Showing posts from January, 2017

Mission Impossible

[Cue music] Duh, Duh, Duh-duh, Duh, Duh, Duh-duh...

Your mission, should you choose to accept it includes,

1. Declutter, clean, and stage a very large house with 12 occupants and 3 pets in approximately two months.
2. Teach five young children to read while doing #1.
3. Begin to develop new household habits in those 12 occupants so that the old habits of leaving personal items strewn about the house are changed to more organized behaviors.
4. Once pristine, keep the very large house with 12 occupants and 3 pets pristine.
5. Do this without sending the 10 year old human tornado to another residence.
6. Also do this while continuing to teach young children to read.
7. Do not lose your mind or your patience along the way.

This message will self-destruct in 10 seconds.... leaving behind a pile of ash which will then need to be cleaned up.

[Cue music] Duh, Duh, Duh-duh, Duh, Duh, Duh-duh....

(Yes, I know we can only do what can do. But we would really like the house, once on the market to …

Saturday thankfulness

The news is depressing and distressing, and not good for one's mental health to fixate on, so I'm going to take a break and remember all the things around me to be thankful for. So on this Saturday, I'm thankful for....

Big dogs with big barks.

J. and D. were camping last night with the Boy Scouts. I happily stayed home in my warm house and my comfortable bed. When J. is gone, I leave Kenzie's crate door open. He loves his crate and we usually close it, but it just seems better to have him loose when I'm home alone. Of course it is unnerving when the dog wakes you up at 2:30 in the morning, using his scary, 'there's a predator at the door' bark. (This is different from his, 'ooh, ooh, there's squirrels outside and I must chase them' bark.) When he didn't stop, I went downstairs and cautiously peered out the back door window. No one was there, but he was definitely alert to something. The rest of the night passed uneventfully, though it i…

Friday bullets, Jan. 27, 17

It's Friday and I can't decide if the week went quickly or dragged heavily. A little bit of both. Everyone, myself included, has been a bit discombobulated about the changes that are ahead of us. It's so distracting to think about your life being so upturned that it can make it difficult to focus on much of anything. Difficult to focus probably pretty much sums up the entire week.

K. now has a shiny new expander inside his mouth and I'm getting a chance to use my mad expander turning skills. (This is the fifth one in various children's mouths.) He was not happy about it (understandably) and was uncomfortable, but he's been a trooper and the discomfort is a lot less today.In other mouth news, G. FINALLY pulled out the front baby tooth that has been pointing forward from above her adult teeth. Hooray! Hooray! I can cross off 'call oral surgeon' from my to-do list, because I was becoming increasingly convinced that the tooth was never going to come out on i…

A Homeschooling Reading List... with annotations

The fact that I read a lot of books is a known fact around the blog, but in all of the many and varied book lists I have posted over the years, I realize that I have never posted a reading list for the homeschooler. It's actually probably going to veer more into an educational theory reading list, but I find it difficult to draw a line between the two. The other thing that some of you might find interesting (unusual? odd? surprising?) is that the vast majority of these books are not written from a Christian perspective. We have never homeschooled for strictly religious reasons. While our beliefs are extremely important to us (I would even go so far as to say essential), neither J. nor I have ever felt frightened of opposing viewpoints. We also feel secure enough in our theology that we are able to sort and sift through these opposing viewpoints to find what is good and valuable in them. And there is information in these books that is good and useful. Not all of it, but I feel that…

Adoption and learning

When I find myself writing the same things to different people more than a few times, I realize it's time to write a blog post. Not only will it save me repeating myself, but the topic must be of a more general interest, and could be useful to a wider audience. I believe I wrote on a similar topic before, but I now have a few more years of experience to add.

It is a very common occurrence that among older children who are adopted academic learning when first home is not easy. This is true for a wide range of children, both for those who have delays of one kind or another and for those children who considered intellectually and developmentally on track. Here are a few of the behaviors that parents have observed in their children: slow to grasp new concepts; extreme jaggedness in functioning; emotionally young; working memory issues; and working below the academic level expected. I've had children on all different levels of functioning, from severely intellectually delayed all t…

Ch- ch- ch- changes

We've had emotions all over the board around here today. (Wrote this on Saturday, but had to wait to tell family before posting it, hence the delay.) It's been like living on a roller coaster, and I think we're all feeling a bit woozy from the effects. Do you remember earlier in the week when I alluded to some things that were going on around here? Well, now I feel as though we are at a place where I can tell all of you.

