Showing posts from February, 2014

Day O' Doctors

It's been one of those days where I am in and out going to various doctor's appointments. I have them more often than I like and have another day like it coming up on Monday. (Yes, that would be the Monday right before we leave on a major road trip.) And why did I schedule so many doctor's appointments right before we leave? It's a good question. I didn't mean to.

On this very steep learning curve of being a parent of a child undergoing tissue expansion, I learned something new today. If your child has a mild cold (slight cough, runny nose), do not bother to drive a half hour north to the doctor's office for the next round of expander inflation. This is because they won't do it. Now, I have to say I'm happy that my daughter's doctor is conservative and is very careful about infection. Evidently because of the huge foreign objects implanted under the skin, it can be very easy for them to become infected, even from something as benign as a mild cold. …

It's all about connection

(Can you stand another book review?)
I'm finishing up the book,The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating A Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kidsby Madeline Levine. It's a sobering book, but one that I think parents should really read, even if you think your child is doing fine. It has some real insight into the developmental work that teens are doing and how parents can best support them in this work. 
What it really boils down to is that teens want a real relationship with their parents, and not just one based on achievement. They also need to start building their own internal life... to know who they are and to feel they have mastery over different aspects of life. In order to do this, they need to try to do a lot of things without fear of disappointing their parents. Notice I didn't say without fear of failure. This is because our older children (and I would include our younger ones as well) need to try things and not succeed …

The book I was looking for

I might have mentioned a while back I saw someone had asked the question, "What books would constitute a good reading list for parenting a child from hard places?" I have lots of books about the why and some about the how, but what I felt was missing was the hope. I wasn't aware of any books that told the story of a family with a child from a hard place, who had been through the mess and ugliness, and had come out on the other side successfully.

Well, I have finally found that book! It is called God, Are You Nice or Mean? Trusting God... After the Orphanage by Debra Delulio Jones. Oh, how I wish I had come across this book two years ago, it could have offered me a little glimmer of hope when I was feeling fresh out of the commodity. It tells the story of a family who brings home a little two year old from a Romanian orphanage. Things start out fine, with the child exhibiting some difficult behaviors, but two and three year olds can have their difficult moments. The diffi…

A little bit of summer

I might have mentioned last summer that one of the things I canned were sweet pickled cherry tomatoes. B. grew an abundance of them and I tried various preserving methods to deal with the glut. They were so pretty in their jars.

The recipe said that if you put the contents of the jar in a blender, the tomatoes became an excellent salad dressing. It was right. It's pretty much the only salad dressing we've used in the past month. It is so yummy. Actually, the recipe suggested blending the contents of the jar with some olive oil, but I'd forgotten that last bit when we used the first jar. It works fine, but next time I think I will add the oil to help stretch the dressing and to coat the salad a little better.
It's a little like eating summer in a jar. And believe me when I say we need every little bit of summer feeling around here right now.

Belated Tet party

Last Saturday was the annual Families with Children from Vietnam group's Tet party. It is something my children look forward to every year. Crafts, good food, visiting with friends, and of course, lion dancers. Here are some photos from the evening... at least until the camera battery died.
A. and L.
L.'s 'face painted' tiger. (She didn't want it on her face.)
G. (with face painted pandas on her hands)
G. and L. (who didn't really want to have her picture taken at this point)
H. (She chose a flower and then a butterfly tattoo.)
My one picture of one of the lion dancers. 

Homemade preschool learning games

I am a firm believer in the idea that you can give your child an excellent education with only a library card and that if you have a computer, printer, and laminator as well, then you're completely set. (This would apply for all grade levels, but I'm only going to deal with preschool here.) Access to things to learn (thus the library card) is really all you need. There are plenty of ways to make this information engaging and interactive.

At the beginning of the school year, I spent some time making some more preschool activities. Years ago, I had spent an entire summer putting together preschool activity boxes which formed the bulk of what I did with my preschoolers. They could be played with individually or with an older person (parent, brother, sister) and we still use them. But this year, as I was thinking about my current student population, I realized that it was heavily weighted in the actual preschool or developmentally preschool ages. Especially since some of these chi…

One down

H. had her first tissue expander filling this morning. She did great. While she is willing to do just about anything we ask, and we have explained to her how all this works, I can tell that deep down she is really wondering at our judgement and if this is a good idea. I admit, on the face of it, it seems a bit crazy.

