Showing posts from December, 2012

Happy New Year's Eve

My compulsive photo uploading continues. I'm through 2009, 2010, part of 2011, all of the China pictures, and some of 2012. This is making me feel very good as some of these pictures were merely on memory cards and not saved anywhere else.

And while I wait for the photos to slowly upload, we will be making the house presentable for our New Year's Eve party this evening. J. and I once tried to go out and do the typical couples New Year's Eve-thing, but it wasn't so fun that we ever wanted to do it again. We would much rather ring in the New Year with our children and good friends, so that's what we do.

We'll have at least four other families over this evening. The adults traditionally play hearts (which can be an entertaining spectator sport as well, because some of us are a wee bit competitive), the younger children run around and play, and the older children tend to talk together and play games as well. Sometimes we have become so engrossed in our game that we…

Photo organization

I'm in the middle of working on the goal I set for myself that after Christmas I would get our family pictures sorted out. I don't know about you, but the thought that I have all of these pictures of my children in various places and in various states of security is always a little anxious tug in my brain. If there was a house fire, I would have to run to too many places to save the photos (after the children, of course). And then there's the whole 'what if the computer crashes' scenario. We just don't want to go there.

In some ways, the days of film pictures was just much more easier to manage. And I was pretty good at managing them. I would fairly regularly take my film in to get it developed and then was good about labeling the photos right away. Then the photos and negatives got stored in those nice photo boxes to wait for me to put them in albums. Every six months or so, I would sit down and update our photo albums so that we could enjoy them. I never did …

Prayer and fasting

It's not terribly holiday-ish, I know, but sometimes things can't wait until they are convenient. And frankly, caring for orphans and defending the powerless are never convenient. I don't know if all of my readers are aware, but Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, just signed a bill that stops all adoptions of children from Russia to the US, regardless of where children and families were in the process. Can you imagine having visited a child whom you think of as yours, hugged that child, told that child you were coming back, and then finding out that you will not be allowed to return? That is what is happening. It is devastating for the parents and for the children. And it is particularly devastating for the children who are warehoused because of their special needs; for children who have been placed in adult mental asylums with no care and with a mortality rate which would horrify you.

But really, this is just part of a bigger picture. I have to say I agree whole-hearted…

Starting to resume life as usual

But just a little bit at a time. We've had four days of non-stop parties, and everyone has managed pretty darn well.

On the 23rd, our good friends the P family and the H-S family (plus a few other people) joined us for a potluck and carol singing. We counted that that's 25 children between the three families when they are all at home. Since this doesn't happen very often, and especially not when we're all together, it feels very special when we are all together. The highlight of the evening (at least for me) was watching all 25 children singing and doing the motions for The Twelve Days of Christmas together.

Then we had Christmas Eve. The pageant went wonderfully, the children's choir sounded pretty good for five rehearsals (if I do say so myself), and G. and L. were adorable pink angels. (A friend took a picture. When she sends it to me, I'll share it.) In our pageant, Baby Jesus arrives by being delivered by an angel. This angel is often accompanied by little…

Merry Christmas!

Briefly popping in to say that we have had a wonderful Christmas. Everyone is more or less well (unless you count that fact that some of us sound as though we're coughing up a lung every now and then), the Christmas dresses were done on time, and the gifts as well. 
Just a couple of pictures to keep you going until I get back to a regular blogging routine.
G. (in her Christmas Eve dress)
L. (who wasn't sure she wanted her picture taken)
And the whole crew after returning home from church on Christmas Eve.

I hope all of you have had a blessed Christmas as well.

Mothers should not be able to get sick

They just shouldn't. And certainly not right before Christmas. I thought I had it beat, but last night I took a huge nosedive for the worse and have spent the morning in bed. I'm trying to decide if I feel marginally better or not right now.

It does give me an opportunity to brag about my children a little. If I must be sick, having everyone home makes it somewhat more bearable. J. needed to go to work so that he could finish up things on his desk before the holiday which left my older people in charge. Well, I tell you, you people should be banging down my door to enlist M.'s services. Instead of letting chaos break out, she organized the masses into a cleaning crew and they cleaned the house. Unasked. And they work cheap, it only cost her a box of 99 cent candy canes.

