Showing posts from September, 2013

A wee bit obsessed with Burda 9614

Remember the t-shirts I made G. and L. with Superman and a panda embroidered on them? Well, I was so pleased with how they turned out that I decided to make another version of it with long sleeves. (The little girls are growing through their clothes and are in dire need of things that actually fit.) So I dug out my embarrassingly large stash of knit fabric and made this. (There are actually two of them, but L. took hers somewhere and I haven't found it yer.) 

Cute, huh? I love the fabric. But then they needed pants, so I tried making some leggings to match. I see a lot of leggings in their future because I was able to make two pairs, from tracing the pattern to the final hem in one afternoon.

And I'm a little proud of them. They look as good as the leggings I recently bought for the girls at the store, but with the fabric I already had, they were cheaper.

Well, then I was on a roll and I had yet more knit fabric, so I decided to try a different version. This one has a hood an…

Adventurous eaters

Several weeks ago, TM and I were in a local Vietnamese market and while browsing, saw packages of cooked, frozen clams for very little money. TM (who loves seafood in all forms) was instantly smitten by the little shells. As they weren't very expensive, I bought a pound and took them home where they sat in the freezer. Usually something like this would then be forgotten for months on end, except that a boy I know, when he is captured by an idea, is a wee bit preoccupied by it. In self-defense, I had to come up with a way to fix them. Thanks to my favorite Vietnamese cookbook, The Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table by Mai Pham, I found what I thought was a solution. It was a recipe for mussels in a lemongrass broth, but it said you could use clams as well.

The other thing that has been going on around here is a cooking bug that has infected several children. I have had numerous requests that each of them be allowed to cook dinner. (Shame, isn't it? You probably couldn't cloc…

Aunt Frances

Yesterday I managed to sneak up to my bedroom and do a little sewing. (I have several things I've made which I want to share... just have to take pictures.) While I was doing so I had the radio on and was listening to Chris Fabry's program. There was a discussion about an email he received discussing how best to love and support a child who has had a disappointment or crisis. The biggest hang-up the responding listeners had was with the use of the word 'wallow' in the email. As in, we shouldn't let our children wallow in their problems. It was seen as terribly uncaring and unloving.

I disagree. Sometimes allowing our children to wallow in their disappointments and problems is the opposite of loving. Here is an excerpt from the letter I wrote to Chris Fabry this morning. I only have the time or energy to do so much critical thinking in a day, thus the double-dipping. (Lorraine was the writer of the email under discussion.)

I thought Lorraine's comments were well …

Impromptu field trip

There are some mornings when you wake up and the sun is shining and the weather is pleasant. There are also some mornings when before 9 am has even arrived multiple children have either disregulated or melted down. These are the mornings when you know you just need to cancel school and go to the zoo. A change of scene, being outdoors, using lots of energy is just what is needed. This is exactly what we did this morning.

We had a lovely time. The zoo wasn't too crowded, the weather wonderful, the children re-regulated. Ahhh... We only missed seeing the brand-new baby rhino because he was napping that the keepers couldn't get him to wake up and come outside. It was even empty enough that I was willing to take the crew to the children's zoo to climb on the huge play structure. (Which always strikes me as a claustrophobic nightmare when too crowded.) After two and a half hours, we headed home in time for a late lunch. It was a good day. Far better than it would have been had I…

Can I write this?

A friend on facebook caught the error that I titled yesterday's post about apple picking with the year '2014'. That pretty much sums up how I feel about 2013; I'm ready to see its backside. It's been a year of some pretty tough stuff. I won't lie, nearly all of it has all been trauma/adoption related. It hasn't been easy. There have been some times when I wonder if we had made a mistake. There have been times when I wonder if I can still advocate for families to pursue adoption knowing what I know. There have been times when I want to just get a giant redo and pretend this whole crazy adventure never happened. It has been that hard. The hardest thing I've ever done.
This morning when I saw that No Greater Joy Mom was having a link-up about the blessings of adoption, I wondered if I was at a point where I could say that adoption is a blessing. Sometimes in the midst of struggles it is difficult to see clearly what is really happening. Hind site brings a …

Apple picking 2013

Saturday morning we all piled in the van and drove to Michigan to pick apples, meeting our friends the P family and the H-S family at the orchard. We had beautiful weather, though it did turn a little chilly later in the day. Because it takes approximately 10 minutes for 14 people to pick 3 bushels of apples, we had planned to drive to a park and picnic afterwards to make the drive a little more worthwhile. It was a good day.
Some pictures:
P8 and D.
G. (Admire the outfit... she chose it herself. I think the polka dot knee socks are the crowning touch. My younger self would have never let her leave the house in it.)
J. and G.
TM, clearly saying, "Why are you taking my picture, we're just picking these apples."
A. H-S, P14, A., and P.
Some of our college girls were able to join us... M. and AL H-S
L. and B. spent a lot of time together. Since L. had new sneakers, she wanted to run and B. was happy to join her. (She announced that her new sneakers make her faster…

Mid-Autumn Moon Festival - a day late

It was a crazy day which began with no internet and too much pee, thus, no blog post. Here is what I was planning on sharing this morning.
Last Friday night we celebrated the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival with our good friends the P Family and the H-S Family. Technically, it was Thursday, but Friday fit better with everyone's schedules, so that's what we did. The rain held off, though we didn't get to see the moon.
A. helping to light lanterns
Some of the littles
Some of the middles
More middles
A. and P14
Best buddies (that would be K. and P5 on the right)
Randomness (that's D.)
Moon Cakes! Our assortment had pineapple (my favorite), bean paste, and salted egg. (The salted egg was not the most popular,except with A.)
H. H-S, P17, and B.
I also have a new article up on politics and homeschooling.

