Showing posts from April, 2016

Before and after

The endless cleaning and purging continues. Today was G. and L.'s room... a task I try to avoid if at all possible. So, I do avoid it and the room descends further and further into chaos. I thought I'd share some before and after pictures and some of my process with you, if, like my two girls, you become completely overwhelmed at what to do with a room like this.
This is actually the picked-up version. You know, I say, "G. and L., please go and clean your room." And they go and move some stuff around, get distracted by the stuff, and end up playing the rest of the afternoon. So, it's not at its absolute worst (I can still walk across the floor), but it also isn't clean by any stretch of the imagination.

I realize, that in their defense, the room had become too full of stuff for two six year olds to be able to adequately clean it, so they gave up every time. In thinking about their room, I realized that they just have too much furniture to be really workable.…

Progress report

I'm taking a brief break from the purging and cleaning to have a cup of tea and show you a couple of pictures. I'm realizing that by not taking any before pictures, the after pictures don't have the same effect. Oh well. Know that in the course of the past couple of days, J. and I have filled upwards of 20 bags and boxes of stuff, with many more to come. It's a little embarrassing. The house was always organized, but it's the sheer amount of stuff that is a bit overwhelming.

I try to be good about giving away other people's things, but I have been rather ruthless with my own. If I don't really like it or it fills me with guilt that I should be using it, out it has gone. The moment can be a bit hard, but it feels so freeing that I keep doing it. I have a couple of places that I can look at now and take a deep, relaxed breath when I see them.

My closet. I probably took out at least half its contents.
The bookcase on my side of the bed. No piles of paper... so…

Spring cleaning

I may not be around a whole lot in the next few days. The spring cleaning fever has hit and I need... really, really need... to get the house back under control. I'm tired of entering any single room in the house and being overwhelmed with what needs to be done to make it looks less, well, depressing.

Have you noticed that in times of stress, the last thing you want to do is keep things organized? It always feels like enough just to keep on top of the basics... clean underwear, food (of some sort) on the table, clean dishes to eat on. For the past five months or so, this is the level it feels we've been living at. First, it was the massive worry and preparations of holidays and international travel to bring two new children home. Then my father died. One week later we left nine of our children for three weeks to travel around the world to bring two new children home. There was then the adjustment of the children to their new family and of us to them. And the grief. And the dog…

Indiscriminate affection, oh how I loathe thee

I've written before describing what exactly indiscriminate affection is. It was the way H. interacted with the world and it can be extremely challenging. I am thankful that H. is now entirely appropriate in her affections and it is not something we have had to worry about for a long time. I am also thankful we had that initial experience with her because it gave us some inkling of what it was like to live with such a child and how to address it. We needed this information because R. evidences indiscriminate affection to a greater degree.

I find it a little difficult to write about our experiences sometimes. There is the tightrope that I feel I continually must walk balancing my family's and children's privacy with the fact that raising children from hard places is just hard and other parents need to know they are not alone. Then with R. we have the added consideration that she has an entire community of people in China who love her and who poured their lives and finances i…


I realize that it's been a while since I updated you on the newest family member... Kenzie the dog. We are all in love with this dog. He is doing great and is very, very sweet. We kept him in the kitchen at first because he had a tendency to want to mark everything. I'm afraid some books on a bookshelf didn't make it. But now he has full run of the house and had been very well-mannered.

One interesting thing we discovered, though, is he doesn't like being behind fences in the house. When he was confined in the kitchen, every time someone new would walk in, he would bark and growl and raise his hackles. It was not a terribly endearing habit. One day, a visitor walked in while he was outside and was already in the kitchen when he was let in. Kenzie was the perfect gentleman and went and said hello nicely and allowed himself to be petted with nary a sound. So the next time someone came, I tried having the fence open so he could go around and say hello. It worked like a ch…

Notes on large family car trips

We're back after three long days on the road. Everyone was tired after a fun week and was a little crabby about heading back home to the drearier weather. All in all, though, the car trip went smoothly.

The trip required two nights of hotel stays, both directions. The trick to doing this is that when you pull in late to the hotel, the last thing you want to do is have to schlep every piece of luggage into the hotel, only to have to repack it and schlep it back. For a long time now, for trips like this, I have packed bags solely for the hotel so that we only have to take in a few things. This trip, I think I have perfected the hotel bag. Here is what I did.

We had two hotel rooms, so there were two hotel bags. The children had already been assigned which room they would be in, so it was easy to pack for each room. Each child had two gallon size ziplock bags, labelled with their initial and what night it was for. For instance, in the night one bag would be that child's pajamas, …

Last day in the desert

J. made it to Phoenix in the wee hours of the morning, but getting into the house proved to be an adventure. The door that was supposed to be left unlocked got locked by some little fingers unbeknownst to any of the adults. Thus, when J. got to the house, after putting in the pass code for the garage, he still couldn't get into the house. He then tried messaging various children, but they were dutifully asleep and not staring at their personal devices. (Good children.) He eventually had to wake me up by tapping on the window of the bedroom I was in. I did have a moment of being startled, but eventually figure out who it was and let him in.

Aside from doing exciting things such as laundry and packing and having the whole bottom of the trailer rebuilt, we all went to have a picnic in Papago Park. Amazingly, on a beautiful Saturday, our favorite ramada was free and we had our picnic. One of the things we particularly like about this ramada is the small stream that runs around it. Eve…

Well, that was something

I always try to find something new to do or see when we are here in the Phoenix area. This is not always easy to do since I grew up here and we have spent a lot of vacations here. When I Googled 'fun things to do with kids in Phoenix,' I kept seeing Goldfield Ghost Town on the lists that came up. I had never heard of it nor been there, so my mom and I loaded up the van and headed out to it.


Wow. Sometimes that's about all you can say. Having gone back and looked at their website, it's not as though it was out and out wrong, but it was misleading. I read it pretty carefully and missed some key points.

Key point #1: There are not shoot outs on Main Street every day, but only on weekends. I missed the weekend part. L., all the way to Arizona was convinced she was going to see a cowboy and I thought this would be a fun way to take care of that. (L. is so all engrossing with her fantasies that everyone else was as excited for L. to see a cowboy as L. was.) Thankfull…