Showing posts from February, 2013

Running, running, running

For the first time in nearly 24 hours, I have a lull in the action. We started out yesterday cleaning the third floor. That is our playroom and my storage area for all of our homeschooling stuff and toys that are currently put away. That area of the house had become completely out of control. It was so bad that everyone had pretty much stopped even trying to put things away and if something belonged on the third floor it was either left on the stairs or thrown into the doorway. Plus, there were a lot of the toys that are supposed to come out only one at a time which were out all at the same time. Chaos. And I couldn't live with it any longer.

So up we all went and put it back to rights. It really didn't take that long once everyone started to help, mainly because of the very large toy purge I had done a couple of years ago. It looked as if it would take forever, but that was mainly because of the Playmobile, Lego (the upstairs Legos which live in the third floor, not the boys&…

Table manners

I haven't written about eating together as a family for a long time and it seems I'm overdue. In talking with people, it seems that one of the more difficult aspects of sharing dinner together as a family is the lack of table manners in the children who are participating. With a little training and a little patience, this is something you can make better.

I will be the first to admit that my children do not exhibit perfect table manners. They are all a work in progress, but I also feel fairly confident in taking them out in public to eat and we generally make it through dinner in a relatively chaos-free way. So here are my tips for encouraging good table manners in your children.

Start early. We start working on table manners as soon as a child is able to sit at the table. (For us this is usually somewhere around two.) This doesn't mean we expect them to know how to behave, but it is the time to start practicing. For instance, in our home, no one eats their food until all a…


It's difficult to write a post when you're just not home all afternoon. Enjoy these posts from other people while I sit down and catch my breath.

First what I thought was an intriguing post about adoption, faith and large families. Clinical View vs. Biblical View at All Are Precious In His Sight

Next, my (now real life) friend who works at Eagles' Wings outside of Zhengzhou (we took a lot of supplies to them when we were adopting H.), is posting a Lenten series about various needs that exist and that you can support. The series is Forty Days. If you click on the current day (today is Day 11) you will see what the opportunity to help is. Thankfully, many of the needs have been completely met.

Then you have to go look at the blog Attic 24. It is a blog all about crocheting. You don't need to crochet to enjoy it. I still don't crochet, but it makes me want to learn. It is bright and happy and fun and just what I want to look at in bleak and gloomy February.

And lastly…

Being controversial

Would it surprise you to know that I am extremely conflict avoidant? I really do not like it and while I enjoy a good discussion, the second it seems to take on an angry tone I immediately feel panic welling up inside and seek to find a way to flee. I've become a little better about this over the years, but it will never be something that I seek out. Every so often I feel the need to write about something that could be viewed as controversial because I feel it needs to be said. But I do not relish the task. On most days, I will frequently check to see if anybody has commented on a post, but on a post I fear could be misconstrued, I will avoid the comments and often have J. read any comments first to see if they are 'safe' to read.

All of that is a lead up to what I fear may be one of those controversial topics where I post and run. (That may actually be a good thing for my to-do list.) There have been several conversations I've had over the past few weeks and various c…

Shakespeare and children

I was talking with the P. Family mom this morning because P20 is playing Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream next weekend at Moody Bible Institute. As we were talking, she mentioned that she has found that people are making a really big deal about the fact that this group of students is performing Shakespeare and that there has been a big push to emphasize that people really will be able to understand it and should come and see it. We both agreed that we don't quite get it.

This could be because our children have been immersed in Shakespeare for a very long time. At least for our family (and I'm pretty sure the P. family has been doing the same thing because I vividly remember P20 finding a complete collection of Shakespeare at some sort of book sale and she was so excited about it that the seller gave it to her for free), we have been sharing the plays of Shakespeare with our children since they were very, very little. M. went to her first play at the age and of two (and …

Me first

I don't write about marriage much here, taking to heart Tolstoy's idea that, "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." (It's from Anna Karenina... a book I highly recommend.) But today for the Hearts at Home link-up, the topic is, "No more perfect marriages". While my marriage isn't perfect (Whose is? Marriages are made up of imperfect people.), it is very happy and J. and I will be celebrating our 22nd anniversary in June. But there are things we actively do to make our marriage happy while still dealing with the fact that we are both imperfect. It's those things I want to share with you today.

