctuation, though we as a family "collect" public displays of improper punctuation. Contractions and quotation marks are the usual suspects. Why is it that stores, when they display sale notices for things, have a tendency to use quotation marks? You know, a sign that reads Sale! "Apples" $.79/lb! I always wonder what the apples really are because it is something obviously (to me at least) pretending to be apples.

Who's and whose and its and it's are always troublesome, as are they're, their, and there. Speaking of the Oxford comma... What? You didn't know we were? Oh, sorry. I just used it so I gue…

Hopscotching through the colonies

We are studying the Revolutionary War this year. (Writing this makes me realize that I need to update the homeschooling tab up there on top. I'll work on that in the next few days.) Especially with my younger ones (and ones who are still developing listening skills), I try to do as much hands-on learning as possible. This is why if you had walked by my front yard this morning you would have seen us all out hopping around our driveway.

In order to help everyone visualize the location and each name of colony, I drew them in a fairly large format on our driveway in chalk. Do you know how difficult it is to get the scale correct when you are doing something like this? Connecticut has never been so big, but the locations and shapes were relatively accurate. 
After it was drawn, and I finally convinced everyone to put down the sticks they were waving around (is anyone else driven insane by waving sticks?), we did several different things. First we just practiced finding each colony by t…

More randomness due to fatigue

Thanks for everyone's kind comments on yesterday's post. I continue in my belief that God uses parenting as a spiritual discipline. Not only that, but God uses parenting large families as a super-intensive spiritual discipline boot camp. It is a very effective way to move a person out of their comfort and ability zone and cause them to lean on God in a way they might not have before. Too much competence is not always a good thing.

But that's as much deep thought as you're going to get out of me at this moment. Life with a puppy is tiring. (For those of you nodding your head knowingly, I knew what we were in for. She is not my first puppy.) But still, no one really enjoys getting up in the middle of the night because the puppy had some, ahem, intestinal distress in her crate and she was covered in, ahem, that distress. J. took the puppy outside and then plopped her in the tub, I cleaned out the crate and then held the wet, shivering puppy wrapped in a towel in my lap fo…

Start as you mean to go on

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."  James 1:5 (ESV)
It hasn't been an easy several months here with TM as we switch our parenting practices, work with a therapist, and help him heal. As we walk down this road, I am more and more filled with regret over the first years with TM. And though I had the best of intentions, and felt I was educated and knew what I was doing, I was actually clueless. God continues to use this child to reform and make me into the person He wants me to be. It can be a painful process.

The title of this post and the Bible verse I quoted at the top very much sum up the most recent part of this journey. If you read adoptive parenting literature, you will run across this truism, 'Start as you mean to go on', in many different places. Basically, it is saying that this is your child, and you shouldn't treat him or her differently because of the adoption and t…

Cottage pudding, or that post about neglected desserts (note the two s's)

It's blog hop day for Hearts at Home and the topic is to share a fall recipe and the story behind it.

This is easy. I love recipes with stories. They are part of each family's history and a way of connecting generations together. If you haven't started to collect your family's recipes, do it now! And if you have the recipes, but don't have the stories associated with them written down, the next time you make one, just write something about it in the margins.

The recipe I'm going to share is one of my favorite desserts from childhood. For a good part of that childhood, we would have Sunday dinner after church at my grandmother's house. She lived within a few blocks of the church and I can remember her slipping at the beginning of the last hymn to take the roast (in my memory it was always a roast) out of the oven and get things ready. My family would then gather ourselves and then join her at her home for dinner. The table was always set with the good china…

By Jove, it worked!

Much of the morning was taken up with "character training". We eventually did some school-type stuff, but I find the character aspect to be much more of an immediate need than opening a book. The book can wait, but some things character-wise you really need to catch in the moment. I will add it is not my favorite way to spend a morning.
But we finally were able to work on our electricity unit and today the project of making a telegraph was scheduled. Scheduled somewhat hesitatingly, though. You see, my children really know what a real experiment looks like in that sometimes they don't work. And then we get to go back and see where we went wrong or if we went wrong and the directions were bad or something else entirely. Let's just say we don't have a 100% success rate.
I took a deep breath and we began. The idea was that you connect a battery, a buzzer and the tapping mechanism (in this case brass fasteners and a paper clip) together in a circuit. When the paper …

One of those days

Nothing bad has happened, just oddness. And we continue to work to get into our homeschooling schedule.

