Thursday, May 31, 2012

Food issues

I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later... having a child with food issues. And now in the course of two months I have two. One is somewhat expected and the other is out of the blue.

For the past couple of weeks we have been learning how to cut dairy out of A.'s diet. She had been having mysterious stomach pain that we didn't quite know what was causing it and then we went to China. Where she didn't have mysterious stomach pain.  Ever. Except in Guangzhou, twice. When we ordered pizza. Then when we came home, and we had a little dairy-fest, the stomach pain intensified to such a degree that I took her to an emergency appointment with the doctor. Thanks to a blood test, we were able to see that there was no infection which caused me to start putting all the puzzle pieces together. And when those pieces were all assembled, we realized that A. just can't tolerate cow's milk any longer. She loves cheese and milk and sour cream and cottage cheese... Well, you get the picture.

It's been a couple of weeks of experimentation. She can have goat's milk and sheep's milk products which is wonderful. This means that goat cheese, feta, and romano are still possible. I have also found a sheep's milk cheese that melts somewhat (kasseri if you're interested). And my grocery store sells butter made with goat's milk which tastes exactly like regular butter. We're slowly figuring it out. It also means I dropped a bunch of money at Whole Foods one day buying up all their dairy substitute products. Let's just say I won't have to do that again. A.'s verdict is that she can't believe anyone would voluntarily go vegan.

This also means that I have been rethinking what I serve for dinner. Much to TM's dismay, we are usually heavy on the melted cheese around here. But, I can't serve something that A. loves and can't eat. That would be cruel. So, all cow's milk cheese dishes are off the table, so to speak. I do have to think a bit harder when I'm meal planning, but it's probably healthier for us in the long run.

So, while disappointing for A., it is a pretty straightforward thing to deal with. The more complicated food issue is H.'s. When I say 'food issue' it sort of sounds as though we're having trouble getting her to eat, or that she is very picky, or something along those lines. But that is not what I mean. She loves food. We have yet to serve her something that she hasn't loved. Even rich, creamy, gooey, cheesy, very American things that most Asian palates (at least in my experience) really can't stand. She loves it all and wants more the minute she is done.

I'm happy that she is eating. I'm happy she is pleased with her food choices. I know that having what seems to her to be unlimited food is a new and very exciting concept. But it's a problem. Like with her emotions, she is pretty out of touch with how she is feeling physically, which means I'm not entirely sure she knows when she is full or even if she knows what foods she likes or dislikes.  (The bizarre thing is the only food she has expressed displeasure with is white rice. Familiarity breeds contempt, I suppose.) While I want my family to be well fed, the rest of my children have learned to listen to their bodies and stop when they are full. They are also very active and have high metabolisms which means they can eat a lot of calories and remain the sticks most of them are. H. is a different story. Although we encourage her to move and be active, she is still learning to move and use her body as a typical child would. Her caloric need is not very high at the moment, and certainly does use the calories she would like to take in. We are working on moderating her caloric intake, but we have to do it in a way where she doesn't feel we are depriving her of food or that we are giving all of our other children more food than we give her. I'm sure it will all even out in the future as she becomes more physically active. We have seen her activity level increase even in the past two months. But I also don't want her to gain so much weight (and she's gained a bit already) that it becomes an issue in and of itself. I feel as though we're walking a tightrope. It's made a bit easier since we don't do snacks or soda as a family and these things just aren't in the house. It would be much more difficult if they were here and she saw other people eating them. I know she loves, loves, loves these things and it would be disastrous.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Investment in the future

No, I'm not talking about IRA's or savings accounts. I'm talking camping equipment. Or our general lack there of. J. and I did a lot of camping with the first 4 or 5 children. We even took M. camping when she was three months old. (Camping is super easy with little babies.) And then we camped at least once or twice a year after that (assuming we didn't have a newborn). Camping is a great family vacation and a big plus in our book is that it's affordable. Believe me, once you get a certain number of children, affordable and vacation are two words which rarely go together.

But then, something happened. We had more children. Five more to be exact. And for various reasons we didn't do a lot of camping. The trouble is, if you don't camp regularly, then you don't add to your camping equipment as needed. Suddenly, you wake up one day and realize that even if you wanted to go camping, you can't because your supplies do not in any way meet the needs of your family size. The only way we could make the camping trip to New York work two years ago is that we borrowed a lot of stuff from friends. That's great for a one time trip, but it becomes awkward if you're always borrowing it.

Well, something had to be done. We want to be able to vacation with our family, but camping is about the only affordable choice we have. (And we like to camp.) We didn't want to sit around several years down the road and bemoan the fact that if we had just gone ahead and restocked our supplies, we could have been enjoying those supplies for many years. I don't like to spend money, but I also don't like regretting a decision, and regretting not making a decision is even worse.

Thanks to all those sleeping bag-less children, our income tax refund is a very pleasant number. I usually save this for those unexpected expenses which show up during the year, but this time we have decided to invest in our vacationing future. J. and I spent a good portion of our Memorial Day sorting through camping stuff in the basement to figure out what we actually owned and then searching for good camping equipment deals online to round out our supplies. That part was actually fairly easy and not overly expensive. We were already well-stocked, but needed bags and pads for several children and a larger tent. That's all done.

The complicating factor in camping with a family our size is that we drive a 15-passenger van. What's the problem you ask. Surely there is more than enough room with a vehicle that size. To which I say, "Ha!" For all its hugeness, there is precious little storage room. Even squeezing the weekly groceries in it is tricky. Filling it with children (and we have to use all the benches now) and then trying to squeeze all the needed equipment in as well is pretty much impossible. Our choices are limited. We either pick a couple of children to leave behind or we think about getting a trailer.

I bet you know which we chose. The trailer part is still a work in progress. We think we have found a small enclosed trailer within our budget thanks to Craig's List. Of course, it also means that we have to have a hitch installed on the van as well. These are the two really high ticket items. But I think we'll be very, very glad that we did. It means that we will be able to make camping whenever we want with our large family a reality.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A library trip with a large, book-loving family

It was time for another run to the library, but B. is in tech rehearsals all week for his Moliere show this weekend so I couldn't do my normal library run. This would be going after lunch with the middles while leaving G. and L. napping and B. staying at home. (B. likes to take himself to the library on his own.) So I decided that the girls were a bit bigger and I should try a library trip with them again. Plus, it is beautiful outside and would be a wonderful day for a walk.

I know I have mentioned our library trips before and the number of books we check out, but I thought you might like to see it in pictures.  Here we are preparing to head out.


