Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hope for the hopeless, or baring my soul

A comment was left on the post about disruption yesterday that I wanted to address here, so everyone could see my response.

Dear Anonymous,

My heart has been so heavy for you ever since I read your comment yesterday and I have been praying for you and for your family.  I know that sounds trite.  Frankly, when you're in the midst of something like this, when there seems to be no way out and nothing you can do to change the situation, everything sounds trite.  And believe me when I say I understand this feeling.  That would be the stuck-in-a-hopeless-situation-of-my-own-causing feeling.  I've been there.  Some days I am still there.

I was speaking with another mother of many the other day who is interested in adoption and has been asking me questions.  I try not to sugar-coat our experiences when talking to potential adoptive parents because it is far better to know what to expect than have unrealistic expectations.  As I was relating our experiences, I could tell she was wondering a bit why anyone would choose this path and why we would be adopting for a third time.  And as I listened to myself, I have to say a part of me wondered as well.  Because as I relate the difficult or yucky or (well, there is no other word for it) horrible parts, it sounds pretty bad.  I go back and read those early posts from bringing TM home and I realize that I have conveniently chosen not to remember everything.  (And for my son's privacy, I do remember not sharing everything... or even coming close.) I am surprised when my past writing brings it all back.  It is not a lot of fun to feel as though you are living with a human time bomb, never knowing what is going to set him off or when.  And living with someone who doesn't want anything to do with you is not really esteem building.  And because most of this drama is saved for the immediate family, outsiders rarely get to see what life is really like and have no inkling of how much chaos one small child can throw a family into.

When I was in the midst of the worst of it (and even difficult times now), what I was looking for was someone who had been there; who knew what I was going through, and could tell me that there was hope.  That at some point in the future, things would get better.  I would hold onto whatever glimmers of hope I could find and cling to them as though they were a life line.  Which, looking back, was exactly what they were.

Dear Anonymous, I want to offer you a little shred of hope for you to cling to.  Things can change, even after three and a half years.  They can get better.  You don't have to live the next ten years in a form of purgatory, waiting for your son to hit the age of 18 and move out.  Nothing is too hard for God, even a situation which seems entirely hopeless.  Hopeless cases are His specialty.  I will continue to pray for you and I am sure many of my readers will join with me.  (Please leave Anonymous a comment saying that you will pray!)

Not knowing you or your situation, I have no idea what avenues of help you have already tried.  Please, if you are feeling at the end of your rope (or before you get there), look into an attachment therapist, if you haven't already done so.  But there are some other things adoptive parents can do to help as well.  Perhaps what I am going to say, you have already done, but if by chance even one of the things I am going to list is a new idea (or because it may help someone else), I will write it.  Here are some things I actively did in order to try to help myself love my child and to help my child heal (remember, we are both still a work in progress):


  • Try to think positive thoughts about the child.  This is not always easy.  It is so much easier to rehearse all the lists of the negatives, but this does not help you attach to him.  Negative thoughts only give credence to the desire to push him away and make it easier to do so.
  • Be sure to smile at him and say a kind word, at least once a day.  When I thought about it, there would be entire strings of days where I realized I never smiled at my son.  Not once.  This is not a confession I am proud of.  No one is going to love a person who never smiles at them or speaks kindly to them.
  • Look into Theraplay.  I went to a training seminar at one time and found it extremely helpful.  If there is not a Theraplay center near you, I would say that it is worth it to spend the big bucks on the book.  It is filled with therapy exercises which you do with your child.  Most of them just look like fun little games, but something big happens while doing them.  They are actually creating bonds between you and your child.  I found the most encouraging part of the training to be listening to another mother who had completed the therapy with her children.  It was the moment when she confessed to not wanting to do them with her child because she didn't want to have positive feelings toward her child.  Things had been too hard.  It was an "Aha!" moment for me to realize that I was falling into that same trap.
  • Do what you can to improve the mood of your house.  You can't control what the child does, but you can control other things.  I found that I had to have praise music on all the time. I found Scripture set to music especially helpful.  The Seeds of Courage CD played all the time.  The words to one song still come to mind if I am feeling despairing:
I waited patiently for the Lord, He inclined to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire.  He set my feet on the rock, gave me a firm place to stand, set my feet on the rock, Lord here I am.

or fearful:

Do not fear, for I am with you.  Do not fear, for I am with you.  Do not fear, for I am with you.  Do not be afraid, for I am you God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand

  • Read blogs by others who are parenting children who are challenging.  Two that have been particularly helpful and encouraging are A Bushel and a Peck and His Hands His Feet Today (written by a real life friend of mine).  They are honest about the difficulties, but also provide hope that healing can happen.  Welcome to my Brain is also on the list.  While I don't have to practice therapeutic parenting to the extent this mother does, I sometimes check in with her and always gain some good advice or insight.
  • Educate yourself.  I have read so much about attachment, trauma, therapeutic parenting, and the brain that if I were in school, I probably could have gotten a degree out of it.  Also, Karyn Purvis has some really excellent videos, produced through Empowered to Connect, that are worth watching.  My book list is extremely long.  (If you are interested in what is on it, let me know and I'll write it out.)
  • Find support.  I'm pretty sure without my good friends, I couldn't have made it.  These are friends who are adoptive parents themselves and understand what life is really like.  I can tell them the worst and they will sympathize and not think any worse of me.  They also won't say those helpful words, "Well, you asked for this."  Sometimes you just need someone to listen, commiserate, and laugh and cry with. Sometimes hearing what other people's children are doing, makes me feel like I'm not alone.  If you do not currently have friends like this, start praying for some.  It's best if they live close, but if you don't have a large adoptive population in your community, you may need to make use of the telephone.  
  • Wear out the knees of your pants.  Truly.  Get on your knees and place this child in God's hands.  Ask for healing.  Ask that He give you a heart for this child.  Ask Him to help you love this child.  Confess that you have not always parented this child the way you should have and ask for forgiveness.  Pray.  Pray.  Pray.  Pray over your child, pray on his behalf, and ask others to join you.  Thank God for this child.  God does not make mistakes, even though it may feel like it in the short term.  (And I believe that 3 1/2 year is still short.)  God made this child and loves him.  Ask to see him with God's eyes.
  • Fast.  Prayer for big things nearly always goes hand in hand with fasting in the Bible.  Take a fast for your child.  During that time, pray for healing... for everyone.  This is not a magic bullet, but we are instructed to fast.  This act of sacrifice and obedience is powerful, because God is powerful.  There are different ways to fast.  One is not more correct than another.  It is the heart behind it that is important.  I have done day-long fasts as well as choosing a meal to give-up each day long term.  (I find it is also an excellent opportunity for practicing patience as well.  I am not a pleasant hungry person.)
I found sometimes what seemed the simplest thing was the most difficult, and in the difficulty I became aware of a hardness of heart that I hadn't acknowledged.  I found I didn't want to think nice thoughts about my child; I didn't want to smile at him;  I didn't want to do pleasant things for him.  I was so angry and scared and hurt that I wanted to make him as miserable as I was feeling.  At that point, I got to add revulsion at myself as well.  And my plan didn't really have a chance of working anyway.  My child was already feeling so angry and scared and hurt that I wasn't changing a thing.  I was just confirming what he already knew to be true:  that no one loved him and there was nothing lovable about him.