K. post-op update

K. had his first post-op appointment this morning. The repair looks really good, particularly now that the surgical tape and crusty blood stuff has been cleaned off. Even though it is still healing, I think it looks better than it did pre-revision. He always had a very slight raise to his upper lip where the small scar pulled it up a bit. It wasn't very noticeable, but it was there. Now, his upper lip has no pull at all. I think by the time it fully heals and we do the scar massage, no one will know it was ever repaired. His nose looks a lot more even as well. Everyone is very happy with it and K. is quite relieved to have the surgi-tape off.

I was glancing at the post-visit report that was handed to me after the visit and they always include a "problem list" (I think they could come with a better name), and while I know everything on the list, to see it all written out was a little jolting. (This is a health system-thing, not something unique to the plastic surgeon.) Th…

Simplicity parenting

I've been noticing a trend (probably it isn't recent, but I'm slow to catch up), particularly among homeschoolers, to promote simplicity in the home. Now, in general, I'm really not opposed to this. We all live with too much stuff, too much clutter, too many activities, too much noise... just too much. It's not a bad thing to want to remove the distractions to what is really important.

We actually live a pretty simple life ourselves. We don't sign our children up for endless activities; they have a lot of free time during the day. We don't have the newest in electronic gadgets. We do have enforced times of quiet in our home. I still have too much stuff, though. But even given all of this, my life doesn't feel simple. Some days it feels anything but.

I don't know about you, but when I think of simple, I think of peace and quiet and calm. I think of long uninterrupted times of being able to pursue interests. I think of quiet cups of tea with a good bo…

And one windmill down

If you have been reading here for any length of time, you know that I am engaging in a little one-woman crusade against family policies which aren't. The Shedd Aquarium has been the main target of my annoyance for quite some time based on the fact that they considered a family to be two adults and no more than four children (each additional child was charged an additional fine fee.)

Well, a good friend called to tell me this morning that she opened up the membership mailing which came to her in the mail to see if they had changed their policy... and they had! A family membership to the Shedd Aquarium now includes two adults and ALL children under the age of 18. Can you believe it? I hardly can, but am thrilled at the change. It's just good business in my opinion.

(And I am in no way so delusional to think that my constant rantings had anything to do with it. I don't have a big enough readership and they never really acknowledged my letters... ever. But that's OK. I'…

Update on the work boxes

We've been at our new school schedule for two weeks. Well, sort of two weeks because we took the end of last week off due to K.'s surgery. In general things are going well, though my tip for the day is do not plan an involved craft for a Monday, and particularly not a Monday after a four day break. It's just not pretty. Crafts work much better it seems once everyone gets back in the school routine for the week. I think this is why Fridays work so much better. Boy, it was ugly yesterday.

But that's not really what I sat down to write about. Work boxes (or at least our version of them) is really the topic of the day. I had mentioned in my excruciatingly detailed post about our school plans that I was trying something new with TM this year and that was going to be the work box system. Since ever that seemed possibly too overwhelming for the boy, I modified it quite a bit. He has a hanging file box where there are four hanging files. Each day I fill the four file folders w…

A little Sunday afternoon outing

P. and I had a little mother-daughter excursion this weekend and here is where we went:

What?! You don't go on mother-daughter outings with your 13 year old to the (not-so-local) tattoo and piercing business? OK, here's the story. Thirteen is the age we have decided that our daughters may get their ears pierced if they so desire. P. wasn't so sure she cared about getting her ear lobes pierced, but really wanted to get her cartilage pierced like her big sister M. Of course my knee jerk reaction was, "No way!" After J. and I talked about it, we decided that there seemed to be very little difference between two holes on the bottom of the ear and one hole up toward the top, so we agreed.

On consulting with M., she pointed out that if P. was going to have her cartilage pierced, that we should really go to someplace where they knew what they were doing. "Did we really want some clueless teenage girl at the mall, armed with whatever pokey stick they had given her,…

Some links and comments

Do you know how difficult it can be to come up with something to write about each day... especially if I want to avoid writing about how many loads of laundry I have (or haven't) done? My life just isn't that interesting much of the time. Or it is too interesting yet none of it is available for public airing, and I can't write about it. Which leaves me with sharing links to other stuff.