L. on the left, and G. on the right.

D. getting ready to pull the wagon which holds our returns.

The triplets:  TM, D., and H. (I did mention we have virtual triplets now, didn't I?)

At the library. All the books on the table, plus a few more, will be coming home with us.

How it works is, I watch the littles (and H.) while the older children scurry around finding the books they want. They are all adept at using the computer catalogue and asking the librarians for assistance. At one point I noticed K. following along behind a librarian. Under his own volition he had approached her and asked her to help him find books about cars. (I know you're surprised by the topic.)

Then, when everyone has their books, they watch the littles while I go around finding the books I want and the books I think my children would like. This morning, I came back to find them all in the play area. K. had built the letter 'H' on his own and A. helped him add the 'I'.

K. with his 'HI' 

L.

G. (She was moving.)

H. (Yes, I know everyone else is in summer wear... she loves these dresses because they twirl and you can't dissuade her from wearing it.)

After loading all the book into the wagon, we head to the check out desk. (I still think that some of the staff inwardly groan when they see me approach.) Today, we had my friend who is also the head librarian of circulation. (She is also the one who has put a note on my card pretty much allowing me to check out as many books as I want.) Then we head home.

Even though I didn't time it quite right and we arrived well after our normal lunchtime, this is what I saw when I came back downstairs from changing a diaper:



The whole thing worked pretty well, and I think it's how we'll navigate the library this summer. Next time I may pack a lunch for us as well and stop at a park on our way home. That way, the children can dive straight into their books without the hassle of having to eat first.

Oh, and the best, best, best part? TM has discovered the joy of reading and checked out possibly 15 Magic Schoolhouse books. He immediately started reading one when we got home and I had to insist he come to the kitchen an eat lunch even though he wasn't done with it yet. He sat at the table, I put his noodles in front of him with a spoon, and he continued to read while he ate. There were days when I thought I would never see something like that happen.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Ancient Egypt history feast


One picture, that's what you get. That's because our extra camera battery, the one that is fully charged and ready to go for when the battery in use dies, is missing. The battery in the camera had just enough charge to take one picture.

Considering that Egyptian costumes tend to be on the minimalist side (and this was a lot of clothing by ancient Egyptian standards), it was a good thing we had record breaking 90 degree temperatures. That is unless you have decided to go as the fictional Egyptologist Amelia Peabody. (Do you know the mystery series by Elizabeth Peters? They are some of my very favorite mysteries which I go back and re-read every so often. If you like mysteries, you should read them.) It was a touch warm for long sleeves, long skirts, and boots, but, hey, we are committed to costumes around here. J., who was also not in a sheet was portraying Howard Carter... the Egyptologist who discovered King Tut's tomb. I never did find an appropriate suit for B. so he could go as Lord Carnarvon, but he decided it was too hot for that anyway and requested a sheet to wrap around himself. M. chose to be a modern day time traveler. She didn't want to be wrapped up in a sheet. Imagine!

The party was fun and we had wonderful food and I'm sure we've raised our status as the neighborhood oddities up a couple of notches considering the number of children dressed in sheets who were running around playing chase and hide-and-go-seek. You know, there's a lot of freedom when you assume every already thinks your crazy.

We're now enjoying a relaxing Memorial Day, where we are doing no entertaining what so ever. Our flag is up, most of the older children and J. are playing in a softball game with friends, and I plan on sitting down with a book just as soon as I hit 'publish'.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Just one of those weekends

It's been quiet around here on the blog because it is one of those weekends where it seems as though the events of the entire month are scheduled for the same 48 hours.  Today was the pick-up day for our semi-annual bulk order and I'm just back from driving to pick it up. It is good to be restocked with supplies. I really like having a full pantry.

Plus, as I've mentioned, our history co-op feast is tomorrow and though I had the best of intentions, I still have some sewing to do and costumes to find. While I was gone the rest of the family spent the day working in the yard to make it pretty(er) for the big party, so at least that is done. Since it is a feast, I need to start working on the food we're contributing as well. Expect amusing pictures of us dressed in funny costumes on Monday.

And because that's how it worked out, we are also hosting two students who are in town for the weekend long Taize conference. Since they are gone all day, it is a pretty low key hosting gig... and I think the masses of children this morning at breakfast amused them.

On the plus side, I think that H. missed me while I was gone for a good chunk of the day. (A very unusual occurrence.) She seemed genuinely glad to see me when I came home.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Not so rare

My post where I described the sometimes rocky journey of attaching to my new daughter evidently hit a nerve. I can now say without a doubt that I am not the only one to experience this. In fact, I'm pretty comfortable asserting that my experience is far closer to the norm than the love at first sight adoption fairy tale that everyone imagines to be the norm. And because I think it is so important, I will repeat it again, attaching to a new child, even a child who is thrilled to be in a new family, can be hard. (I'm sorry to sound like a broken record, but the more I write about this, the more I hear from or hear about others who struggle with this. If I have to be a one-woman campaign to say they are not the only ones, then I will.)

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a parent who struggles with the absence of happy, lovey-dovey feelings. There is nothing to feel ashamed about because this is a normal reaction which many adoptive parents have. Adding guilt to the whole cocktail of emotions that a new parent experiences is not helpful and probably is more than a little hurtful. Guilt and shame can cause even more avoidance toward building a relationship because every time a parent interacts with the child and those warm fuzzy feelings don't appear, guilt and shame are ready to jump into the breach. Trying to avoid feeling these negative emotions often means avoiding the child who is seen as the cause of them.

But the child is not the cause. The child is merely trying to make sense of the sometimes terrifying situation he or she has been thrust into. None of us is at our best when confused and scared. None of us is at our best when thrown into a new situation where we are unsure of the rules. None of us is at our best when trying to communicate in another language, especially one we have no familiarity with at all. These are the things we have to remember every time an annoying behavior repeats itself. We are allowed to help ease the child out of that behavior, but we aren't allowed to act as though the child is doing it on purpose, solely to annoy us.

And this is where the hard part comes in. We are the ones who invited this child into our home... annoying habits and all. We are the ones who have to be the grown-ups, whether we like it or not. This means embracing the idea that love is a lot bigger than how we feel. We need to take it upon ourselves to do the things which are going to help us to love our child. Even if we don't feel like it. Even if the child doesn't respond. Even if it takes more than a few months... or years. It's not easy. It takes a good support system, lots of rest, and the grace of God, but it can be done.

But most importantly of all, there is hope. If you continue to act lovingly toward your child; be careful not to avoid him or her; work to have more positive interactions than negative ones; smile; and get professional help if it is called for, one day you will wake up and see that small person (or not so small as the case may be) come into your room and you will be surprised to find that your heart is flooded with love at their mere presence.

