Showing posts from April, 2014

Oh yeah, I remember this part

And that would be the part when the littles collectively lose all self-control after having held it together during a stressful few days. (For the most part the middles and bigs have been fine, though one middle has just stomped upstairs due to perceived injustice. And not the one you think.)  It has been very loud around here this morning. I even called J. at work and left a message on his voice mail of a particularly loud great big noisy fit, just so he wouldn't feel left out. I'm nice like that.

I'm pretty sure this happens every time, but I guess I conveniently block it out of my memory. I'm writing it down this time so that maybe I'll remember for the next surgery and can plan accordingly. Or at least have a substantial supply of chocolate on hand. It actually feels like a Monday after a long vacation.

On the plus side, H. is doing well. I broke the news to her about her hair to her last night and she took it well, though she hasn't seen it yet. She did wa…

Stitches, drains, and hair

Since nothing is very quick in hospital and doctor land, it took a while to make it home with H. Part of the slow down was that we needed to stop by the office to have H.'s dressing changed. (Our plastic surgeon is phenomenal. I really like him. H. likes him. But he is a little finicky about who touches his patients, thus out trip to see his nurses.) It was at that moment that we got a good look at the results of the surgery.

The trouble with plastic surgery is that initially things don't look so good. There are the stitches, of course, but there is also bruising and swelling and drains. A lot of bruising and swelling. Sometimes it's difficult to determine what is permanent and what is temporary. As we do this more often, I can start to see what's what, but it is always something of an initial shock.

Here's where things stand. On the whole, it looks really good. After our talk with the surgeon yesterday, I was a little hesitant to see the results, but I'm pleas…

A brief surgery update

I'm tired, but thought those of you not on facebook would appreciate a surgery update on H. The very short story is all is well and she is staying overnight in the hospital and we hope to bring her home tomorrow. (J. is staying with her.) 
Here's the slightly longer version. Originally her surgery was scheduled for 11:40 this morning, but Sunday night we received a call saying the patient ahead of us on the schedule had cancelled, so we were asked to move everything ahead two hours. So, we got everyone up and out the door and to the H-S Family's house where they were spending the day and then drove up to the hospital. We arrived on time and they admitted H. And then we waited and entertained the girl and waited and colored and waited and did stickers and waited some more. Finally, she was taken into surgery at 11am and we were notified that surgery had officially begun at 11:30. I'm so thankful the person ahead of us in line had cancelled because I hate to think what t…

Two little girls

I saw what I saw and I can't forget it I heard what I heard and I can't go back I know what I know and I can't deny it
Something on the road, cut me to the soul...
-from I Saw What I Saw by Sara Groves
If you have ever been in an orphanage and seen a room filled with absolutely silent babies; if you have ever had a child look at you and ask if you are their new mommy or daddy; if you have ever seen a child turn away in sadness because they were not chosen... again, then you understand the import this song to me. I have seen and experienced all these things. Many adoptive parents have. It is a gut wrenching, soul changing experience. No longer are these children faceless statistics, they are real, flesh and blood human beings longing to belong and to be loved. To touch one of these orphans, to speak to them, to hold them... it changes you. It breaks your heart. It is something you grieve over long after you return home with your child. A chosen child. A child who now has a…

We haven't talked about food for a while

When people find out the number of children we have, asking about how I cook for them all is inevitably the first thing they want to know about. I guess routinely cooking for 13 - 15 people is on the same level as having a super power in the minds of some people. My standard response is that it's not really than impressive a feat; more a matter of practice than anything else. I started out cooking for just two when J. and I first got married and then we slowly added a child one (or two) at a time. Adding enough for for one extra person isn't that difficult. It's a skill you slowly learn and adjust to. Of course there are also those times when you realize that the size of your cookware is insufficient, so you have to upgrade, but that doesn't happen for a while.

I guess we do go through a lot of food, but since that's my normal, I don't think about it. For instance, if you're curious, it took us exactly four days for 13 people to eat 6 dozen hard-boiled eggs…


A blog reader wrote to me and asked if I had ever read the book, Wonder, by R. J. Palacio. (Blessings on blog readers who write to me and ask questions that I can turn into a blog post!) In short, it is about a boy with a facial deformity. A friend had recommended I read it a while back, so I checked it out of the library. The only trouble with checking things out of the library is that later on, if you want to go and look at a book, the book is not right there on your shelf waiting for you. So forgive me if I do this from memory... I may not get every detail correct.

