Showing posts from May, 2012

Food issues

I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later... having a child with food issues. And now in the course of two months I have two. One is somewhat expected and the other is out of the blue.

For the past couple of weeks we have been learning how to cut dairy out of A.'s diet. She had been having mysterious stomach pain that we didn't quite know what was causing it and then we went to China. Where she didn't have mysterious stomach pain.  Ever. Except in Guangzhou, twice. When we ordered pizza. Then when we came home, and we had a little dairy-fest, the stomach pain intensified to such a degree that I took her to an emergency appointment with the doctor. Thanks to a blood test, we were able to see that there was no infection which caused me to start putting all the puzzle pieces together. And when those pieces were all assembled, we realized that A. just can't tolerate cow's milk any longer. She loves cheese and milk and sour cream and cottage cheese... Well, you g…

Investment in the future

No, I'm not talking about IRA's or savings accounts. I'm talking camping equipment. Or our general lack there of. J. and I did a lot of camping with the first 4 or 5 children. We even took M. camping when she was three months old. (Camping is super easy with little babies.) And then we camped at least once or twice a year after that (assuming we didn't have a newborn). Camping is a great family vacation and a big plus in our book is that it's affordable. Believe me, once you get a certain number of children, affordable and vacation are two words which rarely go together.

But then, something happened. We had more children. Five more to be exact. And for various reasons we didn't do a lot of camping. The trouble is, if you don't camp regularly, then you don't add to your camping equipment as needed. Suddenly, you wake up one day and realize that even if you wanted to go camping, you can't because your supplies do not in any way meet the needs of your …

A library trip with a large, book-loving family

It was time for another run to the library, but B. is in tech rehearsals all week for his Moliere show this weekend so I couldn't do my normal library run. This would be going after lunch with the middles while leaving G. and L. napping and B. staying at home. (B. likes to take himself to the library on his own.) So I decided that the girls were a bit bigger and I should try a library trip with them again. Plus, it is beautiful outside and would be a wonderful day for a walk.
I know I have mentioned our library trips before and the number of books we check out, but I thought you might like to see it in pictures.  Here we are preparing to head out.

L. on the left, and G. on the right.
D. getting ready to pull the wagon which holds our returns.
The triplets:  TM, D., and H. (I did mention we have virtual triplets now, didn't I?)
At the library. All the books on the table, plus a few more, will be coming home with us.
How it works is, I watch the littles (and H.) while the older…

Ancient Egypt history feast

One picture, that's what you get. That's because our extra camera battery, the one that is fully charged and ready to go for when the battery in use dies, is missing. The battery in the camera had just enough charge to take one picture.

Considering that Egyptian costumes tend to be on the minimalist side (and this was a lot of clothing by ancient Egyptian standards), it was a good thing we had record breaking 90 degree temperatures. That is unless you have decided to go as the fictional Egyptologist Amelia Peabody. (Do you know the mystery series by Elizabeth Peters? They are some of my very favorite mysteries which I go back and re-read every so often. If you like mysteries, you should read them.) It was a touch warm for long sleeves, long skirts, and boots, but, hey, we are committed to costumes around here. J., who was also not in a sheet was portraying Howard Carter... the Egyptologist who discovered King Tut's tomb. I never did find an appropriate suit for B. so he c…

Just one of those weekends

It's been quiet around here on the blog because it is one of those weekends where it seems as though the events of the entire month are scheduled for the same 48 hours.  Today was the pick-up day for our semi-annual bulk order and I'm just back from driving to pick it up. It is good to be restocked with supplies. I really like having a full pantry.

Plus, as I've mentioned, our history co-op feast is tomorrow and though I had the best of intentions, I still have some sewing to do and costumes to find. While I was gone the rest of the family spent the day working in the yard to make it pretty(er) for the big party, so at least that is done. Since it is a feast, I need to start working on the food we're contributing as well. Expect amusing pictures of us dressed in funny costumes on Monday.

And because that's how it worked out, we are also hosting two students who are in town for the weekend long Taize conference. Since they are gone all day, it is a pretty low key ho…

Not so rare

My post where I described the sometimes rocky journey of attaching to my new daughter evidently hit a nerve. I can now say without a doubt that I am not the only one to experience this. In fact, I'm pretty comfortable asserting that my experience is far closer to the norm than the love at first sight adoption fairy tale that everyone imagines to be the norm. And because I think it is so important, I will repeat it again, attaching to a new child, even a child who is thrilled to be in a new family, can be hard. (I'm sorry to sound like a broken record, but the more I write about this, the more I hear from or hear about others who struggle with this. If I have to be a one-woman campaign to say they are not the only ones, then I will.)