You will make mistakes. You will lose your patience, You will have set backs. But keep trying. Nothing is too hard for God. Ask Him to help you to not harden your heart towards your child, but for you to find how to love him instead.
__________
My relationship with H. continues to grow. I try to be careful to get enough sleep and rest which gives me the patience that I need. One thing I am making myself do is to only have positive thoughts about her... thoughts that dwell on any negatives I try to be quick to shut down and think about something else. Learning to love and attach is sometimes more a battle of the mind than anything else.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Book orders

You all know I love books, right? And as much as I love my Kindle, real books with covers and pages are still my favorite. I have always loved books. I would organize them, make little card pockets for them, and then rarely lend them out because other people might not return them or treat them as nicely as I did. (I don't like to break the spines on books... cookbooks being the exception.) One of my favorite things was when the Scholastic book order forms were passed out in school. My parents were understanding of my book obsession and were willing to buy me just about any book on the order form. Undoubtedly my favorite part of school was the day the book orders came in and I got to go home with a whole stack of brand new books. (My fifth grade year, I ordered so many books my teacher let me have the books I earned him as well!)

I still love books, but now that I am the one who has to foot the bill it is the very unusual moment when I am the owner of a brand new stack of books. But my friends know me very well. A couple of weeks ago a group of them got together and took me out to dinner in celebration of H. joining our family. Now this would have been treat enough, but they didn't stop there. They also pooled their money and bought me a very large gift certificate to Amazon. This is like giving me a Scholastic order form on steroids. I just kept it for a week savoring the anticipation of deciding what to get with it, and yesterday I allowed myself the pleasure of picking out a couple of books to order. I still have quite a bit of it left, so I will get to do it again once I read the books that arrive.

What did I get? Well, I'm leading a book discussion for our mom's group at church this summer on one of the hospitality books I mentioned a while back. In the spirit of research (research=books=quiet=something I love), I thought it would be good to get a couple more books in the same vein and do some comparing. I'll let you  know if I find anything good.

Since they'll be here soon, it is a little extra motivation to finish the costumes for our history co-op Egypt feast this weekend. It would be difficult to explain to my children that they don't have costumes because their mother was sitting around reading. Difficult, but I'm afraid they wouldn't find it surprising. Expect a lot more on the feast in the coming days. And let me know if you want information about the book discussion.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A homeschooler's first year of college -- an interview with M.

Q. Did you feel well prepared for college?

A. Yes. I felt prepared better than some people. I enjoyed my classes and didn't feel they were too difficult.

Q. How about living in the dorm and making friends?

A. Living in the dorm was quieter than being at home sometimes. (And I didn't have to clean the bathroom!) I didn't have any problems with my roommate. Everyone can find their niche at college.

Q. What was most surprising about going to college?

A. The lack of communication between departments. Each department seems to be in their own little world and there is little collaboration between them.

Q. Is there anything you wish you had done to prepare for college but didn't?

A. Nothing comes to mind.

Q. What were people's reactions to hearing you had been homeschooled?

A. I actually found quite a few people who had been homeschooled at least until high school. It wasn't really a big deal. More people were more surprised when they heard how many siblings I have. What high school you went to didn't really seem to matter.

Q. Is there any piece of advice you'd like to give to someone about to start college this fall?

A. Don't stress out about it too much. The first few weeks may not be the best, but give it some time. If you don't hear about any activities you would be interested in, start asking around. That's how I got involved in media services and in theater... by asking students who had been there a couple of years.

It's also completely possible to have a lot of fun with your friends and not drink. If you say you don't drink, often others will just accept it and not make a big deal out of it, or they will be relieved you said that and they will join you.

I also never pulled an all-nighter. It is possible to plan your time and not have to do that. Besides, I wouldn't be at my most productive and would probably have had to redo it anyway.

Monday, May 21, 2012

It never stops

Today is a day filled with doctor's appointments, but the rest of the week was looking happily free of them. Notice the word "was". H. had a follow-up appointment with the opthamologist this morning and I was glad she did because the area underneath her eye on the affected side was starting to look more red and puffy than it should and I wanted to show it to him. Well, it seems there is some sort of infection going on and he was rather concerned. (Concerned in that had she been running a fever, we would have had a nice little detour down to Children's where she would have been admitted for IV antibiotics.) So, right now, after discussion with all of our collection of various doctors, they are going to try an oral antibiotic first.

Just wanted to update everyone as your prayers are appreciated.  Now it's time to head out with another child to another appointment. (And just because I know how to have fun, I have spent my only two hours at home today paying bills.)

Thank goodness for Crock Pots!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A song. By me.

Oh give me a home
Where raccoons do not roam,
And we don't hear them scrabble all day.
Where the wood-boring bees
Get a fatal disease,
And the vermin stay far, far away.

Oh, home, home near the lake,
Where the siding has lost a few shakes.
And the taxes are cruel,
'Though we don't use the schools,
And we wonder what thing will next break.

Oh give me a yard
Where growing crab grass is hard,
And the ugly trees vanish away.
Where fiberglass roofs
On back porches we lose.
And paint on bricks will never stay.

Oh, home, home near the lake,
Where the siding has lost a few shakes.
And the taxes are cruel,
'Though we don't use the schools,
And we wonder what thing will next break.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sleep

I have had two nights of 10+ hours of sleep and feel like a new person. Or at least I will once this cold officially goes away. I feel more patient, energetic, and hopeful. Sleep is truly the wonder drug. The silly thing about all this is that I know I need a certain amount of sleep each night or else I don't function well, and the more of a sleep deficit I run, my functioning quickly becomes non-functioning. I'm not fun to be around and I feel as though I'm constantly on the brink of bursting into tears. At the least it is an easy thing to fix.

Once again, I'm sure I'm not the only one to function this way, but why don't we just all go to bed at a decent hour? Most mothers I know (myself included), are pretty obsessive about how much sleep our children get. We've seen and had to live with overly tired and cranky children. It's not fun. But then, we mothers aren't fun when we're overly tired and cranky. Sometimes I think we need someone just to send us to bed as we do for our tired toddlers. (Thankfully, I have a husband who knows when I just need to go to bed and sends me.) Why can't we just send ourselves?

Because really, we aren't doing our families any favors by staying up too late. I know we think we are doing important things, or in my case, having those quiet moments reading, but it is worth it? I don't know about you, but when I'm rested my days are more pleasant, I get more done, and I'm a nicer person. I also find that my 'need' to have those moments alone decreases significantly when I am not over tired. It becomes a sort of vicious cycle. In a sense, one of the ways I serve my family is to be sure I get enough rest at night.

