Showing posts from August, 2010

Lest you think I have it all together

The beauty of writing a blog is that I can edit my life to make it appear that I live an always picked-up, calm and serene existence.  Since this really is not the case, I like to disabuse you of this notion every so often.  Take my dining room table for example.  Here is what is currently gracing it at the moment:

Yes, those are dead cone flowers and yes, they are still sitting on my table.  They looked very nice a couple of weeks ago when A. picked them when M. and B. came home.  Now?  Not so much.  But there they sit because I don't notice them or think about them until we are actually sitting down to dinner.  Then I will say something like, "Boy, I should do something about those flowers."  Everyone agrees and we eat dinner.  After leaving the table, I forget about them again and the same scene is played out the next evening.  And really, I'll do something about them soon.

Houseplants suffer the same fate in my hands and eventually all end up looking like those f…

Unintended messages

Sometimes in parenting, there are things we do (or don't do) that scream messages to our children that we never intended to send.  It is parenting's blind spot, because if we were aware what was actually being communicated, we wouldn't do it.  One reason I like to be around other experienced parents and to read other mother's blogs is that sometimes I will suddenly recognize a blind spot I had been missing.  It is often a painful process because when it happens, it is as if a glaring light is suddenly showing me and area of sin, or hypocrisy, or just plain laziness in my own life that I was hitherto unaware of.  But it's hard to fix something I don't know about, so ultimately it is a positive thing.

One of the biggest examples I had of this was several years ago when it was pointed out to me that the whole 1-2-3 counting-thing was not doing what I thought it was.  (Bear with me here.  I know I hold a minority opinion on this, and I also know I've discussed …

Got mooncakes?

For once I am planning ahead!  I must be finally coming out of my pregnant with twins/nursing twins and never sleeping fog.  And what am I planning ahead for?  Why, Tet Trung Thu, of course.  For those readers without ties to Vietnam, that is the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, which occurs on September 22 this year.  The festivities include parading with lanterns and eating mooncakes.  I've always been pretty good about the lantern part... especially because one of my good friends stocked-up on them the last time she was in China.  But the mooncake part has always been a bust.  This year will be different.  I just finished ordering fresh pineapple (which I much prefer over the red bean type) moomcakes which will be delivered to my door in time to celebrate.  If I do nothing else today I will feel as though I have accomplished something.  Do you need mooncakes?  Mam Non, an organization in Ann Arbor, Michigan dedicated to sharing Vietnamese culture with the adoption community, makes the…

I'm a hipster parent... who knew?

Warning!  Only read ahead if you can stomach a full dose of snarkiness!  And yes, I realize it is not a terribly gracious reaction on my part.

This article from the New York Times was passed along to the homeschooling support group I belong to.  If you don't care to go and read it, essentially, it is about how some young, well-off NYC parents are choosing to hire young, hip tutors to teach their children in small co-op groups.  It seems homeschooling, or at least whatever these parents are doing, is the new in thing.  I know I shouldn't be surprised that I find an article in the New York Times about New Yorkers to be annoying at best and completely condescending at worst.

Normally, I would hit the delete button on the article and let it go.  But, it does such a disservice to homeschoolers of all stripes (from conservative Christian to hippie radical), that a couple of the comments need to be addressed.  First off, after reading this quote, "Eight months pregnant with the c…

Bidding wars

Problem:  I do not like to clean bathrooms.  And while I have my children clean all the shared bathrooms in the house, I don't make them clean mine and J.'s.  When you put these two things together, it equals a fairly scary bathroom.
Solution:  This morning, on the white board which hangs in our upstairs hallway, the following message appeared:

Notice of Money Making Opportunity
Closed bids for the job of cleaning Mommy and Daddy's bathroom are currently being accepted.  If you are interested in bidding for the job, submit a written proposal containing the following information: What will be included in the cleaning When the work will be completed How much it will cost Contract will be awarded based on a combination of work, cost, and originality and neatness of proposal.  Bids due by 1 pm today.
The Management

We have three proposals to look at tonight and by dinnertime tomorrow we should have a squeaky clean bathroom.

Future contortionist

Look what we discovered that K. can do:

But wait, there's more:

At least we know he doesn't suffer from claustrophobia.

Who's your friend?

I've been thinking about a discussion we had at the mom's group I lead last Monday about being friends with one's children. I was talking about how thankful I was that M. was back from Samoa and that she had had a good experience. This mother then asked me if M. was my best friend. Now, I know she had the best of intentions behind her question, but since I still have not learned to curb my immediate reactions very well, I immediately answered, "No! That's not her job" with perhaps more force than was really necessary.

My response between now and then hasn't changed, but I think I could have done a better job in explaining myself. Like many things, it is mostly a matter of semantics. According to Webster's dictionary, a friend is someone attached to another by affection or esteem. So far, so good. If we were to use just this definition, I have no problem agreeing that all my children are also my friends.

But is this all we mean when we use the word &q…

Cast of characters... or you need a scorecard to tell the players apart

Don't worry, even though this seems to be the same post that I used last year, I keep updating it, since everyone continues to insist on growing up!

