Saturday, December 30, 2017

Let's do some bullet points

I suppose what I should really do is some thoughtful New Year's Eve post, but honestly? I don't have it in me. 2017 has been a year of huge ups and huge downs, and everything in between. It will take a while to process it all. I'd much rather focus on the things right in front of me right now, anyway.

  • The Build-A-Thing animals are settling in, and everyone remains thrilled with their choice. Don't be alarmed, but L.'s bear seems to have caught a cold on the ride home yesterday, and has been coughing a bit, but L. has provided quite a bit of care, and he seems to be on the mend. He also fits in 18" doll clothes, so I'm afraid the American Girls have some missing clothes at this point. 
  • Y. announced to me this morning that yesterday was the best day ever, and she still can't believe that she has her favorite Pokemon stuffed animal. After a pause, she then added, "Sometimes I wonder if it was a dream, and I worry that someone will take her away from me." There was much assurance that no one would ever take her toy away, but boy, was that a punch in the gut.
  • The one thing that G. really, really wanted was a set of twin dolls she saw at a store. Both J. and I spent several weeks asking her if that was really what she wanted, but she was adamant. Jenny and Jane (G.'s chosen names) arrived as requested on Christmas morning, and G. has been diligently caring for them ever since. Throughout the day, I will receive Jenny and Jane updates. They sleep well at night, and also take good naps. She is rather smitten with them.
  • We finished The Return of the Twelves the other day at teatime, and needed a new book to read. There was great clamoring for another Swallows and Amazons book, so we will be starting Winter Holiday which is next in line. I'm excited, because it is both appropriate to the season, and one of my favorite Swallows and Amazons books. You should read it.(I also love The Return of the Twelves. You should read this, too.) 
  • While we were at Build-A-Thing yesterday morning, the older people (A., P., TM, and D.) all went over to the forest preserve because the small pond there was looking completely iced over. They took brooms and shovels to clear it of snow. Sadly, after some clearing and playing, the ice was not as thick as they had hoped and began to crack. Don't get your tinsel in a tangle, the pond is small, shallow, and not too far from home. The only danger anyone was in was a cold walk home to get out of wet clothes and dry off. We are due to continue to have extremely cold weather for the next week, so I imagine that they will head back later on to check on the ice.
  • The phrase, "Don't Get Your Tinsel in a Tangle" is what was on the girls' Christmas pj's this year. I like it. I may choose to use it a lot.
  • I believe that Christmas will be coming down tomorrow. I love Christmas. I love decorating for Christmas. I love it up until the end of Boxing Day, and then I'm done. I would love to start the new year with a clean, tidy, and organized house. 
  • B. gave the family the game Quartz for Christmas. I hadn't heard of it, but it has proven very popular, especially among the youngest four. I think what they like about it is that there is a significant amount of chance to the game, and so they pretty much are all on equal footing. Plus, they love getting to draw for shiny 'precious stones' as a part of the mining process. What they love about it is exactly what drives me a bit batty. I do not like the high degree of chance, and I especially dislike the process of drawing for the stones. This could be because I never draw the one I am hoping for. Anyway, it is a game they have played without my help a lot over the past week. I call it a win for the mid-grade school crowd.
  • It looks as though we will be having a family game night tomorrow for New Year's Eve. This will be the first time in the past 17+ years that we won't be celebrating with our good friends the P. Family. P. Family Mom and I are a little (OK, more than a little) dejected about it. We are just too far apart for one family to drive home at the end of the evening on a night where no one wants to drive for too long. Have I mentioned that I don't like change?
  • I have spent far too long sitting and pulling burrs, large and small, off of socks, tights, scarves, gloves, mittens, hats, etc. It's lovely having a forest preserve out our back door, but there are also quite a few burr plants in the forest preserve (and on our property). It would seem that every burr in the the immediate area has attached themselves to one part of my children or another. Thankfully, the dogs' coats are too short and do not collect burrs. 
  • We will be starting school again next week. I suppose I should do some planning so I have all the supplies we need. I think I'm still in denial.
Have a Happy New Year! I'll see you in 2018!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Morning at the Mall

If the title surprises you, that's as it should be. I'm just not a mall-type these days. But when your mother gives her younger six grandchildren a Build-A-Bear trip, that is where you have to go to find one. (Personally, I think they should rename it Build-A-Thing, since there are precious few actual bears to choose from.) As you can imagine, the six were incredibly excited about the upcoming trip. J. had the day off work, so this morning seemed like a good time to go.


L. (More about the hood in a moment)






K. (He's stepping on the pedal to run the machine that fills the toy with fluff.)

After the toys were chosen, stuffed, washed (in the pretend washing station), dressed, and paid for, it was time for lunch. The total was less than I had anticipated, so we did the almost unheard of thing, and went to the food court. They loved the wonders of getting to choose what to have. Three chose pizza (K., G., and L.), and three chose Chinese (R., Y., and H.). No great surprise there at all.