But back to the beginning.  Why would someone knowingly choose this path, or choose this path again?  Or perhaps a more telling question would be would I choose this path again knowing what I know?  If I had a choice, would I willingly put myself back in time and choose to adopt this child?

Yes.

I don't even have to think about it.  My life is richer for having come through the fire.  It wasn't a painless process.  It wasn't easy.  I suppose I could have gone on with my previous life just fine.  There wouldn't have been anything wrong with it.  I might have even done some good in the world.  But would I have had the experience of knowing in a deep, deep way how much God loves me and how he has adopted me?  If there is no mud and mire from which God needs to drag you, do you know He can?  It would have been the safe life.  It would probably have been easier.  But safer and easier are not always better.  And I wouldn't have had this son.  This son for whom I have fought and battled.  This son who is frustrating and loud.  This son who is funny and energetic and caring.  This son whom I love.

So, Anonymous.  I will pray for you and your son.  That God will protect you both through the fire and that what comes out the other side will be more beautiful, stronger, and lovely than what went in.  Life can get better than it is now and someday I pray you will look back and say that it is better than your old life.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Weekly schedule

I know I have mentioned before that as a way to organize my homemaking, I use the old-fashioned concept of assigning a task to a certain day of the week.  Currently here is what my week looks like:  Monday - shopping and errands; Tuesday - desk (making appts., paying bills, filing, etc.); Wednesday - sewing (plus mending); Thursday - kitchen (making anything out of the ordinary for the coming week and any extra baking); Friday - laundry (getting caught-up plus any finicky or special wash which needs to be done); Saturday - cleaning.

I am struck again with how well this system works.  Last fall, I never really settled into a set schedule.  Consequently, I always felt a bit behind and certain things never seemed to get done.  In desperation, I sorted out my week and began again with the new year.  It makes such a difference in how smoothly I feel life is going.  When I know I am going to get to something later in the week, because it has an assigned day, it is easier to set it aside guilt free.  It also helps me to know what I am focusing on at any given time.  I know what I should work on first.  It makes it easier to prioritize.

I know why I had difficulty with finding a schedule last fall... I was out of the house too much.  For various reasons, I spend more time than usual driving children hither and yon.  And that was with carpools.  First is made it difficult to choose a grocery shopping day.  This is the one part of the schedule that absolutely needs to happen each week and the one the takes the most dedicated time.  Everything else can be worked on in fits and starts, but you can't do that with grocery shopping.  Consequently, it had to take up the one day where I wasn't driving somewhere else.  I never had a day where I didn't leave the house for several months.  This had repercussions on the rest of the week as I didn't have large chunks of time to do anything.  I would start something only to have to take a break and drive somewhere.  Then I could come back to it, after taking care of all the people which required my attention in the interim, only to have to stop again to begin dinner.  And so on and so on.

Currently, I am driving people far less and have more time at home.  And the state of my house (and emotions) are improved as a result.  If you are out of the house a lot during the week and also feel a bit frazzled, I would suggest cutting back on your schedule.  There is something relaxing and calming to have longer, uninterrupted amounts of time.  And if it is good for us adults, it is also good for our children.  My children are calmer and happier if they are not always going somewhere.  It does them good to have long periods for extended play.  Life has been more peaceful for all of us this year.  It feels good and to my mind, far outweighs the benefits of the classes we were running around to last fall.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

"You're so good"

I'm sure most adoptive parents are familiar with variations on this phrase, and I'm also quite sure that the majority of them find it just as irksome as I do.  Because it just isn't true.  We are not any better than anyone else.  Frankly, being an adoptive parent can sometimes make you face up to the fact that not only are you not any better than anyone else, but that you are not even as good as you imagined yourself to be.  While I know people mean for it to be a compliment, it's just not.  What it ends up sounding like is that there must be something quantifiably different about us than other people; that they are off the hook because they are not like us.

Very rarely does anyone go into adoption already practiced at the skills they need.  Usually they just start with the desire to be a parent and perhaps with some experience in raising biological children.  Our skills are learned with tried and true practice.  And like most practice, sometimes the process is discouraging and painful.  God equips us to do what we need, but he equips us through practice and not by giving us the skills by divine fiat ahead of time.  If I seem more competent than you feel, it was a hard won competence and one that I am still working on.  Don't let appearances fool you, I have more than a few moments when I find myself on my knees in tears because I have failed (again) or have no idea what I'm doing or both.  There is nothing special about me except I'm learning to let God have control.

And have you noticed that a family who adopts once, more often than not goes on to adopt again?  Maybe it's because it seems less scary the second time.  Or having gained new skills we feel a little more prepared to add another child.  Or we have been given the gift of being able to picture our family in a different light; that our vision of family has been enlarged.  And often we have been inside a real orphanage and looked into the faces of the children living there.  They have ceased to become a statistic and have instead become real boys and girls who have no mother to kiss an owie or a father to throw a ball with.  We can imagine what it would be like to parent one of these children.  And once you can imagine it, the reality doesn't seem as far-fetched.  God has begun to reshape our desires to more closely match His.  There is nothing good about us, but there is plenty good about God.  Our goal becomes only to reflect that goodness.

So if you want to offer encouragement or a compliment to an adoptive family, don't tell them how good they are.  They won't believe it anyway.  But you can tell them that they are blessed and perhaps you have been blessed by watching them.  Because that is the truth.  Over and over throughout the Bible, God blesses His people through the gift of children.  This has been our experience.  And we are very rich in blessings indeed.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The ancient Egyptian game Senet

Our history co-op is studying ancient Egypt this year.  Today's lesson was on the game Senet.  The older group took turns playing on an already constructed game board:

That's P13 sitting there.