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a parent who struggles with the absence of happy, lovey-dovey feelings. There is nothing to feel ashamed about because this is a normal reaction which many adoptive parents have. Adding guilt to the whole cock…

Book orders

You all know I love books, right? And as much as I love my Kindle, real books with covers and pages are still my favorite. I have always loved books. I would organize them, make little card pockets for them, and then rarely lend them out because other people might not return them or treat them as nicely as I did. (I don't like to break the spines on books... cookbooks being the exception.) One of my favorite things was when the Scholastic book order forms were passed out in school. My parents were understanding of my book obsession and were willing to buy me just about any book on the order form. Undoubtedly my favorite part of school was the day the book orders came in and I got to go home with a whole stack of brand new books. (My fifth grade year, I ordered so many books my teacher let me have the books I earned him as well!)

I still love books, but now that I am the one who has to foot the bill it is the very unusual moment when I am the owner of a brand new stack of books. Bu…

A homeschooler's first year of college -- an interview with M.

Q. Did you feel well prepared for college?

A. Yes. I felt prepared better than some people. I enjoyed my classes and didn't feel they were too difficult.

Q. How about living in the dorm and making friends?

A. Living in the dorm was quieter than being at home sometimes. (And I didn't have to clean the bathroom!) I didn't have any problems with my roommate. Everyone can find their niche at college.

Q. What was most surprising about going to college?

A. The lack of communication between departments. Each department seems to be in their own little world and there is little collaboration between them.

Q. Is there anything you wish you had done to prepare for college but didn't?

A. Nothing comes to mind.

Q. What were people's reactions to hearing you had been homeschooled?

A. I actually found quite a few people who had been homeschooled at least until high school. It wasn't really a big deal. More people were more surprised when they heard how many siblings I have. What …

It never stops

Today is a day filled with doctor's appointments, but the rest of the week was looking happily free of them. Notice the word "was". H. had a follow-up appointment with the opthamologist this morning and I was glad she did because the area underneath her eye on the affected side was starting to look more red and puffy than it should and I wanted to show it to him. Well, it seems there is some sort of infection going on and he was rather concerned. (Concerned in that had she been running a fever, we would have had a nice little detour down to Children's where she would have been admitted for IV antibiotics.) So, right now, after discussion with all of our collection of various doctors, they are going to try an oral antibiotic first.

Just wanted to update everyone as your prayers are appreciated.  Now it's time to head out with another child to another appointment. (And just because I know how to have fun, I have spent my only two hours at home today paying bills.)

A song. By me.

Oh give me a home
Where raccoons do not roam,
And we don't hear them scrabble all day.
Where the wood-boring bees
Get a fatal disease,
And the vermin stay far, far away.

Oh, home, home near the lake,
Where the siding has lost a few shakes.
And the taxes are cruel,
'Though we don't use the schools,
And we wonder what thing will next break.

Oh give me a yard
Where growing crab grass is hard,
And the ugly trees vanish away.
Where fiberglass roofs
On back porches we lose.
And paint on bricks will never stay.

Oh, home, home near the lake,
Where the siding has lost a few shakes.
And the taxes are cruel,
'Though we don't use the schools,
And we wonder what thing will next break.


I have had two nights of 10+ hours of sleep and feel like a new person. Or at least I will once this cold officially goes away. I feel more patient, energetic, and hopeful. Sleep is truly the wonder drug. The silly thing about all this is that I know I need a certain amount of sleep each night or else I don't function well, and the more of a sleep deficit I run, my functioning quickly becomes non-functioning. I'm not fun to be around and I feel as though I'm constantly on the brink of bursting into tears. At the least it is an easy thing to fix.

Once again, I'm sure I'm not the only one to function this way, but why don't we just all go to bed at a decent hour? Most mothers I know (myself included), are pretty obsessive about how much sleep our children get. We've seen and had to live with overly tired and cranky children. It's not fun. But then, we mothers aren't fun when we're overly tired and cranky. Sometimes I think we need someone just to …

I'm sure I'm not the only one

In the adoption world, some things are discussed openly, but other things are not. When we first adopted, very little was written about difficult transitions (at least that I could find). Everything was 'rainbows and happy trees' and every child was happy and grateful to be in a new family. Oh, sure, there might have been a few tears at the beginning, but after a week or two everything was hunky dory. So when our experience was not like this, I could add 'adoption freak' on my list of things that were hard. I discovered when I wrote about it that many people did share my experiences and they, too, felt as though something was wrong with them. We are all so afraid that others may think there is something wrong with us that we do not share the truth about what adoption (or parenting or marriage or...) is really like and cause others to think they are the only ones.