On the whole I liked the book. Since it is juvenile fiction, it is a quick read. I thought the author's take on living with a facial deformity and living with someone with a facial deformity were pretty good. The story is told in first person, but the narrator jumps from character to character in the book. As a parent, I actually found the point of view of the older sister to be the most interesting. The feelings of …

The good news and the bad news

We just arrived back home from a visit with the plastic surgeon. Things are still all set to go for surgery on Monday. Everyone is pleased with the amount of expansion we have been able to get, though they expanded the forehead today and I'll do another expansion in both places on Sunday. The surgery is expected to only take around 2 1/2 hours, which seems really fast to me. That's all the good news.

My private fantasies that this will be the only tissue expansion H. will need to go through are just that... fantasies. This time the surgeon will be able to correct the skin on her scalp and on most of her forehead, but there is still a lot of skin that will need to be replaced around her eye and down the side of her face along the hairline (between her eyebrow and ear). There is no way that the tissue gained from this time will stretch to cover those areas. This means that once she has healed from this surgery, we will get to go through the same process again, this time putting …

He is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed!

Scenes from our Easter celebrations of the past few days, with a reminder of what they were all about.
Christ the Lord is risen today! Alleluia! Sons of man and angels say; Alleluia!
Seder dinner table
Raise your joys and triumphs high; Alleluia! Sing, ye Heavens and earth reply, Alleluia!
Loves redeeming work is done, Alleluia! Fought the fight, the battle won; Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids Him rise; Alleluia! Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!
P11, P., H H-S, and B.
Lives again our glorious King; Alleluia! Where, O death, is now your sting? Alleluia!
L., A., and G.
Jesus died, our souls to save; Alleluia! Where your victory, O grave? Alleluia!
Easter morning
Hail, the Lord of earth and heaven! Alleluia! Praise to You, by both be given; Alleluia!

Every knee to You shall bow, Alleluia! Risen Christ, triumphant now, Alleluia!
L. and G.
L. and G.
L. and B.


I started to write a blog post that I eventually deleted. It was too didactic and dull to read. So instead I'm going to send you to a post a friend of mine wrote. Just click the link and go read it, okay?

Seriously Blessed:  Sacrifice


We celebrated our Maundy Thursday Seder last night and are heading off to our church's Good Friday family service this morning. Sometime between now and then I have dresses to finish, grocery shopping to do and a rather intimidating list of things that really need to get done before Sunday. All that means to you is that you get bloggy leftovers.

Evidently not many people write about Good Friday and children because an old post of mine, imaginatively titled, Good Friday and Children, is getting a lot of traffic this week. Take a look if you happened to have missed it... or you didn't happen to be reading this blog back in 2012.

Rejoice in our sufferings

The Hearts at Home link-up topic today is "Love Your Struggles." This is a topic that I can write about. It seems learning to love my struggles has been my theme for more than a couple of years. There have been moments of life that have not been easy. Parenting children from hard places has felt as though I had been dropped into a particularly difficult spiritual boot camp. But just like a real life boot camp is designed to turn out soldiers who are highly trained for particular duties, this spiritual boot camp has felt as though it has done the same thing. I am a very different person from the one I was 8 years ago and it is all because of the struggles God has allowed me to experience.

Fear and worry have always been something that have been a challenge for me. In fact, several years ago, I wrote extensively about rooting out fear from my life. Let me tell you, there is nothing like facing one of the items on your "things that terrify the heck out of me and I don'…

Music for the season

Years ago I sang John Rutter's Requiem in a church choir. It is a beautiful piece of music and my cassette (!--I told you it was a long time ago) wore out from use. Today I was sitting down at my desk to pay bills and decided that I really needed to listen to it again. Thank goodness for You Tube. If you haven't heard it, take a listen. Gorgeous music and just right for Holy Week.

Adventures in sewing circa 1943

Hmmm... well I certainly don't want to write about the snow that fell last night. Writing about taxes doesn't seem terribly fun, either. Really, I don't have anything to write about because I have spent every waking moment working on sewing this pattern.

Cute dresses, huh? I found it for sale when the little girls were babies and have been holding on to it until they can wear a size 6. Since for the next 10 minutes they wear a size 6, I am finally making the dresses. I very nearly let the moment get away from me. They are tall girls and between their height and the shorter style of girls' dresses in 1943, I needed to add a couple of inches length onto the pattern as it is. Since they are also rather narrow little girls, with the added length, I think I will have time to make the pattern a couple of times before they completely outgrow it.

