Showing posts from February, 2018


Today, February 28th, is the national day to recognize rare diseases. We became a member of this club when we adoped H., and then again when we adopted R. I feel a little like my experience with being the mother to two daughters with a rare disease is quite a bit different from other parents. When your brand new child is 10 or 11 and is diagnosed with a rare disease, you can already see what the functioning looks like. When you have an infant diagnosed with a rare disease, you have no way of knowing how it will play out, especially with the syndrome that H. and R. have, because it is such a wide spectrum of issues.

Since I have a lot of new readers, I thought I would take this day to do a little education about Linear Nevus Sebaceous syndrome. (If you've heard this before, feel free to move on.) We've met new people, and with new people reading the blog, they might see pictures of our girls and wonder. I know people are curious, but are often too polite to ask. I don't min…

The beginning of the battle of the burrs

The day was glorious. It was warm and sunny, and everyone could be outside without a coat. That's pretty unheard of for the end of February. Certainly rare enough that I cancelled school so that everyone could spend the day outside... which they did. The most exciting event of the day was probably G. learning to ride a bike. Since it took her all of 15 or 20 minutes to figure out once she decided she wanted to, I think she was ready. Until today, she was pretty dead-set against every learning to ride a bike, so we just let it go. She knew when she was ready, and then just figured it out. There is probably a good metaphor for learning in general in there, but I'm too tired to work terribly hard at sorting it out.

And why am I so tired? Well, I spent nearly four hours in my initial campaign against the burr plants and just general overgrown-ness of our property. All around the edges of most of it, there were tall grasses and burrs and weeds growing, but because they had gotten s…

Great Dane update

It's been a while since I told you about Olive. Olive is big. Olive is still a puppy. Olive is still a very big puppy. Very, very big. Her tail alone is 20 inches long. A. loves Olive. A. loves Olive a lot. Kenzie does not love Olive. Nefertiti does not love Olive. Midnight doesn't seem to care, even when Olive thinks he's a very fluffy chew toy. A. takes a lot of pictures of Olive. Here is the most recent group.

Reading thoughts

First, here's our little spring flood over our driveway from earlier this week. I though I would post it here, too, so everyone could see it. Impressive, no? We had someone suggest to us today that if we called the township, they may take care of replacing the culvert, as that is kind of under their job description. I think we'll be making a phone call this week.

But back to today's post.

I've been thinking about this for a few weeks now. In an exchange about books with a friend, I mentioned that there were so many books, but too little time to read them all. A light-hearted jest was made (and I knew it was a jest) about there might be more time with fewer children. I replied back, that yes, that might be true, but I still manage to get through an average of six or seven books a month. I believe something about bragging might have been the next turn the conversation took.

Do people perceive my book lists as being bragging? I really want to know. The only reason I menti…

Friday bullets, February 23, 2018

A little late today, but that kind of sums up how the whole day has been... running just a little behind through the whole day.

B. came and joined us for dinner tonight. It was great to see him, even if he did happen to mention that his new job is listed as one of the most dangerous jobs in the US. A. got her acceptance letter to NIU today, and she will start back to college in the fall. I'm proud of her for working all this out on her own.The worasaurus is still making the occasional appearance. This usually happens when the worasaurus is hungry. Graham crackers and peanut butter seem to do the trick for taming worasauruses and calming them down.Earlier this week, on the heels of his earlier croissant success, D. decided to try his hand at brioches. These are an even more time consuming pastry. Thus, on Wednesday morning, D. comes and presents me with this for my breakfast.

They were very, very good. On Thursday night, we celebrated Y.'s 11th birthday. She chose Chinese food fo…

Billy Graham, the woman at the well, Jesus, and me

With the news of the passing of Billy Graham earlier this week, all sorts of things have been swirling around my head. When I was 7, my grandmother took my whole family to the week long crusade when Billy Graham came to Tempe, Arizona and filled ASU's Sun Devil stadium for the week. I remember it being filled with people; I remember the very large choir; and I remember hearing Mr. Graham's message that Jesus loved me no matter what I was like, and that He wanted me to love Him. The first night, as Just As I Am was being sung and the invitation issued, I watched the crowds go forward to ask Jesus into their lives, and I wondered why we didn't. I asked my mother about it later, after we got home. She asked if I knew what it all meant, and the next night, I went forward.

When I think of Billy Graham, this is what I think about. His voice can immediately bring me back to my 7 year old self, and the joy I felt in being able to publicly say how much I loved Jesus and knowing how…


Agony!  Beyond power of speech

When the one thing you want Is the only thing out of your reach.

