Showing posts from March, 2013

Keep busy with these

This may be my last post until after the weekend. Blogging isn't quite making it to the top of the need to do list. You want to hear why? Well, tomorrow we are going to have a Seder dinner for Maundy Thursday. That involves quite a bit of work and it's one of the reasons I have been out shopping for half the day. Good Friday brings our church's Good Friday Family service in the morning. Saturday we will decorate eggs. Then, of course, we have Easter on Sunday with its own needed preparations. (And dresses... with none of them done yet.) And this year, K's birthday falls on Easter, so we will be celebrating on Monday. He wants a dinosaur cake. I'm quite glad that he has no specific idea of what a dinosaur cake is, so I can make it up on Monday and not think about it right now. It all seems a bit much and I'm glad a scheduled a second week of spring break so that I could enjoy a week off as well.

If you are interested in reading more of any of these things, I hav…

Why adopting an older child is a lot like living in a Monty Python sketch

J. pointed out that sometimes trying to communicate with H. is like living in our very own Monty Python movie... especially the scene above. It is frighteningly close to an actual conversation he had with her last night.

The morning routine for the past couple of months is that no one may get out of bed until J. turns the hallway light on in the morning. This is mainly for the littles and H. The second any of them hear someone up and about they come scampering out of their rooms wanting to be up and about. And since J. often wakes up early to try to get some studying done, having a heard of small, loud children running around insisting on breakfast is not terribly helpful.

He was saying good night and was about to shut the door when he said, "You can get up when I turn the lights on in the morning, H."

H: Right. When you turn the lights out.
J: No, when I turn them on.
H: Yes, when you turn the lights out.
J: No, on. See your lights are off. (Flips switch) Now they're o…


No, it's not Talk Like a Pirate Day. It's also not a day that gets a real post. You want to know why? I've been sewing like a fiend only to discover that the skirt is too short. Must go to Plan B which is going to take more time. Decide to finish my dress, but discover I'm out of hem tape. Then needed to drive for an hour and a half only to come home to finish dinner, eat, and then put everyone to bed.

If I were rolling in money, at this point I would shop online, pay exorbitant shipping fees, and be done.



At more than a few points this winter, it felt as though family life was kind of hanging by a thread. Either life felt too busy to get done what I wanted to accomplish or various children were in various states of crisis or there were just too many grey and cloudy days (OK, this was probably just my problem) or some combination of the above. And when those times happened, it was difficult to feel good about my parenting and/or homemaking because I was so busy thinking about all that wasn't happening.

While it's fine to have high standards for yourself and for your home, these cease to be a help and start to become a hindrance if they begin to cause so much guilt and self-loathing that it causes even less to be done. I know for me, it can start a wicked spiral if I lose all motivation to do anything because there is already so much I haven't done. It sort of feels as though there is so much to do, what's the point of doing anything. Of course this is just my overwhelmed…

Miscellaneous Friday

Fridays are history co-op days. The younger group met and were talking about Greek architecture and general architectural principles. For their hands-on project, they made marshmallow and toothpick sculptures (buildings? creations?). They enjoyed it, though they possibly enjoyed eating the marshmallows more. I discovered that TM had taken some pictures, so I thought I would share them with you. (I was safely knitting in another room at the time.)

P10 and M.Y. H-S
P5 and K. (They really are best buddies)
My children are now playing outside because it's spring. They don't seem to be bothered by the fact my thermometer says it's 34 degrees outside. I'm inside trying to pretend it's not 34 degrees outside. This is made a little easier by the fact my mother surprised me by over-nighting orange blossoms to me and they arrived this morning. I love the smell of orange blossoms. I've been carrying them around with me ever since they came.