So, if you have been battling with grumpiness and feelings of being overwhelmed, might I suggest that you take a look at how much sleep you are getting at night? Join me in my resolution (again... wasn't I just writing about this?) to get enough sleep.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

I'm sure I'm not the only one

In the adoption world, some things are discussed openly, but other things are not. When we first adopted, very little was written about difficult transitions (at least that I could find). Everything was 'rainbows and happy trees' and every child was happy and grateful to be in a new family. Oh, sure, there might have been a few tears at the beginning, but after a week or two everything was hunky dory. So when our experience was not like this, I could add 'adoption freak' on my list of things that were hard. I discovered when I wrote about it that many people did share my experiences and they, too, felt as though something was wrong with them. We are all so afraid that others may think there is something wrong with us that we do not share the truth about what adoption (or parenting or marriage or...) is really like and cause others to think they are the only ones.

We are now on our third adoption and I have learned some things about myself. While I attach very easily to my newborns, I know that it takes me a bit longer to attach to my newly adopted child. This has nothing to do with the child (well, OK, if the child is actively hating you, it does have something to do with it) and has everything to do with me. I'm great at first, but the overly patient and understanding act is very draining and it's tiring to keep up. So long about, oh, now, I am wondering when this new child stops feeling like a neighbor's child who has overstayed her visit.

That sounds horrible, doesn't it? I mean, I'm the one who brought her here. I knew she wouldn't speak English right away. And I can't really complain that she is thrilled to have a mommy and daddy who love her and she wants to show that love all the time. In no way do I come off looking good in this story and perhaps this is why no one mentions it.

People talk about "fake it 'till you make it", meaning that you pretend you have feelings for a child when in actuality they are still developing and over the course of time the need to pretend no longer exists. But it's one thing to say this and another thing completely to talk about how it really works. It means having to override natural inclinations and  force yourself to do otherwise. It means not quickly stepping into the bathroom when you hear the child approach... even though you want to. It means plastering a grin on your face while the child says one of her five English phrases, again, though that phrase is currently equivalent to nails on a chalkboard. It means trying to keep the annoyance out of your voice when explaining something again, for possibly the 15th day in a row.

I have felt this way with each of our adoptions (though I will add it is more difficult the older the child). I wasn't surprised when these feelings started and I know they will eventually disappear as the mobile that is our family settles back into a balanced state. But in the meantime, it's tiring. The trouble is, I don't put my self-care plan into place until I get so exhausted by it all that I'm overtired, grouchy, and as a result sick. (Like right now, for instance.)

Since I know I can't be the only one to experience this, even if no one talks about it, here's my plan for managing.

  1. Get enough rest. I need to be sure to get to bed at a decent time every night. I am running a marathon and  it is taxing.
  2. Allow myself actual respite time. I cannot be "on" all the time, so need to plan in breaks where I don't have to be patient with anyone.
  3. Have a plan for interacting with the new child. If I am the one seeking her out, it is better for both of us.
  4. Don't over schedule things. Just like I have a tendency to mastitis from over doing when I have an easy newborn, having an older than baby new child gives me the illusion that I can go back to life as normal. The trouble is, life isn't normal even though I am not recovering from childbirth. I have to give myself permission to take things easy.
It's actually fairly simple when I look at it written out, but if I don't follow it I become a candidate for grouchy mother of the year.
_____________
Linked to Death by Great Wall's Paint Me a Picture of Older Child Adoption link-up.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Upcoming shows

I'm in a stinky mood today and to save you all from having to listen to me whine, I'll share the posters for some of my children's various upcoming shows.

First up is an evening of one acts by Moliere.  B. is in this one and from what I hear, it should be very, very funny. Performances are June 1 and 2 at 7:30


The next week, P., TM, and D. will be performing in an abridged version (original language, but shorter) of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Performances are June 8 & 9 at 7:30 and June 10 at 3:00. This would be a great introduction to Shakespeare if you have grade school age children.


Performances by Thin Ice Theater are always good and the costumes are always fantastic. Come if you are in the area. Contact me if you have any questions.
_______________
I have a new article up at Heart of the Matter about The Formula Trap.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I think I forgot to mention

that M. came home from college this past weekend and is all moved back into her room. This means that the piles of stuff which came home with her are now put away (though how it all fit in her half of her little, tiny dorm room is beyond me) and J. has moved all of his school stuff out of M.'s room and into our bedroom. It will be a gradual readjustment for all of us since yesterday she started a summer school class (drawing) which means she's gone all morning for four weeks.

It is so nice to have her home. I miss just talking with her and hanging out with her. Life is more lively when she's around. Another perk is that we'll also see a bit more of her friends who used to spend a lot of time at our house before they all left for college. This is one of those by-products of children heading out on their own that no one bothers to mention. Not only do you miss your own child, but if saw their friends in any great amount, you end up missing them as well.

I just like having everyone at home. The dinner table has the correct number of people sitting at it again. And now H. will have a chance to really get to know her oldest sister. (M. has been a bit of a mystery to H. We talk about her, but she's not here a lot. At first, H. thought other older girls who didn't live here were also her sisters. If M. was, why couldn't others be as well? Life can be confusing.)

I know a couple of people have asked about how M. like college and what it was like going there having been homeschooled up until that point. I will ask M. if she would be willing to do a brief interview with me about her experiences... best part, worst part, did she feel prepared, etc. I bet she will, especially if I'm the one who writes it all out.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A little more about homeschooling

Due to the way social media works, I write things, people repost them, and then other people comment on them. So even though you don't see comments here, there are entire discussions going on somewhere else. I don't try to keep track of them, but sometimes I do run across them. And because I am always on the lookout for writing fodder, I'm going to address a comment from one of those discussions. A comment I might add that I hear a lot. In fact, in my experience, it is the number one reason people give as to why they couldn't homeschool and why I must be a saint to do what I do. (I won't delve into the subject of why, when I tell non-homeschoolers I homeschool, the majority feel the need to tell me why they don't, but I find the phenomenon fascinating.)

Anyway, what is the reason? It usually goes something like this, "I could never homeschool because I can barely help my child with his or her homework each evening. It's like pulling teeth. I can't imagine doing that all day long."

And I actually agree. I wouldn't want to do it either. Who wants to try to convince a tired child who has already sat in school for 6+ hours to do yet more schoolwork? (You can probably already hear the bias in my tone and why it's probably just as well I am not a public school parent.) It's really a set-up for disaster. But it is also a false assumption to assume that what homeschooling looks like is anything similar to the regular night time battles over homework. Just because it is learning related and happens at home does not mean the two things are equivalent.