We are now on our third adoption and I have learned some things about myself. While I attach very easily to…

Upcoming shows

I'm in a stinky mood today and to save you all from having to listen to me whine, I'll share the posters for some of my children's various upcoming shows.

First up is an evening of one acts by Moliere.  B. is in this one and from what I hear, it should be very, very funny. Performances are June 1 and 2 at 7:30

The next week, P., TM, and D. will be performing in an abridged version (original language, but shorter) of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Performances are June 8 & 9 at 7:30 and June 10 at 3:00. This would be a great introduction to Shakespeare if you have grade school age children.

Performances by Thin Ice Theater are always good and the costumes are always fantastic. Come if you are in the area. Contact me if you have any questions.
I have a new article up at Heart of the Matter about The Formula Trap.

I think I forgot to mention

that M. came home from college this past weekend and is all moved back into her room. This means that the piles of stuff which came home with her are now put away (though how it all fit in her half of her little, tiny dorm room is beyond me) and J. has moved all of his school stuff out of M.'s room and into our bedroom. It will be a gradual readjustment for all of us since yesterday she started a summer school class (drawing) which means she's gone all morning for four weeks.

It is so nice to have her home. I miss just talking with her and hanging out with her. Life is more lively when she's around. Another perk is that we'll also see a bit more of her friends who used to spend a lot of time at our house before they all left for college. This is one of those by-products of children heading out on their own that no one bothers to mention. Not only do you miss your own child, but if saw their friends in any great amount, you end up missing them as well.

I just like havin…

A little more about homeschooling

Due to the way social media works, I write things, people repost them, and then other people comment on them. So even though you don't see comments here, there are entire discussions going on somewhere else. I don't try to keep track of them, but sometimes I do run across them. And because I am always on the lookout for writing fodder, I'm going to address a comment from one of those discussions. A comment I might add that I hear a lot. In fact, in my experience, it is the number one reason people give as to why they couldn't homeschool and why I must be a saint to do what I do. (I won't delve into the subject of why, when I tell non-homeschoolers I homeschool, the majority feel the need to tell me why they don't, but I find the phenomenon fascinating.)

Anyway, what is the reason? It usually goes something like this, "I could never homeschool because I can barely help my child with his or her homework each evening. It's like pulling teeth. I can't …

Some truths about homeschooling

First, an update on little L. She is doing much better, though her thumb is very swollen and tender. I am thankful she was able to sleep through the night and, unlike her sister, does not suck her thumb. When I commented to J. that at some point we were going to need to encourage her to move her hand and fingers on her left hand, she walked over to me to show she could (and would) move her fingers. Ever so slightly, and not her thumb, but she was willing to do it. I still don't know about that nail, though.

Now, on to the topic of the day... what homeschoolers actually do. I have had more than a couple of conversations in the past week with people either curious about homeschooling or because they made assumptions about homeschooling that I disagreed with. I thought perhaps it was time to talk about the realities of homeschooling for those of you who have ended up at my blog for reasons other than a shared homeschooling interest.

Because I live in the culture of homeschooling, I s…

Evil lawn chair

And here is a picture of the evil lawn chair.

And why is it evil, you ask? Because it attacked L. this morning. It is a beautiful day and everyone was playing happily outside while I was taking a phone call, when I hear the kind of crying and the yelling of, "Mommmmy!" that has the type of tone that make one run. Even me. I go out to find that somehow L. has gotten her left thumb trapped between the two narrow slats you see below. Yes, I know there isn't room for a thumb, even a little one, between those pieces of wood. And because there was no room for it, once it was there, the wood was not moving. At. All.

My children are excellent in a crisis. P. went to get B., while TM screamed for me and stayed with the frantic little girl while trying to hold the chair still as directed by P. I made it to the scene first, made an attempt to loosen her finger and yelled to B. about the importance of him coming immediately. I am so glad I have a very strong 16 year old son who was…

Spring is finally here and we can go outside

Going outside means that other people are outside as well. Evidently, in my neck of the woods it is not common to see so many (and it wasn't even all of them) children playing in the yard. It causes people to stop and ask questions. I don't really mind... I like meeting new people. It's just interesting. I have probably explained homeschooling and adoption to more people just by being out in the front yard than anywhere else. You know that feeling that most adolescents have that there is someone watching them all the time? Well, I'm beginning to suspect that in my case it's truly accurate. If it's not my children at home then it's other people when we're out. The only time I'm truly inconspicuous is when I'm out all by myself. No one suspects that I'm the odd woman who homeschools ten children and those ten children don't all match and includes little twins. (All of these items have garnered my comments and questions as I go about my lif…

Some days are like that

"That" being really not terrific... I have a sore throat and generally don't feel well, other children have been 'off', the house looks, um, lived in, and our schedule has been crazy today. So, instead of complaining (more) about my woes, I'll share some pictures and tell you about the appointment H. had with the plastic surgeon today.

