Showing posts from May, 2016

The Cat

I am the cat.
Fierce and silent.
I wait for my prey.
I am dark as shadow.
No one sees me hiding, lurking, waiting.
Waiting for the moment...
the moment when I pounce.
I come from no where, unexpected, as if appearing from nothing.
I attack.
My fierce jaws grabbing and clutching at the unsuspecting matter of my desire.
I run, taking my plunder with me.
Behind me all is noise, chasing, shouting.
They did not suspect.
They never suspect.
They do not notice the sly, slinky shadow.
The proud and stealthy hunter of...

The beginning of the good byes

Over the entire life of this blog, two other families have figured prominently on it... the P. family and the H-S family. All three families have more than the usual number of children, we all have some biological and some adopted children, and we all homeschool. We have watched each other's children when the others of us have been out of the country adopting. We have spent holidays and regular days together. If you look at any one of our family's photos, the children of the other two families figure prominently in them. Our children have grown up together and sometimes joke about the actual size of their family.

And in ten days, the H-S family packs up and moves to the west coast, which was originally home for them. We all knew this was coming, but it always seemed so far off. One of the future events that you can't quite imagine happening. And now it is upon us and and none of us can still quite fathom that it is happening.

There are no words.

Tonight, we will all get to…

Play therapy

Last night we saw the most engaged, extended pretend play from R. that we have ever seen. Airplanes are something the figure strongly into her day-to-day observations, no doubt because of the momentous place they have played in her recent existence. Knowing this, I bought her a pretend airplane thinking it would be a way to work through all that upheaval. When we first showed it to her a couple of months ago, she was vaguely interested, but after having pushed it around a bit and looked at the people inside, she was pretty much done. So I put it away for a while. Last night while we were fixing dinner, R. was looking for something to do so I suggested the airplane. R. thought that sounded like fun, so I flew it over to her.

From there, she took off. (Pun intended.) Suddenly, she had named the people in the airplane and announced that they were all going to China. "I hungry! I go China! I see J-- Mama and K-- Jiejie [the names of two very special people whom she lived with]!"…

First class

Last night, TM advanced to the rank of First Class Scout in Boy Scouts. Congratulations, TM! I'm proud of you. 

Can I brag about him for a moment? Racking up service hours is a big part of advancement. One of the things TM has been doing this spring is to spend two hours a week volunteering at a local soup kitchen. According to the adult in charge, he works his tail off and become a valuable member of the volunteer team.

First class, indeed.

A dog story

Because writing about frontal lobe injuries and executive function remediation research isn't terribly interesting (well, it is to me, but I'm going with it's not likely to be interesting to the general public), I will tell you a Kenzie story instead.

Kenzie loves me. And since I love Kenzie, that's very gratifying. Except that when I'm around, Kenzie has got it in his head that I am the only one who understands him. I will be in another part of the house (or in bed, asleep) and he will come and nose my hand. Thinking he wants some attention, I will pet him and tell him what a good boy he is. (And he is.) But then, he continues to nose my hand, and this quickly escalates to him doing little hops on his front legs and barking. Have you ever seen a dog movie and the dog is desperately trying to get the person to follow him because, "Timmy is in trouble!" It's just like that. I eventually clue in and get up to follow him. He is happy, though a little war…

Today's lesson is brought to you by the stag beetle

I apologize to the non-homeschoolers among my readers. I realize it's been a lot of homeschooling posts in a row, and now I'm going to add one more. Evidently, this is currently a season of trying to get back into our homeschooling groove. Ever since coming home from China (and then a month off for our Arizona trip and then another bit of time off for house renovations) I haven't really felt as though we have a good rhythm. It is really beginning to bother me, and so I've become a little fixated on trying to sort out the problems. Thus the number of homeschooling related posts.
I also don't want to leave people with the impression that every day sails smoothly along with cooperative children and fantastically creative educational ideas. If only....  Yesterday was particularly dire and by the end of the day I was feeling pretty much like a consummate homeschooling failure. Yes, it was that bad.
It was so bad that I really wasn't looking forward to starting agai…


You'll remember that when Gretel died, no one had any idea what had happened. It completely mystified our vet and he was very upset that he didn't know what was going on with her or how to help her. As a result, he volunteered to do the autopsy at no charge so he could try to figure out what happened.