Let's start with the most obvious reason:  homeschoolers do not have homework. Ever. Our children have not sat in their desks for many hours and have not been assigned work to return in the morning. In our family, we do our work in the morning. Each child works at his or her own pace and when that child has done the day's assigned work, they are done. The rest of the day is pretty much their own. Since we don't allow TV or computers (usually) during the day, they often choose to fill their time with interesting things... reading, playing elaborate make-believe games, building things, running around outside, drawing or coloring, playing board games, or even helping me do things around the house. I've even had a child become so interested in the book work which he or she was doing that working ahead in that book was the afternoon's activity.

And let's talk about that book work. First I am getting the child at their best. That child has just had a good rest, a healthy breakfast, and is ready to engage his mind. Compare this with the homework situation. It is late in the day, after usually a full day of school and other activities, the child is both physically and mentally tired, and possibly hungry. The parent has also put in a full day and is also feeling the same way. It is much more difficult to make this a positive experience (for both parties) with the deck stacked against it in this way.

The fact that as a homeschooling parent I'm getting the best of my children's day instead of the dregs is actually one of the biggest reasons we chose to go this route so long ago. I know there are many reasons why people choose the educational choices they do for their children. I think it's wonderful that there are so many different families and that we live in a country where we do have the freedom to educate our children in the way that fits each family best. But as we're looking at arguments, let's make sure those arguments are valid and not some imagined reality that doesn't exist.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Some truths about homeschooling

First, an update on little L. She is doing much better, though her thumb is very swollen and tender. I am thankful she was able to sleep through the night and, unlike her sister, does not suck her thumb. When I commented to J. that at some point we were going to need to encourage her to move her hand and fingers on her left hand, she walked over to me to show she could (and would) move her fingers. Ever so slightly, and not her thumb, but she was willing to do it. I still don't know about that nail, though.

Now, on to the topic of the day... what homeschoolers actually do. I have had more than a couple of conversations in the past week with people either curious about homeschooling or because they made assumptions about homeschooling that I disagreed with. I thought perhaps it was time to talk about the realities of homeschooling for those of you who have ended up at my blog for reasons other than a shared homeschooling interest.

Because I live in the culture of homeschooling, I sometimes forget that not everyone really understands it or has even met a real, live homeschooler. Consequently I am surprised when opinions about homeschooling are expressed that are pretty much at odds with reality. So in the spirit of continuing education (and to help me clarify my ideas for conversations that seem to be becoming habitual), here is a brief primer of homeschooling.

1.  While there are exceptions to everything, what happens in most homeschooling homes does NOT look like public school. There's just no need. Classroom management practices were developed because 20-30+ children in a classroom behave differently than 1 or 2 (or in my case 9). My children are free to move around the house at will. I don't really care where they do their math and grammar lessons, as long as the lesson is getting done. I've had children do schoolwork in the tree house, on a bed, on the floor, at the kitchen table, and while jumping up and down. B.'s favorite place to study is in a patio chair in a sunny spot out in the yard where he can keep an eye on his vegetable gardens while he studies.

If you still need something to compare what we do to, think an old one room schoolhouse but without the rows of desks. I work with a small group of students while the other students do their work independently, and sometimes we all work together.

2.  We don't need to follow the public school schedule, and that schedule pertains to days of the week, hours of the day, and seasons of the year. While the homeschooling laws vary widely from state to state, in our state the requirements state that we must give instruction for a certain number of days in the year; it does not specify which days or which part of those days. We have learned during traditional school hours, in the evening, and on weekends. We also consider ourselves year 'round homeschoolers in that we don't stop learning during the summer. Because of this, we are pretty darn flexible in our schedule. A really nice day in spring? We can close our books and decide to play outside instead. Or, if we are really caught up in a topic, we can keep going past the hours we normally 'do school' because we set our own schedule.

3. Yes, my children have friends. In homeschooling circles the red herring of socialization is called the "S word", mainly because it is one of the first reasons the uninformed give against homeschooling while at the same time being the least supportable argument. I may claim to never leave my house, and don't if I can help it, but the sad truth is I do. And my older children who can get around town without my help get out even more. I find it is more difficult to rein in social outings and classes than it is to find them. At this moment, B. is helping to set up the sound system (which he will help run) for a concert this afternoon and A. has gone along to "socialize" and help where she can, and P. is off at a dance rehearsal to prepare for an upcoming performance.

Because my children find their circle of friends the way most adults do, through the activities they join, through the organizations to which they belong, and through the volunteer work they participate in, their circle of friends tends to be wide and diverse. They navigate through the 'real world' every day and are learning to function in it from an early age.

4.  Homeschooled children do get into college and they flourish there. And I don't have to rely on just the example of M. to prove it. I have had the privilege of knowing many young adults over the years who were homeschooled and who have completed college and are living productive and successful lives. It is a viable educational alternative, and no, I'm not ruining my children even if I can't teach them calculus. (That's what tutors and community colleges are for!) Besides by the time any child of mine would be ready for calculus, they would also have the skills necessary to find the instruction which they need. Just because we homeschool does not mean that I have to do everything all by myself.

So there you have an example of the questions I have been fielding recently. Each conversation usually has a couple of other unique questions, but it is inevitable that some variation of these top four will be asked. Now, please, before some of you hit the publish button on your comment, note that I am only talking about what homeschooling is, not what anything else is not. The danger of talking about the benefits of homeschooling is illustrated beautifully by a joke I once read (and have tried and tried to find who wrote it):

What Mother 1 says: "I homeschool my son."

What Mother 2 hears: "I have chosen the educationally superior path for my child, far better than the lackadaisical choice you have made where you ship your son off to any old place as long as he doesn't have to be around the house. I evidently love my son far more than you love yours."

What Mother 1 meant: "I homeschool my son."

And this pretty much sums up some of the miry ground we walk on when we talk about the benefits of homeschooling. It is a false assumption that if homeschooling is positive, then everything else must be negative. And really, all I wanted to say was that there are positive things about homeschooling.
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You can find my second post on this topic here:  A little more about homeschooling

Friday, May 11, 2012

Evil lawn chair

And here is a picture of the evil lawn chair.


And why is it evil, you ask? Because it attacked L. this morning. It is a beautiful day and everyone was playing happily outside while I was taking a phone call, when I hear the kind of crying and the yelling of, "Mommmmy!" that has the type of tone that make one run. Even me. I go out to find that somehow L. has gotten her left thumb trapped between the two narrow slats you see below. Yes, I know there isn't room for a thumb, even a little one, between those pieces of wood. And because there was no room for it, once it was there, the wood was not moving. At. All.