Last week, J. was offered a job at a different university, one that is about 1 1/2 hours west of where we currently are. It is a very good job offer and a terrific job opportunity. I am so happy for him and can't think of anyone who deserves something like this more than he does. It does make life a little more complicated around here for a while, though.

He will be starting in mid-March. Because of various commitments of family members through the school year, he will be making a fairly horrendous commute for several months. Knowing that this isn'…

Friday bullet, Jan. 20, 17

It's Friday and my to-do list seems to have suddenly grown exceedingly long. This is probably because I have been studiously ignoring more than a few items and have now realized I cannot ignore them any longer. Anyway, I'm getting a jump on things and getting the day's post out of the way, and will then start whipping around the house like a crazy woman.

R. continues to make progress! It seems the one year mark being home has been a huge turning point for her. (I know it was for me.) We are suddenly hearing a lot more English, and more complex English. Intellectual functioning is also markedly improved. I took a photo to share with you.
This is a pattern block card that has the colored shapes on the left side that the child matches and then a space for the child to copy the same picture on their own. First, R. asked to do this box. It was the first time she had ever shown any interest in any of the activity boxes in the schoolroom. That was the first win. (Of course I said …

Where did the day go?

How did it get to be 6pm? I swear it was just 10am. We were doing school, then a quick lunch, a moment to throw dinner in the crock pot, then a trip out to the therapist (though I should add that's not quick and takes most of the afternoon). That was followed by teatime, a moment for me to sit an regroup, and then it's 6pm and I have to put some water on for egg noodles. Thursdays are like that, and I've just come to terms with the fact my house, by the end of the day, looks as though a three day party took place in it. And the people at the party played with a lot of Legos and ate a ton of food which seemed to require every dish and pan in the house to be used.

So once again, you all are faced with a blog post which has no content whatsoever. How about I give you a cat and dog picture and a link to some real writing? First the picture.

And my latest article: Adoption Books/A Review of Mine in China by Kelly Mayfield As always click and share and add to my paycheck. Thanks…

The possibility of unusual pets

I don't know if any of you who are non-bloggers are aware of this, but there are two parts to a blogger's world. The blog-able part and the non-blog-able part. Even though it might seem I just throw everything out there, dirty laundry and all, I really, really don't. There's always stuff going on in any family that is private, and this is especially true if one is blogging about more than just oneself. Sometimes this stuff is good stuff and sometimes it's not so good. (And yes, A., that sentence was for you. [She and I have an ongoing discussion about the use of the word 'stuff' in writing.]) But I have found that everyone doesn't need to know everything, so I do censor myself a bit. I realize that sometimes that may be difficult to believe.

Then there are the times that the non-blog-able becomes the focus of life here for a while and I am left with not a whole lot I want to write about. (Don't worry, this time it's all pretty good.) This is why…

Owl Pellets

In our study of birds we are on to learning about raptors and this past week it was owls. Everyone in the house is already owl fans because owls are cool and because of having read about the barn owl, Wesley. If you are learning about owls, you have to dissect owl pellets, right? We were supposed to do this as our Friday activity, but put it off until today so that D. could be a part of it. (He was tech all week last week.) Today was an honorary Friday and we'll make Friday a regular school day. We listened to another selection of classical music based on birds and then dissected owl pellets.
L., who was thrilled we were doing 'real' science, and evidently dressed up for the occasion.
There was a lot of fur to be found.
Look at R. doing this all by herself. She was particularly excited to work on the owl pellets because she adores owls. It took a little explaining that these were not owl bones, but mice bones we were digging out. I'm not sure she was convinced.
The sc…

And some Mondays are like that

Some Mondays have dogs who eat things they shouldn't (and could be heading to the vet if that dang bone does nasty things inside said dog). Some Mondays have vaguely uncooperative children. Some Mondays have overly tired children from an overly busy previous week. Some Mondays have dreary wet weather that you have to go out in because the garbage bag has to be out of the house to save the dog from himself. Some Mondays have too much mess made in the kitchen.

But we got through our school schedule even though I was sorely tempted to put everyone back to bed for a bit and try the day all over again. Tomorrow will be better. I can say that confidently because that is how it usually works out. Powering through a bad Monday means that the rest of the week goes smoothly. Throwing up my hands and turning belly up on a bad Monday usually means I can write off the week. I don't know why, that's just how it always works out.

And there have been some highlights as well. It's some…

Friday bullets on Saturday

I was so excited about my little discovery and so excited to share it with you yesterday, that I kind of forgot it was Friday. So let's pretend it's still Friday even though it's really Saturday.