This year I was smart and actually scheduled in library visits. I don't know why I never thought to do this before. The books are always due one month from when we checked them out and I know we're going to go. This way, I don't have to rearrange the schedule at the last moment when I realize the books are going to be due tomorrow.

And it really does take the whole morning. The first hour is spent just locating all the books and making sure we have them all. Then we have to spend some time looking for the last one or two books which have gone missing. And then they need to be loaded into bags. It takes a while. Today, we had made it to the point where the wagons were loaded up and everyone was heading outside when the phone rings.

It was my mom (Hi Mom!), and I always like to talk to her, so I sent the children on ahead, figuring that with many small children and two wag…

Life with puppy

Some people have commented to me that I have perhaps gone insane agreeing to the puppy and all. One friend even pointed out that it was just a week before that I had told her that I really didn't want a puppy. Another called to find out what had happened so that she could avoid whatever it was and didn't end up with a puppy herself.

I will admit there have been a few moments this week where I have doubted my sanity as well. Those moments would usually come when the puppy starts barking to go out at 5:45 am or when both little girls are screaming because they are terrified of the cute little puppy's needle sharp teeth. At that point neither girls or puppy are quite so cute. I will say it adds a certain level of chaos around here that we don't normally experience.

Training the puppy also turns into a lot of training the children as well. Gretel is thrilled with her new litter, um people. I'm pretty sure that she thinks that these are the best, most fun puppies she ha…

Things to click on and look at

I've taught piano (though not to my own children), took a puppy to puppy class, and been to a funeral. It has felt like an emotional roller coaster type of day. I'm not up for writing much, so I'll give you some links and let others write for me.

First off, because I see stats for this blog, I can see which topics get put into search engines and consequently visit my blog. Surprisingly, there are a lot of people out there who want to make wolf and pig masks. Who knew? I bet I see variations of those search terms several times a week. So, for those people who really need to know how to make wolf and pig masks, M. has made a tutorial for you. But you have to head to her Tumblr account (Flying Tadpole Creations) to see them. Here is part one and here is part two. If you click on the photos, it will take you to the written instructions. Even if you don't want to make a mask, you should still head over there because she has put up pictures of a lot of her artwork.

Next, I w…

Quiet time

Ahhhh.... Do you hear that? If you hear anything other than the sounds your house and surroundings usually make than you are hearing more than I am. No one is currently talking to me. No one. Everyone is all tucked away in their quiet time spaces doing quiet things. Ahhhh..... (Okay, the puppy is whimpering a bit)

I had a friend ask me to write more about this, so here is my first week's report. We started quiet time on Tuesday, the same day we started school, but this is the first day that I've been home to enjoy it. The week has been so crazy that I've had errands or meetings every day. Now I get to have quiet time, too.

So far it has gone well. Amazingly, I was able to start with the full hour and a half that I had planned. I wasn't sure how things would go, so I had prepared myself for 45 minutes at first and then working up to the full time. I chalk our initial success up to a couple of reasons. The first is my creation of quiet time bags (I ended up skipping boxe…

H. has been home six months

Yesterday we had H.'s 6 month post-placement visit. It has been both an incredibly fast and in other ways an incredibly long six months. Some of the factors adding to its length are not even due to H., but to how her arrival has triggered other family members. In many ways, she has been the easy piece of the puzzle.

Because I don't like to sugarcoat things, I want to be honest about the experience of adopting an older child. I believe a family cannot make a truly informed decision to adopt unless they have the whole story. Some of that story is wonderful, some is just interesting, and some is truly difficult.

We'll start with the less-than-happy-stuff first and get that over with. Attachment is a funny thing, and I've come to the conclusion that while the focus on a child's attaching to the new parents is important, more time (much more time) should be spent on the importance of parents attaching to children. I truly think this is the bigger issue. If you are in lo…

Meet Gretel

Here is the newest family member, who also has the distinction of getting her full name posted on the blog. (I guess I'm not as concerned about my dog's privacy as I am my children's.) She is a sweet, sweet puppy who is very nearly housebroken. It helps that I have a lot of helpers who really enjoy taking her outside. 
So, as promised, more puppy pictures than you really need... and a video.

