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Showing posts from September, 2015

Because who can resist a flower that smells like rotten meat?

One of the many things I love about homeschooling is the flexibility to drop everything when something interesting comes along. Take this morning, for example. Earlier in the summer, the Chicago Botanic Garden had a titan arum that they thought was going to bloom. Well, Spike (the flower), fooled them all and didn't bloom. Never fear, though, they also had a second that looked as if it would bloom, but decided not to publicize it this time until they were sure. Yesterday they announced that last night was the night and that they would be open at 2 am for people to come and see.

Now, if I was truly the really cool mom, we would've all treked up to the gardens and camped out to see the flower in full bloom. But, I'm a cool mom who really values sleep, so we did the next best thing. We wen this morning. We missed out on a little bit of the fun. The flower had already started to close, so we didn't get to see if fully open, plus it stops emitting its special aroma (the sme…

A better day

Today was better. Much better. Phew.

Today I also had only one thing that had to be done and was gone for just 30 minutes. I realized it has been a long time since this has happened, and I realized how much I need time just to be at home. I was able to do little things, such as clean the kitchen before it was time to cook dinner. I was also able to just sit for a few minutes.

Of course this sitting was the best possible sitting. G., L., and K. were playing quite nicely and had brought down all the play food to the kitchen. As I'm sitting with my feet up, I'm realizing that an entire restaurant has been created around me and that I have three hovering waiters waiting to fulfill my every whim. I was served ice cream, cupcakes, grape wine, more ice cream, broccoli, fish, more cupcakes, more ice cream, and at the end, fish with ice cream. That was K.'s contribution. When his little sisters found out what he had served his mother, they fired him from their restaurant. He then c…

Well, at least the day is almost over

It's been one of those days. One of those days where you find yourself saying, "I can always pick up the phone and enroll you in school."

Yep, bad days and disregulated children and a disregulated mother happen here, too. There were more than a couple moments which were not my finest. Some children were uncooperative. Some children were recovering from a very big weekend of canoe camping and were more than a little scattered. Another child's complete and total memory function seemed to go offline for the morning. I hate getting behind in my schedule, but since there was an open neurology appointment today I took it. It turns out it was a good thing to be able to cut the schoolwork short this morning. It was truly going no where. Well, no where good, that's for sure.

The neurology appointment went fine. H. is due for another EEG. This means the night before she has it, we get to make sure she is good and exhausted from little sleep the night before so she will fal…

The muddy waters of adoption fundraising

I don't write about the cost of adoption very often here. People are funny about money. People are even funnier about money when it involves bringing a new child into a family. I don't know why, but it's a thing. While I have never been at the receiving end of some of these comments, other families report that they receive a great amount of criticism over their fundraising efforts. Among the chief complaints...

"If you can't afford the adoption, how are going to afford the child?"

"You should never fund raise because it is demeaning to the child."

"Don't you have enough children yet? You can't rescue them all, you know."

"I'll donate, but I want to know that you are only doing the bare minimum to get this child home. I've never had an nice international trip."

And some of these can come from within the adoption community itself. People are funny about money. Now you start to see why it's a topic I generally av…

It's time again to call the neurologist

But, in all honesty, I don't want to. I am already a little late in making the next appointment, and if I don't get on it soon, I will veer from just plain old every day scatter brained mom to truly bad and negligent mom. I am really coming rather close to the dividing line between the two. But I have a reason, I really, truly do.

After our last anti-seizure medicine disaster, it took a while to wean H. from it. (That's one of the problems with this whole little endeavor... it just takes so stinking long to go anywhere.) We were going to monitor her for a month or so and then call and make an appointment to start the fun all over again. But I don't want to start again. I know it's important, so you can save your lectures, yet I have some very good reasons for my reluctance.

You know that learning new things is something that is difficult for H. It takes her significantly longer to really learn and remember something than it does for a child whose brain is formed no…

Why you should learn something new... especially if you are teaching

Every time I am in the process of learning a new skill, I am struck once again about how uncomfortable the process can be. This time is it horseback riding that has moments of being uncomfortable. (Both mentally and physically... I wrenched my lower back this afternoon when my horse shied away from a new all. More on that horse in a minute.) For the most part, riding has gone quite well. I am continuing to remember all that I had forgotten and to improve my skills. While it is hard physical work to ride, it hasn't been all that difficult.