I finally got people to play our new game, Pandemic, last weekend. M. was over, and joined D., J., and me to play it. (It's just a four person game.) The goal of the game is to eradicate the five viruses that are spreading across the world. You are given a game character with certain capabilities, and together all the players try to beat the game. Now, usually I am not a huge fan of cooperative games. I like a game where I can beat everyone soundly and be pronounced the winner. I'm competitive like that. Everyone winning or everyone losing didn't seem as satisfying. Well, I have to admit that I really enjoyed playing this game. I think it was because to beat the game, there is a certain logic puzzle to it all. Who needs to do what and when, because the number of rounds …

My eureka moment... or a little bit about the basal ganglia

It happened again. I was in a bookstore and picked up a book that I thought sounded really interesting, and added it to the small pile that I was buying with a gift card. I get home, happily pick the book up and start reading. And as I'm reading, I have the vague feeling that I've read it before because I know what comes next. No, I didn't suddenly develop ESP, perhaps just the opposite. I had read the book before and had completely forgotten it. It's one of the reasons that I started keeping track of my reading again, in the hopes that writing down the title, will help to cue my memory enough so that I don't purchase books I've already read. Don't hold your breath about that, because it turns out that not only did I previously read this book, but I blogged about it as well!

So much for my brain. Let's talk about someone else's and why I'm glad I had forgotten I read this book and bought it.

It's funny how you gain different things from read…

Gelatinous Mutant Coconut... in syrup!

Having passed up the mutant coconut two weeks ago, I couldn't go passed it again without throwing it in my cart. Nearly everyone in our family loves coconut gels by the same company, so it seemed likely that most people would like this. And truly, who can pass up gelatinous mutant coconut? 
It was our dessert after dinner last night.
 Here's what it looked like inside the jar.

K. and P.
L... I think that her face shows what she thought about it.

H. liked it.
And R. really liked it.
The overall verdict? We probably won't be getting it again as not enough people really enjoyed them, but definitely worth it to say you've eaten mutant coconut.

One year anniversary... or 20 peas of progress

Five days after Y.'s adoption day, comes R.'s. We've now lived a year of polar opposite adoptions, and I've been wondering for days what I would write today; how I would convey our present reality; how I would communicate everything that has been roiling around in my head for this past year. Forgive me if this seems more personally therapeutic than a well-thought out blog post. I process my life through writing (if you hadn't already noticed), and the one year mark of R. being home seems to be a good time to start.

But where to start, that's the question. I suppose the brutal, honest truth is always a good place. It's been hard. It's been hard on everyone, and by everyone I am definitely including R. herself, for whom it has been the most difficult. Now, often when people say an adoption has been hard, it usually has lurking in the background the unspoken reality of raging and pain and destruction. The reality of feeling as though one is living with a t…

A post of pictures

Oh, I could go so many ways with the post. There's "How Older Children Structure their Free Time" or "Teaching Children to be Comfortable in the Kitchen" or "Don't be Afraid of Giving Your Children Free Time". I'm good with any one of those. But, since it's later in the day, we still have teatime to have, and then dinner to make, I'll just show you pictures.
TM has been on a quest to make homemade potato chips. His first batch turned out too thick for his taste, so I suggested he get out the mandoline. I showed him how to use it and he was off.
The mandoline. You should own one, if you don't already.
Y. helping him dry the potato slices on paper towels.
More potato slice drying.
Spraying the parchment paper for broiling. (You know that parchment paper on baking sheets is one of the seven wonders of the kitchen world, right?)
The finished product.

I thought they tasted pretty good. TM thought they were a little too soggy, so is goi…

One year... or traumaversery

One year ago today, we met Y., our 11th child for the first time. She was adorable, said hi, and shook our hands, and smiled that enormous, lovely smile of hers. We all smiled. We did a lot of smiling. There's not much else you can do with a nearly 9 year old you don't share a common language with. I briefly thought, "This is going so much better than I though it would," along with, "Oh my goodness, her walking is not as good as I thought it was." Yes it is possible to have vague panic and happiness bubbling away inside your head all at the same time. I contend that meeting your older child for the first time is one of the most surreal experiences that a person can experience.

Things went great for about the first hour as we piled back in the van and when to have the necessary photographs taken. And then we headed back to the government building to sign all the papers and the bottom fell out of everyone's world. Y., being smarter and more aware of every…