Last night, J. received an email from the vet with a diagnosis. It turns out that Gretel had multifocal lymphosarcoma. Yes, it was as bad as it sounds. It was a rare form of cancer that had infiltrated every organ of Gretel's body. The fact that she died as calmly and quickly as she did was a blessing. She was very sick. It is also something of a relief to know that no matter how much money we could have thrown at treatment, it wouldn't have made a difference.

So now I think that having two animals die within six months of each other, both from not terribly common diseases, means that we have had our fill of 'animals dying from rare diseases', can check it off the…

How to manage out of control laundry

When I don't do at least one load of laundry a day, the laundry starts to develop a life of its own. When I don't do laundry three or four days in a row, say because I'm sick and am not doing anything, it becomes completely out of control. (This picture is after having done four loads, and you can see the pile that fell behind the laundry cart.) It kind of makes me not want to descend to the basement.

So yesterday, when the weather was gorgeous and everyone was home, I did what every self-respecting person would do. I ignored the laundry. Yep, not one load. Instead, having become a little obsessed with my paper mache book boxes, I sat out in the sun, while the children played and painted around me, and made another one.

And what do I have inside? Well, the title kind of says it all. There are little plastic cats.

And 3-piece cat word cards.

See? Some of the cats can even be matched to the pictures on the cards.

And they all fit nice and neat inside their box.

This is ever…

Night at the Museum

Last night was one of the Field Museum member open houses. We love this and look forward to it every year. Essentially, the museum is completely opened up. You get to wander back behind the scenes and through offices and departments that you would never usually get to see. There are museum workers showing what they do and there are displays of collections that are normally not on display. It is a lot of fun and it's FREE! I'm not sure there is more to like.

Due to family schedules, we didn't get down to it as early as we would have liked, so we didn't get to see a huge amount. The bulk of our time this year was spent in the insect department. Everyone loved looking at the hundreds of different insects from the collection. H. was thrilled at the huge amounts of butterflies. There were even some live insects, such as these huge cockroaches.

These are Y.'s hands. I was amazed that she was willing to hold it, as any type of insect has caused her to shriek up until now.…


I am feeling better. Much better. As in I got dressed and even left the house better.

There are certain things which stink about being sick, especially when you are a parent. I'm pretty sure I don't even need to elaborate on that. It's just not fun. (Though, it is made a whole lot better when a dear friend shows up with dinner one night!)

But you know what no one talks about? That whole re-entry period after you've been sick. I can't believe we are the only ones to experience this. (Please tell me we're not the only ones to experience this.) I find the day after being sick, that first day when you seem to be back on your feet and life is returning to normal again, to be just about as bad.


Because having a sick parent is stressful to children. Even if it seems as though people weren't holding it together, they really were. Once the parent seems to be well, then all that stress comes out in less than pleasant ways. It has not been a quiet day around here…

Moral: Friends don't eat other friends' species

The joys of using a reading program written around 1967 is coming across things such as this. I think I would find it is pretty odd and hilarious even if I didn't have a post-fever addled brain.

This is verbatim, and no, I'm not making it up.

Pig Wig and the Ham

Kit Kat met his pal Pig Wig. Pig Wig was fat. Kit Kat was not.
"I can get a bit of jam," said Kit Kat.
"Get a lot of it," said fat Pig Wig.
Pig Wig and Kit Kat had the jam. "It was not a lot!" said Pig Wig.
"I bet I can get the pot Dad had," said Kit Kat. Kit Kat got it. The pot was hot. In the pot was ham.
Kit Kat began to cut a bit of ham.
"HAM!" said Pig Wig. "Get rid of the ham!" Pig Wig was mad.
"A pig IS ham,"said Pig Wig.
"And I am a pig. Get rid of the ham." 
Kit Kat set the ham in the pot. Kit Kat got rid of it.
"Kit Kat, get a lot of jam. Get figs and nuts. I can get fat. I am not a ham in a pot yet!"