The younger group made their own game board, playing pieces, and throwing sticks, then spent some time playing the game.

TM working on making his playing pieces.

The whole group as they work upstairs.

D. showing his game board.  

The mom of the P. family sewed all of these blank game boards for each child and then they used markers to decorate the squares.  While the empty spaces are not normally numbered, it was easier for the younger group to see where they were as they played.

The throwing sticks.

Instead of dice, four throwing sticks were used.  One side is decorated and one is blank.  They are thrown and the number of spaces moved is the number of blank sticks facing up.  If all the colored sides are up, the player would move 5.

P.'s (in process) playing pieces.  She has constructed five of one shape and is working on making five of a different shape.

Want to learn to play?  Here are some directions.  Have fun.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Homeschooling with the two year olds

I am always surprised when people ask me what I do with the girls (G. and L.) for school... and they follow up with a second question asking if they go to preschool.  They are two for Heaven's sake!  They don't need school.  They need to follow their Mommy around all day and watch and play and learn.  (And get lots and lots of hugs and kisses and conversation.)  But that isn't to say they are not learning.

On a regular day, I will spend some time with them first, either reading stories or playing games or singing songs, before I begin with the older people.  Then the little girls are still in the room, but they are playing with toys while the rest do their schoolwork.  Sometimes they will join us in what we are doing... coloring a picture, building something, tasting food, listening to stories.  But it is very informal and they are welcome to come and go as their interest dictates.  (The pen is still in use, believe me!  Currently, we have it across the doorways to keep them in the same room as the rest of us.)

It doesn't seem as though they are paying much attention to what else is going on, since they are often engrossed in their own play.  At least that's what I thought.  For the past two days, both girls have been very interested in doing their 'work'.  (Work is the word we use to describe the schoolwork that each child is expected to complete on their own each morning.)  This involves carrying around coloring books or pieces of paper and taking pencils and very carefully 'writing' things in or on them.  This is often accompanied by very serious looks and announcements of, "Me doing my math" or "Can't now.  I busy doing my work."  Once the work is completed, they each follow me around asking me to check it.  (And following and asking and following and asking if I haven't paid attention right away.)  I discovered that for it to count as checking, I have to look at it seriously and then take a pen and make a check mark at the top of it.  (I put a check mark at the top of each page of work that I check for the olders.  It merely tells me that I have looked at and discussed it with the child.  I don't grade.)  This makes each of them very happy and they show it around proudly and then sit down to do more 'work'.

The only down side?  I need to hide the printer paper and come up with a good storage place for the scratch paper because of the amount of 'work' that has been going on.  They are very prolific.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

It's not about you - warning, hot button topic ahead, read at your own risk

As you all know I am a big advocate of adoption.  But I have been seeing things in the adoption community that disturb me a little.  This isn't directed at any single situation, but to a general sense of what is going on.  You know it's great that people want to adopt and give a child, especially an older child, a home.  But too often I hear stories of people disrupting an adoption for reasons that bother me.  (Hear me correctly.  Not all disruptions are wrong... sometimes it is necessary.)  I don't mean to make light of how these families are feeling or the difficulties they are going through, but I wonder what prompted them to adopt in the first place.  You see, if you choose to adopt because it is a good thing to do; because you are rescuing a child; because you feel guilty over the plight of orphans and you would like to appease that guilt, because it is your duty; I'm not sure you have a strong enough basis to keep going.

Let me tell you the honest truth.  Adoption can be hard.  Adopting a child who has been repeatedly hurt is hard. There is hope for these children, but it is not instantaneous.  You can't bring a child who has experienced trauma into your home and expect after a few months that this child will be grateful and love you as your biological children do.  We are talking years here.  Years of learning to trust and to love.  Years of learning to parent a child whose brain has been significantly altered by the deficits of the past.  Years of three steps forward, two steps back progress.  Years of slowly working to erase bad habits and replace them with good ones.... habits that make you think a nail through the head would be pleasant in comparison.

Can you tell it's been a difficult set of days around here?  We still battle occasional rages.  We still battle behavior which can send us over the edge.  We still have a child who was so hurt that he is afraid of letting himself love again.  Did you know you can smell fear?  It is not just a turn of phrase.  I can tell you exactly what it smells like.  It is sour and unpleasant.  (It is the smell that K. had about him for the first year of his life.  I now know, looking back, he was terrified that first year even though he didn't show it.)  It is not pleasant to be around.  I know we are all about to plummet over the edge of the abyss because I can smell the fear emitting from my child.  He has been home nearly 6 years.  Healing doesn't happen in an instant.  Sometimes we are so discouraged the only thing we can do is cling to Jesus.  Other times we rejoice because we see something positive that we've never seen before.  It is slow going and and the going can be difficult.  Parenting this child is the most terrifying, difficult, faith building, frustrating, and satisfying thing I have ever done... all at the same time.

So forgive me if I can't drum up a lot of sympathy for people looking to 're-home' their children with comments of "I didn't think it would be this way" or "I just never bonded with him"  or "It's been a whole year and he just doesn't fit in our family".  Cue violins.

Here is what every person who thinks they wants to adopt should know.

  1. It is not easy.  It might be, but don't expect it to be.  These children have been hurt by the very people that were supposed to take care of them.  They have learned to survive in ways that are not compatible with pleasant family life.  They have lost so much that we can't even imagine the extent.  Some of these things can be made up, others can never be replaced and ways have to be found to cope.  Do not assume that this child will be just like your biological children.  That might not be possible.
  2. Be the grown-up.  This child did not ask for you to rescue them.  This is something you are doing to (and for) the child.  You brought them here; you turned their life upside-down.  They didn't even have a choice in choosing you as their new parents.  Do not expect them to agree to fit into all your plans and dreams.  That was an imaginary child that existed in your own head, not a flesh-and-blood real child with a distinct personality.  You will need to learn to love this child, this real child, long before this child can see something in you to love.
  3. Have a long view.  Healing takes a long time.  Years.  You cannot come home with a child and after a few months expect things to go back to normal.  That normal you had before can never be again.  Get over it.  Go ahead and grieve for the life you were expecting to live, but then work on embracing the life you have.  It might well turn out to be better than the original dream... but only if you let it.
  4. It's not about you.  It's not about your dreams or what you thought it would be like or how you thought the child would be.  It is about showing love to a child and making them your own.  WHETHER OR NOT THE CHILD IS ON BOARD WITH THIS.  You love the child because that is what you are called to do.  (I say this because sometimes Christians are some of the worst offenders of the "it's not what I expected" syndrome.)  You love the child because you agreed to be their parent.  You love the child even if they are not loving you back.  I'll tell you, you can't do this on your own.  Only God can give you that kind of love, but you have to be open to allowing Him to work through you.  And because it's not about you, don't fall into the trap of thinking the child is doing things just to make your life miserable or make you angry.  Most children want to please the adults around them.  But children who are hurt, don't function like most children.  They function on the level of instinct and survival.  It's not about you, but about how this child has learned to function to survive. It's not about you.
I do not parent my child perfectly.  It is still difficult sometimes.  God is gracious and we see progress.  I study and learn to continue to help my child heal.  I have discovered God's love in palpable ways.  No, it is not easy.  No, it is not what I thought it would be.  No, I do not always feel able.  But God knows and God is able.  

