Showing posts from October, 2013

Happy 11th Birthday, TM!

Today is TM's birthday, though we will celebrate tomorrow. He really does not like having his birthday connected with all the hoopla and scary stuff of Halloween and I can't say I blame him. We decided that All Saints' Day, Nov. 1, was a much better time to celebrate, so that's what we do. I did make apple cider donuts this morning per his request, though.

So, Happy Birthday, TM! I love you more than you may ever know. You have changed my in profound ways; no less profound than when M. was born and I first became a mother. I am constantly amazed at your creativity and love to see your seemingly effortless projects. You are bright and energetic with so many good things inside of you.

I also grieve for the hurts you have endured and would do just about anything to be able to go back and somehow change it. When you hurt, I hurt. I continually pray love and peace for you. That you would feel God's profound and unreserved love for you and as a result be able to feel you…

First world problems

As I finished writing yesterday's post, I considered add in a little line at the bottom about knowing that in the great scheme of things, this was a trivial problem. Then I decided that it seemed pretty obvious that the whole trivial episode ended in my owning up to my poor behavior, but once again, I'm reminded that tone in writing doesn't always come through.

Because I do know that a movie not arriving the second I expect it hardly worth getting my pants in a knot over; it's one of those first world problems, a problem with abundance. Yet I find it is these types of problems that trip me up more than the 'big' ones. For the big things... finances, difficult children, health issues... they feel so big and possibly so overwhelming, that I know I cannot even begin to deal with them. I have no expectations except that God is going to take care of them in the best way possible, even if that turns out not to be the way I would have arranged things. (And I'm gre…

Queue problems... or eating crow

I spent a portion of last night going around and apologizing to my older children for my little temper tantrum regarding the Netflix queue that happened over the weekend. They were right... I was wrong.

To explain the whole story, I have to back up a bit. Netflix is one of our major entertainment options and our movie queue is very long. Since we don't watch a movie every night, it can take a while for a person's chosen movie to reach the top of the queue, thus arriving in the mail able to be viewed. It has become a thing around here to fiddle with the queue and "help" ones movie reach the top faster. Not everyone is guilty of this all the time, but it happens. I've learned that if there is a movie I really need to arrive, such as for school, that I need to time moving it to the top of the queue to the time when a previous movie is mailed, ensuring its arrival when I need it.

Last week, when I was looking ahead in my school schedule, I noticed that I had schedule…

First horse show

P. was in her first horse show yesterday. She has been looking forward to this for weeks now. She and A. have been taking riding lessons for almost a year now. Their very generous grandparents are paying for them, because it certainly isn't in our budget and they love them. The stable where they ride has two school shows a year, one in the spring and one in the fall. When the notice came out about the spring show earlier in the year and I saw the entrance fee, I had to tell the girls there was no way we could make it work. They were disappointed, but took it fine. 
This time, when the fall show notice came out, I could tell that P. had been doing a lot of thinking. She had decided that instead of buying the new bicycle that she had been saving her money for, she would rather pay the entrance fee to the show. I questioned her carefully because 20 minutes of riding in a show verses having a bicycle that she could ride for a long time didn't seem like an equal trade-off. (And I …

A gentle reminder to begin planning for the rest of the year

It's the end of October which means at any second now, life will feel as though someone hit the fast forward button and it won't be until the middle of January that I'm able to catch my breath. In order to contain and conquer some of the season's worst excesses. To that end, I am starting to make lists and am also going to sort through all of our winter wear. Due to general nuttiness around here, this is something that never happened last year. As a result, people would go to the basement and grabbed whatever they could find. They were warm, but things are fairly topsy-turvy.

Since I will be busy doing that, I'm going to send you to other posts that I have written about getting organized for the upcoming season. I'm also going to link to posts where I have shown various things I've made for Christmas gifts to get you thinking and give you some ideas.