I mean, what else is there to s…

Definitely veering toward the 'un-' side of school

I am not better. I am sitting on the couch in my pajamas, grunting answers at children every so often. In an effort to make myself feel even marginally better about what my children have done today, here is my list.

L. has been carrying around her stuffed rabbit, announcing every 5-10 minutes that she wants a pet bunny. She is also carrying around the list of rabbit care rules which she insisted that J. copy out of the rabbit care library book we read yesterday. (You know, that day when I wasn't feeling as horrible as I would today, but didn't appreciate it.) She randomly announces how she will care for the rabbit when she gets it by sharing one of the rabbit care rules. L. becomes extremely upset when a sibling picks-up the stuffed rabbit but doesn't adhere to the proscribed 'how to carry a rabbit' instructions.

G. has read to me from two more guided reading books. When I redid the schoolroom, I got out the set of SRA supplemental readers a retired teacher friend …

ER trip #9

I least I think it's the ninth ER trip for our family. It could be more and I just lost count. My cold is not better and my brain is exceedingly foggy. You'll understand why it's not improved in just a moment.

[Edited to add, I did forget a trip... A's little skiing adventure. So this is actually trip number 10.)

(For those wish queasy stomachs, make sure you are not eating while you read this. It's not bad, but thought I'd give a heads up.)

Last night at bedtime, and J. and I were going around to the various rooms doing the nighttime tucking in routine, I hear a wail from R. and then J. asks me to come. My immediate thought is, "Oh dang, it's seizure time," since I'm expecting one imminently. But it wasn't a seizure. Instead, somehow, and we will have to be baffled and without answers for the rest of our lives, R.'s stud earring on one ear got pushed into her ear lobe. Yes, that's right. You couldn't see the front of the earri…

I'm a bit sick, I haven't paid the bills, or done the laundry...

but the day wasn't a total bust. I also sat quietly outside in the sunshine and did a little painting while people played. Want to see what I made? (And sorry about the picture quality. Evidently I care even less about the photographs I take when sick than when I'm well.)

This is what happens when I go to the craft store and see cool things... such as those Toob-things which have nifty homeschool friendly themes, such as, "The Arctic" on sale for half-price. And then I walk down the next aisle and see more cool things, such as brown paper mache boxes in the shape of books. I suddenly had visions of school activities. I just needed to paint the box and fill it with things. Which is what I did this afternoon.

The spine
The side where the pages should be.
But look! It opens and inside are the Toob figures...
plus I made some foam ice floes and open ocean so the polar bears and seals can play.
And it all fits in the box to go back on the shelf for another day. 
The only …

The Classical un-unit Chardorfissori Method... or my new schoolroom and realizations

I want to show you pictures of my new schoolroom that has consumed the better part of several days. But first, I probably need to explain my title, especially for the non-homeschoolers among my readers who might not see the joke right away. A common question when homeschoolers get together is to ask what method a person favors. I always dread this question a bit because I don't like to be pinned down, using a few ideas from a wide variety of techniques. "Eclectic" just sounds so... meh. As I sorted through all of my homeschool supplies, I realize that eclectic doesn't even begin to describe what I do, because it makes it seem as if I blend all these techniques into a whole rather than careening from method to method depending on what feeling I'm currently reacting against. 
Our average homeschool year looks more like this:
Classical (the method that believes education should be rigorous and focused on the trivium, the three stages of learning [grammar, rhetoric,…

If you can't laugh...

The day didn't start out badly. We got up and had breakfast. I had already decided that life could just not continue until I finished putting the school things back together, so that was first on the agenda. I also needed to plan the week's menus, get to the grocery store, and shuttle people to a party. (We tried to get some school done yesterday, and let's just say it was not our most successful morning.) Everyone ate breakfast and headed upstairs. Little people played and I, with the help of D., started in on shelving books. The phone rings, and it's the orthodontist's office. Once again, we had to cancel the appointment for K. to get the panoramic x-ray that he needs because we are having continuing difficulties with getting the approvals from the supplemental insurance. Sigh. At least it gave me more time to work on the third floor.