So now the little girls are napping, the middle children are watching Schoolhouse Rock, and the three oldest have gone out to lunch with all of their friends who are home from college. I'm wondering if …

Plastic surgeon visit.

Yesterday was H. and K.'s visit to the cleft team. I really like the team and am glad I switched K. to the same plastic surgeon that H. is seeing. It's a lot less crazy-making for me. But I know what everyone is waiting to hear is what the plan is.

Well, it looks as though I was correct in my pronouncement that 2013 would be the year of facial surgeries. Probably more correctly would be it is the first of several years of facial surgeries, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. We'll just stick with the coming year.

So for K. No one thinks that he will need a bone graft surgery for another couple of years. (Hooray!) He will be able to continue to make dolphin noises by pushing air through the opening that goes between his gum and his nose. He is happy because he really likes to be able to make dolphin noises. But the plastic surgeon would really like to do a nose and lip revision on K. in the fall. He had a decent repair of his lip in Vietnam, but I have been aware that…


And dressed even, which is a huge step forward compared to yesterday. It's a good thing since this afternoon I need to take K. and H. to a cleft team appointment and then head straight to Christmas pageant rehearsal. H. is seeing the cleft team though she is not cleft-affected because it is the same facial reconstruction team which will be doing her surgeries and it's easier to see them all at once at a cleft team appointment. We switched K. to H.'s plastic surgeon for just this very reason, so I wasn't having to see two different plastic surgeons and could double up on appointments.

Since today is looking like a crazy day, and I'm not writing much real content here, take advantage and go and read my latest article on The Power of Play. I'd really appreciate you clicking on it since this is my paying writing gig. Thanks.

Now off to begin my marathon afternoon.
Don't forget Harvey!

This is Harvey. He is 3 years old and is the size of an infant.…


That would be me. Achy. Headache. I think I had a fever last night. We've been passing something around our house (despite children compulsively wiping down handles and surfaces) for the last week. I just hope this is the last of it and everyone can be well by Christmas. Everyone is being as good as they can, and bigger types are pitching in to help littler types make Christmas presents. I'll have many pictures to show next week.

Let's just say I'm trying not to panic at all I'm not doing which is not good for ones recovery. I may have to go the mask-the-symptoms-route and pretend that I'm well. Which is also not really good for ones recovery.

If you want something substantial to read, you can look at my most recent article at Heart of the Matter Online about Postcards to my Children.

So I'll go back to whatever it was I wasn't doing and you can remember to pray for little Chad while I do. I'm moving the three children who still need families out of…

Jiminy Cricket

Sometimes I feel as though the children who are less, cough, dramatic, don't get as much blog attention. In fact, I know they don't get as much blog attention, and I work in the parenting sphere to make sure these non-dramatic children get their equal share of parental attention. This can be tricky because it is the louder children who are more often at the forefront of a parent's mind. And ears.

So let me sing the praises of D. today. This child is a natural peace maker. He truly cares for people and wants what's best for them. Now, this isn't a conflict avoidance, thing. He is plenty ready to stand up for his rights (or other's rights) if necessary, but he is just as willing, and quick, to forgive.

God truly knew what he was doing when he made D. and TM brothers. They enjoy each other's company (except when they don't... typical brothers), and compliment each other well. I am hard pressed to say whether D.'s precocious compassion came before TM or…

The bad and the good

There was an episode of the television show M*A*S*H* that I remember watching as a child which keeps coming back to me. In the episode, scenes would change between the experiences of the army hospital in a war zone and images of what people were doing back in the United States while all of this was going on. One scene, where people were dressed in fancy clothes, dancing at a big party particularly sticks with me. As I child I remember being disappointed that it wasn't one of the funny episodes, but I don't remember much of the funny episodes and do remember this one.