You'll notice L. is still wearing her hood in this photo. It was just a bit before the security guard came by and asked her (nicely) to take the hood down, since hoods were not allowed in the store. Yes, a bit annoying, but I'd much rather have a rule enforced for the whole population rather than just some. And, the reason she was wearing the hood at all, it turns out (other than she just likes it) is that L. conveniently ignored my 'brush your hair' directive before we left the house.

J. and I also realized that in the past ten years of so, we have spent far more time in giant Chinese malls rather than American ones. We've decided that all American malls now have a vague Chinese-feel to them for us.

So here are the six with their new friends.




L. (no the hair is still not brushed, I will tackle that tomorrow)



Everyone had a ball, adores their chosen animals, and says a great big thank you to Grammy for the wonderful treat!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Every so often...

we are given a teeny tiny bit of hope as far as R.'s abilities. We know she is making progress, but so much of it is the structural, foundational kind that has to be done first, but isn't always apparent. It's kind of like having the wiring redone in your house. You know it is vital, but it's expensive and messy and time-consuming. Plus, it doesn't really leave you with anything to show to people, other than the fact you can turn your lights off and on without burning the house down. 

R.'s progress strikes me as this sort of progress. There's not much to show, but has to be done, and if the work doesn't get done, then I'm afraid her house really will burn down, never to be resurrected. I truly don't think this is an exaggeration. R. has experienced so much neglect and so much trauma, combined with an incredible number of care givers in her short life, that I feel as though we were the last straw. There was too much change on top of too much change, and while her mental house didn't exactly burn to the ground, it was certainly lit on fire. It's hard to show progress when step number one is to put out the flames and wait for the smoke to clear.

But then, every so often... 

R. drew this the day before Christmas. I bet I don't even have to tell you what these drawings are, because they are so very recognizably people. Round faces with eyes and noses in the correct places; bodies, arms, legs, also in the right places; and even hair. No, I don't know what's going on down there at the bottom of the page, but even that is bigger and bolder than her earlier squiggles from the past two years.

Perhaps the fire is finally out, and the smoke is clearing. That would possibly be the very best Christmas present of all.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Animal stories

It wouldn't be Christmas without a good animal story, huh? Meet Romeo. He is the orange cat there on the left. No, we didn't get a new cat. This is B.'s cat who came to visit for the holiday. 

Romeo is a very cute, very polite fellow, and was a very good house guest. It won't surprise you, though, to hear that at least one of our resident animals was not exactly a good hostess. Pretty much, each animal was true to form.

Olive really wanted to play, and by play, I mean slobber all over the fluffy cat. Romeo was quick to put an end to that, and Olive has a new scratch on her nose to show for it. Olive gave Romeo a fairly wide berth for the rest of the visit. I'm quite OK with this, as I feel a dog should develop a healthy appreciation for cats early on, and this was just another piece of that education for young Olive.

Kenzie was interested, but got hissed at once, and that's all it took. He was actually a little bit afraid of Romeo, and was very hesitant to be near him.

Midnight absolutely didn't care. Less than 24 hours into the visit, we discovered them both sharing a bed together. He didn't seem concerned that there was another cat here, and doesn't seem to care that Romeo went home today, either.

Nefertiti was not thrilled. And by not thrilled, I mean that she spent the first 24 hours doing her wildcat scream at him. Thankfully, this eventually stopped, and was replaced by Nefertiti stalking Romeo and lying on the ground just staring. Staring. Staring. It was as if she was under the belief that she was actually Medusa, and that with enough staring Romeo would turn to stone, and her work would be done. Romeo did not seem overly amused by the cat who stalked and stared at him.

At one point, the humans had to intervene. Somehow Kenzie ended up on the third floor in P.'s room... hiding from Romeo who was next door in D.'s room. Kenzie couldn't leave because of the cat just outside the door. On the stairs to the third floor, outside D.'s room, was Nefertiti. Sitting. Staring. And Romeo wouldn't leave D.'s room because of Nefertiti lying in the only exit path. She was not planning on moving, and was willing to wage a war of attrition. Finally, in order to rescue the dog, I had to move the cat. When Nefertiti moved, then Romeo moved, and finally poor Kenzie could leave P.'s room and come back downstairs.

M. and B. (and Romeo) all went home this morning. (Boo!) The animals have gone back to their usual mode of living. None of us is sure, though, whether Romeo will be filled with overwhelming relief to be back to being an only animal, or if life will seem rather dull and flat for a while.

I don't suppose we will ever know.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas 2017

It's a record... we celebrated a Christmas without tears, great big noisy fits, or even seizures. Truly it was a wonderful day, and we are now all relaxing, enjoying each other's company, making noise, playing new games, and arguing about who gets to take the dogs out in the sub-zero weather. I love having everyone home. Here are just a few of the hundreds of pictures taken over the past two days.

Christmas Eve


P. and M.

Heading to church

New Christmas Jammies

L. and G.


Christmas morning

Waiting and waiting...

and waiting for the parents to wake-up

Everything is ready...

(including the cat)

for everyone to come downstairs.

Of course, the animals had presents,

even Q.


Q. received a mirror

And people had presents, too.

We ate food (a lot of food)

And we played.


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