Not the homeschooling poster child

Not all homeschooling days go well.

If you are an experienced homeschooling parent, with experienced here, meaning for at least one week or more, you will completely agree and resonate with that first sentence. I think this is important to say sometimes. Homeschoolers, especially newer ones, can fall prey to the assumption that other homeschoolers always have good and productive days. That they always get through their list. Their children are always cooperative. The parent is always on top of things and enthusiastic. If I were just to share the successful moments, you would think that this is true around here. But it's not. Oh, no, no, no... it most certainly is not.

Take yesterday morning for instance.

I got up late. This is never a good start to the day. It means that the masses are just a little too far removed from breakfast to be at the top of their form. And when it is also a Monday, well...  I had a feeling we were doomed from the beginning. Some things were hard for some …

Blown quail's eggs

On Saturday, I decided to do something with the growing collection of quail eggs we were accumulating. We had been storing them in a glass kept in the refrigerator, and it was getting full.

My thoughts are to dye them and decorate them, turning them into cute little Easter ornaments. But before the fun of decorating could come, I first had to do something about the insides.

This is why I spent an hour Saturday morning doing this.

I blew 26 quail eggs in about an hour or so. The first few went pretty slowly as I got my technique down. Do you want to know how, just in case you have a bunch of quail eggs in your refrigerator?

1. Acquire a syringe with a little tube on the end instead of a needle. This is where having children who need surgery every so often comes in handy. K. was sent home with 2 such syringes, for him to wash out along his gum line while the incision was healing. He only used one, and when I saw them, I thought that this could be just what I needed, so I took possession…

Brain damage and stress

I frequent a few large Facebook groups related to adoption, and help moderate one of them. Consequently, I see and answer a lot of the same questions. Recently there have been a couple of themes that I wish I had a cut-and-paste response to, because it would save me time. One is just the sheer amount of time that it takes before a child feel truly comfortable in a new family. The other is the extremely widespread phenomena of children adopted at older ages being frustratingly jagged in their ability to learn.

Let me explain. It is a very frequent experience that older adopted children will be unpredictable in their learning from day to day. Along with some possibly significant working memory issues, a child can appear to be almost two different people when it comes to performance. One day, the child can be totally on top of things and seem to be making progress, while the next day the same child, for no discernible reason, appears to not only not be making progress, but has regressed …

Friday bullets, February 16, 2018

How on earth did it get to be the middle of February? I don't have any idea, but the year seems to be well on its way to zipping along now that we have surgery and my trip to Arizona behind us.

We are beset by worasauruses. Don't worry if you do not know what a worasaurus is, I didn't either until the beginning of the week. These are L.'s new creation, and they have completely consumed her imagination. Thus they have completely consumed the household. From what I can gather, there are three different types, all very fierce looking. The fire type can hold the sun, I'm told. L. is often a worasaurus which conveniently (for her) means that she cannot communicate using words, just growl-like sounds. (P. thinks L. sounds like a zombie when being a worasaurus, which does raise the question as to how P. knows what a zombie sounds like.) Last night as we were driving to their midweek program at church, and there was general chaos in the van, L. shushes everyone and announce…

A not so snappy or SEO friendly blog title

K. and I got to drive into the city for a second day in a row, this time for his post-op appointment with his surgeon. On the plus side, he has a clean bill of health and has been cleared for activity and eating whatever. As you can imagine, this is thrilling to him. On the down side, our appointment took about 10 minutes, tops, with nearly three hours of driving to get there and back. But, we don't need to go back... possibly ever, so that is something.

Now, I want to spend a moment thanking you, my faithful blog readers. In an idle moment today, I was perusing the interwebs and came across an article about things you absolutely must do if you want people to read your blog. This seemed potentially interesting, so decided to read it. Well, based on those things, I should have no readers what so ever. Yet, I know I do. I see the stats, I get the emails, even if you are all not big on actually commenting.

Now, I bet you're curious as to what I'm doing wrong, aren't you? …

Solving my grocery budget mystery

Yesterday, I drove K. into the city for his orthodontist appointment. Since I was already nearly there, I decided to pick up a few things at my old, and much missed, grocery store. I came away with quite a lot, but either they were things I have been having trouble finding, or they were super on sale.

As I was walking around, missing my old grocery store very much, I came to a realization. The prices in this store are very, very good. Now, I knew they were good when I was shopping there regularly, it's why I shopped there. What I didn't really appreciate was just how good they were. It goes a long way towards helping my understand why my grocery budget has seemed to be out of control every since we moved.