Go into adoption with eyes wide open.  Talk to other adoptive parents and ask for the unfiltered version of life.  Make no assumptions.  And remember it's not about you.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Not quite a year later, it's finished

Remember a loooong time ago I wrote about the felt book and doll I was making for H.?  Well, I'm happy to report, except for a hook and eye, it is all done.  Want to see it?

The biggest part of finishing it was to figure out how to do her name in my embroidery software and then stitch it on to the cover material.  I'm feeling pretty satisfied with how it turned out and it has given me a confidence boost to go ahead and try out other things with my embroidery unit.  Here's the cover.  It has a handle and the little loop in the upper center will fold over and fasten the whole thing closed.


Inside, the first panel has two pockets for holding all the loose bits.


Then comes a bedroom with rug and bed.  The pillow, bear, and book are loose and the sheet on the bed is attached at one end so the doll can be tucked-in.


The last panel is outdoors with a picnic blanket and an apple tree.  The picnic basket is loose and holds two plates each with a sandwich and banana.  I even made removable shoes for the doll.


The whole thing folds shut for carrying around.  I have to decide if I want to make any other loose felt parts for play.  Any suggestions?  (Don't suggest a second doll.  I don't think I have that in me at the moment.  But I did save the pattern I made to make the first one, so perhaps I will further down the line.)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Year of the Dragon

Last night we celebrated the first night of Tet, the Vietnamese New Year.  We had a really fantastic lemongrass roasted chicken (ga nuong xa) from Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table by Mai Pham.  We also has the traditional banh chung (sticky rice surrounding meat, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed):


Last year we sliced it and just ate it plain.  It was, um, an acquired taste, I think.  Or perhaps not so much taste as texture.  It is very sticky and gelatinous.  I remember G. and L. loving it very much.  This year, I read that you can also fry slices of it in oil, so we tried that instead.  It was significantly more palatable to Western palates and we'll probably fix it this way from now on.

Since it is now the year of the dragon, we also had a dragon cake:


And we made dragon puppets:



There are supposed to be streamers hanging down from the bottom, but P. opted not to add those.

Chuc mung nam moi! (Happy new year!)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Building the Tabernacle, part 2

As I mentioned yesterday, we had read through the account of the building of the Tabernacle and that I was quite struck with it.  Aside from just how beautiful it was, I also noted that the skill and ability to create this thing of beauty were a direct gift from God.  He gave the ability to 'devise artistic designs'; to work in gold, silver, and bronze; to carve and set stones, to weave, to embroider, to carve wood, to engrave, and to teach these skills to others.  God does not reserve creativity just for Himself, but allows his created children to get in on the fun as well.

Because, really, creating is fun.  It is rewarding. Usually, if we do not let ideas of perfectionism take over, that is.  I find I am at my most calm and satisfied if I have had time during the week to create and use my imagination.  It must be because creativity is part of who God is, and if we are created in His image, being creative must be part of who we are as well.  And the ability to create is given to us by God.

Being able to create things is not limited to a talented few, nor is it just in some realms.  The different types of skills needed for the tabernacle were many and one is not listed as being more important than another.  Also, since the ability to teach is listed that must mean that some skills must be learned.  It gives us permission to try and fail and constantly work on making our creative skills better.

All of this creativity was centered on building a tent for God.  A dwelling place.  A home.  Using resources and creativity for creating a home are not wasted.  God planned what people would see and hear and smell when they were in Him home.  Do we give the same attention to ours?  Let me clarify that this is not so others will see our homes and be impressed with us... our taste or our wealth.  But our care with our homes is so that we can welcome others and make them comfortable and give us the ability to point to God.  The Tabernacle was God's home and a place where people came close to God.  Do people entering our homes come close to God when they are there?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Building the Tabernacle, part 1

As part of our study of Ancient Egypt we have been reading the Biblical accounts of the Israelites in Egypt, including the Exodus and the wandering in the wilderness.  Last week we read about the Israelites building the Tabernacle, so I thought it would be helpful to see what we were reading about.  I found a free, printable model of the Tabernacle which I printed out, and children assembled:




It was a successful activity and helped to clarify some of the things that we read about. With lots of people cutting, it didn't take that long to put together.  It also helps to have a stash of mat board in one's basement to act as a base.

As so often happens, I probably got much more out of reading about the Tabernacle than my children did.  I was struck by several things as I read through the chapters.  My first reaction I will discuss today, the second I will tackle tomorrow.  I was struck by how beautiful the Tabernacle must have been.  The beauty didn't just come from the materials, but from the way it was made.  Lamp stands formed to look like intricate flowers; linen which wasn't left plain, but embroidered; clothing with pomegranates made from fibers attached to the hem.  God clearly loves beauty.  This shouldn't surprise us.  All we have to do is look at the world He created to see how He loves beauty.

I think sometimes we forget that surrounding ourselves with beauty is important. While the materials used to build the Tabernacle were costly... gold, silver, precious stones, yarn dyed with expensive dyes... that was right since it was for God's glory.  But I think in our own lives we often confuse wealth with beauty.  We look around our homes and inwardly give up making them beautiful because we know they will never look like the photo spreads in glossy magazine.  We forget to look for the beauty in non-costly things.

There is beauty in cleanliness and order.  There is beauty in something hand made. There is beauty in nature which we can bring into our homes.  (Though, I'll admit that once that nature wilts and starts to fall apart, it is not so beautiful.  I suggest removing it before that point and I'll try to follow my own advice.)  We don't strive to surround ourselves with beauty to impress others, but because it is a reflection of how God created the world and as such it is good for our souls to live with beauty.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Grammar, adoption, and homeschooling

I learn surprising things from homeschooling... about my children.  They are things I'm not sure I would find out if we didn't choose this educational path.  This is especially true with TM.