My children are excellent in a crisis. P. went to get B., while TM screamed for me and stayed with the frantic little girl while trying to hold the chair still as directed by P. I made it to the scene first, made an attempt to loosen her finger and yelled to B. about the importance of him coming immediately. I am so glad I have a very strong 16 year old son who was home, otherwise I am quite sure we would have been calling 911. I prayed and tried to gently pull L.'s thumb down while B. used brute strength to move the slats apart. The whole procedure probably took only a few seconds, but it felt much, much longer. When we finally freed her thumb, it was totally flat... really not the way a thumb should look.

I allowed myself a couple of moments of panic while I held and comforted her and then forced myself to be the grown-up again. We went inside and I called the pediatrician's office to see if I should bring her there or go to the ER. Thankfully, the doctor's office wanted us to bring her there, so we gave L. some pain reliever (the blood had started to flow back into her thumb and it began bleeding and I'm sure throbbing) and were off. I took P. with me so she could comfort L. on the way while I drove. It was terribly pathetic to hear G. wailing as her injured sister was being whisked away.

Long story short... L. was a trooper and she is going to be fine. We had x-rays taken which L. cooperated for beautifully (I'm sure the lollipop helped) and nothing is broken. Her thumb will be sore and turn all sorts of shades of purple and we need to keep an eye on it to be sure no infection sets in, but it will be fine. The doctor wasn't sure at this point if she will lose the nail or not, there is a small chance she will, but if she does it will grow back.

B. held down the fort while we were gone and put in a movie to distract the rather upset masses who stayed behind. L. was quite happy to join in the movie watching when we got home.



Evil lawn chair.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Spring is finally here and we can go outside

Going outside means that other people are outside as well. Evidently, in my neck of the woods it is not common to see so many (and it wasn't even all of them) children playing in the yard. It causes people to stop and ask questions. I don't really mind... I like meeting new people. It's just interesting. I have probably explained homeschooling and adoption to more people just by being out in the front yard than anywhere else. You know that feeling that most adolescents have that there is someone watching them all the time? Well, I'm beginning to suspect that in my case it's truly accurate. If it's not my children at home then it's other people when we're out. The only time I'm truly inconspicuous is when I'm out all by myself. No one suspects that I'm the odd woman who homeschools ten children and those ten children don't all match and includes little twins. (All of these items have garnered my comments and questions as I go about my life.)

And what was happening as we were outside enjoying this fine day? Well, TM and A. continued to work at learning how to do handstands.


TM has also taken it a step farther and can walk a bit on his hands as well. (Yeah, I know, still pictures don't really illustrate movement very well.) He's up to about 4 or 5 steps.


P. had a dance class at church, so I loaded the little girls into the stroller and walked her there (we only live four blocks away), taking K. and H. with me. K. may be small, but he is very strong and has developed quite a bit of endurance. He ran the whole way there and back, only pausing to wait for us at each corner. The beautiful thing of living with so many brothers and sisters is that H. is being exposed to so many possibilities. She was carefully watching K. as he bolted down the street and eventually decided to copy him. (There is also nothing like having a little brother or sister being able to do something an older child can't, to spur that child to action.) When we were in China, I saw H. run maybe two or three times and only a couple of steps when she did. The first time I saw her do any extended running was at the PT screening. Today was the first time I've seen her do extended running of her own volition. Would you believe that H. ran (it wasn't the fastest running I've seen, but it was RUNNING) the 1/2 mile home? The child who would get winded when we walked anywhere in China? Amazing. Truly amazing. God is good, He sets the lonely in families where they can blossom and flourish, just like the spring blooming around them.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Some days are like that

"That" being really not terrific... I have a sore throat and generally don't feel well, other children have been 'off', the house looks, um, lived in, and our schedule has been crazy today. So, instead of complaining (more) about my woes, I'll share some pictures and tell you about the appointment H. had with the plastic surgeon today.

First, a cute picture of L. and G.:


Then last Sunday, TM spent a long time playing with legos and building a very elaborate building for the legos out of books.






He really wanted to leave it up indefinitely, but people wanted to read the books and it was built in the middle of the upstairs hallway, so we compromised with taking a lot of pictures of it.

And now the doctor's appointment. We heard some very positive things. He (the plastic surgeon) really believes there is quite a bit that can be done to help H.  It will probably be a long-term process involving multiple surgeries and procedures, but in the end he was quite positive about it all. He also is not convinced that we are dealing with neurofibromatosis (NF). If it is not NF, this means that it is more likely the tumors can be removed, if not entirely than pretty close, and the likelihood of the tumors growing back is small. He believes that over time, the tumors, the nevi, and the abnormal bone structure can all be removed or improved. And I liked him and his staff. Our first assignment is to have a CT scan done and once he sees the results of that he will decide what the next step is. I thought I might feel overwhelmed after this visit, but I really don't. At least not by the doctor-stuff. My kitchen on the other hand...

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Frustration

Yesterday while I was on the radio, a mother called in to ask about how to deal with extreme frustration. I gave a couple of ideas, but after having had 24 hours to think about it, I actually now have a real answer. (I have no future in situations requiring a quick and thoughtful or quick and witty response... unless people are willing to wait around for a day or two. I should probably stick to writing where no one can see how long it takes me to work something out. Plus, I'm not good at short, as you probably already know.) On the slim chance that the caller found my blog (and for anyone else who deals with this), here's what I wish I would have said.

We all deal with frustration at one time or another and we've all watched our children deal with frustration. Or not dealt with it as the case may be. Webster's 1828 dictionary defines frustration as, "The act of frustrating; disappointment; defeat; as the frustration of one's attempt or design." There's a lot wrapped up in that short definition. At its core, though, we experience frustration when what we think about ourselves doesn't match our current reality.

It is easiest to understand frustration when observing it others, particularly our children. We've all watched it... a child trying to do something new and after repeated attempts becomes more and more frustrated. And we can watch the frustration kicking in as the attempts become wilder, less focused, while the child becomes angrier and more upset. In the child's head, he can see himself doing the new skill and at some point thought it would be easy. (This idea can occur when watching someone else who is skilled at the task and makes it look easy or when the child has no experience related to the task and thus no basis on which to form judgments.) As parents we realize that the only thing we can do to help our child at that moment is to have him take a break and do something different. I think it is a gift a parent can give a child to help him to recognize when frustration is getting the better of him and what to do in the face of it. Often after a break, I find the child's brain has had time to reorganize the new information and as a result the child is often much closer to accomplishing what they wish.