And I do want to make it again. I have the short-sleeved version still to make after all. Well, that and the fact that the learning …

Another first horse show

Yesterday A. rode in her first horse show. P. would have ridden again, but she was broke at the time the entrance fee was due, so needs to save her money and wait for the next one. A. did quite well. She place 3rd in her first class and 1st in her second class. Not too shabby, huh? Here are some pictures.

Getting ready
Starting the class
and more cantering
Hearing she placed first
At the end with her two ribbons
Thanks to P. who took all the photos.

Helplessness and Hope

I think one of the reasons that the book, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and your Life, resonates so much with me (other than it's just a really interesting book), is that it has confirmed and given understanding to something I had noticed in H. from the very beginning. That something would be that helpless (perceived or actual) causes passivity.

I will admit that H.'s passivity at the beginning is one of the things that made it difficult for me to attach. I found it very difficult to understand and love and help a child who exhibited such extreme passivity in the face of any type of decision making decision, much less a small setback. It was frustrating. Very frustrating. (If you know my family, you know that passive is just not an adverb which would be used as a descriptor for us.)

I had a sneaking suspicion that it was a learned behavior. After too many years of having no control, of assumed incapability on the part of others, she gave up, not unlike the phenomen…

Good versus best

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about what activities we choose to participate in as a family and why. Sometimes it feels as though it is a moving target with children coming and going and getting older. We live in a society where parents and children have more choices for activities than ever before. It can sometimes be difficult to choose among them and if no conscious thought is given to this process it can result in stressed and overwhelmed parents and children. Actually, sorting through the options can be overwhelming in and of itself. There is so much stuff to choose from... much of it really good.

Since I've had more than a little practice at this, I thought I'd share how we go about making these types of decisions. The place to start is to have a goal. For us, the goal of our parenting is to raise our children to know Jesus (and we hope for them to love Him as much as we do, but that's not something we have control over.) After that, we also have the …

A Pair of Red Clogs

We have just finished working on A Pair of Red Clogs by Masako Matsuno. This time is wasn't so much "Five in a Row" Style as "Five every now and then separated by many day" style. A trip to Arizona will do that to a schedule.

I loved this book. I loved the drawings. I loved the story. I loved the relationships in the family. I loved the whole thing. Because the time we worked on in was a little disjointed, I didn't so as much as I could have, but here are some activities we did to go along with it.

Colored Japanese kimono coloring pages... did our emotions preschool game (the author does a great of job talking about how the little girl in the story is feeling)... found Japan on a globe...

But best of all, we looked at and played with a real pair of Japanese clogs. I have a friend who is Japanese and grew up in Japan. I had asked her if she had a pair of clogs we could borrow and carefully look at. Well, she surprised us by giving us a pair of wooden clogs. …

Hug your loved ones

I'm going to a funeral this morning for a friend who was just a few years older than I. One moment she was fixing dinner, the next she had a massive stroke from which she never recovered. I knew her when we were both homeschooling our oldest and the girls are still friends. I am still a little bit in shock over the suddenness of it. But since death always catches us by surprise, even when we are expecting it, I suppose that is not unusual.

We just don't know, do we, what the next year, month, day, moment will bring? Be careful with your moments. Be careful with your good-byes. Appreciate the time you do have.

Since it has been a while since I have badgered you about little Lena, I'm going to tie her story into this post. You remember her, right?

The adorable little girl who has already over come huge odds to survive? Whose heart may or may not be able to be repaired, but certainly not in her country? Whose file has been sent back to the shared list which means no agency is…

Feeling a little bereft

I have spent the past few months rereading the entire Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. The reason? It had been a long time since I had read them and I was looking for something to read one night. I think it was also because I discovered a while back, thanks to a blog reader, that Barbara Mertz, the woman behind the pen name Elizabeth Peters, had recently died. (Last August, at the age of 85, for those who care.)

I love Amelia Peabody. Sometimes I think I want to be Amelia Peabody when I grow up. She is self-confident, doesn't really care what people think of her, and has a sense of fearless adventure. The books, which do not try to be fine literature, are well-written and done slightly tongue-in-cheek. I will also say, I don't really read them for the actual mystery, but for the story of the Emerson family which unfolds in their pages. Since the 19 books cover nearly 40 years of time, from the mid-1860's to after World War 1, it is quite a bit of time to get to k…

"Hmmm... have a long way to go"

This is the direct quote from the plastic surgeon whom we saw last Wednesday when he looked at H. Thankfully, he has two wonderful nurses who work for him who are great at talking people back off the edge of the cliff, and my initial panic of having to postpone surgery was calmed. We are now expanding every four days and putting between 35cc and 40cc of saline in each expander.