Learning a new language can be a tricky thing, especially if that second language is being learned while the first language is being lost.  Adopted children seem to effortlessly begin to communicate in an apparently fluent manner just months of coming home.  TM was functionally fluent in just three months.  I had read many places that spoken, day-to-day language comes first, with more sophisticated, academic-type language lagged behind for many years.  I knew this, but we weren't doing formal schooling at first, and surely the second type of language acquisition would catch-up by the time he needed it.

I am realizing just how naive my expectations were.  There have been multiple occasions when TM will ask a question and demonstrate a complete misunderstanding of something I was convinced he understood because he seemed to understand.  The words 'could' and 'should' leap to mind.  I became a bit upset one day when he told be I should do something.  (I will admit to not liking being ordered about by my children.)  But then it came to light that he had no idea there was a difference between the two words and was using them interchangeably.  I apologized for losing my temper and wondered how many other instances of this type had already occurred.

TM is now reading fluently (a development of the last month or so) and so we have begun formal grammar lessons.  Yesterday he was diagramming sentences with compound subjects and compound predicates, enjoying it and getting things correct, so I was a bit surprised at his reaction to today's lesson.  No diagramming... it was merely identifying the difference between statements and questions.  This threw him for a loop, and consequently my as well.  I was a bit dumbfounded when he asked me what a question was and showed difficulty in identifying them.  (Just try for a minute to describe what a question is without resorting to circular reasoning.)  I finally came up with a couple different ways of thinking about questions and by the end he was doing much better.

It all just reminded me again how I can't assume anything.  As I go back through past interactions with my son, it makes me wonder.  Some of our less than wonderful relating has had to do with answering my questions.  The world must be a baffling place if you are never sure whether there is a reply needed or not.  It has made a lot of things fall into place.  We will also be doing a little work on the concept of questions and what words signal the need for a response.  It will also remind me to be a little less reactive and stop to determine if something is based on willfulness or misunderstanding.  (Something, I admit, I should do anyway.)

It also makes me grateful that I am the one teaching him these things.  (Even if it can be frustrating at times.) There is a strong chance that had I not been teaching grammar to him that I would have never made this connection.  The idea would have been introduced in school, and either explained or not, and any difficulty would have been just a blip in the day. Probably I would never have been aware of it because a third party cannot know what is vital for someone else to know.  And really, who would have thought that a grammar lesson would shed such light on family communication?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The top 11 posts of 2011

I have several chapters of Isaiah to prepare, so I'm doing an easy post.  I went back over the past year to see which posts garnered the most comments (minus those which contained give-aways or requests for information), and I'm going to share them with you.  It will give you something to read if you missed them the first time around and give me the needed prep time.  Here they are, from least to most comments:

11.  Foolishness

10.  Circus side shows

9. Summer canning

8.  Mudroom mayhem

7.  Behavior and consequences

6.  Rules for family meals, Big Ugly House style

5.  Homeschool resource room

4.  An open letter to President Obama

3.  Bees!

2.  Prayer requests

1.  To God be the Glory, Great Things He Hath Done

And a bonus... I have a new article up at Heart of the Matter Online on dealing with cold and flu season.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A good lesson

"She sighed.  'Some people turn away from following Yahweh over the least hard thing.  I'm not brave, but one lesson I learned from my father -- stick to the job, whatever it is.  I can't help it; I just plod ahead.  The hard jobs sometimes turn out to be the ones that make you feel best about yourself when the thing's done.'"

From Tirzah by Lucille Travis.  We just finished reading it at lunch today.  Recommended.

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The observant among you will notice a new button on my sidebar inviting you to buy fabric.  (Because everyone needs more fabric, right?)  This is a direct link to Vogue Fabrics, a terrific fabric store dangerously close to me.  If you were planning on buying fabric online,  I'd appreciate it if you'd take a look a Vogue and go through my button.  I receive a portion of everything bought through this link... and every little bit helps.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Girls' rooms - big and little

So, when you have two 2 year olds, I have discovered that there is never a good time to clean their room, much less organize it.  Because they want to help.  And the word help in the 2 year old mind evidently means, "very carefully watch what Mommy does and then undo it" because if Mommy wanted to do it once, she must  want to do the same thing over and over again.  My usual solution to this problem is to do things that they may want to help with during their nap.  But you can't clean a child's room while they nap in it.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  Thankfully G. and L. love Winnie the Pooh and will happily sit and watch for as long as I will let them.  Today was a bonanza for them and also for me since I was able to really clean their room.  Here are the results.  (Enjoy them because it will probably never look so neat and tidy again.)

Walking in from the doorway:


Their closet (which they still share with their older sisters, since their new room doesn't have one), the new (to us) toy bench and the basket with their Duplo:


Dollies and the dolly dresser:


Their beds and dressers (the door goes into the bathroom):


These are the curtains I made last weekend.  I love, love, love this print and bought it on a whim about a year ago thinking I would make the little girls dresses out of it.  But, the print is fairly large and I never could find a pattern that I thought would work, so it sat in my stash, where I would look at it guiltily, until last week when it occurred to me it would be perfect for their room.


I also used it to recover the bench and make three little pillows for it.  The pillows were a steal at $2 each at IKEA; I couldn't have bought stuffing for that much.


I still want to print out some vintage children's patterns and put them in frames to hang above the dolly bed.  I have just enough fabric left that I should be able to use it as a mat for the pictures.

Taking these pictures made me realize I never shared the end result of A. and P.'s room.  It still needs curtains or shades and I still haven't found a fabric I like that I can afford so I can make them.  The hunt continues.  the rest of the room is pretty much done.

A.'s bed:


The desk:


The bookshelf-turned-dresser:


P. and H.'s beds:


And a bookcase:


After what feels like months of working on this great room switch, I think we are just about done.  If I could only find fabric...

Friday, January 13, 2012

New picture

I love opening up my email and having new pictures of H.  And I love this picture of her, too.  It seems unreal at this point, after all the waiting and seeing pictures of her that we are so close to receiving our travel approval.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Making memories

Well, it looks as though winter has finally arrived.  It started snowing mid-morning and hasn't stopped, much to the delight of all the children in residence.  I actually don't mind snow as long as I don't have to drive in it.  (I really don't enjoy driving our giant van in the snow.  Even getting out of our driveway can be dicey with the much narrower street.)  And since I don't have to go anywhere until church on Sunday (and even then I don't have to drive), I can be excited, too.