Now a little house/blog kee…

Getting fit

Today is the Hearts at Home link-up and today's assigned topic is no more perfect bodies and I'm not sure what to write. And that's certainly not because I have a perfect body, let's just get that out of the way right now. Along with just about every woman in America, if asked, I could list more than a couple of things I dislike about my body and also assure you that it would be better if I could take off 5 or 10 pounds. But in reality, I don't spend a whole lot of time fixating on it. There are a couple of things I purposefully do to keep the obsession at bay. I don't own a scale. It's not because I can't afford one, it's because I will not let one in my house. I learned in college that it is far too easy to step on the scale first thing in the morning and let that number dictate what my day was going to be like. It was like living with a dictator. I decided it was far better to judge if I had had too many desserts by how my clothes were fitting. I…

Mouse stories

A friend of mine mentioned having trouble with mice every so often which led me to think about the many funny mice stories that I've collected over the years. Since everyone likes a good vermin story, especially one that takes place in someone else's house, I'm going to lighten the mood around here and share some of mine. Plus, writing about dead mice of the past seems nicer than writing about the recently dead and near dead gerbils of the present. (Why do we keep small rodents in tanks, I often wonder.)

All of my good mouse stories happened when we lived in the too small, but charming house. I don't know why it attracted mice like it did, but I can tell you I far prefer mice to raccoons. Just sayin'. At one point I know the problem was the pinata I stored in which was chocolate that I didn't know about. And mice really like chocolate. They like it so much that they can build an entire civilization in ones attic space and only when you go in for luggage you nev…

3 years, 9 months

This is the age the little girls turned a few days ago. You may wonder why I choose to mark this particular anniversary. On the face of it, it seems a bit random. Well, it's because this is the age that TM was when we adopted him. Consequently, I have been thinking a lot about this age and how I perceived him as opposed to how I perceive the little girls.

And my first thought is that they, G. and L., are so little. So little, yet so aware of everything. But even with this awareness, there is still so much they don't understand and the line between make-believe and reality is still so blurry. Three year olds definitely live within their own universe.

The trouble with this line of thinking is that in the end it just isn't fruitful. I can second guess myself until the cows come home and it won't make a lick of difference. No matter how much I wonder if I fully appreciated just how little TM was for such a momentous event to occur, I can't make it any different than it…

Playing with fabric

(You're excused from reading this post if you hear the words 'fabric' and 'sewing' and your mind completely shuts off. Kind of like mine does when I hear words having to do with math or other number-related professions.)
One of my ways of dealing with stress (other than extreme sleeping and watching mindless television shows thanks to Netflix) is to make things. This past weekend I have been doing a lot of sewing. Or doing the stuff I need to do to get ready to sew, such as washing and ironing fabric, tracing patterns, cutting things out, etc. The first thing I did was to nearly complete a dress for myself. I tried to take a picture, but it turned out too dreadful even by my questionable photographic standards. (No place to hang it, poor light, no dress form, etc.) When it's done maybe I'll take a picture of myself wearing it and show that to you. It's a wrap dress and I still need to add on a small v-shaped piece of fabric because it is so low cut as …

When life blows up

Deep breath. Where to start...

Well, the short story is that Wednesday was a really, really horrible day. Really. It began with H. at breakfast complaining of a headache which very quickly degenerated to a short, but intense bout of stomach flu. It was incredibly sad to watch the poor, miserable thing sitting in the chair holding the bowl in her lap with tears silently streaming down her face. She really doesn't like to be sick, not that any of us do, but it fills her with far more misery than anyone else I've ever known. Stroking her head, giving her hugs, telling her we love her and that she'll get better somehow just doesn't seem to be enough.

On top of that a certain boy I know continued to be pretty disregulated. He'd been this way for several days and I find it very draining and it does have the effect of setting the whole household a bit on edge. Sadly, this disregulation descended into a full-blown rage. A rage that caused me to have my older children phone…

Public service announcement

Thank you to everyone who prayed for us yesterday. We are all fine, but there is just too much for me to process at the moment so don't feel as though I can write about it.

