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Showing posts from April, 2015

So why don't you?

Please, please, please, if you have not already done so, phone and email the senator's on the committee who will be hearing HB3079 next Tuesday. This is so important and they need to hear from everyone. This blog will wait, stop and do it now if you've been meaning to and haven't gotten around to it.

Ever since M. was a baby, I have had a lot of difficulty with the idea that God loves my children more than I do. How could that possibly be? I loved my children so much that I couldn't imagine anyone, even a sovereign, omniscient, loving God, loving them more. I can remember sitting in a Mom's Bible study at one point when M. and B. were little and we were talking about this very thing. That God loves our children more than we do and while we cannot keep them safe every single moment, He knows what is best for them and can do that. During the prayer time, I remember bursting into tears because while I could intellectually understand this, emotionally I just couldn'…

The best years

Call, call, call the senators who will be hearing HB 3079 in committee next week. They need to know people really care about this bill.

I was intrigued by a recent comment on my post about homemaking with toddlers. The commentor said that it is hard when you are in the middle of those years to hear from older moms about how these are the best years and it would go down a little easier if there was some commiseration before hand. I don't disagree. There have been many times when I have been talking with a mother a stage or two ahead of me and I feel as though that person must be suffering from amnesia about what parenting young children is really like. That being said, I'm pretty sure that I have never told a young mother to appreciate these years because they are the best.

A friend with twins asked me recently when it got easier. I had to stop and think for a moment. I thought about my incredibly inflexible child whom I also love madly. I thought about when both five year olds…

Too nice to be inside

Remember to write the senators on the committee who will be hearing HB 3079 next week. This is our chance to do something about IL very broken adoption system. Everyone needs to call and to write.

We are finally seeing the weather warm back up which is lovely. Well, lovely except for the fact that J. and I walked around outside yesterday and realized the amount of work we need to do on our yard. They're funny things, yards. If you ignore them they don't seem to keep themselves up and insist upon going to wrack an ruin. Normally we're OK with this state of things when it's just us. (Well, OK enough that we aren't compelled to do something about it... we complain enough about the state of our amongst ourselves.) But when there is other people involved, it becomes a different story. We're hosting two parties in the next two months here and we will be using the back yard. One of these parties is a large wedding rehearsal dinner and I just don't want shoddy to b…

Homemaking when life isn't perfect - life with babies and toddlers - part 3 of a series

When you wake up bright and early In your roasty toasty With your covers wrapped around you And your pillows on your head And you peek out at the morning That's a cozy kind of way To begin the cozy doings Of a very cozy day. ...
Sniff the air for cozy smells; Smell of flowers, fire, food Roses blooming Wood that's burning Bread that's baking They smell good! ...
Cozy places? Attics, cellars Closets, cupboards Nooks and crannies Halfway up or down the stair Underneath a chair or table Tucked behind a screen or curtain. --from The Cozy Book by Mary Ann Hoberman
This is one of my favorite books to read to children. I love how it makes me feel and it helps to remind me of what I want my children to experience. While this post can be stretched to apply to grade school age children as well, homemaking with this age doesn't feel as challenging as it can with babies and toddlers. 
When we are in a season of caring for little ones, I find it is helpful to keep before me an im…

Art Friday - Being Monet (or not)

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Remember to write and call the IL senators hearing the Adoption Reform Bill (HB 3079). It is so important that everyone contact the senators so we can help change the adoption laws in Illinois. I did speak with the Sen. Harmon's office staff today (he is now the bill's sponsor) and it looks as though the committee hearing will be postponed a week giving us more time to rally our forces. Keep sharing the information and encouraging people to call.

And now back to our regularly scheduled post.