Well, that is until last week. My trainer put me on a different horse and the entire lesson was a train wreck. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, I became very much aware of how much more I had to learn. In this case, on this horse (the same horse I've already mentioned), I realized that my lower leg strength was not what I had thought it was. To keep this uncooperative horse in a canter required much more work than previous horses…

Hundreds of cats, Thousands of cats, Millions and Billions and Trillions of cats

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OK, it probably wasn't that many cats at the shelter yesterday, but there were quite a few. Yesterday being the big day, P. and I, plus D. who really wanted to come along, headed downtown to the Anti-Cruelty Society.  It is right downtown, and though it has free parking it is in a garage, so I was very glad I waited so we could take the little car and not the van. 
(And now an aside on living with a van in/near a large city. The van and downtown really do not mix. I know where I can park to get to certain places we go to often, but figuring out where to put the van is always a part of the equation. Most parking garages don't work and open parking lots in the city either don't accept vans or charge you so much you wonder why you didn't hire a limo to drive you. This particular garage was surprisingly tall enough, but like so many city garages, had a very tight turn that I'm not entirely sure the van could have made. At least it wasn't one of those garages where…

I picked 8 apples today

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We went apple picking today. Since it was pouring when we woke up, I was a little unsure if we would have nice weather, but it cleared up beautifully. After an early lunch, we left and drove two states away. (It sounds worse than it is.) We only picked two bushels this year. After my compulsive summer of canning literally gallons of various food items, I'm not sure how much steam I have left to deal with turning bushels of apples into apple sauce. Plus, we already had some apples from my brother, so I already have dehydrated apples and pectin for next year's canning.
We arrive and walk around tasting apples to see what we want (I don't know why we bother, we always end up choosing Jonathans), and set to work picking apples. I picked about 8 apples when one of the little girls announced she needed to go to the bathroom. So, I set down the bag and took the little girl down the road to the port-a-potties. By the time returned, all four bags had been filled. (It really doesn&…

Not my photography

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So by now you all know that we would starve if we were reduced to relying on my photographic ability (or non-ability as the case may be) to support our family. This does not seem to be the case for TM. He likes to take my iPod and take pictures with it. Yes, this is the same device that I have so magnificently failed at. He really wanted me to share some of the pictures he's taken recently.









And a picture of his most recent art work. He is all set to turn the heat gun on this and see what happens. (Those crayons are glued on.)


Humbled parenting

His mercies are new every morning and by dinner time yesterday, life had settled back down and the meal was actually pleasant. And in the light of day and through the grace of God, our little eruption yesterday might only be a small set-back instead of the great leap backwards that it felt like in the morning. Regardless, in the light of a new day, both parents and child are in a better place and more regulated. Thank you for your prayers.

My relationship with my child, though, never ceases to teach me new things about my relationship to God. It is only through the prism of human adoption that we can begin to comprehend the magnitude and beauty and grace that accompanies God's adoption of us, His imperfect creation. I try so hard and parent so imperfectly in the midst of hurt and pain, that it is staggering to think that this is how I appear to God and how He manages to love me despite it all.

At the root of the most current crisis, is the desire for things. And the current desire…

Sometimes that light at the end of the tunnel...

Is a train.

We have had one of those 10 steps backwards moments with a child around here. I will be the first to admit that this morning was not my finest hour. Please pray as we work to sort this all out...

For feelings of hurt,
shame,
anger,
hopelessness,
failure.

Sometimes parenting is hard.
Sometimes parenting a hurt child is harder.

Appropriate birthday gifts for a 15 year old girl

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We celebrated P.'s birthday last night. As requested, we didn't sing or have candles, thus we didn't need to scrounge the candles and figure out how to make them work with ice cream. Everyone was able to come except A., who needed to work on a paper. The little girls were thrilled to have B. back for a bit. 
Here are some scenes from the evening.

This is us not singing to the birthday girl.