In lieu of writing, I want to let all Illinois residents know about a bill about to go before the Adoption Reform Committee at 3pm (CDT). HB 1297 has been proposed and its main feature is that it seeks to remove the DCFS approval process from home studies written for international adoption. Having our home study approved by DCFS before being able to send it to the federal government for visa approval has been the absolute worst step of each adoption. (OK, maybe not K.'s... his whole adoption was long and tedious). I'm sure you all remember the saga of the four month approval process of our home study for H.'s adoption.  Anyway, this would be a very good thing.

There are five members of this committee. Please, if you are in IL, call these people and let them know that DCFS approval for these home stu…

One year ago

One year ago today, we were in China and "officially" meeting our new daughter, H., for the first time. It's been quite a year.

Some things I was prepared for, some things I wasn't. There are always so many unknowns in adoption, there is no way to prepared for it all. I knew H. would be delayed, I wasn't prepared for quite how delayed. I knew it would take me a while to attach to her, but each time I am surprised by the length of time this process takes. I knew she would have health issues, but had no idea what they would be exactly. And that pretty much sums it up. You know some things, but aren't even sure if what you know is really what is going on. Adoption is a huge leap of faith. Every time.

But this morning I was struck with just how far this girl has come in the past year. A year ago H. was happy to have a mommy and a daddy and a a sister. (She wasn't really sure she was happy to have a brother and the idea of an even bigger brother in the US, whe…

And I'm the mother of a 20 year old

Today is M.'s 20th birthday. Twenty! How did that happen? Her spring break also started yesterday, so we celebrated last night. We had bun cha for dinner (our very favorite Vietnamese dish, though it somehow seems wrong to eat it when you're not hot and sweaty). And then we sang and M. blew out her candles. She chose pie, so we were back to the hold-the-candle-thing. She didn't want to be 16 again, so A. held four candles. I don't know why four except that it seemed a good number.

And then because A. and M. are like that, there was a brief moment when A. wouldn't get close enough for M. to blow out the candles and M. started to chase her down.

P20 came to help celebrate.

It was cherry pie because that was the fruit which was on top when I went down to the freezer. (Interestingly, H. decided that she REALLY  didn't like cherries. P. happily volunteered to eat hers for her.) See what the pies say? M. is 20.

And then there were presents.

I have to say, when your…

Games for the whole family

Well, we are having a better day today. After my post yesterday, things went downhill again and I never did get to the grocery store, so I had to go today. (At least I didn't have to pick-up the Legos again... a blessing I don't take for granted.) I took TM and D. with me with the promise of lunch in return for going to four grocery stores. We ended with the Vietnamese market so stopped and had some pho at the diner next door. I've been going to the Vietnamese market a lot with TM these days because it is part of our 'all thing Vietnamese desensitization plan'. He loves it all, but it is a trigger, and his therapist thinks that more will help with that. So off we go at least once a week.

But because everything has all been a bit heavy this week and because one of the week's high points was playing games together, that is what I want to focus on. I have found that if the homeschooling is starting to drag a bit that taking a break and playing some games together …

The courage to get up in the morning

I had posted on a group of adoptive mothers last night that it had been a rotten evening and that I was at the point (again) of feeling as if we would never make progress with our son and that I had lost hope of experiencing a better existence with this child. Being in the place of feeling no hope is a miserable place to be. One of the other mothers wrote that 'these are the moments that we ask God to give us courage to get up in the morning... and He does." I love the phrase 'the courage to get up in the morning' because that is really what it is sometimes. A courageous act. And it can be tiring. This morning things are better, but I won't lie, I long for the day that I don't feel the need to hold my breath until I can discern what kind of attitude will confront me.