For many years now, we have been doing picture studies as part of our homeschool curriculum. Each year we take an artist or two and spend time learning about him or her and looking carefully at some of that artist's paintings. Once we have looked at a painting, I then hang it up on the wires we have strung in the kitchen so people can keep looking at them. It is a great way to expose my children to art and the artists who create it. All of this became infinitely easier when I discovere…

HB 3079 is moving to the Senate... what you need to do right now

The good news is that last week the IL Adoption Reform bill passed the House unanimously. That is, in part, thanks to everyone who took the time to comment on the bill and contact their state legislator. We all did a great job! But now it is time to get back to work. HB 3079 has been assigned a Senate Committee and it will be heard (and voted on, I believe) on Tuesday. That gives us just three days to write emails and make phone calls.

I cannot stress how important this is. The truth is, the IL House passes over 1000 bills in the course the year, the Senate usually passes less than 200. The vast majority of bills never make it out of Senate committees. We absolutely cannot allow this bill to get lost. We need to fight for our families and for the children who need homes. We and many other families have lost valuable time with our children because of this unnecessary and costly requirement. A child does not have that many years to be a child, yet DCFS and the Intercountry Adoption Coor…

Let's revisit family dinners

I was part of a discussion a while back and someone asked how we manage to stay connected with our children, since we have more than a few of them. I thought about it and came to two conclusions. The first is since we homeschool, I get to see our children and interact with them for much of the day. But if a family doesn't homeschool, this isn't really a terribly helpful answer. The second conclusion was having a routine of eating dinner together every night.

I realize that more and more people struggle to share dinner all together as a family, but I would strongly encourage you to begin to create the habit. This is especially true if your children are younger. If you begin now, it will be easier to keep it going when the teen years (and their accompanying crazy schedules) hit. Of course, if your children are older, you can still start, it will just be a little trickier.

Why should you?

I'll share what I see as the positives. First, it provides a daily routine that children…

Listening to stories

The younger group around here have discovered the joys of listening to stories on CD. This is wonderful to me for a couple of reasons. First, many of them seem to have unlimited capacity for listening to stories and I have yet to reach a point in reading picture books to them where they grow tired of listening before I grow tired of reading. It just doesn't happen. They are insatiable. With them having discovered recorded stories, it saves my voice and gives me a little more free time. Plus, they have been listening a lot while I have been working with the middles in the morning during school.

The other reason I am excited is that it is just so good for their brains. Listening to a story without having pictures to go along with it is great for developing imaginations and attention. We have read a few chapter books to G. and L., but they haven't been quite as interested in them as in picture books and I haven't pushed it. I imagine once they have some more practice with rec…

How do you spell relief?

Evidently it is spelled, A-P-P-R-O-V-A-L. I feel like a new person. I have slept well for two nights in a row... something that had not been happening and I don't do well with enough sleep. I feel as though I can tackle the bills piling up on my desk, though I'm not looking forward to it. There is a good chance I might actually get to the loads and loads of unfolded laundry in my bedroom. And, I don't have to spend the majority of my day forcing myself to do my regular activities or reminding myself to relax my shoulders. (I tend to carry all my stress in shoulders as I find they get tenser and tenser and rise higher and higher when I am stressed.) I can breath and it feels good.

I would like to publicly thank a few people. First, I would like to thank Sen. Mark Kirk and his extremely responsive and kind office staff for advocating for us and our daughter. I would also like to thank our two agencies, Adoption Link (our home study agency) and CCAI (our placement agency). Bo…

For real this time

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Rainbows and Happy Trees

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Direct from Happy Bloggy Land, I present to you...
Rainbows...

and happy trees.

Because my children are always up for a craft even if its sole purpose to provide blog fodder for their mother.

Cheery aren't they?
Raise your hand if you know what children's book the title of this post references? It's from Russel Hoban's A Birthday for Frances. I think the Frances books are part of my short list of required picture books for children. Mr. Hoban managed to capture how children think and what they feel without it being cutesy or pandering. The other thing I love about these books is that the parents are actually parents. They are neither extraneous nor are they buffoons. Frances' mother and father are caring and loving. They allow their children to have adventures yet are always there to help out. And they are sometimes baffled... just like real parents. 
The quote comes from the conversation between Frances and her little sister, Gloria. It is going to be Gloria'…

Puppies and bunnies

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I promised, didn't I?