I will say up front that J. is the far better half when we're talking about sacrificial marriage. I try to keep up, but he sets a high standard. Know that when I make this list that I never do all of them perfectly, but this is what I aim for. Because in a marriage, the key to making it work is all about putting …

Attitude adjustment

That would be an attitude adjustment on my part. And what do I need to adjust my attitude about? Bill paying. I dislike it. I dread it coming every two weeks. I put off dealing with anything to do with bill paying for as long as possible. And I am not a pleasant person when I finally work up the energy to deal with it. But I had several wake-up calls yesterday about how I approach it and feel I need to do some things differently.

Wake up call #1 was a very good friend calling and announcing out of the blue that she thought that the two of us needed to change our attitude toward bill paying. It was interesting timing since I was just beginning the process of slogging through the piles which had built up on my desk in order to begin the process. She pointed out that perhaps we were not being exactly models of mental health for our children in this area.

Wake up call #2 happened while I was on the phone with my friend and continued to sort through the piles when I discovered that the bil…

Raising interesting children

I was right when I predicted on Saturday that the house would be all about knitting. Here are a couple of pictures from the morning. 
D. and TM, having finished their work and were sitting and knitting together.
That's A.'s project on the table, which she had set down for a moment to help K. with something.
This happens so often, I wanted to write about it. "This" not being knitting per se, but my children becoming interested in whatever project I am engaged in and enjoying. The key word here is enjoying. They see me engaged in plenty of activities... laundry, bill paying, etc... but at no time have any of them ever started playing 'bill paying' or begged to help with the laundry. No, it is when they see that I am deriving pleasure from what I am doing that they become interested. I have seen it happen with knitting and sewing and painting and even organizing. (I really enjoy organizing things. If I start an organizing project, I can guarantee at least one o…

Why would I want to share this?

"S says ssssssssss.... A says aaaa.... M says mmmm...
ssss...aaaa... mmm...
ssss aammmm
ss am

"Mommy I read it!! I love you, Mommy!" and K. gives me a big kiss followed by a high five.

K. read his first words today. He has been waiting to do this for months, but I have learned to not introduce sound blending too soon because I want a child's first experience to be met with success. Having finished his last introductory phonics workbook, he was ready and eager to start.

You want to know why I homeschool? This is it. I selfishly want the best moments of my child's day to myself. I want to be the one to witness and share the joy when new ideas are discovered and new skills are learned. I want to be the one my child hugs when he reads his first word.

And for this little boy, the victory is so much sweeter. Not talking or eating solid food at over two years of age, he was far more like an infant in ability and size when we brought him home. I've said b…

Avoidance knitting

We are having a relaxing Saturday, which thankfully, has been going very smoothly. So it makes me think I should use the time to tackle one of the many projects I have been meaning to get to... sorting through coats, hats, and mittens; putting away the outgrown clothes that have piled up in my bedroom and maybe even cleaning that room; deep-cleaning one of the rooms which really needs it; spending some time in the kitchen and making some food for future use; cleaning off my desk so that I can more easily pay the bills on Monday. And that's just the list I came up with barely thinking about it.

What have I been doing this afternoon? Knitting. And ironically the pattern I'm using is called, 'The Fear of Commitment Scarf'. I think the reason I am not motivated to start any of these projects is that I have learned from experience that sometimes projects take on a life of their own and the two hours I thought would be enough just isn't. I'm not really excited by the…

Before and after, plus a story writing idea

I've been in contact with Love Without Boundaries because they sponsored some of H.'s care. In response to my query they have been digging up what they have and this picture arrived in my inbox the other day. It is the earliest picture we now have of her and one of the few we have prior to any surgeries. 

To contrast it, I snapped a picture of H. just a few minutes ago. (She is feeling much better this morning having gotten sick at the restaurant when we were having dinner last night.) We're still working on scheduling her next surgery, but she is beyond excited to have the mass on her cheek removed. Still, even without that done, I find the difference remarkable. Bless the organizations and surgeons who orchestrated and performed her first two surgeries to get her to this point.

Now the story writing idea. As have mentioned more than a few times, we are working on writing stories. With varying degrees of ease, this comes pretty naturally to everybody else, but language a…

Somebody loves you!