This official change of seasons has made me think about how much I like having four distinct seasons of the year and all the things which go along with them.  It is a way of keeping time and also a way to create memories for our children.  Creating memories is so much more than just checking off a list of activities done and places visited.  The best, I think, are the ones that give us a sense of security and belonging and place.  They are also the memories that involve all of the senses.  And while memories are made just by living, I like to be a bit more purposeful.

As mothers we have the chance to create a whole host of memories for our children.  A cup of hot cocoa after coming in from playing in the snow.  A kitchen filled with wonderful smells.  The feeling of being tucked up into a soft blanket when feeling chilly and perhaps a little tired.  An extra long bath after a fretful day. Hearing beautiful music.

These are all simple things; most involve things that we mothers have to do on a daily basis.  But they become so much greater than their sum when thought of in terms of building our children's idea of home and their memories of home that they will carry with them as they grow.  Memories that will be kept and shared with our children's own children.  It's a bit overwhelming to think the small, seemingly insignificant things we do for and with our children today may well influence the lives of our grandchildren and perhaps even further.  It may seem just like another dinner tonight, but over the course of years it becomes something bigger.

If perhaps you were growing weary with the every day-ness of your household tasks, take heart, because really what you are doing is creating a legacy and inheritance for your children of all the good things home should be.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fear and learning

In a response to a post on a homeschooling adopted children Yahoo group, something I wrote made me wonder.  Wonder if what I wrote was correct, that is.  (This happens a lot to me... I need to write to think about things and sometimes I am quite surprised at how a post ends.)  Anyway, the topic at hand was the difficulties that some adopted children experience in trying to learn and retain information.  My contribution to the discussion involved having observed the difference in G. and L.'s experiences compared with K. for the first two years of their lives.  That it seems these little people spend the bulk of their days playing, but what is going on inside their brains is nothing short of spectacular.  How else do you explain all that G. and L. can do that no one has ever directly taught them?  (The spontaneous counting comes to mind as well as having caught G. very carefully writing with a pencil while saying the names of letters.  The shapes didn't match the letters, but it seems a very small step to write them correctly.)  What children growing up in orphanages or other unhealthy environments miss is huge.

I suggested that even if a child is 9 or 10 or 11, that somehow that child be given a chance to experience the play and exploration supported by a loving and attentive parent which they did not have in their early life.  That we know the brain can re-wire itself and that by going back to catch what they missed, perhaps filling-in important pieces.  I went on to say, a child raised in an orphanage has a brain wired for survival and that seemed at odds to me with a brain wired for learning.

And this is where I stopped.  Did that last sentence make sense and was it true?  I wasn't sure it did.  One hears plenty of stories about how smart survivors are; that the ability to learn new things is what ensures their survival in a tough environment.  But in my gut, I felt it was correct.  There is a difference between intelligence and learning.  An illiterate person can be intelligent, but perhaps had never been given the chance to learn to read.  And there are certainly different types of intelligence and it doesn't all have to do with books and school-type stuff.  But we desire our children to learn to read and compute because we think that it will make their lives richer, easier, and give them more opportunities.

To be in survival mode is to assume that life is precarious and that the stakes are high.  Usually we are talking life or death, food or hunger, danger or safety issues.  All of this involves fear.  If you are working just to survive, you will most likely also be facing a lot of fear.  But if we think of learning... true, deep learning... it involves a lot of failure.  The scientist tries experiments which often fail; the mathematician works to solves problems often with a lot of error in the process; the writer rewrites and rewrites and rewrites; the musician practices for extended periods of time because it is the only way to train the mind and body to not make mistakes.  The list goes on and on.  For anyone who has achieved superiority in their field, failure of one sort or another has been a constant companion.  It is through failure that we learn.  I would suggest that if we do not allow ourselves the opportunity to fail, we deny ourselves the opportunity to learn.

A child who has not allowed themselves to fail, because failure could have extremely dire consequences, is going to have a difficult time readjusting their way of thinking.  Being asked to try and learn new things is going to be completely frightening because deep down, the child knows that they are not going to get it right the first time.  They will fail.  For some children they just won't try; for others, they will try too hard, not allowing any imperfection; and others will display the anger that comes from having to confront their fear.  (I am somewhat well-acquainted with that last reaction.)  All of this makes it difficult to learn.

I think that to go back to toddler hood isn't such a bad idea.  Toddlers fail all the time, they just don't know it. They fall down, they scribble, things break.  Toddlers are constantly experimenting with their world and seeing what happens.  Often good things happen... they like the feel or sound or look of something and they do it over and over; or the parents make a big deal about it; or it makes someone laugh.  Other times, unhappiness results... parents get angry over the writing on the wall, a toy breaks, water spills.  The toddler cries and the parent comforts and life goes on.  How many times does this play out in the course of a toddler's life?  We are actually teaching our children it's OK to fail, to make mistakes, to not do something perfectly, yet life goes on, they are still loved, they are still safe.  We are teaching them to learn.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Radical?

I happened across a post on a blog I had never read before and it got me thinking about the term 'radical'.  I have to admit that I have wanted to read the book, Radical by David Platt, but haven't had a chance yet.  (Plus, I don't own a copy.  Someone want to loan me one?)  But I have a pretty good idea of what it's about... eschewing the normal and societally-approved way of living and choosing instead to live in a radical way; living as Jesus calls us to live.  Often this is interpreted as doing great, big, somewhat scary things for God.  And I don't think there is anything wrong with this.

Then I read the blog post and she posits that we can't always live in this way every single minute.  That it can sometimes become the purpose of our lives as opposed to a way we serve God.  And I understand her point as well.  That Jesus is in the everyday stuff of our lives.  That every day won't and can't be a big 'fire from Heaven' day.

Well, some readers took exception to her post and there was a little brouhaha in the comments.  (Obviously I haven't managed to stop reading comments on things.)  And it all seems to boil down, once again, to word choice.  If we only see living radically for God as doing the big, get-out-of-the-boat-types of things, then I agree that every day is not going to be lived this way.  The necessities of life need to be taken care of.  But what if we can live radically for God and still take care of the ordinary?  Because just about everything about God and how He wants us to live is at odds with what our culture around us tells us is important.  It is radically different.