First about getting prepared. You can read the long version: Advance planning: get a cup of tea, this is the…

I do not heart minky

I thought that making G. a panda costume would be a good idea. She loves them and she is still little enough to think dressing up as a panda would be fun. So I bought I pattern that looked as though it would be fairly simple to change into a panda and started looking for some fabric. Then a bit ago, I discovered on one of my many trips to Vogue (I live just a few blocks away and just run over anytime I need a sewing notion... which seems to be a lot) I happened to notice that minky fabric was half off.

You know minky fabric, right? It's that super, super soft fleece that many baby blankets are made out of. It's the fabric, that when you bring your children to the fabric store, they stop and pet the whole time you are looking at other fabric. It really feels good to touch it. And wouldn't a panda made out of minky be just so soft and cute? I thought so, so I bought a bunch of black minky and white minky.

Those of you who have actually sewn with minky fabric before can see w…

A morning in the life

It's 10 am and I am still in my pajamas waiting to be able to get in the shower. You see, a good friend of mine is taking three of my children to a zoo for the day and we are waiting for them to be picked up. That's fun, you think to yourself, and if you are a normal, healthy individual, that's all it is... just fun. But if you happen to have had a lot of bad things happen to you in your early years, then fun is not so simple. Fun and anxiety are processed  and interpreted all the same way. In fact, it's pretty hard to tell the difference between the two. Fun, beforehand, really isn't so much fun.

Which is why I'm still waiting to get dressed. Over the course of the morning, waiting for the three to get picked up, I have been on high alert. First there was the drama about what lunch to bring.

"What should I bring for lunch?"
"I don't know what I should bring for lunch."
"Could I pack just a snack."
"I don't think I need…

Another letter

Dear Mr. Rainey,

I read your letter that went out with the most recent Family Life email (10/23). It was about the story of Davion's plea for a family that went viral on social media. I feel for this child and think it is wonderful that so many people have come forward, interested in being his parents. I think it is always a good thing for the church to be confronted with the plight of the orphan. And it also scares me.

I have 10 children, 3 of whom are adopted. Of those three, one of them suffers from trauma as a result of early experiences in his life. I love him madly, but parenting him is the most difficult thing I have ever done. I have read in other places that Davion, as a result of his less than wonderful life experiences still deals with anger. (Why wouldn't he? It is actually perfectly natural.) But because of this, I pray that the parents he is ultimately placed with are prepared. I pray that they have been given adequate training, though in reality, reading about a…

What's wrong with being a lady?

In Sunday's paper, there is a column where parents write in with their parenting question and the staff give their responses followed by an 'expert' giving their 'expert' opinion. More often then not, something about this column causes me to kvetch to my family at lunch after church (it's kind of a tradition), but this past Sunday's column was so over the top merely orating to my family didn't seem quite enough. The question was something along the lines of, "My mother is always telling my daughter to act like a lady. I don't know what to do about it. Help!" Every single respondent then agreed with the writer that this was a totally horrible and completely out-of-line thing for a grandmother to say to her granddaughter and then proceeded to give suggestions as to how to make it stop.


I read it again, thinking I surely must have missed something, but no the column remained unchanged. Evidently being a lady is a totally abhorrent thing …

Leaf relief art project

How about a post that's light and full of pictures after a week of lots and lots of words? Last Friday was our first scheduled 'Art Friday' where we do bigger and more involved art projects. Since it is the beginning of fall, I decided to do leaf relief pictures using the instructions from the Cassie Stephens blog. It worked out quite well.
First, two gratuitous pictures of a cute little girl. This is G.

The first step of the project was to mount a leaf on a piece of mat board using spray adhesive and then mount a piece of foil on top of that. Once the foil was on, the children then used their fingers to smooth and press the foil and rub over the leaf so the outline appeared.  (Really, if you want to try this, don't use my description, but go to the website where there are real instructions.) Here's H. and L. (yes, she dressed herself) holding their foil-covered leaves waiting for the black spray paint, which was the next step.

Once the foil is ready to go, I spra…

Couldn't wait to share

Do you remember this little girl? The one I have shared about for quite some time now (though in the past month or so, I have been negligent)? Well, do I have some good news for all of you. 