(Updated August 2011; text updated March 2012)
I worry that my system of using initials to talk about my children and family members could be a bit confusing especially is you don't know us in real life.  To help with that, I've created a list of 'who's who' in the big, ugly house.  I will begin with the youngest and work my way up:

Here is L., who is 3 (her picture desperately needs to be updated).  She is always on the go and exploring things, but is also very much Mama's girl, especially when other people are around.  Sadly, she and her sister (below) have decided that their favorite activity is removing their diapers during nap time.  I won't be sad to see the phase disappear.

And this is G., also 3 (and also needs a new picture).  She is not quite so adventurous as her sister, but is far more interest…

The things that matter

I just returned with all the children from driving to and from Michigan to attend the funeral of one of best friend's mother.  I'm glad it was close enough so that we could go and be there for her.  Sitting there during the service I was thinking about how both the beginning and end of life remind us of what is really important.  And what is important is not what we spend most of our time working on and thinking about.  It is the small things that we often don't give second thoughts to:  food, clothing, spending time with people.  Deep down we know that these basics are what are vital to us, that everything else is just window dressing.  How else can we explain the need to provide food to a grieving family or a family celebrating a new life?  Why else is it important to think about what we wear to a funeral service?  What else would explain the need we have to go and just be with the ones we love during times of celebration or grieving? 

The memories which the family shar…

Busy, busy, terribly busy

Leading a Moms Bible study group discussion about homemaking?  Check.

Taking a 1/2 bushel of peaches and turning them into 19 1/2 pints of canned peach jam?  Check.

Blogging?  Not so much.  And tomorrow isn't looking so good either what with grocery shopping, bill paying, dentist appointments, getting dress clothes ready for all of us for a funeral we're going to on Wednesday, taking a meal to a friend who had a baby, etc.

I don't really care for days where there doesn't seem to be any down time, but I'll survive.  It's just that something needs to give and the computer and the internet are always the first to go.  Look for me on Wednesday...

All's right with the world

A rare Sunday post since the computer is on from having checked flight status and viewing M.'s photos.  And since we were looking at her pictures, you can gather that she has made it home safely, looking (more) thin, tan, and (more) blond.  A true sight for sore eyes.  She had a fantastic time and is full of stories.

Off to enjoy my girl.

One down, one to go

B. has made it home safe and sound!  I'm sure dinner time will be filled with lots of catching up on both sides.  Tomorrow M. comes in around 2:15 in the afternoon.  We will all be going to the airport to meet her.  You know I'm anxious to have her home since I voluntarily spent far too long on the phone with the airline representative confirming her flight and paying for her baggage.  (I feel the need to add how much I hate talking to computers.  They absolutely infuriate me and I find it a great challenge to regain my composure when I finally reach a live person.  Hint:  Just hit '0' and it will connect you with a live person nearly every time.)  Anyway, I will jump through any number of hoops to have her home.

Odds and ends

Here is a photo of the baby corral.  Silly us, we thought it would be for the babies.  We have had to limit the number of children allowed in it, because as you can see, with too many people, there is no room to play or crawl around.

Over the past several days I have had a chance to talk with both M. and B. on the phone.  M. called from LA during their 10 hour layover between Samoa and Orlando.  It was so good to hear her voice!  She sounded well and said they had had a great trip.  Her calling card only had a few minutes on it so I didn't get to hear very much.  I can't wait to see her on Sunday.  B. called when he and the rest of his troop arrived back at base camp.  He also sounded well and had enjoyed all the backpacking.  They are probably close to boarding the train back by now and we will see him tomorrow afternoon.

Not only will we be happy to see M. and B. this weekend because we have missed them, but also because when favorite people disappear for extended periods of…

Decorating with Books

In preparing for the new school year, I've been thinking about where we are going to 'do' school.  We have a dedicated school room for this purpose, but for the past two years we have gotten out of the habit of using it for anything but glorified book storage.  It was too difficult for me to go up and down the stairs when I was pregnant with the babies, so we spent a lot of time in the kitchen.  And then when the babies were tiny, all the baby stuff was in the kitchen, so we continued to work there.  But now the babies are not so tiny and very mobile.  While I love my borrowed play yard, I'm thinking I can't keep them inside of it their every waking hour, so I need a plan B.  And Plan B is looking more and more as though we will actually be using the school room for school, mainly because it has a door that closes and we can keep G. and L. inside with us.  Which brings me to my dilemma, which I will share with you after a brief tour.  Without further ado, welcome …

Time for more baby pictures -- and the giveaway winner

Since so many people commented on the giveaway post that they enjoy seeing pictures of the babies, I thought I would indulge you a bit.

Here are TM and L. looking at a book together:

G. and L. are still not walking, though they love to 'walk' holding someone's hands (L. in green and G. in orange):

They are happy, happy babies, who love to smile and wave:

G. is particularly good at waving.  When she doesn't have her thumb in her mouth, that is:

This picture gives you a better sense of their grins:

I love taking them out in the stroller; it almost feels as though it is a public service.  They sit side by side and grin and wave at people and people look at them and smile back, looking much happier than when we first approached.  It has its dangers, though.  Two days ago, the girls very nearly caused an auto accident.  We were at a corner waiting for a light to change, when the driver of a car making a left turn caught sight of them and stopped mid-turn to stare and smile b…

Game storage revisited

(Go here to enter the giveaway... only two more days, and your chances of winning look pretty good.)

