Showing posts from May, 2015

Good-bye velociraptors

It's one of those life moments that just sneak up on you and feels both like less a deal than you thought, and more a deal. M. is in the process of moving out to her new apartment in the city which she'll be sharing with three other friends. (So, yes, she is feeling much better, though really, really hates the lifting limits.) This was supposed to happen earlier this week, but her appendix had other ideas.

All this morning, she has coerced siblings to help her move, carrying things to the van, driving the van, carrying things into her new apartment. I think she plans on being moved in enough to sleep there tonight. It seems we have an official grown-up on our hands.

It's weird.

And wonderful.

And weird.

And I'm not quite sure what to make of it all. We are quite blessed that she is really just 25 or minutes away and will see her often. But this is different from moving onto campus, this is really moving out.


I'm not quite sure how this happened. I'm exci…

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or why D. has purple hair

Tonight is the opening for Thin Ice Theater's production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. D. is playing Willy Wonka and he is very, very excited about it. (Even better, his grandparents have flown in to see him.) He even got to color his hair purple for the part, though I don't think he ever takes off his hat so that the audience can admire it. Here are some pictures from the dress rehearsal. You can also see some of the red doors that M. created... before the little bout of appendicitis. That was one of the frustrations about the whole thing, was that she was supposed to finish making and painting the set. C'est la vie.

Just a quick update

I didn't want to leave anyone hanging. I was able to bring M. home this morning... almost 24 hours later than anyone had hoped. They just couldn't get her pain and nausea under control. It was particularly disappointing last night when she was in a wheelchair, ready to leave, when the nausea  and pain kicked in again and everyone decided that going home wasn't a good idea. But now she's here and doing much better. We'll baby her for a bit before she moves into her apartment.

I don't really mind that part at all.

Emergency surgery

Just in case anyone was feeling as though life here in the Big Ugly House may have been getting a little too dull and predictable, well, we have just the fix for that. Emergency surgery!

Yesterday, when M. woke up to get ready for work, she came and told me that her stomach had been hurting badly enough to wake her up in the middle of the night. She was pretty sure it wasn't due to any dairy ingestion because it was hurting down low, across the base of her torso. As any card-carrying worrying mother will tell you, appendix is what first leapt to mind. Since she has been hired by her former university for the summer, I told her that if the pain got worse to go find her father and ask him to drive her to the doctor. I've said words of this sort for so many years to so many children over so many imaginary appendixes, that I didn't really think anything would come of it.

Then, as I wrote yesterday, when I arrived home from my little jaunt downtown, J. calls me on the phone and…

How to Certify and Authenticate Documents

I spent the morning downtown getting some of our dossier documents all officially sealed so that we can finally submit our dossier to China. Since some of you will never have the pleasure of getting to do this, I thought I would share the process so that you can feel as though, you, too, have been there and done that.

Step 1: Gather your documents together and make sure they are all in order and notarized. Make copies of everything.

Step 2: Recheck your documents so that you are sure you still have everything because something might have disappeared in the previous five minutes.

Step 3: Convince a good friend that she wants to go downtown with you because you want the company and moral support.

Step 4: Recheck your documents again and borrow your daughter's Ventra card because you don't take public transportation enough to have one yourself.

Step 5: Get up so you can get an early start and not get caught in the Chinese Consulate lunch hour break.

Step 6: Remember at the last m…

Mom's day out

Last Saturday was the big semi-annual bulk order pick-up day. That means that I and a few friends load ourselves into the largest vehicle we own (we actually all own huge vehicles, so it's whoever can drive) and head southwest of the city for two hours. Then we load between 500 to 1000 pounds of food into the large vehicle, have lunch, and drive back home, stopping at each person's house to schlep their food inside. (Yes, I'm not too humble to say I can carry 50 pound bags of wheat around.) Do we know who to have fun, or what?

Actually, it is quite fun. The small town and the highway to get to the small town are hardly designated scenic routes, but we have come to count on our twice a year trips where we have six uninterrupted house to visit with each other. How often do mothers (regardless of the number of children they have) get to have actual conversations with each other without being needed every five to ten minutes? If your life is like mine, not very often. I really…

My day

What I did today...

Got fingerprinted for the 8th time.

Stood around the building supply store while M. bought the supplies she needed for her scenic design job.

Made people lunch.

Cleaned a very messy kitchen.

Hung around while the phone guy came to fix our horrible phone/internet service. Again. For the ~8th time in a year.

Made the menu for the week and made a grocery list.

Took H. to a birthday party.

