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Showing posts from March, 2015

Happy 9th Birthday, K.!

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Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 50 (Ugh!)

Today is K.'s 9th birthday. If you know him in real life, you probably already know that, though, because he has been telling us and everyone he sees that today is his birthday for a while now. Let's just say he is a little bit enthusiastic about the whole thing. Actually, K. is enthusiastic about nearly everything that interests him. There is very little half-way with the boy. His current loves continue to be the Hulk, cars, Legos, and St. Bernards. This is a lovely diversification from his years long obsession with all things Cars. An all-consuming interest I never thought would abate.

K. continues to make great strides and the two years' worth of delays he accumulated while sitting in the orphanage become less and less noticeable. He is just such a happy, bouncy, energetic, loving boy and I can't imagine life without him. To remember how little this guy was, take …

Unifix cubes to the rescue

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 49

Today H. had another breakthrough with numbers. Before you can really understand the magnitude of her accomplishment, you first have to understand where she started. When she joined our family at the age of 9, she could count to 20 (by the end of our stay in China), and could write her numbers (in Arabic numerals) to 20. The problem was, that it was all done by rote, and just like 'lmnop' gets lumped into one long letter by little children singing the Alphabet Song, in H.'s mind the numbers 1-20 were one long string that you said in order and had no bearing on real life other than 2 must follow 1, and 3 must follow 2, and so on and so on. The first two years she was home we spent working with preschool number manipulatives in order to tease apart the numbers and give her some understanding of what each of them meant. We counted and counted and counted everything we could find. …

Homemaking when Life isn't Perfect -- when you are drowning in stuff -- part 2 of a series

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 47

In the first part of the series, I introduced the idea that we are never going to live a perfect life and our homemaking is going to reflect that. So often our tendency is to wait until things get better to really live our lives. We need to accept our imperfections and move on.

Does that mean that we need to turn belly up and not do anything, though? No, of course not. It just means that the perfect circumstances for really living how you want to live will never happen. We may never have the perfect circumstances, but we can still do something about our environment if it is making us unhappy, and remember the first step is determining what is making your unhappy.

I would venture to guess, based on my own experience and my completely unscientific study of talking with friends and reading facebook, is that 99.9% of what makes people unhappy with their environment is that it is too cluttered …

Spur of the moment art project

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Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 46 (and now it is after 5 pm on Friday... so the number will climb even higher.)

It's not a good thing to wake-up with a houseful of children and not have a plan for the day. Our schedule has been a little off this week and I need to spend some time moving things around so I can get everything to fit right. But this meant that I wasn't ready for whatever I had originally planned for this morning and it probably wouldn't have made sense with what we did manage to get to this week anyway. It has also been quite some time since we had done an art project and people were feeling a little out of sorts about that.

This is all why I found myself on an emergency run to the local art store to pick-up some supplies. I had quickly scrolled through my Pinterest pages to see what we could do on the spur of the moment and what I had supplies for. Do not do this with a little girl at your elbow …

Now I can get back to being productive

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Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 45

To say I've been a bit distracted this week would be an understatement. I've just been finding it a wee bit difficult to focus. But, I have some good news to share with everyone. HB 3079 unanimously passed in committee and will now be sent off to the House for a second reading. It's just one of many steps, but it is moving forward and that is very good news.

Now, for a little civics lesson. I wasn't sure what happens next and I'm pretty sure there are a lot of others who aren't sure, either. Most of us know vaguely that bills go before house and senate and then get signed into law. (You may now start softly singing to yourself, "I'm just a bill...) Well, just like the song, we have a long way to go. Out of a possible 19 steps, we have just completed step 6. Here's a list of the steps if you want to see it all written out. The short story is, I sure hope…

Children and Play: a reading list

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 44 (Don't forget to voice your opinion on the adoption reform bill before tomorrow. They need to hear from every single one of us to really understand the far reaching consequences of their policies.)

A reader asked me for my reading list of books on the topic of children and play. You know I'm always happy to supply lists of books for you. Once again, this is not a definitive list, but a result of my own idiosyncratic reading. Plus, my tip for the day is that if you look a book up on Amazon that you have enjoyed, I find the lists of books a little lower on the page with books other customers bought who looked at that specific book to be very useful. (Remember, the links for each of these books go through my Amazon Associates account, the only form of advertising I let on my blog. I receive a little amount from each item ordered through these links. Thank you... it helps support my re…

How to Homeschool : a slightly irreverent guide

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 43 (Don't forget to voice your opinion on the adoption reform bill before Thursday.)

I received this question from a reader:

"My son is about to be 2 and I have another one on the way. I really want to homeschool but don't know exactly where to start. What age should I try to start teaching him stuff and what kind of curriculum do you use? Where do you buy it? How do you know they are learning everything they need to know and you're covering all subjects and all your bases? Have you ever looked into online homeschooling or do you use textbooks?"

Since I'm always on the lookout for things to write about and because I thought my answers might be of broader interest, I decided to answer this on the blog.

