Showing posts from May, 2014

Ways to support adoptive families in your church

About a month ago, J. and I spoke to one of our church's Sunday School classes about our experiences with adoption. The time went by very quickly and we weren't able to get to every topic we wanted to discuss. Since one of these topics seemed rather important, we were asked to write something that could be shared with the member of the class. I thought perhaps this could be of more general interest, so I share it here. (Plus, it's sort of like a free blog post.)

One of the things we never got a chance to discuss on Sunday was ways that the church can support adoptive families. Before I go on with my list, I want to first say that J. and I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of this church family. We have felt supported and uplifted in prayer and have never had difficulties due to the differences and needs of our children. In talking with many adoptive families from across the country, we realize this is no small thing. Sadly, our very positive experience is rather unusual…

The difference a good haircut makes

Today H. and I trekked an hour and a half to see the hair stylist who specializes in surgical hair design. I had no idea what to expect, but really felt as though we needed to do this. Becky turned out to be a lovely person who really knew what she was doing, plus she was great with H.

As you know, the one thing H. really, really wanted to do when she first came home was to have long hair, so that is what we have been doing. The trouble with having waist-length hair is that when you have surgery and half you head is shaved, it makes for not a great look. I had warned H. that we would probably have to trim her long hair or else the short hair would never have a chance to catch up. H. was OK with this... not thrilled, but OK. Becky did a fantastic job of showing and explaining to H. what she was doing and why. H. has ended up with shoulder-length hair (which I think suits her quite well), and even better, when she was done, H. announces, "I love it!" She even felt confident en…

Cross patterning and the brain

There was a question on yesterday's post and I thought I'd take a moment to answer it. I had mentioned cross-brain patterning and someone asked what that was. The comments also mentioned crawling and EMDR, thus giving me a chance to roll all that information into a blog post. (Hooray!)

(First, my usual disclaimer. I'm not a brain-scientist and neither of my degrees relate to brain science at all; I'm just well read. Take my post as a starting point and do your own research.)

As I said yesterday, our brain has two halves. The left half controls the right side of the body and the right half controls the left side. As well, there are certain functions which are usually housed in different sides of the brain, though the brain is continually talking back and forth between the two halves. In fact, we function best when the brain is easily able to do this communication between each half of the brain. Sometimes, though, the communication isn't always that great and things …

A simple experiment

I'm not sure I have ever explicitly mentioned this, but since H. has linear nevus sebaceous syndrome, it also means that she has left-brain hemiplegia. That sounds dire, I know, mainly because anything diagnosis which has the word 'brain' in it kind of makes everyone's stomachs do a flip-flop. There's a couple of things to know (which I certainly didn't) about this and about syndromes in general. Having been given the diagnosis of a syndrome is really just having a name for a particular group of medical issues. The syndrome itself isn't a disease, but a description. The actual physical difficulties that a person has are each their own 'thing'. Having a syndrome doesn't mean you will have every possible diagnosis that can go along with the syndrome. It also doesn't describe the severity of each of these diagnoses. It took me a while to wrap my head around what a syndrome is and isn't.

So, back to the hemiplegia. Because linear nevus sebac…

Too busy playing

The weather is lovely, the big events are nearly over, and we are getting closer to having everything finished. Thus, we have been enjoying the day and each other and I haven't written anything. (Which is not really good because I have two conference sessions to write and they need to be done immediately.) I also have a few blog posts brewing in my head (adoptive families and the church; another teaching/homeschooling idea; a book review about a book that chronicles how the internet changes our brains), but they still need to sorting out before I can write them.

Instead, I will resort to a cheap and easy post that sends you to past posts that I've written and you might not have seen. (It's been pointed out to me that I write a lot and its easy to miss some things.) So if you still need something to read, try one of these. Some of these are really old and some have books or things listed that you might be interested in. I'll put current links to those couple of things a…

Just a little party

Yesterday HG was baptized and I thought the occasion called for celebration, so invited three other families to have lunch with us. That doesn't sound like too much, huh? Well, there were 34 people here (we invited our pastor and his family as well), with 29 children. (Though counting 'children' is becoming more difficult because some of them aren't exactly children anymore.) We served 8 pounds of pasta and the other mothers brought salad, bread, and cake. It was a fun afternoon with many children playing in the back yard on the zip line, slack line, and with jump ropes. (I sometimes look at my back yard and think perhaps I should have a waiver form I ask parents to sign.) The most exciting part of the afternoon came when a bird flew into the house. It was eventually caught and let go outside.

Sorry, I have no pictures because we were all enjoying the party and didn't think to take any. We are now off to another get-together (and we had one on Saturday and two last…

Artist Trading Card Party

Yesterday was our long-awaited Artist Trading Card party. I decided that it would work best if each person had a place to display their cards and then they could walk around and see what the others had made and trade if they wanted to. I had no idea how this all would work out. I am happy to report it was a great success. There was much admiring of cards at first, and then after a few tentative trades, things got into full swing. I think everyone enjoyed it. Pictures include children from the H-S Family and the P. Family.

Real life

At one point I received a suggestion to live-blog about a typical day around here. Well, since the computer is off most of the time, the live part won't work, so I did the next best thing. I took notes through out the day, so I could recreate it for you. I kept waiting for a day that would sound pretty spectacular and earn me my blog readers' everlasting awe and admiration. Since that day never came, I decided just to pick a day and let you see the real stuff and let go of the whole awe and admiration-thing. Without further ado, here is what our day looked like around here yesterday. I would say it was pretty typical, though with little disregulation, for us on our more relaxed summer schedule. I will also say that I find this long and not terribly interesting, because really a day around here is not any different than in any other family with children. But, some people say they are interested, so here it is.