I can't quite produce a puppy, but how about a very puppy-like 2 1/2 year old Labrador named Gretel?





Do you see a bit of a theme here? There are many children in the house who think that Gretel's sole purpose it to be a large, droopy-eared doll who can be dressed up. I'm not sure she really loves it, but is very patient about the whole thing. She is getting much much better. (That would be the euphemism for getting easier to live with.) Gretel still has her areas for growth, though. Her least desirable habit is still her utter and complete conviction that the best way to get her favorite people to play with her is to stand at bark continuously at that person. We have yet to be able to communicate with her how not endearing this is. But she is maturing and is incredibly patient with all the children, so that is no small thing.

Bunnies are going to be just a little bit more difficult to produce at this time of year. If it were June, I would have no …

A teeny tiny bit of good news

I just heard that HB 3079 passed the IL House unanimously this afternoon. Next it's on to the senate, starting with committee and then going on to second and third readings and then a vote. It's good progress.

And now I'll stop here. We wouldn't want to be controversial or critical about anything. Maybe tomorrow I'll write about puppies and bunnies and the next day it will be rainbows and happy trees. I bet you all can't wait.

No news is just no news

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 62

Well, the only time the phone rang today was when solicitors called wanting me to change my electric provider or to take a survey or to donate something. Until we hear from DCFS, the blog may be a little sparse. I find it's better to just keep doing things instead of hitting refresh constantly hoping to hear some news. The whole hit-refresh-thing I did last week didn't really help anything and now my laundry is completely out of control, so I think I'll try something different this week.

Plus, the past couple of days we have had extremely nice weather and I have spent most of time outside soaking it up and watching the littles play... or sell lemonade... same thing. So for those of you looking for a post, don't worry if you don't see one, I'm just being avoidant and keeping busy. You can be sure I will let everyone know the second we have news.

In the meantime, here…

For connoisseurs of extreme heat

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Number of days we've lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 60

TM loves hot sauce. Really, really loves it. It is the rare spicy item that is too hot for him. We even travel with hot sauce because he often worries that where ever we are going won't have the appropriate level of heat. TM has been overjoyed to discover the entire shelf in our grocery store devoted to habanero hot sauces. He has been working his way through the vast variety of different types at about a bottle every two weeks. (He puts it on nearly everything.)

So, when I was at the store a week ago I picked him up a new one since I knew he was out. This is the one I picked.



It seems like a good choice, huh? Notice it specifically says not to play tricks on the weak and elderly.

TM seems pleased with my choice. I sit down to check email and I hear him opening it up to try some of it. The next thing I hear are rather panicked sounds and the words, "Wow! That's hot!" (O…

The importance of play

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 59 (Sigh... and it's the weekend.)

In order to distract myself, I've been diving into some research when I have spare moments. I have a large stack of books that are all tangentially related and have been dipping into them as time allows and as I come across them. The list includes Tools of the Mind: the Vygotskian approach to early childhood education by Elena Bodrova and Deborah Leong; The Play's the Thing: teachers' roles in children's play by Elizabeth Jones and Gretchen Reynolds; Distracted: the erosion of attention and the coming dark age by Maggie Jackson; and A Child's Work: the importance of fantasy play by Vivian Gussin Paley. They are all interesting, all rather connected, and I keep coming across the name Lev Vygotsky which is interesting.

I'm sure I will have much to say about this batch of reading when I'm all done and have thought about them some…

And the drama continues

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of Illinois: 58

Are you tired of hearing about our home study? I know I'm certainly tired of writing about it. Here's the latest.

I received a call from our placement agency asking our permission that they could share our Pre-Approval document for Tina. It seems that in the requests for more information which were the reasons our home study was sitting on the DCFS desk, our family size seems to be an issue.