I am thrilled to tell you she has a family!! If you pop over to The Blessing of Verity blog, you can read all the details and see a picture of her new family. If you do, you will also see a link to a site where the family is trying to raise money to bring this precious little girl home. Home with a family who will love her and care for her. A home where she will not spend every waking hour alone in a bed with no one to care about her.

I know not everyone is called to adopt, but we are all called to help. Here is a great chance for you to play a part in placing an orphan in a family. Please, please, please, go to Bringing Brandi Home and help out this family. Adoption is very expensive and few families have the resources to pay for it, though day to day expenses work out. Many of you have seen thi…

Clutter, part 4

Yes, I know I said I was only going to do three parts on clutter, but in talking with a friend, she brought up one more aspect that our inability to contain our clutter impacts. That is, our tendency to live with a mind-set of scarcity while surrounded with abundance. What are we tacitly teaching our children about what our relationship to stuff should be? Is there ever enough?

Most children are natural hoarders. At least in my experience they are. It starts with the toddler yelling, "Mine!" and moves onto the preschooler and grade school student who keep every single scrap of paper they come across. They tend to fixate on what they don't have which causes them to hold tightly to what they do. Many adults are really not much different. Yet, in reality, we have so much. Too much. It's why we have a clutter problem to begin with.

We need to tame our relationship with our clutter and stuff in order to help our children develop a right relationship with stuff. We need to…

Adoption - a [somewhat] brief story of our journey

I'm using an old post for the adoption link-up.

Since Kelly's Korner blog is having a link-up today on adoption, I thought this might be a good time to review where we've been. It's a long story and some of my newer readers may not be familiar with it. I'll try to keep it short. (Ha! Not my strong suit.) We'll see how I do.

I have always been interested in adoption. It was something I always wanted to do and even did some serious research into it after our second child, B. was born. (Our first, M. was two.) I wrote away (yes, it was that long ago) for information from various agencies and thought and prayed about it. It never seemed quite right and we never did anything more serious than think. In the meantime, we had three more children, A., P., and D. I had five little blond stair steps and life was good. They were easy, pleasant children, life was pretty stable, and we had a new and bigger house. We felt on top of things. And something felt as though it w…

Love their socks off

Not being one to turn down a blogging prompt, I decided to write about Hearts at Home Blog Hop topic for the month. That being the idea of comparing ourselves to others and how we just need to stop doing it. That's all well and good, isn't it? To say it is not good to compare ourselves with others, but it is another thing completely to actually stop doing so. Unless we look a little deeper at why we play this comparison game, it isn't something that we will be able to really stop because we won't have fixed the problem that is the cause of it.

Comparing ourselves to others can run two ways. The first is that we compare ourselves to other people and we turn up lacking; the second is others come up lacking in comparison to ourselves. And if you're anything like me, if you have found someone who makes you feel inferior, you will quickly find someone else who boosts your ego with their supposed failings. Written out like that in black and white it looks pretty ugly, hu…

Clutter, part 3

We only really have clutter because we have so much stuff. If you only have a couple of things, then it is easy to keep them orderly. Clutter is a problem of abundance, but we usually seem to have clutter because we are afraid of not having enough. Enough of what we need, enough of what we want, enough to project the image about ourselves that we want others to see. Fundamentally, clutter is really trying to tell us something about our faith in God.

It is uncomfortable to listen to. I know I don't always want to really think about the sheer amount of stuff I keep hold of. It's a control thing. (I am actually not that different from my always-need-to-be-in-control son. A humbling thought.) I say that I trust God to take care of me, but then I turn around and clutch and hoard stuff because I am afraid that He won't. It all comes down to fear. Again.

There is a slight tension in the Bible, though, between being wise and prepared and being foolish and hoarding. At what point d…

Happy 11th Birthday, H!

Yesterday was H.'s 11th birthday. She had a good day and enjoyed her celebration.
The cake
Blowing out the candles
Opening presents
Sisters... can you tell I haven't turned the heat on yet?
TM reading H. the card he made for her
I thought this would also be a good time to give a brief update on how H. is doing.