How this all works is this: The first surgery was to implant the balloons under her skin in two places. These balloons each have a port which is also under the skin. The saline is then injected through these ports. First, lidocaine (it numbs the skin) is applied to the places on skin under which the ports are located. Once the skin is numb, a needle, which is attached to a long tube which is attached to syringe filled with saline, is inserted into the skin at the port. The saline is injected and you're done. This time, since it was the first injection, the nurse only put in 20 cc of saline into each port. Even that was enough, though, for H. to feel her skin stretchin…

Love your feelings?

It's the monthly Hearts at Home blog hop and today's topic is "Love your feelings". I very nearly didn't participate this time because one doesn't always want to be the contrarian; I'm just not feeling the love for this topic. You see, I don't always love my feelings, and with good reason.

Our feelings do not always reflect reality. Perhaps I am hyper-sensitive to this, having adopted three children whom I did not readily attach to, but there is so much more going on than just how we feel about something. Let's look at some examples.

The first is the one I just alluded to. It is possible, and very often necessary to love someone whom you are not feeling love for at that moment. It could be a child, it could be a spouse, it could be a friend. We should love them, we are told in Scripture to love them, but we don't always feel those lovey-dovey loving feelings. It really doesn't matter what we are feeling at that moment, it matters how we ac…

Not looking back

More often than not, when I prepare for the girls' Bible study I lead, I get far more out of it than they do. At least it feels that way sometimes. Take this week for instance. We are slowly working our way through Luke and we are about in the center, finally finishing up chapter 9. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem and he talks with several people on the way. He either asks the person to follow him or they volunteer and Jesus says some (in my opinion) fairly cryptic things. (vv 57-62) I will admit that none of it made much sense to me. But in studying and preparing for the Bible study, I made some realizations. (I'm a bit slow sometimes.) Jesus' comments have more to do with what it means to follow him... the need to have mercy, that there will be hardship, that it is urgent. These are important things to know, but what really struck me was the last. If you choose to follow Jesus, you can't look back.

As a younger person, this just didn't make sense. I couldn't…

Parenting and control

Children want to feel safe. They want to know that there are boundaries, where they are, and that the adults in their lives also know where the boundaries are and will uphold them. Knowing that the adults in their lives are in control allows the child to relax and get on with the business of playing and growing. I don't think anyone would have trouble with that idea. The problems come when adults get confused about what being in control means. More often than not, being in control has much more to do with managing ourselves and very little to do with being in control of other people.

A while back I read about a study that was done regarding  playgrounds and children. (If anyone has also read this and can point me back to where I found it, I would be happy to attribute it. I just can't remember where I came across it.) Children were watched as they played on different playgrounds. In the playground without a physical boundary, the children tended to play in the center of the ar…

Since I spend my life going to doctor's appointments...

there are just some days there is literally no time to do much of anything else. Today is such a day. This morning, I took H. into the plastic surgeon's office so that the drains in head could be removed. This is always a fantastic event because it means she can go back to showering and makes her feel much more human and less patient-like. Hooray! This afternoon is my little four jaunt to TM's therapist. In the snow. Again.

A commentor had asked about parenting and control since I had mentioned in a previous post. I have been thinking about it a lot and it is a huge topic. I was thrilled to see today that the Parenting with Connection blog has a new post up about control, particularly in dealing with children of trauma. (Need I mention that it is not just children who have been adopted that can have past trauma? Take a look at the ACE's test to see all of the things that can contribute to trauma.) It is great and now I don't have to write about the angle. Tomorrow, whi…

Valentine's Day Party

We had a little Valentine's Day party here yesterday. Just us and 13 of our closest friends, making for 24 people in all. Oh, and a dog.

A. made a cake...

Then another mom planned a mailbox making craft and everyone spent most of the time creating their mailboxes so that they could receive their Valentines. And then once the mailboxes were made, the Valentines needed to be delivered.

A few of the older people decided they didn't need to make mailboxes, so they got piles of Valentines instead.

More delivering...

And then there were many treats. Here is everyone.

The posed version...
And the one they didn't know I was taking.
Everyone took their mailboxes home to open and look inside, so we opened ours after the party.