Frustration is pretty straight forward and relatively easy to deal with when it is our child learning to ride a bike or jump rope, but what about when we find ourselves experiencing frustration about things which we feel we can't just walk away from... parenting for instance? After years of experiencing frustration off and on in some form or another, I think the two examples are more alike than they are different.

First, we get it in our heads that parenting is easier for some people (everyone?) than it is for us. If that mother doesn't have to work at it, what is wrong with me that I am finding it such a challenge? We sabotage our parenting by beginning with unrealistic expectations. Other unrealistic expectations can come from what we "should" and "shouldn't" be doing. We think because we see another mother in one venue that we know what she does in another. We create a fantasy that has no basis in reality. I will add that blogs have added greatly to a mother's unrealistic expectations. In the blog world, the writer only shows what she wants you to see. Very few air all their dirty laundry and for those who do sometimes show a more realistic side, it is often still tempered. We all want to look good, so that is what we show.

(I am as guilty of this as anyone, and I will repeat that if you think I am perfect or somehow superior to you, you are very mistaken. I am just as human as anyone else, and if I am able to do anything well, it is not due to me, but because somehow God is able to work through all my imperfections.)

So, the first step in dealing with frustration is to examine what is at the root. Ask yourself, "What makes me frustrated?" Is it toys always strewn about the house? This was a source of frustration for me. I would ignore and remind, ignore and remind, until I had had enough and my head would figuratively explode. (My children may contest the idea it was figurative.) After many repetitions of this, I realized that it wasn't my children not picking up their toys, it was that it was too difficult for them to, combined with the fact that this was not an area that bothered them. Realizing what was really causing my frustration... too many toys and not enough structure to deal with them... helped in making me realize it wasn't actually my children I was frustrated with.

Just like we sometimes have to redirect a frustrated child to another, completely different, task, sometimes we parents have redirect ourselves. Now this is often a little trickier because mothers are not often able to just walk away from a frustrating situation... if we do, the frustrating situation may follow us. But we are the grown ups and as such have the capacities to act like one. If a situation is really frustrating, leaving and locking yourself in the bathroom (it's the only door that actually latches, much less locks around here) is sometimes necessary. It gives you that space to calm down and thus be able to think about the situation a little more clearly. Other times, you can sense the frustration level building and you can redirect the situation before meltdowns occur. If children are bickering more than usual, I find that if I can involve everyone in a group activity it stops the bickering. Reading a book together, getting out an activity that isn't always available, making cookies... that sort of thing. I know that sounds as though I'm suggesting rewarding poor behavior, but I'm not. I find that bickering escalates in direct correlation to how much attention my children feel I am giving them. Children aren't always able to understand why they feel a certain way, they just know they feel unsettled and act out. For my crew at least, bickering is not usually as much outright misbehavior as it is acting on feelings they don't understand.

The third step in the process is to go back, when there is time and when you are thinking clearly, to really examine what caused the frustration and what can be done about it. I know I find when I do this, what I thought was the cause of the frustration was actually merely the trigger and the actual cause was something else. I also find if I ask for God's wisdom in clarifying the problems, things become much clearer and that God also provides the solutions.

Don't think that any problem is too small. Remember my whole ironing epiphany? In the great scheme of things my pile of ironing was pretty silly, yet because it was always in the back of my mind and adding guilt to my life, it had become a big thing and I spent far more time on it than it really deserved. But it wasn't until I became so tired of being frustrated about the whole thing and handed it all over to God did I figure out how to solve the situation. You can't tell me that your problem is more trivial than my ironing pile. Just give it to God.

In solving my frustrations, I find that they are often the results of bad habits. Give yourself some grace as you do the hard work to break any habits that need to be changed. It won't happen overnight, but if you prayerfully work towards changing them, God will help you. It might help to enlist the aid of a friend who can help to hold you accountable.

So there's my not-so-short answer to frustration. We are all works in progress. Thanks be to God that he created us to be able to change.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Joyful Parenting


Nancy Turner from Moody Radio asked if I would put my outline from today's discussion on Joyful Parenting up here. Please ignore the weird formatting... bizarre things happen when one cuts and pastes from Word into Blogger.


A.      What is Joyful Parenting?
a.       Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit.  It is something we are to cultivate and its presence in our lives is indicative of the Holy Spirit living in us.
b.      Parenting, in my experience, serves as a spiritual discipline for cultivating the fruits of the Spirit
c.       Joy and happiness are not the same thing

B.      A joy filled home
a.       We often treat others, whom we don’t live with, better than those whom we do
                                                         i.      Example:  Unhappy mother who immediately changes her tone when she answers the phone
b.      Like it or not, as mothers we are often the ones who are responsible for setting the tone of our household
c.       Suggestions
                                                         i.      Are you smiling?
1.      I know I find that unless I’m consciously thinking about it, I don’t smile.  I wouldn’t want to live with someone who never smiled, why should I make my children?
                                                       ii.      Are you having fun?
1.      Schedule in fun if it doesn’t come naturally to you
2.      Be unexpected
a.       Did someone spill milk?  Start singing the “Everyone Makes Mistakes” song and move on
b.      Suddenly put on some music and dance around the house with your children
c.       Guaranteed laugh from your children?  Without warning, shout out the word “underwear!” at the dinner table
3.      Don’t take yourself (or life) too seriously
a.       Seriousness overinflates ones sense of importance and we’re not really in charge
b.      God’s in charge, He’s got it covered, and we know how the story ends… we can relax and let go a bit
c.       If you make a mistake, go ahead and laugh about it

C.      Practice thankfulness
a.       Discontent, the opposite of thankfulness, is a joy killer… be aware of discontent in your life and actively battle it
                                                         i.      Complaining about your circumstances is actually criticism of God
                                                       ii.      Joy can only be given by God and not by our circumstance or possessions
b.      It is something that needs to be practiced
                                                         i.      Counter cultural
                                                       ii.      Not a natural response
                                                     iii.      Is like a muscle that needs to be strengthened with repetition
c.       Rejoicing texts
                                                         i.      Well over 100 references to the word ‘rejoice’ in the Bible and it is often phrased as a command of something we are to do
                                                       ii.      We are to rejoice always and in all circumstances
d.      Play Pollyanna’s Glad Game
                                                     