I know why it keeps popping into my mind right now. I'm sure we all have been feeling more than a little off since the news of the tragedy broke yesterday morning. I keep going to that 'what if' place and try to imagine what the families must be experiencing, but then pull back and purposefully think about something else when the stomach churning reaches too great a level. On some level it just doesn&#…

Hey, pictures!

I know you all must be tired of the saga of me, Blogger, and pictures, so I won't go on and on about it any longer, but enjoy the pictures while they're here.  (And since some people have mentioned they really like the larger albums on the fb page, I will probably continue to do that as well.) And in honor of the reappearance of photographs, I'm putting up the dress rehearsal photos from Thin Ice Theater's latest show which opens tonight, The Importance of Being Ernest. B. in on of the male leads and I am really looking forward to seeing it. The play is very funny and I'm sure this group of actors will do a great job. 
So enjoy the photos and admire the costumes which I happen to know took the amazing costume ladies (my friend, the mother of the P. family among them) literally hours and hours of their lives... at Christmas time, no less. And, if you live in the area, come to the show! You won't regret it. Look at the Thin Ice website for more details, or conta…

Gingerbread houses

Today we made gingerbread houses. I have made the policy that we can do one 'big' baking project per Christmas season, some years is it decorating cookies and other years it's gingerbread houses. Trying to do every single fun holiday option in one year is just too crazy-making.

I was going to bake the gingerbread myself, but I saw some really inexpensive kits at Aldi and after I quickly did the math realized that buying the kits was actually going to be the cheaper option. Plus it would save me the afternoon of baking and cutting out gingerbread. I also decided to get each child their own kit. I just couldn't imagine how some of the population would be able to share a house without a whole lot of fuss and bother. Not only was a house for each of them my gift to them, but it was also my gift for myself to ensure peace and tranquility.

It paid off. We had a lovely morning with only one bout of tears (from L. when I took the candy away from her... she was well on her way …

Too busy to care?

You know the day isn't going well when at 9:15 am you call your husband asking if you can quit. It's as though God took me at my word when I mentioned that I wished I was better at recovering from the yucky parts of the day and being able to redeem them and move on instead of getting stuck in them. I've been getting a lot of practice. Today the proverbial straw was the little girl standing on the stairs announcing to me that she was peeing. This after dealing with a lot more bodily fluids than one likes to deal with before the second cup of coffee. (Poor D. has the stomach flu.) Bless B. who, without being asked, took over cleaning the little girl up while I was crying at my poor husband who could do nothing other than sympathize.

The day did start to look up after I finally managed to get dressed. We got some schoolwork done and I was able to get B. to his tech week rehearsal in time. Everyone is now more or less having quiet time and I spent a few minutes checking up on …

A short update on K.

I realize I haven't updated on K. is doing in a while, and I mention it now because he has made such huge progress in the last few months. You know how I have always said that if we adjust his age down two years, to make up the two years in the orphanage, that he is entirely appropriate? Well, I'm beginning to think that he had made up a year and that we only need to adjust down one year these days.

And why do I think this? Well, a variety of reasons. First he has just had a huge growth spurt, the likes of which I never thought we'd see. Toward the end of summer, I realized that his dresser was overflowing with clothes, most of which he couldn't wear because they were either worn out from three years' continual use or they were actually a little short. I went through and pulled out everything that didn't fit and was able to take out all the 3T and 4T clothes and leave just the 5's. (It shows how perpetually tiny K. has been that at age 6 he still had 3T'…

Family tree trimming party 2012... or the gift of older child adoption

I know I have written a lot about the challenges in olderchildadoption, but to give a really balanced view, I also need to share the joys. And if I had to describe H. in very few words, joyful would be right there at the top. It is amazing to me that a child who has been through so much in her short life and endured so many potentially life shattering changes, can continue to smile and take such joy in life.

And let me tell you, this girl LOVES Christmas. She loves everything single thing about it. Just seeing lights in people's yards sends her into raptures. Just seeing the decorations everywhere was enough for her, but it just keeps getting better. First, she discovered that Christmas is actually a giant birthday party. (And we know that H. loves birthdays.) She didn't believe us at first, but I think she pretty much understands now that Christmas is Baby Jesus' birthday.