As I wrote that last sentence, it made me wonder about the definition of the word and if I truly wrote what I thought I did.  Merriam-Webster lists among the different meanings, two which I found very interesting.  One is what we often think of the word meaning, "Very different from the usual or traditional."  This would certainly support my sentence... that God, and how He wants us to live, is very different from our society.  But there was another definition that caught my eye.  It was actually the first one listed.

1. "of, relating to, or proceeding from a root: as
(1) : of or growing from the root of a plant <radicaltubers> (2) : growing from the base of a stem, from a rootlike stem, or from a stem that does not rise above the ground <radical leaves>

It is a definition that I vaguely remember from biology days, but it is not one I immediately think of as associated with the word.  But I think here is a definition of radical that everyone can agree on and it falls right in line with John 15:5, "I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."  (ESV)  So there it is.  To be radical is to bear fruit.  If you are truly connected to God, you can do nothing else.  There may be pruning that happens every now and then, but this will only result in more fruit as long as the branch remains connected.

We can bear fruit in any situation we find ourselves.  Whether it is taking care of children in our home (an increasingly radical act in our society, to use the more common definition) or by doing something which garners more public attention and accolade.  Our job is to stay connected to the root.  And if we do that, and listen to that still, small voice inside us, we may well be surprised at the radical things which are accomplished through us.  

There's the point after all this.  It is nothing that we do ourselves.  It is merely us allowing the Holy Spirit to work through us.  The minute we think that we are the ones responsible for any great acts, we have separated ourselves from the root.  At that point we are not radical, in either definition.  In the first, we are a branch disconnected from the root.  In the second, there is nothing radical about self-centeredness or pride.  That is just life as usual.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Money and a little embarrassed self-promotion

I have so many thoughts about faithfulness, money, debt, following God's will, etc. roiling around in my head that at some point I will probably need to write them down.  But I hesitate, because I can't quite figure out how to write what I want to write without it coming off as though I'm begging for money; as though I seem to think that other people should finance my life.  And since that wouldn't be my intent at all, I don't feel free to share those thoughts at this point.  Instead I'll just write out some of the questions I've been grappling with.

  • Can God's will ever involve debt?
  • Can the goal of living debt-free ever become an idol and stop us from pursuing God's will?
  • Have I been guilty of not listening close enough to the call to share what I have with others?  (I can answer this one... yes!)
  • Can we tie the funding of some endeavor to the faithfulness of the people involved?
I can't say I have the answers to any but the third question.  They are not easy, straight forward things to answer.  At least not for me.

But I can say that I am quite willing to work to raise some extra money.  I have started teaching piano again after a five year hiatus, and I am pleased to discover that I am really enjoying it.  It fills a gap that I was feeling when I stopped directing the children's choir last fall.  When I stopped teaching piano, it was because my teaching at that point was not the best choice for my children.  I no longer had my mother-in-law who would come and play with everyone while I taught and TM needed me to be fully attentive to him.  I can go back to teaching in a limited capacity now because I have decided to teach on Saturdays when J. can be home to mind the masses.  (And on the weekends when he is out-of-town, I have enough older children around that they can watch the littles for the small amount of time I'm teaching.)  I could use a couple more students, so if anyone in the area knows of someone looking for a teacher, I'd appreciate you throwing my name their way.

I would also be willing to come and speak to any mom's groups out there.  I have done a couple presentations at my own church's mother's group as well as at a homeschooling conference and they were well-received.  I think.  Topics I have something already prepared for are "Meal Planning and Pantry Storage" and "Child Training and Chores".  I could also easily speak on homeschooling, large families, or some combination of the above.  I'm a little embarrassed at even mentioning this, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Now I know some of you (and I'm the same way, so I understand) are now frowning into your tea mugs and wondering what on earth is wrong in the Big Ugly House to precipitate all of this.  And if you're like me at all, you have imagined the worst-case scenario and have us all starving and homeless.  No, things are not that dire.  We're actually fine.  But adoption expenses never end.  At least this is how it feels.

And since I have completely abused the trust of my dear readers already, I'll just go ahead and remind everyone to click on the link to my article on cooking with whole grains.  You might also like my recipe for Barley Risotto with Chicken, Peppers, and Chard.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Aesop's fables in my backyard

Aesop wrote a lot of fables about foxes and in at least one of them, the fox was at odds with a crow.  Well, based on my very scientific sampling of one fox and three crows, it seems that there is a natural animosity between these two species of which I was unaware.

There has been a fox roaming our neighborhood for a few days now and he seems to be particularly fond of our backyard.  Since we still do not have the chickens which B. so desires and we have a larger than normal population of intelligence-impaired rabbits, we do not mind his presence.  He is actually quite fun to watch.  For those of us in rather urban environs, it's a bit like having a zoo in one's backyard.

Well, this afternoon he was back, sunning himself quite happily.  That is, until three crows decided to complain about his being there.  These crows would not let him alone.  They continually cawed at him, and while they didn't actually dive bomb him, they did fly over him at bit.  It evidently made him nervous and eventually he trotted off.  We have no idea what set the crows off.  Did he eat a friend?  Or do crows just not like foxes, perhaps seeing in them competition for the not-so-smart rabbits?  

Here is the foxy fellow:



And in an effort to tie up some loose ends, there were a couple of questions asked of me which I still have not answered.

First, about the stuffed nativity dolls.  They are called, CreaNativity:  a Nativity set designed for children.  It seems it is out of print because no company selling them new appeared when I did a Google search.  Since I got out the patterns to share this information, I realized that I never did buy the shepherd and sheep pattern.  (I guess I thought I had, but I should know better than to trust my memory.)  I am happy to tell you that you can still find these patterns for sale on eBay.  In fact, I found the shepherds I needed there and they will be arriving soon.  I think it will be a grand summer project to work on.  It seems the patterns were packaged separately or as a big group.  There are Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, a donkey, three kings, a camel (which I discovered I have all cut-out, but not sewn), an angel, shepherds, sheep and an extra package of a shepherd's staff and wooden gifts for the kings, plus plans to build a wooden stable.  I'm glad a few of you asked about these because otherwise I would have never dug around for them.  I am motivated to finally finish this project.

Next, the books I've read.  (These were all free, by the way.)  I told you about Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie.  I have also read The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne (I still like Pooh better), The Girl from Montana by Grace Livingston Hill, and Chasing China:  A Daughter's Quest for Truth by Kay Bratt.  Currently I'm in the middle of Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell (usually just referred to as Mrs. Gaskell).