The Aldi milk puzzle also helped me to figure it out. Remember when I mentioned that I discovered that one Aldi near me had milk at 95 cents a gallon while another Aldi near me (yes, we live in Aldi-Land), had milk for $2.50 a gallon? Well, I figured out (with the help of an …

J'aime manger des croissants délicieux

Assuming my French has not taken a nose dive due to lack of use, that title says, "I love to eat delicious croissants." And I do. To me there is no better breakfast than a good cup of coffee and a croissant. Actually, that's not true. The best breakfast has brioches instead of croissants, but good brioches are very difficult to come by, so I am happy with croissants. J. made me brioches once for my birthday, I think it was. He stayed up all night to do it. They were delicious, but he has yet to repeat the feat.

But why I am writing about French breakfasts? Because on Sunday D. comes to me and announces that he wants to bake something. He does not want to bake bread. He does not want to bake a cake. He does not want to bake cookies. He was looking for something a bit more unusual complicated and pastry-like. After scouring my cookbooks, he decided to bake croissants.

He started in the middle of the afternoon, and had it all planned out. By the time it was time to leave fo…

The chair and other things

Well, the weekend was a bit of a whirlwind, as is usual. But I did manage to get most things caught back up after my two weeks of craziness.

The first cool thing about the weekend is that friends invited us (J. and I) to go see Cabaret with them at the Paramount Theater in Aurora. I had never seen the show before, and found it really interesting. The show was great, by the way, but if you aren't familiar with it, definitely a bit PG-13. What I found most interesting was the historical aspect of it. Even though the musical was written in 1966, it felt extremely modern, which is a bit surprising since it is set in 1931 Berlin, at the beginning of the rise of the Nazis. It was both incredibly interesting and incredibly disturbing all at the same time. I'm glad I got a chance to see it.

The other cool thing about the weekend is that after months of searching, we finally found an affordable reading chair for our bedroom, thanks to our church's garage sale group. No more having …

Friday bullets, Feb. 9, 2018

Today was a much better day, and I got a good night's sleep. This always helps.

R. did get up once, at 4:45 am, and my fantastic and wonderful husband got up with her and took her on a long walk. By the time they got back, she was ready to go back to bed, and J. tried, but was not terribly successful. He was pretty tired today. But when she got up for real this morning, I could tell she was significantly less anxious and much more communicative. I'm glad she doesn't do that very often...We've had some snow. J. even had the day off because his school closed along with nearly everything else in Chicagoland. Well, except the restaurants. A. still had to go to work today.Here are some pictures J. took while people were playing outside and he was snow blowing the drive.

Before A. went to work, she was the fun big sister and helped people make snow ice cream. And remember how I mentioned how much light this house gets, and how much I was enjoying it? Here is an example. It is c…


Phew, is it bedtime yet? I was probably asking this long around 1 pm today. It was not a good day. Not for R., and thus not for me. For whatever reason, R. has regressed nearly totally to an 18th month old level, complete with temper tantrums, pushing boundaries, inability to do self-care, and just general unpleasantness. I sat with her on my lap for over 4 hours this afternoon, because it was the only way I could stop her from following around siblings and animals in order to whack them. When she wasn't whacking, she was shrieking at the top of her lungs.

The party started at 5 am this morning. That does play into my general fatigue. All day long there was the push-pull of disorganized and anxious attachment. I want and need you! The second she had my attention, I was the absolute last person she wanted to be near. Push, pull, push, pull, all day long. Even for most of those hours spent on my lap, she was not calm and content, but hypervigilant, and not relaxed against me. It was…

When mistakes are beautiful

I think that mistakes and errors in learning don't get the attention that they deserve, because I kind of love them. That sounds a bit goofy, I know, but it's true.

We are in the midst of emerging fluent readers around here. For the most part, all phonics books have been dropped (hooray!!), and we are working solely from real books. You know, the whole reason we teach reading to begin with. K. is a fluent reader, but scattered, so he and I still read a chapter aloud together every morning, so I can help him practice focusing on the page. G. is reading the American Girl book about Kaya, and L. is reading Catwings by Ursula K. LeGuin. Both of these girls are just teetering on the edge of being completely independent readers. Y. is the only one still using a phonics book, but that is my choice not hers. English vowels are the ever troublesome equivalent of Mandarin tones. They are just stinking hard to hear, and it takes a lot of concerted practice and listening to begin to disti…