(And the biased mother in me can't help sharing how G. told me it all works. Gigi announces to m…

Rushing around or just think quality time

My claim to fame for the day is I took G., L., and H. grocery shopping today and lived to tell about it. Not only that, but it was a pleasant trip. Actually far more pleasant than my usual shopping trips where my goal is to get in and out as fast as possible. And it really wasn't that much slower to have the girls in tow.

Part of the success of the shopping trip was that I decided ahead of time, since I needed to take all three, that I would make the best of it and just not worry about how long it was taking. (And I needed to take all three because J. has a paper to write today and everyone else was gone. B. was in M.'s directing final at school and the others had gone downtown to Moody where P20's theater group was having an acting workshop. There was no way J. would get any writing done if I left him with the three youngest girls.) So off we went. There was only a minor scene before leaving when I told L. that she had to take the Superman costume off. I've relaxed qu…

Rampant screen addiction

I truly believe that our country as a whole suffers from this disease. I am hyper-aware of it at this moment because we just returned from a field trip to the Shedd Aquarium and I'm pretty sure that we saw more screens than fish.

Yes, you read that right, we were at the Shedd Aquarium and I had more than five children with me. How can this be you ask, because you have read more than one tirade from me about the Shedd Aquarium's punitive large family policy. In fact, you feel as though I write about it allthe time. Did I finally cave in and pay the fine fee for my extra children?

Ha! You don't know me very well then. No, my good friend, who is the mother of the H-S family I write about, had a brilliant idea... she scheduled a field trip for us. Evidently it's fine for very large groups of children to visit the Shedd for free, but it's not OK for large families to visit without paying buckets of money. Alright, we'll play along. This way a place to stash our lunc…

Camel crafts

One of the things we are learning about this year are deserts. (Note, that's one 's', not two, though I'm sure everyone would find a study on desserts very... yummy.) We have spent the late fall in the Sahara and are just about ready to move on, but we have a few things left to do. One is to watch the Michael Palin travelogue about his crossing the Sahara and the other we took care of today, which was doing a substantial art project. Art makes everything more interesting, don't you think?

I have also discovered the absolutely best use of Pinterest, which is to find grade school appropriate art projects that I would never think up on my own. Evidently art teachers across the country have embraced Pinterest with a fervor and as a result there are some really amazing projects to be found there. My newest technique is to type in whatever we are studying and add 'art project' after it and lo and behold, multiple choices will often appear. This is what I did for …


I just started and deleted a terribly uninteresting post about feeling crunched for time. And while I am feeling that way a bit, to think in those terms isn't where I want to spend my time. Because the truth of the matter is, I have enough time. I may not always choose to fill that time wisely, but there is enough. This Advent I want to really spend my time focusing on what is important. There are many things that seem to be important at that moment, but really, if they don't get done, it's not the end of the world.

I know I wrote about my ability to procrastinate, and I'm wondering if that is really the word for it. Maybe it is more a matter of choosing my priorities correctly. The laundry, for one brief and wonderful moment, was all caught up. And now it's not. In fact, I haven't done laundry for three days and the speed with which it piles up is extraordinary. I know I will have a chance to get to it tomorrow and then I will make a valiant attempt at control…

Learning and Play

For the more educationally traditional among you, this post may cause you to break out in hives. Just be forewarned.

It was bill paying day. I probably don't need to say anything other than that. But I wanted to share what kept the younger people busy for quite a good portion of the day. The current obsession du jour around here is tops. What they (and when I say 'they', what I really mean are the middle boys), would really like are Beyblades. (Yeah, I didn't know what they were either.) It turns out they are fancy battling tops. Which, I'm told are really, really cool.

But I'm not running out and purchasing said cool item, and since my Christmas shopping has been done for a while, they won't be appearing then either. And I have informed my boys of this. I have been impressed, though. Instead of whining and moping around that this very cool item will not be appearing in our home any time soon, they have come up with an acceptable substitute.

Enter Legos to …