7:30 J. wakes me up and hands me a cup of coffee. For the next half h…

The before

First, thank you so much to everyone who is praying for my dear boy. It means more to me than you can possibly know and I get a little teary every time I think about it. Please, don't stop!

But since we are beginning to embark on making the Big Ugly House a little less ugly, I wanted to show you before pictures. We spent the morning cleaning out the boys' room (no small feat) and we're off to buy paint in just a little bit. So, to show you what things look like around here on a daily basis (in case you had any illusions left about us), here is what the boys' room looked like this morning... and what it looks like every morning.

K. (who used to be in this room, too), left his mark all over. We should have named him Zorro.

And if you were ever wondering what three boys do to a room in 6 years, take a look. Ewww!

And now, never seen before on this blog are the rooms behind the locked door. You'll understand momentarily why we keep it locked. This is where B. will prob…

What to do with college students in the summer

Well, I don't know about you, but we take advantage of the free labor around here. Both M. and B. have summer jobs and internships lined up for later in the summer, but these first few weeks are free. And I have claimed them!

First, M. will be painting TM and D.'s room. It needs it after having years and years of little boys living in it. The walls will get new paint, plus she is going to paint some Bible verses on the walls. Before she can do that, though, it needs to be cleaned and everything pulled to the center of the room. This will be the most difficult step, trust me. I'll be sure to take before and after pictures. I might even be motivated to make the window valences. The window valences I've had the fabric for for, oh, about 6 years.

B. will be putting in a garden and I think I'm going to send him upstairs to continue demolition on the set of three rooms on the third floor that we keep behind a locked door. It would be wonderful to someday have use of thos…

Doing a little language learning

Inspired by Fluent in 3 Months which I recently read, I have decided to really work on learning another language this summer. The specific language may surprise you. It's not French, though I've had the most experience with it. It's not Italian, though I've studied it for a year. It's neither Vietnamese or Mandarin, though they are some of my children's first languages. It's Spanish. I settled on this for the sole reason that if one has a native speaker of a language living with them, one should take advantage of the fact. HG is a native speaker and I don't feel too self-conscious speaking a new language with her. Plus, she is right there for any grammar and pronunciation help. Logistically these are great reasons, but the deeper reason is that if I learn to speak Spanish I can communicate even better with someone I care deeply about. HG has become a part of our family and while her English is now pretty darn good, I would love to honor her by learning …

Funny little girls

We are forever laughing at the thing G. and L. say and do. (If you are not a fan of hearing other people talk about the cute things their children do, now's your chance to escape. You've been forewarned.) Last week, I took the six youngest children down to the Field Museum because D. and TM were signed-up for a pottery class. That meant for two hours I walked around the museum with just G., L., K., and H. It was a rare treat to have just the four youngest, though I did spend a lot of time searching for children who weren't there. Four just didn't seem quite enough children to keep track of. We had a lot of fun and spent a lot of time looking at the animal displays. They were also just cracking me up.  Some examples:

L. turning after staring at fish display for a while, "Mrs. H-, Did you know that G., HG3, and I have laser eyes? It's because we're super heroes."

G., after putting her hand on the metal cast of a gorilla hand, "Apparently, my hand i…

Everyone home... or enjoying your college student

Did I mention that everyone is home? M. and B. came home from college last week and it's nice to have them back. I love having everyone under one roof. It's fun. It's loud. The littles love, love, love having their big brother and sister home, and G. and B. have such a relationship that we all wonder how either of them survives when B. is away at school.

The table and the house are very full and I love it.

I will give my older children credit, in that it is not always an easy transition to come home from being away at college, especially to a house full of younger children. (Yes, my children go back to school to get some peace and quiet. Not every college student can say that.) They are both incredibly gracious when it comes to interacting with their younger siblings who want their every attention every moment.

In that spirit, I know I'm not the only one who has returning college students for the summer. Here are some things that have worked for us in easing the transi…

End of the school year

Having nothing else to write about at the moment, I thought I would share our end of the school year plans. (Well, I could write about the ongoing conversations with the car repair guy, but I won't. Let's just say when I hear his voice on the line now, three phone calls later, my heart does not leap with joy.) Things are winding down around here and we are starting to ooze our way into a more relaxed summer schedule. (Which is pretty relaxed because I would already describe our general style of homeschooling as already on the relaxed side.)

Here is what we're doing this month: Older people are finishing up with their assigned work from the school year. They are finishing up text books, big projects, and such, though everyone will continue to work on math throughout the summer and A. will probably continue working through test prep books. For our group projects, we are finishing up leaning about Rome. We are nearly done with The Story of the Romans, which I have enjoyed, an…

A week in Venice

Because life goes on, you know, even if one part of it feels as though you're back in crisis mode.

We spend last week reading Papa Piccolo as our last Five-in-a-Row style book for the year. This book was a huge hit with everyone and we did some fun things to go along with it. It is set in Venice and tells the story of Piccolo, a tom cat, who adopts two orphan kittens. It is a sweet story and everyone was a wee bit fascinated with Venice. A couple of children have blithely suggested that field trip to Venice would be a great idea.

The first day, we read the story and then found Venice on the globe. For the second day, I printed out pages so that everyone could color and cut out their own gondolas. Day three was cat day. I printed out instructions for simple cat drawings and everyone gave it a try. Well, almost everyone.


H's cats
This is L's attempt... could she be a bit of a perfectionist?
Day four was math... and an excuse to use my laminator. I completely stole b…