Raise you hand if this surprises you.

Anyone?

Anyone?

Bueller?

Since we have too many children in the eyes of the state, DCFS contacted our home study agency who then had to contact our placement agency because... get this...

It would be laughable if it wasn't costing us precious time with our daughter.

They want to know, does China know how many children we have?

I'll pause here while you clean off you computers because I forgot to tell you to put down your beverage.

Evidently that agency which has…

I guess I forgot to say no backsies

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the incompetence of the state of Illinois: 57

You ready for this?

Because you know, I can't make this stuff up.

Sitting down?

Have you set your mug of coffee down?

J. answered the phone this morning to the bright and cheery news that DCFS essentially was saying to us, "Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah... just kidding!" Yes, in the Twilight Zone world we are currently inhabiting, when Sen. Kirk's office called DCFS yesterday and was told that our home study was approved and in the mail... it wasn't actually ours! It was someone else's. Our home study is sitting on the desk waiting for some supplemental information from our home study agency.

Can I just say I am totally not surprised? Like, I don't think my blood pressure has even risen a little bit. I guess a not-so-small part of me just couldn't believe it would be so easy. (Easy, of course, being a relative term.) Sometimes I don't enjoy bein…

The best phone call ever

(Please note that this is not the good news that it seems. We are still waiting. See the next day's post for clarification.

Yesterday, when I arrived home at 5:10, there was a message waiting for me from my contact in my senator's office. I had written asking for his office to intervene in the interminable wait to have our home study approved and I hoped it was good news. But the office closed at 5, so couldn't talk to the person who left the message.

Was our home study approve?

Was there going to be some more delay or requests for more information? (We had to submit a lot more documentation the last time.)

Were we going to be asked to change something? (We ended up changing quite a bit the last time, including the age of child we were approved for.)

It was almost too much to hope for that it would be approved without any drama. I had completely mixed expectations when I dialed the phone.

But....

Our home study is approved as of yesterday, with no changes or requests for i…

A few Easter pictures

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Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 55

Well, Easter actually happened yesterday. It seemed touch-and-go there for a day or so but, the tomb would still be empty whether everyone is prepared or not. It was also not one of those holidays where I felt compelled to take a lot of pictures and instead just enjoyed the time with my family. B. did grab the camera, so there are a few pictures to share with you. (M., P., and D. are missing because they were already at church... it seems we are the only family who can run sound, and it is M.'s payed job.)









I made this. Impressed? Don't be, it was pretty easy, especially when compared with...
H.'s dress which was far more work than it should have been. But it fits well and she likes it. (Here you can also see a post-op photo of her forehead. I'm far enough away that the suture lines aren't terribly visible, but they are still pretty evident when you are close.)
G. (on le…

Blogging when busy

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 53

Well, it just doesn't happen, blogging that is. You would think I would learn, because looking back through several year's worth of posts around Easter, it seems every year I'm surprised by this. Next year, maybe I'll just sign off somewhere around Tuesday of Holy Week and alleviate the guilt entirely. If I remember... which is not guaranteed.

Read these Easter related posts if you need to read something:

Good Friday for Children

Seder Dinner

Or, go and read this brand-new article that just got published.

Stretching Ourselves: Adoption Travel, part 1 of 2

Some birthday pictures

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Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 51
K. loved his birthday celebration yesterday. Here are some pictures.
A. and TM (You'll notice that our candle issues continue. No '9', but we did have a '6'. TM solved the problem by putting the '6' candle upside-down and holding another candle behind it.)

TM and K. (K. blew out his candle with great enthusiasm. I am just so happy I caught this moment on camera.)
It's not just candles, we have issues with wrappings as well, hence the princess bag. For some unknown reasons Gretel was particularly excited by the present opening.
Here is a cardboard Hulk that L. made for K. (with just a little help.)
And the Legos from Grammy and Grandpa that haven't been out of his hands since.