First day of school

And all I really have to say about it is that we all survived. Some of us barely. I've had better first days. On the plus side, we did pretty much get through everything I had hoped, it was more the tone that I was disappointed with. Let's just say it wasn't calm.
Part of  the lack of calm is that we are seeing some real positive healing in TM, but it is a process and one that definitely feels as though it is the three steps forward, two steps back variety. As he becomes more in touch with how he is actually feeling, he is also more aware of when he is anxious. And for some reason, starting school this year, even though it is nearly exactly the same as what we have done in years past, is making him very anxious. I am very hopeful that once we get back into the routine, it will help further his healing. As just a quick example of the healing we've seen,(those of you who are practicing therapeutic parenting will appreciate this), he actually voluntarily and spontaneously…

Happy 12th Birthday, P.!

I haven't been around much because the computer came down with a virus and was very ill for a while. After four days in intensive care, it is back up and running as normal. I have to admit to really liking the break and was a bit sad to have to slog through all the email which had piled up.

Let's see, what did you miss while I was gone? Well, B. disposed of some dead, rotting possums which he found underneath the back stairs off the porch. He took pictures, but I'm not going to share them.  You're welcome. K. swallowed a mancala marker and choked on it and then swallowed it. Thankfully he's fine and all systems are working normally. The little girls have stopped falling out of bed. (Thank you pool noodles.) We spend hours and hours at the Field Museum. I came to the conclusion that about 1 1/2 hours is about the perfect time to spend on any museum trip because any longer and the recovery time at home isn't worth it. And we had our block party yesterday.

But we …

Pool noodles and big girl beds

The little girls have had two nights in their big girl beds. They love their beds and happily stay in them. This is good because my biggest reason for not moving them sooner was that I wasn't sure they would stay in bed and I had visions of little girls wandering about the house in the middle of the night. It wasn't a restful thought.

But while they are voluntarily staying in bed while they are awake, they are having trouble staying in bed while they are asleep. It seems each girl needs to fall out of bed once each night. The first night we tried them without any rails or anything, mainly because we didn't have them. It wasn't too bad, but I was afraid they would get hurt if they kept falling out. Then one of my readers gave me the hint to try pool noodles under the mattress pads to act as a small bumper on either side. I thought this was genius, so made a mental note to try to find pool noodles. In September. This is what led to the funny exchange with A. yesterday in…

Happy not-back-to-school day

Even though all the public schools around us started today, we did not. Both because I'm not ready and because I never start on the day the public schools do. Because I can. What we always do on the public school back-to-school day is to take advantage of really empty museums. This afternoon we headed to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. (Which has a really good family membership, by the way.) We joined our good friends the P family and the H-S family, so I suppose we looked like a large school group even if it didn't feel that way to us.  It was a good afternoon
My crew, waiting for our friends. It was really bright right here, which accounts for the funny expressions.
First we went to the small travelling exhibit on bicycles.

D. waiting to ride the big bike.
TM trying to get on a bike much too big for him.
K. in a cargo trailer
L. in the cargo trailer (G. wouldn't get in because the bike which was 'pulling' it was broken. It was a display and so the bikes were …

Big girl beds

No more cribs around here... we have moved G. and L. into big girl beds. I have even bagged up all the crib sheets and bumper pads. You should be impressed that I didn't even sniffle, though I have purposefully not thought about it very hard, either.
G. and L. are very excited and are currently napping in them. I don't have bed rails, so we'll see if they fall out. I really don't want a repeat of that sleepless night in Iowa last year. But I know you really just want to see pictures, so I'll stop blathering and show them to you.
Here's G.'s bed. I realize looking at this picture that the wall above her bed is looking pretty bare. I should think about what to put there.

And of course G.'s bed needs to have her panda collection.

I caught these two pictures right in between smiles.

And here's L.'s bed. She wanted to get everything 'just so' before posing for a picture. You'll also notice that she is Tigger today. Very rarely is the chi…

Working on schedules

I continue my quest to organize our school year. I'm waiting for some more books, so detailed school planning is put on hold. Instead I spent some time working on other schedules... household jobs, how the day will flow from activity to activity, the daily life-stuff. I find if I can get a handle on the household systems, then adding in schoolwork is much easier.

Last year I tried something new with a rotating schedule. There were five jobs, five children and each day the jobs would rotate. This was a success because the unpopular jobs only came around every five days. This year I changed it to add another child (H.), so I needed to add another job. Now we will have a six day schedule which means that the days will remain consistent and should be a bit easier to keep track of.

The bigger Saturday cleaning jobs have been switched around between children so that they get a change, plus I've added G. and L. into the line up. The little girls will be sweeping the back stairs, with…