It is Valentine's Day today, so we did something different. Instead of working on our book writing, we worked on making valentines instead. First, though, we read the book, Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch. It is one of my favorite picture books. It starts out with showing how Mr. Hatch lives... a drab existence that is not shared with anyone, doing the same things day in and day out. Even the colors the pages are done in are grey and drab. And then one day the postman delivers a large box to him. Inside is a large red heart box, filled with chocolate, and a note which says, "Somebody loves you!" Mr. Hatch is transformed at the thought somebody loves him. He begins to talk to people. He offers to help them and do nice things for them. In time Mr. Hatch makes friends with his neighbors and co-workers. As Mr. Hatch becomes more and more integrated into his community, the colors become brighter and brighter. Life is good. And then one day the postman comes back, apologizing, s…

Mouse books and Lent and literacy readiness

The title may seem to indicate that I am somehow going to connect the separate topics into one cohesive post. Sorry, can't do it. The title is merely a list of the things which will appear in this post. First, Lent, which begins today. I only mention it because I wanted to draw your attention to past posts about what we do for Lent. I am still planning on writing more about observing the liturgical year, but this is not that time. If you are interested in reading more about the Lenten tree that we use or the readings which go along with the tree, just click the embedded links.
Now onto our morning's project. As I have mentioned before, we are working on writing books (and tangentially learning how books are made and what authors and illustrators do, etc.) One of my readers let me know about the book, Library Mouse, which I immediately put on hold at the library. It arrived yesterday and so we were able to read it today. It is a very cute story about a mouse who lives in a lib…

Hey, look, I made a snail

Evidently, I am starting an entire series of animal crafts I started and then never finished. (This may be just a 2-part series, because I don't think I have any more hidden away.) This snail, though, is not nearly so long uncompleted as the camel was. I think it may be just two or three years old. It all started with me finding the book, Amigurumi Knits. I was gung ho and immediately started knitting. I made a pea pod for the P. family mom and I made Christmas gifts for a couple of girls, and then I started the snail. It was to be a gift. Was. I did really well, getting at least the shell made, and then I began to lose steam. A big reason was that I think there was something wrong with the directions and I grew frustrated. When I picked it back up again yesterday, it took me a while to figure out where I was in the pattern and then had a sudden memory of frustration and why I set it aside in the first place. I decided the snail must be finished and so pretty much made up the res…

On not celebrating Tet and Chinese New Year

Yesterday was the lunar new year. Usually we do something to observe it and I had even planned on doing so this year. I had special food, was going to make a cake, and even had a craft planned. But we ended up pretty much ignoring the day, though we did eat some of the food.

Why did we do this, particularly since observing the lunar new year is a 'thing' (as in practically a requirement in order to be considered a 'good' parent) among adoptive families with Asian children? And since we even had made a special trip down to the Vietnamese market to purchase some of the food? Well, the short answer is that sometimes you need to let go of something that is good in order to accomplish something better.

I think it all begins back in that Vietnamese marker last Friday. Parenting children with a trauma history is all about knowing triggers. And I'm usually pretty good at knowing what TM's triggers are and how to avoid (or at least mitigate) them. Early on, anything ass…

Judging a book by its genre

There is a show, Up For Debate, which comes on the radio on Saturdays at about the same time I am waking up and I will often half listen to it as the coffee starts to revive my fuzzy brain. I enjoy a good debate and like to hear the two opposing sides of an issue have a calm and reasonable discussion. I usually find myself on one side or another, but sometimes I find myself vaguely annoyed with both sides. Such was the situation this morning.

The topic at hand was the value (or lack of value) of Christian romance novels. I imagine that if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you could make a very educated guess as to which side you would imagine I would land on. I have no patience with twaddle, particularly in children's books, and I am a voracious reader. I was actually surprised myself that I disagreed with both partied.

I think it was the wholesale dismissal of a genre without regard for the individual books themselves. Are there insipid books within the &#…

Too comfortable

Our lunchtime read aloud is a biography of Daniel Boone. It's been an interesting read, but I am pretty sure I wouldn't have wanted to be married to the man. At one point (OK, at many points), he wants to move further west and sells nearly everything his family owns to do so. The trip into Kentucky would be long and difficult and they could only take pack horses to carry their supplies, so they took just the necessities. Now, before I tell you what those necessities were, I want you to stop and think about what you (and I) would consider to be the necessities we would need to live in the wilderness. Ready? OK, here's their list. Other than food they would need for travelling and the seeds they would need to plant crops, they took very little. They used buffalo hides as both padding for the pack horses and for bedding for the people. Along with these things they took a butter churn, some 20-gallon kettles, and a flour sifter. I know, you're waiting for the rest of the l…