D.     Have a long view
a.       How having two nearly raised children has impacted how I view my two toddlers
                                                         i.      It goes so fast
                                                       ii.      It’s why older adults always stop young, often frazzled, mothers in the store to tell them to appreciate every moment
1.      There will be a time when you look back and would give anything to have your grown children little again… even if those moments were the ones you didn’t particularly enjoy the first time around
                                                     iii.      It’s not always easy, but I am better at changing my focus
1.      I still don’t like exploding diapers or whining two year olds and it still makes me annoyed or impatient, but I have become better at realizing this is for a moment and appreciating what I have
2.      Just because you don’t enjoy something doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate it – having children to care for and the physical ability to do so – not everyone has been so blessed

E.      It’s not about you!
a.       It’s about God and how He has worked and is working in your life
b.      He wants us to turn to Him
                                                         i.      My recent practice has been to try to turn any frustration, concern, worry, bit of anger, etc. over to God as soon as I find myself focusing on it
1.      Consequently, I’m turning stuff over to Him all day long
                                                       ii.      Just like thankfulness, this awareness to not stew in our own juice, but instead let God take care of it takes repetitive practice
c.       Contributes to our joy because we are no longer responsible or in charge, God is!
d.      Our testimony is enlarged because we are allowing God to work in our lives

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Shoemaker's children

You know the story about the shoemaker who made shoes for everyone but his own family, right? That is always a bit how I've felt about my own children and piano lessons. I teach other people's children to play the piano, but teaching my own children often has fallen by the wayside.

Today, I woke up and decided to turn over a new leaf and begin piano lessons for my children (again). I was glad everyone was so excited when I announced the news, but also felt a little badly that this is something they are all (well, except for B.) interested in and something I can easily do, but just haven't.

The first step today was to figure out just where everyone was at. Some have had more actual instruction than others and some have taught themselves quite a bit, so it was a matter of matching books to ability. I will be teaching five of the ten. A. is much farther than I remembered and remembers more than I expected. P. and TM are of the 'teach myself' school, so I need to spend a little time filling in blanks that have been missed. D. started a long time ago, but it was too long ago for him to remember, so we are beginning again. And H. has loved to play on the piano since she came home and seems to be very musical, so I've shown her a few things. It's a bit trickier with H. because of the language differences and the fact she doesn't read. I will be teaching her things by rote for a while and not worry so much about reading music. She was thrilled to have something to 'really' play like everyone else.

My plan is to do lessons for them on Saturday mornings because I am already teaching and since I am still rebuilding my studio I have the time. I'll worry about coming up with plan B when I get more students.

I have to say part of all this is self-defense. My children need to learn new songs on the piano because I don't think I can take many more repetitions of the few they are currently playing.
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In unrelated news, I will be speaking with Nancy Turner on her program This is the Day on Moody radio on Monday, May 7 at 10am central time. You can listen online if you are interested and don't have it broadcast locally. I'll be speaking on the topic of joyful parenting.
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And I have a new picture of Joseph!


He needs a family you know. A mom and dad to love him. Before he loses that chance forever. Can you imagine turning 13 and knowing in one year your chance for a permanent family is gone? These children know what the facts are. He is going to watch friend after friend leave to join their families this year. Don't you want to be the one who offers this child hope and love?

Friday, May 04, 2012

God moments

Since I wrote about needing to find a therapist for TM and then about making the phone call, I haven't really written much about that on the blog. Having told the world that I was going to look for a therapist, I wanted to finish the story, mainly because it's a good God story.

God is faithful and listens to our cries. He certainly did that for me in my desperation to find help for my son. Having no idea where to start, I went to the website for the TCU Institute of Child Development because Dr. Karyn Purvis works there and I have a great respect for the work she does with children from hard places. I looked at their list of therapists who had trained with her and chose the closest one to me. (Close being a very relative term... it's an hour and a half away.) I called and made an appointment.

I am a little embarrassed to admit that this was a call done out of desperation and not one that I took the time to research. The number was on a list and so I called. I did look up the center and the therapist we would be seeing the night before I took my son, but it wouldn't exactly be called due diligence and certainly not the way I would suggest any sane person go about it.

But God is faithful and He takes care of us even when we can't take care of ourselves. In doing my pathetic research the night before, I found God had it all planned out. The center is a Christian counseling center with a strong Biblical statement of faith. Our therapist is a Christian (whose degree is from the same seminary as my father's) and who specializes in children with the exact needs and challenges as my son. She does play therapy with those children (even grade schoolers) who find it difficult to express themselves. And she has both adopted and biological children herself. If I had set about trying to find a therapist the 'right' way, this is the type of person I would have been looking for.

And the icing on the cake? The center takes our insurance.

So we went yesterday. TM was understandably nervous, but I bribed him with ice cream and we made it there. The therapist was wonderful and immediately put us both at ease... especially TM. In a situation where normally the anxiety would have been spilling out of him, he was as calm as I've ever seen him while we were chatting in her office. He has agreed to going back and talking with her (in her yet to be explored playroom) while I sit in the waiting room. In a way, he is eager to go.

Every time I tell someone about this, the tears start all over again. I am so thankful to have found someone who can help my son. I hadn't realized the extent to which this burden was crushing me and the relief I feel even before we have actually begun treatment, is immense.

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

I think sometimes we are heavy laden and don't even realize it. It feels so good to give those cares to Someone else.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Let's talk about something frivolous...

like hair, for instance. (I have an appointment with a child this afternoon that is making me rather distracted and need a diversion.) And of course, since I tend to over think things, I wonder if it is really a frivolous subject.

Over the past past six weeks, I have been waging a battle to change the part in H.'s hair to her non-affected side. (If you've ever changed a part, you know it can be done, but takes some time and effort to do.) Due to past surgeries, she has scarring where no hair grows. The trouble is that it is also the side that naturally wants to part. In doing this, I have questioned my motivations and what the tacit messages are that I may be sending to my daughter.

I certainly don't want her to feel I am embarrassed by her and want to cover up the affected part of her face, nor do I want her to think there is a need to cover anything up. But who among us doesn't want to look the best we can and make the most of what we have been given? I know (because she has told us through translators) that she does not like it when people stare at her. (Who would?) So, I have decided that the only thing I'm really communicating to my daughter is that I love her and want her to be able to look her best.

Here are the results so far. Her hair has grown some and so I'm also starting to trim some bangs. H. has to get used to a little longer bang. When I trimmed them and showed her, she indicated that she thought bangs should be two inches above the eyebrow. Um, I don't think so.



And some of G. and L. because when I spoke with my mother this morning, she pointed out that I had been pretty serious recently and had neglected to post pictures as a result. Here you go, Mom.

G. (who seems a bit obsessed with eye wear)

G.

G.

L. (who wouldn't turn around)

But gave a huge smile when A. moved around to L.'s front

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