A couple of notes about some of these.  I have to admit to being a Grace Livingston Hill junkie.  They are not fine literature and some may find them a bit overly sentimental, but I read them like candy because I like the story lines, I never have to wonder, "Should I really be reading this?", and I love her descriptions of things relating to home life.  They are often categorized under "Christian romance", which I think doesn't quite do them justice. This is perhaps one of my biggest reasons for loving my new Kindle... I can get as many Grace Livingston Hill books as I want for free.  I had tapped out the few the library had and just couldn't justify spending money on a book I could read in an evening.

The Chasing China book is new, though when I got it, Amazon was having a deal where the electronic version was free.  It is alright.  I read it because I was interested in adoption in China, but the book itself could have been edited a little better and the adoption information was a little didactic.  I would suggest it if it's a subject you are interested in.

The Mrs. Gaskell book is very long and I don't read her as quickly as some others, but so far I'm enjoying it.    I'll let you know what the final verdict is.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Why this Luddite loves her Kindle

I want to say again how much I love my new Kindle.  Before Christmas, I had been in a bit of a book drought, which is unusual for me.  I would start a book, get through the first few chapters, and for one reason or another, returned it to the library.  The reasons were either that it was so poorly written that I couldn't bring myself to spend any more time with it or that the characters were so unappealing that I didn't want to spend time with them.  This has gone on for a couple of months.

Enter the Kindle.  I have read at least four books in the past week and enjoyed every single one of them.  I had to stop and think about why this would be, given that I don't normally feel the need to rush out and purchase the newest electronic gadget.  (I've only had a cell phone for the last couple of years and I still use a paper calendar. Perhaps more telling is that B. had to explain to me what the heck 'angry birds' were.  I know now. Sort of.)  I think I know now why I'm liking my Kindle so much.  It's because of the books that I can easily read on it.  Since I'm cheap as well as a Luddite, I tend toward the free books, which is just fine by me because those are the books which are now in the public domain.  That basically means they're old.  Some are titles that I've been wanting to read, but the library didn't have.  They were too old to stock.  But now I have volumes and volumes to keep me busy and satisfy my penchant for late 19th and early 20th century literature.  And I can carry them with me in a device which weighs less than my wallet.  Really, what's not to like?

And the icing on the cake?  I can organize all my electronic books in alphabetical order by author's last name. This last was really for my mother who is probably now smiling.  You see, I spent untold hours as a child organizing and sorting my personal library (which of course were shelved by author's last name).  I even made little library cards for each one.  A completely useless task as I was not overly prone to lend my books to people lest they break the spines or not return them in a timely manner.  Even then, I would have loved the idea of being able to carry my library with me everywhere.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

IKEA aftermath

This is what it looks like after a trip to IKEA because nearly everything to be purchased there needs to be assembled:


This is A., P., and TM working on putting together the white boxes which are going to slide into the large bookcase in their room.  Instead of trying to disassemble the huge bookcase and purchase yet more dressers, we decided to use the bookcase as a dresser.  For this to work, there really needed a way to contain everything to stop if from falling and out looking very messy.  These boxes fit into each cubby and we'll keep the lids underneath because it would become tiresome to lift the lid every time something was wanted.  I'm hopeful this will work.

I'm trying to get that room looking somewhat put together so I can take a picture of it.  I'm making the welcome book to send to H. this weekend and would like her to have a decent idea of what her room is going to look like.  We are probably at least a month away from Shepherd's Field being able to tell H. she has a family, but it takes at least three weeks to ship a package and I want it to be there and ready the second she can be told.

As well as the photo book telling her about us, I also found a very cute labrador stuffed dog at IKEA which is very soft that will be included.  What else should I put in?  She likes to draw, I was thinking a set of new crayons and paper.  Any other ideas?  What have any of you sent if you sent a welcome package to an older child.

I cannot wait until this dear little girl can finally know she has a family.  Forever.
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This is completely unrelated, but I have a new article which is up on cooking with whole grains.  Go ahead and click on it.  The rules have changed and if it gets enough clicks and makes it into the print magazine, I receive another check!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

God's to-do list

I'm sure every single one of you has had one of those days where you think you are going to do one set of things and you end up doing something completely different.  This can either be because it was a conscious decision on your part, but more often (at least in my experience) it is because of series of interruptions or distractions to an otherwise planned-out day.

I don't think that planning our days so they run in an orderly way and so that things are done to keep a family functioning is wrong.  The difficulty comes when we start to see our to-do list enshrined as divine decree instead of as merely suggestions.  God's to-do list, it seems, often looks very different from ours.  It is easy to forget that people take precedence over tasks, but God never does.

Recently I have had a couple of days in row like this.  A sick child needs to go to the doctor, a friend needs comforting, another child needs to talk.  These are the things which are important, but are very difficult to schedule because often we don't know about them in advance.  The trick, I find, is remembering their importance.  It is so easy to think ourselves a failure if that to-do list didn't get done and forget what we did accomplish.

I think I may begin to write on my list:

1.  Care for others... if time allows, the next items could stand to be done.

That way, I always complete my list and keep everything organized as well.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Slowly easing back into reality

J. went back to work this morning, but we are not getting back into our regular school schedule until next week. (Can I tell you just how happy I was when I discovered I had planned this week as a vacation week long ago last summer?)  I am spending this week doing a spurt of organizing.  Yesterday I made curtains for G. and L.'s room and started reorganizing it.  Still to go are curtains for A. and P.'s room and some sorting and organizing in there as well.  I also plan on getting caught up with the laundry before real life begins again.

Last week I sorted and cleaned J.'s and my bedroom, which makes me breath contented sighs every time I go into it because I love not being confronted with dirt and chaos.  We had also done a pretty thorough cleaning of the rest of the house.  I feel as though I can think again, getting everything sorted out once more.

Of course, life is never so simple that I can make my list of things I want to do and then do them.  Instead of paying bills this morning, I ended up taking P. to the doctor because she was up in the middle of the night complaining her ear hurt.  This morning she still looked peaky and so I made the appointment.  It looks as though the ear might heal on its own, but as the doctor was listening to her breathing, she noticed some significant wheezing and ordered a breathing treatment.  P. took the treatment and the doctor was pleased that the wheezing had gone and P. was sounding as though she was breathing easier.  P., true to form, noticed no difference.  So, we have a prescription for an inhaler for her to use for the duration of the nasty cold that she has.  If this is a sign of things to come in 2012, let's just say I'm glad I have my new Kindle for long waits in the waiting room.

So now, I'm going to finish paying the bills and see if there is enough of the day left afterwards to continue on my quest to organize my children.
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