Overall, she is doing well and making progress. It's slow progress, with a back and forth motion, but it's progress. Health-wise, she is currently fighting on infection in her eye and on her face where one of the sutures was. Since she began antibiotics, it is looking better. We are still trying to get her seizures under control as well. We have an appointment with the neurologist at the end of her month and I'm sure we will be tweaking her medication once again. No seizures would be great. Her weak eye has been making progress with the patching. It started out at 20/200 (with glasses) and at her most recent visit earlier this month, it is now at 20/60. Pre…

Clutter, part 2

For me, there is another really huge reason to get rid of the clutter and that is because is helps my child affected by trauma. Now, before I continue, I have to give my regular disclaimer. I am not a trained therapist. I am a mother who is working to raise a traumatized child and is willing to share what she has learned along the way. What is true for my child and what works for him may not be true for your child or family. Take it all with a grain of salt.

There are three big ways that clutter is not a good thing for my healing child. The first is pretty obvious and that visual clutter and disorder seems to hinder an already cluttered and disordered brain to regulate. Think about it. Do you do well in a chaotic and disordered environment? I'm not talking about whether you work best with a messy desk or not, but just the atmosphere in general. I'm pretty sure that the majority of people would say that disorder... messiness... visual chaos makes them feel unsettled and unhappy…

Clutter, part 1

I know it's a topic I harp on a bit, but it's because it is something I deal with fairly constantly and I think other people do as well. I just don't think it's healthy to live with clutter and I'm really trying to stem the tide, though sometimes it does feel like an uphill battle. My war against clutter seems to go in cycles, so why this renewed interest? A couple of reasons.

I am a magazine junkie, though I have a love-hate relationship with many of them. I find magazines the perfect thing to look at and read when I have a few spare moments. Often they don't require much in the way of brain power and I like looking at pretty pictures. I used to subscribe to several shelter magazines, but over the years stopped the subscriptions for my own mental health. I found that looking at these types of magazines too often created an unhealthy mental attitude of dissatisfaction. While many of the homes featured in the magazines were beautiful and occasionally I did get a…

And some days I know exactly what I do

This is particularly true if I have taken 11 people to the Museum of Science and Industry for most of the day, which is what we did today. It was a good visit and we had a good time, but it's tiring. Often when we do a museum visit, I make it short so that I don't have to worry about lunch, but we had this planned as a bigger trip, so we took lunches with us.

There are a couple of things I really like about visiting Science and Industry. First is they have a good family policy, in that they don't really care how many children you have. It's just nice not to have to fight about it. (Because you know I'd raise a stink.) Second, it's really easy to eat a lunch you bring from home. If you are in the area and haven't figured this out, or are going to make a special trip, I'll tell you how we work it. For the morning, we leave the lunch in the car, then when it is getting close to lunch time, we head downstairs to the area the first escalator brings you, and …

What do you do all day?

I have to admit I was thinking about the answer to this question today long before I popped on facebook and saw a link to this blog post about a husband's response to the question of whether his wife was going "back" to work. (I thought it was a great post, by the way, not that that should surprise anyone.) But there are some days when I get to the end of them and I look around the house and see disaster after disaster, nothing on my to-do list has been accomplished, and I do wonder what the heck I've been doing for the past 8 or 10 hours. I know I must have been doing something because I can't recall just sitting around reading novels and eating candy (though I don't think I would be adverse to this), and I'm tired. Really, really tired. But what have I done?

Some days it just doesn't seem like I have done that much, if I am truthful. This is mainly because I don't really have anything tangible to show for the day. Unfolded, but clean laundry doe…

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

I love it when a book captures a child's imagination and opens up a whole new world to them. I find this usually occurs when the book is very well written and contains characters who have character traits that are to be admired and emulated. It has certainly been the case for D. and for the book, Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, by Jean Lee Latham

The boys and I needed a new read aloud book for bedtime and TM had said he wanted a book that involved ships and sailing. On a whim, I pulled Mr. Bowditch off the shelves and started it. Truth be told, though I have read good reviews of the book and the book has been on my shelves for years and I've taught the American Revolution period of American history more than once, I've never read it. Boy, was I (and my older children) missing out. It is a great book.