First, I'm sure many of you saw some variation of the Reuters article on underground adoption 'rehoming'. I hadn't commented on it, but while the results are horrendous, what the writers missed was the reason why the practice started in the first place. That would be, in my humble opinion, a combination of woefully unprepared parents, extremely hurt and traumatized children, and very little, if any support available post-adoption. We are all capable of horrible actions if pushed far enough. I thought this joint response from the Attachment and Trauma Network, Attach-China In…

Hilarity in pre-op

K. did just fine yesterday and we are all back home and in recovery mode. Not long after I wrote yesterday's post, the hospital called and asked in we could come in early. So we quickly scrambled to get ready and out the door and managed to get up to the hospital fairly close to when they wanted.

We got all checked in and settled in one of the prep rooms. K. looked at the books and various nurses came in and asked the questions they needed to ask. The staff was great. K. had brought two stuffed animals and a blanket and by the time we were taken to pre-op, K.'s friends were sporting ID bands to match his, the dog also had a surgical mask and hat, and the cow had a band-aid affixed to his ear where he had a small tear.

And then we waited and waited and waited. It turns out the surgeon's previous patient ended up taking much longer than he anticipated and K. didn't actually go into surgery until 3pm. But that does not mean we were not without a little entertainment durin…


K.'s surgery isn't scheduled until 2:30 this afternoon which means that we don't need to be at the hospital until 1. This also means that I have a household of wiggy children with no definite plan who are just waiting, waiting, waiting until they can either a) go and play with friends or b) go to the hospital while not getting any food to eat. Fun times.

His surgery is only supposed to take about an hour and I will post an update when we have news. If we all survive that long. At this point in the morning, the surgery seems like the easy part, frankly. Thanks for praying.

Also, if you could say a prayer for HG. I can't share what she needs, but God knows.

And some birthday pictures

It was pointed out that it was slightly ironic that in a blog post moaning about the lack of pictures from P.'s first few days that I didn't post any pictures of her at 13. Well, the child is difficult to get a photo of. Like many of my children, she is going through a camera-aversion phase (if something that lasts many years can be a phase). I did get some last night when we celebrated her birthday.
M. and B. were able to join us which made the party more fun (and loud). Here are some pictures.

You know our continuing difficulty with people not choosing cake for dessert and having no place for candles (plus, often, just a lack of candles). Well, M. solved that for me by find three candles that added up to 13.

Just about to blow her candles. 
This is G. Attractive, huh? B. had the camera and asked her to make a funny face.
A nice picture of D.

This is P. doing a great job of looking excited for the sake of her sister after opening this present. To really understand, you have …

Happy 13th Birthday, P.!

Today P. turns 13. It has been wonderful watching this child grow and mature over the past year. Always one of my more quiet children, P. is gaining self-confidence and a real sense of self. It's lovely to watch. P. is also my extreme horse lover. Along with the weekly riding lessons from her grandmother, she is plowing through the horse curriculum I found for her and loving it. I so enjoy watching a child energetically pursue an interest.

I realize that I don't think I've ever shared the story of P.'s birth here. It's actually a parental cautionary tale with a happy ending. Everything about my pregnancy with her was fine and we weren't expecting any complications... I even went into labor on my due date, something that the previous three had failed to do (they were each 2+ weeks late). So we were weren't prepared for P. to be rushed off to NICU after she was born with only a brief moment to hold and kiss her. There was meconium present when she was born, b…

But no chicks with bricks


Fox in box.

Fox. Box. Shocks. Shocks the socks off people who walk in the front door. Who expects to see a fox without socks in a box?
This is our newest item that we checked out from the Harris Loan Center. He has startled more than a few people as they walk in the door and see him staring at them. G. likes him because he doesn't move. I need to remember to take the van when I go for Harris Loan items; he barely fit in the car (I had the small one) when we brought him home. It was a good thing we didn't decide to bring something bigger.

New job schedules

Really, what I am going to write is the lack of a new job schedule. We are still marginally operating on the one I made last fall, but it doesn't really work because I have new people in the house and am missing others that are usually here. The jobs really need to be reassigned and I am putting it off.

Why? Well, first of all, it is just not my favorite thing in the world to do. Second, I have this over-abundance of little people plus a few bigger people who function at a young level. None of that is conducive to actually being able to get the house clean. At least not without a lot of supervision. And since I still haven't figured out how to clone myself, I can only help one small person at a time.

So I am avoiding the whole problem by not doing it, which is not a great solution for the skill development of my smaller people or for the state of my house. But it does solve the problem of listening to the whining when people are assigned a job they do not care for.

I guess tha…

Volo Bog

I'm back to blogging today because I can breath again. Sometimes parenting, particularly parenting children who have suffered trauma, sends you down roads that you never wanted to travel. It has certainly not been one of the better weeks of my life. Thanks to those who were praying for us. 
Even in the midst of yuckiness, God takes care of us. One of those ways was to give us an absolutely beautiful day with good friends at Volo Bog. It is the only open water quaking bog in Illinois. The weather was gorgeous; sunny, but not too hot. Just lovely.
Here are some of the children on the floating platform that overlooks the open water section of the bog. That would be D. in front.

Here are some other views of the bog.

Here you can see the boardwalk as it continues back into the tamarack forest.

Almost the whole group of children.

Some little people... okay, L... didn't want to be in the group picture.

Little girls together.

This was a great view of what makes a bog a bog. The plant…