Dear Reader,

I know the idea of homeschooling can seem overwhelming at first, but it doesn't need to be. While it is good to look ahead and be prepared, my best adv…

IL Adoption Reform Bill HB 3079 and what you can do

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 42
As I mentioned on Saturday, there is now an adoption reform bill that has been drafted and has now been amended to include the removal of the Intercountry Adoption Coordinator's position and the corresponding need to have home studies written for international adoption be approved at the state level. You can read the full text of the HB 3079 yourself and if you want to see the amendment, click on the link up at the top of the page of the full text that says 'amendment 001'. 
Please if you care about children being able to join their families sooner and removing the salary of an unnecessary position at the state level as well as the ability for the person in that position to harass families, take the time to make your opinion heard. You only need to be a voting citizen of Illinois to do this.
The first thing that everyone needs to do is complete a witness slip before Thursday, M…

Scenes from Saturday

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 40

Let's see, so far today...

I've taught some piano lessons.

Children have completed (or are completing) their Saturday cleaning jobs.

J. took little people to Union Station to pick up M. who is arriving home.

A. bleached her hair.

D. is practicing piano.

H. had a seizure. (Dang)

A. went off with TM and some electric clippers to do something to his head.

P. is at the library.

And I have been spending quality time with my computer trying to figure out how to give written testimony to the IL General Assembly via their witness slip program.

Pretty much a normal Saturday around here.

So what it this General Assembly thing I'm talking about? Well, our phone calls have been paying off I guess. There is an adoption reform bill before the IL House and an amendment has recently been added which removes the Intercountry Adoption Coordinator's position and the need to have state approva…

Homemaking when life isn't perfect - part 1 of a series

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 39

I've been thinking about doing a series like this for a good long while now. I think this is mainly because I write what I need to hear and I write to process what is happening in my life (you just get to listen in) and this is where a lot of my thinking has been.

It is so easy to equate good homemaking with calm, peace, and perfection, even if you don't harbor secret ambitions of outdoing Martha Stewart. But how often does life allow us extended periods of calm, peace, and perfection? I don't know about yours, but mine happen extremely infrequently. Does this mean I am not a good homemaker? Because this state happens so infrequently, is 'good homemaking' even a goal we should have? Is it too archaic and outdated? Or what if you are parenting difficult children or medically needy children... is it possible to make a good home under these circumstances?

These are the que…

Grumble, grumble

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 38

That number alone should tell you why I feel like grumbling. Do you realize that if we lived in another state we could have already received our immigration approval and I could be taking the train downtown and getting everything notarized and authenticated? That we could be expecting our dossier to be logged-in to the system in the next couple of weeks and could possible be travelling to bring our daughter home in September?

But we're not. And I have no idea at all what kind of time frame we are actually looking at. In some ways the unknowns are the worst, though I'm not sure I would really want to know if we have six more weeks to wait for our homestudy to be approved.

Grumble, grumble, grumble.

So that combined with the fact that the past two weeks have been very busy with not a lot of margin, means that I'm running on empty which is never good. It means I have no reserves t…

Radio silence

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 36

I'm back from driving six hours to return my nieces to their parents (my brother and sister-in-law). We had a wonderful visit and I think everyone had fun. L. had a bit of a difficult time in the car on the way home. At one point she started crying so I asked her what was wrong, "I miss [cousins]!" she wailed. Upon returning home she had already written one letter which I am to send, and I have a feeling there will be many more to follow.

But I'm beat. J. is putting small children to bed, I'm going to find a book and some pajamas and call it a day.

Playing tourist... or our first glimpse of Maggie Daley Park

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Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 35 (We've now lost more than a month.)
When it's the middle of March, you have cousins in town, and the thermometer says 70 degrees (after a month of being colder than Alaska), what do you do? You don't spend it inside, that's for sure. We decided to go downtown and play tourist and show our nieces a little of the city. 
First we went to Millennium Park. Here are many of us on the bridge which crosses Monroe from the Art Institute to the park. The bridge is heated which is great if there is snow and ice, but felt a little odd on such a warm day.

This was a common sight. The little girls adore their big cousin.
Then it was time to go visit The Bean (or whatever its official name is). Because you can't really visit Chicago without seeing it, can you?
K. 
K. and G.
And then the requisite group photo in front of it. When I looked at this picture after we got home, I realized …

The demise of the balloon family

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Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 33

Last week, while I was at the stable, B. was the fun big  brother and took the littles to the store to buy balloons for M.'s birthday celebration. This was very nice of him and the littles love balloons. See? Here are some pictures from the party.

OK, not balloon-related, but this is what it took to get to '22' with the candles.
Here are the balloons. Do you see them all over?

M., L., and A.
More balloons...

These are snowmen stick puppets which L. made for M.
And more balloons. So many balloons they fly in front of the picture


Just because the party ends, does not mean balloon fun has to end. Static electricity, particularly when combined with a patient Labrador is fun, too.



I'm not sure Gretel is having a great time, though.

But that is not all. You'll notice that some of the balloons have marker on them. That is because G. and L. have used the markers to draw faces o…

Look who came home with me

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Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 32

Today's list of accomplishments:

Made the week's menu and did the week's grocery shoppingMade dinnerDrove to Iowa and backServed dinner to 9 people But it's all fun and worth it because I get to spend a long weekend with two of my nieces.
That's A. and P. in the middle and my nieces on the ends
Does the photo seem a bit odd to you (as far as how they are sitting)? That's because these silly girls got it in their heads that they needed to recreate a photo of them from 2006.

I told them to stop growing up, but do they listen?