One of Nathaniel Bowditch's chief characteristics is his desire and drive to learn, which he does even when life circumstances would seem to prevent him from doing so. Well, this …

My big blue IKEA bag

We spent a good portion of Saturday going through the house and picking up. Every single surface in the house had become piled to Mt. Everest proportions. I admit that some of the mess was the remains of my school planning that I had never put back into place, but certainly not all of it. The disease of 'leave your belongings where ever they drop out of your hands' had reached epidemic levels. It was time to take drastic action. It was time for the big blue IKEA bag.

[Insert menacing music.]

This is something I used to do long, long ago, but decided it was time to dig it out of my bag of tricks. It's a simple idea. I keep the big blue IKEA bag in the kitchen. If I find anything that it is not put away and I pick it up, I put it in the bag. A child is welcome to reclaim the items in the bag at any time (in fact, it is encouraged), but at a designated time on Saturday mornings I will empty the contents of the bag and get rid of it, no matter what happens to be inside. It'…

Shark teeth

Look what we discovered last night. K. has two grown-up teeth growing behind his baby teeth and his baby teeth are very loose.

To me this is the final proof that K.'s development stalled for two years in the orphanage and he really is not just two years delayed, but really two years younger than he should be... as if someone hit the pause button on his life. Teeth tell a lot and first new teeth come in sometime during a child's fifth year. K. is, age-wise, 7 years old, but really he's five. According to his teeth.

Quietness, well my version

Yesterday as I was telling J. about our schedule for today, I mentioned that P., TM, and D. would be going to the Art Institute to do a drawing through the museum program with friends. As a result, because the son who requires extra vigilance and extra patience would be away, I said that it would be a quiet morning. This morning, after those three had gone and our house guest had gone to a cleaning job, J., on his way out the door was listening to the six children that were going to be left in my and A.'s charge and he laughed thinking back to yesterday's conversation. You see, the house at that point, with busy, busy, busy preschoolers was anything but quiet. It was rather loud, in fact. Happy loud, but still loud. He mentioned that perhaps my idea of quiet was rather different from most other people's.

I realized that it is. Quiet has come to mean 'without drama, disaster, or disregulation' in my world. It truly has nothing to do with volume. Thus with the main p…

Avoiding the bills

Since I should be working on paying bills right now, it seems much more fun and interesting to write a blog post instead. (Actually just about anything at this moment sounds more fun and interesting.) Now, if only I had something to write about. I'm afraid odds and ends is all you get today.

First, I know that I've told you that A. is very interested in photography. She saw that our local library was running a photo contest and decided to enter. Well, out of over 100 entries in her age group, one of her photos was chosen as a semi-finalist. If you click the link, you can see the picture that was chosen. She is in the under 18 category and her photo is the one of P. reading on the roof of the van. I will note that this is not normally a place that P. reads, but did so to humor A. in her quest for interesting reading photos. (Please don't think this is a ploy for votes, though you're welcome to vote for whichever photo you like best. I really just wanted to share her pho…

History crafts

As we've been reading through The Story of the Romans, I have crafts planned that (sort of) match elements in what we've been reading. (As we get further along, it gets a little easier... read about Roman roads, make a model of a Roman road.) Right now we've been reading about the early, more mythical stories of Rome which do not always lend themselves to hands-on, educationally-related activities. We've been doing a little stretching.
The first history craft we did was to make eagles. (Tarquin had his had stolen and then replaced by an eagle which was seen as an auspicious sign.) Ours didn't turn out quite so eagle-like due to the multi-colored feathers that we used. These eagles have a string that runs through the toilet paper tube so that two people stand across from each other holding both strings. When on spreads his arms apart, the other holds his arms together, thus sending the eagle 'flying' back and forth as the string is moved apart from either e…