Here is what H. looks like now. (Remember, I have her permission to share. People are funny, so I feel the need to say that.)

As I look at the photograph of H., I realize that it sort of looks as though I have used some sort of photo distortion program, but I haven't. You can see that the area being expanded is much more noticeable now.

Here is the view from the back. The expander is under her scalp (the upper left section in the photo), and you can see that it is far more noticeable as well.

We have to do at least five more expansions before surgery. These pictures were taken after two more expansions from…

Artist Trading Cards, part 1

Yesterday we began a new art project... making our own artist trading cards. In case you haven't heard of these, they are little works of art made on trading card sized blanks. They are popular in the artist community and are always traded, never sold. I thought it would be fun to make our own attempt at them. Oh, and the reason this is titled 'part 1' is that what would be the point of making trading cards if you don't have a chance to trade them? We've invited our friends, the P Family and the H-S Family to make some of their own, and then next month we will have a trading card party. (Of course, since I arranged this way back in August, the mothers of these families may be surprised by this.)
It was a huge success, based both on the engagement of the participants and the final products. First I ordered a bunch of blanks. Yes, I could have cut card stock down to the proper dimensions, but the cards were so inexpensive that I decided to purchase them. I ordered s…

More about vocabulary and large families... or not

I promised you yesterday that I would disclose what G. was writing when she wrote this:

Some of you were able to read it, but for those who weren't, it says, "underwater creatures'. You must read it from right to left and most of the letters are reversed as well. If you aren't expecting it to actually spell something, it does look a lot like hieroglyphics.

The reason I'm showing it to you is not to discuss G.'s quirky current writing style, though I could probably get a whole blog post about just that. I've known plenty of children who have done this, and I will probably be sad when it straightens itself out. What I wanted to discuss was the whole vocabulary-thing again.

Evidently, the whole idea that the younger children in a large family are somehow intellectually compromised has really stuck in my craw because I keep thinking about it. First, I think am I being really honest with myself. Do my youngest display the same type of language development as my…

Fear cancels joy

Last Sunday, the text for the sermon was from John 9. You know it... it's the story of the man who was born blind. When Jesus and his disciples passed by him, the disciples wanted to know who sinned, the man or his parents, that he was born this way. Jesus replies that no one sinned, but the man was born this way in order to show the works of God. Jesus then proceeds to heal the man and restore his sight. I have always loved this story, but even more so now that I am the parent to children who were born with varying conditions. Yet this part of the story is not what struck me during Sunday's sermon. It was something that happens later on in the story.

So Jesus heals the man and the man is so joyful, he tells everyone including the rulers of the synagogue. That would be the rulers of the synagogue who aren't really fans of Jesus and continue to harass the man and his parents looking for any explanation other than Jesus for why this man can suddenly see. In vv. 18-23, the ma…

Out of sorts

That's how I'm feeling, and I better do something about it soon because the hyper-sensitive among us are starting to pick-up on it and then it will be all downhill from here. I have the beginnings of a big art project planned for everyone on Friday, so perhaps I will spend some time making examples to show everyone this afternoon. That sounds more inspiring than paying the bills, huh?

While I'm sorting myself out, here's a photo of the t-shirt I made for K. for his birthday. That's the Incredible Hulk on it, and I've never had such trouble sewing an item of clothing. The embroidery took hours to sew out and I had multiple broken needles and other frustrations. But K. loves it, so it was worth it.

April Fool's on me

Well, I've been to the plastic surgeon's office and back today. Except that when I walked into the office and started talking with the receptionist I realized that I was a little early for the appointment. That would be 24 hours early to be exact. The appointment is for tomorrow. So tomorrow morning bright and early, I'll make the 1/2 hour drive... again.

Then on the way home, I didn't run out of gas. But only because the van has a low fuel light that dings and goes on and I knew where there was a near by gas station. I even looked at the gas gauge when I left this morning and thought to myself, "Oh good, the van has a full tank of gas," and never thought about it again. That would be because yesterday I was driving the small car. The small car's and the van's gas gauges are opposite from each other, with the empty side on the right in the van and the full side on the right in the small car. The small car did have a full tank of gas and so the needle …