Read many stories to little girls.

What I didn't do today...

Actually make it to the grocery store (I'll be leaving in a few minutes.)


Make any plans for dinner tonight.

Work on a massive writing project that is due at the end of the month.

Write a thoughtful and well-crafted blog post.

If you were looking for thoughtful, then I can send you to two articles that were recently published. (Go ahead and click and share... it's one of those writing gigs where the money I get paid increases with the amount of page hits.)

Book Review: Attaching Through Love, Hugs, and P…

Science experiments

A while back, a friend shared a website that was giving away a free middle school physics kit to teachers and they allowed homeschoolers to participate. It sounded interesting so I signed up... and promptly forgot about it. A couple of months later, a box arrived on the doorstep. It was most mysterious as I hadn't ordered anything and neither had any of my older children. It wasn't until I opened the box and took a good look inside that I felt the vague stirrings of a memory of signing up for something scamper around the edges of my brain.

That's what it was. Three complete kits of a set of optics experiments, including laser pointer, flashlight, Fresnel lens, and other interesting things. The workbook is also part comic book with a story line that ties the optics experiments together. This week seemed a good time to spend some time with them, so that's what we have been doing.

I'm not sure how much actual science learning is going on, but the laser pointers and Fr…

A new favorite from the library

I've written quite a bit on the idea of storytelling and using stories to make sense of one's life. To catch-up, you can go back and read some of these posts.

Story Telling
How Pictures Work, and
A Book Report

If you don't feel like clicking and catching up, the gist of these posts is that stories help us make sense of our lives and that by learning to change our stories, it gives up a sense of control instead of feeling helpless. I'm sure all of us at some point have felt helpless in the face of current circumstances and being able to reframe the events of our lives can go a long way towards helping us through these crises.

Children can experience and practice these skills through play and story telling. Stories, and especially fairy tales, can give practice with facing and overcoming scary things. I think this is why I particularly love children's picture books which give children a hint as to how to do this. All of this is lead up to sharing one of our library book…

A good adoption news day

First, if you haven't already heard, HB 3079, the adoption reform bill, unanimously passed in the IL Senate this afternoon!  Hip Hip Hooray!! The last step is for the governor to sign it. As soon as it is signed, it will become law and IL families will no longer have to have DCFS approval for their intercountry adoption home studies. This has been a pipe dream for so long, I am having a little trouble really believing that it is happening. I have one last request for all of you. Please call Gov. Rauner's office and urge him to sign the bill as soon as it arrives on his desk. Here is the link to either call or email his office.

The other piece of adoption news for us today is that we unexpectedly received new photos and five, count them FIVE, new videos of Y. today. We now have video of her walking and jumping and cutting and putting on a sweatshirt and coloring and making her bed and working in the kitchen. It's pretty amazing and her skills have come a long way from the l…

Thinking unhappy thoughts about my camera battery

Last Saturday was A.'s graduation party. It went quite well and I think A. had a good time. Many of her friends were able to come which is no small feat given that it was a Saturday in May. That would be the month where everyone has a possible 10 activities on every weekend.

I took some pictures of the parts of the yard that we worked on.

One side of the front porch. It helps that the tree and bushes we planted a couple of years ago seem to have outgrown their stick phase and are starting to look more like real plants.
The vegetable garden
Of course, the part we have worked on is a very small portion of a much neglected yard. Here is a glimpse into the backyard which still needs hours and hours of work to make it look cared for.

So I took these pictures and my camera battery died. That's OK. I told the girls who were hanging out together that I would be back to take their picture. I go inside, switch batteries with the one that was charged and head outside. I start to take a p…


Since I've spent the day alternately working on getting ready for A.'s party tomorrow and trying to encourage (coerce? badger? demand?) the house full of children to help, I have to resort to an easy blog post.

Since we have made our announcement about Y., I have received some questions and since some of them seem to be along the same lines, I thought I would answer them here.

1. Are they sisters? To clarify, I'm pretty sure anyone who has asked me this means, "Are they biologically related?" The answer to this question is, no, they are not. As a point of education (and please don't take this the wrong way, because I haven't been offended), this question is one of the top vote receivers for annoying question asked of adoptive families. Usually this becomes an annoyance when the children are already in their family because it implies that the adoptive relationships are less "real" than the biological ones. My standard response (and that of many o…

Catching up

Seeing as how I went an entire week without blogging, there were a few things that happened around here. I'll just make a list so we're all caught up with each other.