B. and K.
M. and D. (You can see that M. is particularly enthused by her younger brother.)

L., in front and G.
(I'm still working out how to do the zoom-thing on the iPod... but you'd be disappointed if I didn't show you truly awful photography, right?) Happy girl with a check from her grandparents.
This is her with one of her gifts. A gift, I might add, that she really didn't expect to receive. Think for a moment... if you were a 15 year old girl, what would you ask for? A phone? No, we do that at 16, so she didn't ask. Clothes? No, but she did ask for more riding …

Why didn't you tell us?!

Even though my readers must feel as though I spend an inordinate amount of time talking about our current adoption on my blog, J. and I don't spend a lot of time talking about in real life. In fact, we have actually told very few people in person. On the face of it, this might seem odd. When a couple is expecting a child, whether through birth or adoption, usually that is all they talk about and can't wait to let people know. I know we were certainly this way with the first five or so.

Yet, once you hit a certain number of children, people's reactions start to change. Instead of big smiles and hearty congratulations, there is something else. The smiles become more forced... the congratulations (if they come at all), come after some moments of pausing words such as "um... ah... oh... " as the person's brain catches up to their emotions. There are awkward moments while the parents-to-be stand smiling and waiting and the responder hems and haws. Everyone always …

Happy 15th Birthday, P.!

Today is P.'s 15th birthday. Fifteen always seems as though it's a bigger leap from fourteen than other years, doesn't it? We will be celebrating tomorrow night because of various schedules, but we had donuts this morning. (Donuts without any additional protein which would explain the complete and total meltdown from L. in the middle of the morning. It took me longer than it should have to figure out what was going on, but when I did, a bowl of peanuts help pull her back from the brink.) We won't be singing,"Happy Birthday to You," though. I promised we wouldn't as it is something P. really, really, really doesn't enjoy.

P. is my animal lover and I have really enjoyed having our Wednesday afternoons together at the stable for our riding lessons. She is becoming quite a proficient horsewoman and is routinely jumping small fences now. P. and I also share some other interests.... travel, languages, having time alone, oh, and that dislike of being sung to…

Homeschool burnout... a not-so-short treatise

Well we survived our first day back at actual lessons. Now, I could paint the rosy picture... the schedule worked, everyone did their work with a minimum of fussing, everyone was ready to learn and anxious to start the new school year. And that would all be true. Or, I could share the less than ideal moments... the boy, stressed by school work momentarily who swears, blames it on his brother and stomps out of the room, the little girl who decides she isn't entirely happy about the chapter book we are reading at lunch, the complete disinterest of everyone (except D. who likes to please his mother) in learning to tie a diamond hitch knot, or the need to constantly remind H. and K. that they are supposed to be listening to what I am reading. And that would be all true as well.

The reality is that the truth lies somewhere between. My children are not perfect little robots who sit uncomplainingly before a stack of school books, but neither are they completely oppositional. They want to…

Happy Not-Back-to-School Day

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We didn't start school today, we took a field trip. It's what we always do. You can't beat going to a nearly empty museum when you are guaranteed that there will be no school buses pulling up in front. Today we went to the Field Museum and started out seeing the special Viking exhibit which is due to close soon. It was interesting and the older people enjoyed it, though it didn't really hold the little girls' attention. I ended up taking them through the Egyptian pyramid (again) because that is their favorite thing to see.

We started a little late this morning, so after the Vikings, we headed out to the car to have a picnic lunch before heading back in. Our friends the H-S family joined us and we started out having a nice picnic with a view of the Chicago skyline and the museum campus. It was lovely... until it wasn't. Rain had been forecast, but we were hoping it would hold off until we were done. Well, it started to drip, and then it started to rain a little …

The big reveal

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The bedrooms are starting to look pretty good. Here are the new loft beds in TM and D.'s room.

TM's bed
Adding the decorations was his first order of business. The stark, all-white finish just wasn't working for him.
He added his won artwork as well. 
D.'s bed
He chose to have his desk go the other way.
These next pictures are to try to show you how the two beds fit into this room. The room is crazy because of the high volume of openings and radiator and funky short walls making it virtually impossible to arrange furniture.




And the rest of yesterday's progress. Look G. and L.'s room really does have a floor! (We were beginning to wonder.) J. and I can now enter their room at night without danger to ourselves.


Here is K.'s room (he shares with B. when B. is home... that is a trundle bed which gets pulled out when needed.) I realize that his floor is already covered, but it is all Legos and they go back into the black bin when he is done and the black bin goe…