The next phone call was a friend inviting D. and TM to something in downtown Evanston. They wanted to go and so I said I would ush…

Drive-by blogging

I am knee deep in the midst of getting school things back to being organized on the third floor. It feels like a never ending process and is challenging my compulsive tendencies of wanting to do a job completely and without stopping.

Your blog post for today is to briefly tell you about the cute little laminate pocket guide I got from TM's therapist today. It is called, Trust-Based Caregiving: A TBRI Pocket Guide, and published by the TCU Institute of Child Development. It is a cool and handy thing. It has the basics of trust-based, connected parenting condensed down to the essentials and then has a referral page for each level of intervention from Playful Engagement all the way up to Protective Engagement. It was a great $10 spent. If you want one, and don't have a handy therapist to sell you one, I did a quick Google search and discovered that ShowHope is selling them. Probably other places are as well, but I'll let you do the looking.

I'm hoping that I will have pic…

Just doing a part to help out at the library

After a couple of months of not going to the library, we finally made it there today. And it was a good thing because there were a couple of books that J. and I had taken to hiding because we just couldn't face reading them one. more. time. Yes, it was that bad.

In general, it was a relatively calm and easy trip. The new girls have gone enough times that they know the drill and I don't need to micromanage their book selections. R., who has become best buddies with H., has even learned exactly where in the library the origami books are and can find the section and pick out new origami books on her own. Thus, we chose our books, put them in bags to cart to the check-out, and began the process of heading home.

This is not as simple as it sounds. First, we need to fit all the books in the bags we brought, which, though I think I'm bringing enough bags, is always a close thing and sometimes people need to carry the books which don't fit. Then we shuffle towards the check-ou…

Therapy brought to you by IKEA

A couple of weeks ago, after a quick trip to IKEA because I needed storage containers, I did a little impulse shopping. As we were walking through the store, I saw this balance beam set up. It looked cute and I had everyone try it out to be sure it was as sturdy and stable as it looked. It seemed to be. On a whim I decided to get it. 
It has been set up in our kitchen for a couple of weeks now. (Excuse the mess of cars. This is a perpetual state here.)

The reason I succumbed to impulse shopping is that I hoped this would fill a need we had. When we were last at the neurologist, she asked H. to walk toe-heel-toe-heel, placing each foot directly in front of the other. She has come so far that I was surprised when this was a struggle for her. When I saw the balance beam I thought it would be the perfect tool to help with this skill.

It turns out to have been one of the best impulse buys I have ever made. Currently it is still living in the kitchen, but at least it doesn't take up mu…

A note to myself after Mother's Day

We are not really a gift-oriented family, and events such as Mother's Day and Father's Day tend to fall by the wayside, especially if one of those holidays happens to fall on a show weekend as it did this year. But, since I had all my people home and together (including the bonus of my own mother being here), it counts as an excellent Mother's Day. Anyone with grown children knows exactly how rare having everyone around really is.

Anyway, the whole honoring Mother-thing got me thinking. I sometimes get so caught up in doing everything right, making sure I don't fail my children and ruin them for life, that I forget what's really important. So here is a note to myself, so I can be reminded how I want my children to remember me. Because really, if I only focus on preparing them for life and forget the intangibles, how much is that preparation really worth?

I want to be the mother who...

jumps on the trampolineplays gamessmiles and laughsjoins in the fundoesn't str…

Happy 11th Birthday, R.!

Yesterday was R.'s birthday, but due to family schedules, we celebrated this afternoon. Since we're still not at a point where we can ask R. what her preferred meal is, we decided to order take-out Chinese. It was a hit. Then, I bought a cake, because she has been aware of fancy cakes and we thought she would be happy with a fancy one. I think she was. Some pictures.

She couldn't quite get the candles blown out...
so M. stepped in and helped.
Then it was time for presents.

The benefit of celebrating today was that everyone could be here, including my mom.
Does it surprise you that G. spent the present opening in B.'s arms?
I have now reinvested in some quality early childhood toys. 
This present was particularly interesting.
Notice Y. and her camera right there?
Checking out the new toy.

I am in love with the gift my mom gave R. (Y. is a little in love with it as well, and that not-so-friendly green-eyed monster has made several appearances over the course of the afte…