A friend recommended the book, Wounded Children Healing Homes: How Traumatized Children Impact Adoptive and Foster Families. As unbelievable as it may seem, this was a book on trauma and adoption …

Life with three year olds... a G. and L. update

Remember those days where every day you would be treated to new pictures of the little girls? Yeah, me too. Once babies reach the little girl stage, they don't seem to change so much and the daily pictures don't seem as vital. I can go an entire week or two without touching the camera. But even if I did take pictures daily, they would very likely look very similar to these. The costumes may change, but the essence is the same. 
These are from yesterday afternoon. This is G. in her giraffe costume. But it's a double costume because that is a Superman costume underneath. It's good to be prepared, you know. I think there was even a cape underneath there.

She was not the only one playing with trains, her two partners in crime were with her. Dressed appropriately, of course. Now I need to go piece by piece in describing L.'s outfit. You see, every night, I lay out clothes for both girls. While they are not matching outfits (I'm pretty low on twinny-stuff currently)…

Crying uncle... or commitment creep

This post is done in the spirit of full disclosure. I do have people who comment on how well I manage to keep it all together, and while I do for the most part, there are seasons where it is more difficult than others. This is one of those seasons, and because I don't want to be one of those people who are always smiling when in public and then break down at home, I thought I would share my current breakdown with all of you.

It's really nothing to be concerned about, but all comes of trying to do too much. It happens to the best of us. Plus, I know how to fix it. I just need to have fewer outside commitments. On the face of it, I don't have that many things I do outside my home and it should seem pretty doable. But I didn't take into account the season of life that I'm currently in. That season would be one where I have four to five emotionally, developmentally, or actual three-year-olds. A season which involves far more doctor's appointments than I usually hav…

Happy 15th Birthday, A.!

Today is my darling girl's 15th birthday, and true to form the weather is atrocious. We are having another snow storm and activities are being cancelled right and left. Someday we'll have to get back to Arizona so she can have nice weather on her birthday, the beginning of March just doesn't work for good weather here in the Midwest.

A. is such a great person... happy, bubbly, competent, compassionate, and just a lot of fun. I tell you, if you need your house or life organized, she's your go-to girl. She keeps me organized. (And really, if M. and A. decided to open up shop and start their own organizing business, they'd be unstoppable. Mmmm... maybe they should do that.)

We celebrated A.'s birthday on Sunday because M. could get away from school to join the celebration. Here are some pictures. You'll notice there are no pictures of present opening. That's because there were no presents to open. Before you feel too sorry for her, she had already received…

What a difference a year makes

On Saturday, we all went to the annual Tet party put on by our local Families with Children from Vietnam group. Well, all of us except J. He was driving home from Indianapolis and joined us in time for the lion dancers. Before I show you pictures, you want to hear about his crazy three days, from Thursday to Saturday? Staying home with 9 children was the easy part. He had a conference in Colorado Springs that he was presenting at on Friday, but the complicating factor was that he had an in-person class for his doctoral program on Saturday. In Indianapolis. So this is how he worked it out. On Thursday, he drove to Indianapolis, put the car in long-term parking at the airport and caught a flight to Denver. In Denver he rented a car and drove down to Colorado Springs. On Friday he spent the day at the conference, after which he drove back to Denver and caught a late flight to Indianapolis and spent the night. That put him in the correct city for his classes. They ended mid-afternoon and…

You want radical?

I've been thinking about this post for a while. Due to an article in the most recent Christianity Today combined with some comments from some young women I know, and more quality time with Legos have moved it to the top of the list for posting.

There is a part of me that really likes the group of books such as Radical which calls for Christians to stand out from the cultural norm in a noticeable and surprising way. It's a call, in essence, to put your money where your mouth is. Don't we all want to be so different, so transformed, that other people can't help to see Jesus shining through us? But the other part of me feels as though it is almost asking people to prove their commitment to Jesus. This paragraph, in the article, "Here Come the Radicals!" by Matthew Lee Anderson in the March 2013 issue, really struck me. It says,

"By contrast, there aren't many narratives of men who rise at 4 a.m. six days a week to toil away in a factory to support their…