A while back I wrote about my frustration with keeping our games neat and organized while still allowing my children to use them.  I'm happy to report that recently life with the games has been much better... and it's not because they haven't been used.  So what changed?  First, I took the suggestion made by one of the commenters and used Ziploc bags to store games which didn't have boxes.  These were mostly card games.  The cards had never been loose, but I was using rubber bands to hold everything together and it was an unreliable system.  My mistake was thinking that 7 year old's small muscle abilities were the same as mine, and they aren't.  Even with good intentions, the cards just could not be neatly fastened with a rubber band by young children.  Plus it was too difficult to add in a missing card, so the card was flung into the drawer instead of being cor…

Nearly missed it!

(Don't forget to enter the giveaway for a $40 dollar gift certificate to any CSN online store, including  Go to this post for details and entering.)

As we started to prepare lunch yesterday, I heard A. gasp, "Oh my gosh!"  I look up to discover our butterfly had hatched, and evidently had hatched quite a bit earlier in the day as the wings were nearly pumped up and ready to fly.  I snapped a quick picture before carefully carrying the wooden planter outside to our back porch.  I didn't want to be in the position of having to try to catch a flying butterfly to get it outside.  There was a tricky moment when the butterfly began climbing up my arm and I couldn't convince it to go back to the wood.  He continued to walk up my arm to my shirt and then onto my neck heading toward my face.  I was happy to get it off before it reached that high.  Butterflies, it turns out, have sharp little feet that they use to hold onto things.  If feels like tiny, tiny pi…

Summer has to end sometime, I suppose I should prepare for it

If you are looking for the giveaway, click over to here.  Newcomers to this blog are welcome to enter... it's a $40 gift certificate.

I know it's only August, but I am starting to think about getting back into our school schedule in September.  I always loved the beginning of a new school year.  Actually, I think what I really loved was all the things that went with the beginning of school:  new books, new notebooks, new books, new pens and pencils, new books.  I find that I feel the same way as an adult whose children do not attend school I feel the same way.  But along with the new books and look forward to a schedule.  I love the free time of the summer, especially at the beginning, but as the summer wears on I find that the lack of schedule begins to wear as well.  Our brains have rested and we need new rigors to help them grow.  Before I can begin to formulate what our schedule will look like, I need to know what everyone is going to be working on.  With the book order I …

Sponsored giveaway -- $40 gift certificate to any CSN online store!!

Part of my ponderings about blogging came as a result of being contacted by a representative from CSN asking if I would host a giveaway on my blog.  So after some soul searching, the results of which were yesterday's post, I said yes.  And you, my devoted readers, are the beneficiaries.  The prize is a $40 gift certificate good at any CSN store.  So, if you suddenly have a desire to go camping after reading about our trip, you could get yourself a new dutch oven to cook with.  Or perhaps you don't ever want to go camping after reading about our trip... you could certainly pick something else.  It seems CSN carries just about anything you could want.

Here are the rules:

I will give you three ways to enter. 
1)  Leave a comment on this post telling me why you read blogs. 
2)  Become a follower on my blog [Disclaimer:  I don't really care that much about followers, I don't really 'follow' anyone myself, but I wanted to give everyone as many chances to enter as p…

Navel gazing

I've been doing a lot of thinking recently about why I blog and if I need to worry about increasing my blog readership.  On a certain level it is an incredibly narcissistic endeavor, and while that is not my mode of operation in real life, we all know the virtual world can be an enabler for some less than desirable behavior.  I began to fret that my main purpose in blogging was to fulfill some deep seated desire to be popular; probably leftover angst from having attended junior high.

But, as I thought about it, I decided that I really do have other reasons for blogging.  Some of these reasons, such as keeping my family up-to-date on our doings, do not require a bigger audience.  In fact, trying to get a bigger audience for that type of blog would seem a bit odd (to me at least).  But I write about more than just what my family is up to.  Depending on how it's divided up, I write about five other main subjects:

Homemaking and parentingAdoptionLarge familiesHomeschoolingChristian…

Oh, what a beautiful morning! -- our last day

I'm beginning to worry that posting endless vacation pictures and stories is the electronic equivalent of being invited to someone's house for dinner and then being hijacked into viewing their vacation slides.  Of course, you can leave at any time and I will never know.  And you didn't get dinner...

This remains the best way to share pictures with my family, so the rest of you will all have to survive one more vacation post.  On our last morning we finally awoke to sun!  We were able to make pancakes:

And many cousins thought it was fun to continually make the babies' hair go into a Mohawk.  This is L.:

And of course there was a lot of other baby love happening:

For lunch we decided to take a picnic to a place called Thunder Rocks.  It turned out to be so fun that we spent the rest of the day there.  Beautiful, isn't it?

All those big rocks were easily imagined into castles and houses and ships.  Many children spent quite a few happy hours playing long, imaginary g…