First, a cute picture of L. and G.:

Then last Sunday, TM spent a long time playing with legos and building a very elaborate building for the legos out of books.

He really wanted to leave it up indefinitely, but people wanted to read the books and it was built in the middle of the upstairs hallway, so we compromised with taking a lot of pictures of it.

And now the doctor's appointment. We heard some very positive things. He (the plastic surgeon) really believes there is quite a bit that can be done to help H.  It will probably be a long-term process involving multiple surgeries and procedures, but in the end he was quite pos…


Yesterday while I was on the radio, a mother called in to ask about how to deal with extreme frustration. I gave a couple of ideas, but after having had 24 hours to think about it, I actually now have a real answer. (I have no future in situations requiring a quick and thoughtful or quick and witty response... unless people are willing to wait around for a day or two. I should probably stick to writing where no one can see how long it takes me to work something out. Plus, I'm not good at short, as you probably already know.) On the slim chance that the caller found my blog (and for anyone else who deals with this), here's what I wish I would have said.

We all deal with frustration at one time or another and we've all watched our children deal with frustration. Or not dealt with it as the case may be. Webster's 1828 dictionary defines frustration as, "The act of frustrating; disappointment; defeat; as the frustration of one's attempt or design." There'…

Joyful Parenting

Nancy Turner from Moody Radio asked if I would put my outline from today's discussion on Joyful Parenting up here. Please ignore the weird formatting... bizarre things happen when one cuts and pastes from Word into Blogger.

A.What is Joyful Parenting? a.Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit.  It is something we are to cultivate and its presence in our lives is indicative of the Holy Spirit living in us. b.Parenting, in my experience, serves as a spiritual discipline for cultivating the fruits of the Spirit c.Joy and happiness are not the same thing
B.A joy filled home a.We often treat others, whom we don’t live with, better than those whom we do i.Example:  Unhappy mother who immediately changes her tone when she answers the phone b.Like it or not, as mothers we are often the ones who are responsible for setting the tone of our household c.Suggestions i.Are you smiling? 1.I know I find that unless I’m consciously thinking about it, I don’t smile.  I wouldn’t want to live with some…

Shoemaker's children

You know the story about the shoemaker who made shoes for everyone but his own family, right? That is always a bit how I've felt about my own children and piano lessons. I teach other people's children to play the piano, but teaching my own children often has fallen by the wayside.

Today, I woke up and decided to turn over a new leaf and begin piano lessons for my children (again). I was glad everyone was so excited when I announced the news, but also felt a little badly that this is something they are all (well, except for B.) interested in and something I can easily do, but just haven't.

The first step today was to figure out just where everyone was at. Some have had more actual instruction than others and some have taught themselves quite a bit, so it was a matter of matching books to ability. I will be teaching five of the ten. A. is much farther than I remembered and remembers more than I expected. P. and TM are of the 'teach myself' school, so I need to spend…

God moments

Since I wrote about needing to find a therapist for TM and then about making the phone call, I haven't really written much about that on the blog. Having told the world that I was going to look for a therapist, I wanted to finish the story, mainly because it's a good God story.

God is faithful and listens to our cries. He certainly did that for me in my desperation to find help for my son. Having no idea where to start, I went to the website for the TCU Institute of Child Development because Dr. Karyn Purvis works there and I have a great respect for the work she does with children from hard places. I looked at their list of therapists who had trained with her and chose the closest one to me. (Close being a very relative term... it's an hour and a half away.) I called and made an appointment.

I am a little embarrassed to admit that this was a call done out of desperation and not one that I took the time to research. The number was on a list and so I called. I did look up t…

Let's talk about something frivolous...

like hair, for instance. (I have an appointment with a child this afternoon that is making me rather distracted and need a diversion.) And of course, since I tend to over think things, I wonder if it is really a frivolous subject.

Over the past past six weeks, I have been waging a battle to change the part in H.'s hair to her non-affected side. (If you've ever changed a part, you know it can be done, but takes some time and effort to do.) Due to past surgeries, she has scarring where no hair grows. The trouble is that it is also the side that naturally wants to part. In doing this, I have questioned my motivations and what the tacit messages are that I may be sending to my daughter.

I certainly don't want her to feel I am embarrassed by her and want to cover up the affected part of her face, nor do I want her to think there is a need to cover anything up. But who among us doesn't want to look the best we can and make the most of what we have been given? I know (because…