H. and TM
L. and A.
L. and G.

Reading at lunch

Ever since M. and B. were little, but old enough to listen to chapter books (they were probably 6 and 4), I have read a book aloud at lunch. It is the perfect to time read. I have a captive audience, they are happy to sit and each their lunch and listen, and we can tackle books that might be a stretch at other times. Classics, historical fiction, biographies, etc. For instance, I think M. and B. were about these ages when we read Jules Vernes' Around the World in 80 Days. (That was actually kind of fun, now that I think about it. We followed the characters around the world, charting their course on a map and reading a little about each country they passed through.) Anyway, it has been the perfect time to read.

Since we are learning about ancient Rome this year, we have been reading a couple of historical fiction novels. I had never read them before, despite the fact that this is my third time through this time period with my children and I have seen the books on multiple lists. Th…

At the end of the day

You know those feelings where you should be doing something, but you are unsure whether it is worth the effort to make yourself do it? Those times when it would be so much easier just to sit down with a good book and a bowl of chocolate chips and ignore the things that should be done? And then do you remember your feelings about yourself at the end of the day when you are surrounded by laundry and a mental to do list that remains unchanged? Speaking from experience, I know that I feel fairly rotten about myself as I lie in bed thinking about the day and what I accomplished. Or didn't accomplish as the case may be. We all harbor suspicions about our true character and a day of avoiding tasks we should have done only serves to confirm our worst fears.

Having experienced this feeling more than once, I'm embarrassed to admit, I don't enjoy it and try to avoid it if I can. The key to avoiding it is to remember during the day, at those moments when I am tempted to turn to the bo…

Towards a more humane discipline

I sometimes spend some time on social media places where mothers with younger children hang out. That would be mothers having their first, second, or third child... there aren't a lot of us who have four year olds who are numbers 9 and 10. I don't always chime in with my opinion (really... you probably find that difficult to believe), but I do every so often, and recently I've been finding that my opinion is often quite a bit different from most other people's. It makes me realize how much I've changed in the past few years. Not having an opinion different from other people, that's usual and expected, but that my opinion actually differs from what I would have written 15 or so years ago.

I wasn't a bad mother back then. I had wonderful children who were well behaved and easy to live with. Having children who fit the norm in most ways has the effect that it gives the illusion that the parent's ability has a huge amount to do with it. Now, I'm not say…

How the day went

H.'s surgery was scheduled for 9:30 am which meant we were to be up at the hospital at 8 am. Since the hospital is about 40 minutes away, that meant dropping all the children off at the H-S Family home at about 7:20. We are not early risers. We were just a little later than the 8 am arrival time. I do not like to be late. This was probably the most stressful part of the day for me, but I got over it.

It does mean there is a little less waiting around in pre-op, so once we arrived there wasn't a lot of time to sit around and keep H. entertained and distracted. Other than our own lateness, everything else went like clockwork. H. was calm, though we still weren't convinced she understood exactly what was happening. There were a couple of moments where we thought she was telling us that this surgery would mean that the nevus on her forehead would be gone when she woke up and we kept explaining to her that it wouldn't... not this time. Do you know it is incredibly difficult…

Making stuff

Have you noticed we like to make stuff around here? (I use the word 'stuff' because it annoys A. I'm always telling her she may not use the word in her writing because she can find a more descriptive one, so when I use it, it gives her something to comment on. I point out that knowingly using a term is fine. But I digress... again.) Aside from the Roman mosaics, there have been a few other things which have been created.

M. is taking a three-dimensional art class at school and their first assignment was to install in a large project made out of fabric in a place of the student's choice. M. received permission to install hers in an unused shower.

It's a difficult project to take a picture of, but do you see the large tentacles coming out of the shower door? Supposedly they just want to hug you, but I have my doubts. When she writes more about making the project on her Tumblr page, I'll share the link with you.

My own creation was a bit more pedestrian. I showed …

Roman mosaic craft

We have invited friends to join us for a Valentine's Day party next week. That means that we have to actually have Valentines to share. In an effort to have it count toward history as well as art, I decided that we should make mosaic Valentines. We have been learning about ancient Rome, St. Valentine lived in Rome, and I have a nice picture book about the saint with the illustrations done in mosaics (Saint Valentine by Robert Sabuda). So it all makes sense, right? I also checked some books out of the library with pictures of Roman mosaics that we looked at.

Here are some of the artists hard at work.

And a couple of the finished projects.


If you were to try this at home, here are a couple of suggestions. First, do all the cutting ahead of time. Even with a paper cutter, it took a little while to produce enough construction paper squares. Second, perhaps making a bunch of Valentines was probably a little over ambitious. In fact, most people made one or two and then moved onto oth…