We are continuing the seizure medicine wean with H. The first day of the wean was dreadful. The worst behavior we've ever seen. We have seen gradual improvement, but there are still odd things that seem unusual and I hope will go away as the wean continues. There is also some weird attachment-stuff we're seeing again and I hope we haven't lost ground. In good news, H.'s eyesight is finally 20/20 with her glasses and when using both eyes (as opposed to having one patched.) B. finished his semester and came home for one day. He left early Sunday morning to fly to Taiwan for two weeks as a part of an environmental studies class. We are all a little jealous.All three older children are gainfully employed for the summer. M.'s friend and future apartment-mate is bunking here until they can find an ap…

Cheaper by the dozen

There is a lot of back story that has been going on around here that I am now able to fill you all in on.

As you know, about a year ago, I first became aware of a little girl who looked as though she has the same special need as H. and who needed a family. I was absolutely jolted by her from the moment I saw her and felt a strong connection even though I knew at that moment it was an impossibility that we bring her home. There were oh, so many reasons why it wouldn't work out. Yet God is far, far bigger than any problems that we can seen and you've known for a while now that we have Pre-Approval for this little girl.

(Tina will now have an official blog initial and will from now on be known as R.)
This is where the craziness quotient begins to become significantly increased. You see, at about the same time that I saw R.'s picture, I also saw the picture of another little girl who also needed a family. This in itself is not unusual, there are hundreds of children being advo…

The windmill is almost down -- the progress of HB 3079

I have some very, very good news to share. Yesterday afternoon, the IL Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to approve HB 3079! We are almost there everyone! Thanks to everyone's phone calls and emails the laws governing IL adoption could very well change for the better. As this has been tried before and failed, this is a significant accomplishment.

Even better, the full senate could hear the next reading of the bill and vote on it as early as tomorrow. This doesn't give us much time to educate the rest of the senate on the importance of this bill as well as share one more time past abuses of the position of Intercountry Adoption Coordinator and the resulting lost time with our children. We are almost there people, we all need to squeeze out of few minutes of our afternoon to pick up the phone and open our email. (And if you saved you previous letters, then it will be even easier.)

Step 1: Figure out (if you don't already know) who your IL state senator is. To do t…

Crossing another medicine off the list

In the past three years since I've become a parent to a child with seizures I've learned a couple of things. The first thing I've learned is that the variety of seizures that H. has is pretty mild in the great scheme of things. Some children, despite medication, still have multiple big seizures in a day and their parents are helpless to do anything but be supportive. I know that these parents are desperate to find relief for their children and that it is a difficult balance to find the right amount of medication.

Even though H's seizures are on the very mild end of the spectrum, the goal of the neurologist is still to get her seizure-free. I can understand this goal and for the most part I share it. To reach this goal requires trying different medications to see how they work. Each medication reacts a little differently in each child and different doses can also react different ways. (Sometimes a higher dose has fewer side effects than a lower one. Go figure.) But thes…

It's springtime and the locusts have descended

At least that is what it feels like to keep these children fed.

There is something about the combination of nice weather for the first time in months and spring growth spurts that makes for ravenous children. I buy groceries... what was a sufficient amount for the slower, indoor winter months... and two days later the locusts have eaten just about all of it and complaining that there is "nothing to eat." (Don't feel too badly for them, this doesn't mean that the cupboard is empty, just that their preferred food of choice is no longer around.) This is what comes of children who are doing a lot more playing outside in the fresh air. Two breakfasts, a mid-morning snack (fruit or graham cracker with peanut butter or today it was leftover popcorn), lunch, two mid-afternoon snacks (same choices), and dinner, with people have up to thirds and fourths.

Of course, correlated to the larger appetites, are the growth spurts. The five year olds are growing, the 9 year old is grow…

Dog and pony show

You know that some people around here really, really love horses. (Yes, I would be included in that some.) It is difficult to live in an urban area, though, and be a horse fanatic. Our small yards and zoning ordinances do not lend themselves to keeping large farm animals. I've even had a daughter try to convince me that we could keep a miniature horse, call it a Great Dane, and no one would know the difference. While I agree that a miniature horse would certainly be smaller than one of the larger breed of dogs, we would be fooling no one. If it looks like a horse and smells like a horse and poops like a horse, it's a horse regardless of what we would like to call it.

(This is going somewhere, I promise.)

Now, some of you may have been wondering about my little temper tantrum a couple of weeks ago and my pointed efforts at writing uncritical and non-confrontational posts. There was a very large back story behind that and with our I800a application officially received at the USC…