Showing posts from February, 2017

That room

I have spent the past two days working on boxing up the folly. It had become THAT room. You know, the room where you stash things you're not sure you're ready to get rid of, but don't know what to do with. Yes, THAT room. I have sent out far more garbage, recycling, and give-away stuff than I have put into the boxes. That's good, right? And like everyone else, I routinely kick myself for not having dealt with it all sooner. I think we just need some time away from certain things to learn we can live without them. The trick is to not let 16 years go by without revisiting those things a few times. It does accumulate.

I also now have to run. We have some people coming by to look at the house this afternoon and I need to spur the troops into action. This could be good. It could be very, very good. Or it could be a mighty big disappointment... I'm trying really hard to not get my hopes up, though I don't think I'm being terribly successful. We'd really appre…

So many blue ribbons

Yesterday P. rode in a schooling horse show at the stable where she rides, and competed for the first time over fences. It was kind of a hard ride as her horse was not feeling at his most cooperative, but she looked good... I thought. The judges must have thought so, too, since she received two blue ribbons (first) and one yellow ribbon (third), as well as winning the class over all. I'm really proud of her.

And for some more Monday fun, I have a new article published: Funny Moments Being and Adoptive Parent

This happens in everyone's house, right?

I sometimes lose sight of what are normal household events and what is just plain odd. This might be borderline, what do you think? A couple of days ago, M. called me to say that I should expect a box of worms to arrive in the mail. I will admit this didn't even make me blink. I mean, we've already had a snake arrive by mail, what's some worms? It should probably me mentioned that this was a pound of worms. A pound of worms does not come in a very large box, it turns out.

M. came over yesterday to tend to the new worms. If you wonder how worms come when they arrive in the mail in a box, this is what you get.

The directions tell you to rehydrate them with some water and then place them in some sort of soil or compost. This really is a bag of worms. Just worms. It was a lot of worms. You want to see? It was kind of bizarrely fascinating and disgusting all at the same time.

What you think is dirt is really just a light dusting of dirt over hundreds of little squiggling worms.…

Friday bullets, Feb. 24, 17

Not my most productive week, but we've made it to the end.

I think we might have hit upon a seizure medicine that could actually work... for both girls. And it's the same medicine. The benefit is that we are only giving it at the onset of seizure behavior so neither have to be taking it full time. Of course, for H. who does not have an aura (a warning sign that a seizure is coming), that means she has to go through one seizure before we can start the medicine, but it is a significant step up from then having a three day cluster of seizures. During the seizure clusters, her intellectual functioning is not at its finest, so we live between a rock and a hard place with her. Now, the terribly ironic thing about writing this is that in the middle of it, H. had a small seizure. (R. is bizarrely attuned to H. and can notice a seizure before anyone else. Hypervigilance (which she has in spades)? Something else? On the good side, it means we have another trial of the medicine. It's …

Birthday celebrated

Y.'s birthday was duly celebrated last night with everyone in attendance except for B. who had work and a rehearsal. 
There was her chosen store-bought cake... because they are fancy.
Y. blew out her candles all on her own this year. Last year she didn't have enough diaphragm support to blow out even one on her own.
A happy girl and a much less manic smile.
On to presents! Look at that high kneel! She couldn't do that last year, either.
Yes, my children enjoy hair dye... Why do you ask?

Seaweed snacks (you can't see the huge smile behind the package) bought specially for her from TM.
The sweetest moment of the evening... G. gave Y. the gift she is giving her. Y. opened it and says, "But this is your favorite kitty." There is a pause, we all wait, and G. says, "That's OK, he likes you." The room then erupts in sighs and murmurs of, "That's so sweet." A. may have sniffed a bit. 

Some days the words don't come

I have sat staring at this computer for far longer than I should have today, hoping for some type of blog post to fall from my fingers. So far, there's nothing there. While I would like to tell you that it was because I was being incredibly productive elsewhere... packing boxes, organizing, taking care of children... it isn't. Well, I did go to an orthodontist appointment with K. and picked P. up from the stable, but that was it. This is my second day of extreme malaise. I just can't get myself moving in any productive way. (Yes, it happens to the best of us.) Instead, I sit around and wonder why I'm sitting around, figuratively feeling as though I'm banging my head against a brick wall.

Brick wall 1

I stare at houses on Zillow. I am finding it difficult to live in this limbo. Knowing I have got to get this house together so we can sell it, but in reality it feels very remote that we will be selling and moving. If I knew where we would be moving to next, it would f…

Happy 10th Birthday, Y.!

Today is Y.'s 10th birthday. She has been eagerly anticipating it for weeks now, and knows exactly what she wants and how she wants to celebrate. What a change from a year ago when she had been home just a month and life was still so overwhelming and confusing. We will be celebrating tomorrow night, because J. teaches his night class on Tuesdays, and Y. decided that she wanted to do the day after. She did have her birthday donuts this morning, though.

Last year, we asked through a friend acting as interpreter, what Y. missed most in regards to food, and then she also helped us find that for Y. This year, no interpreter needed. She wants chicken and jiaozi (dumplings), and a fancy cake like H. had for her birthday. That's pretty easy, as it was a store bought and decorated cake.

Last year, I guessed at what Y. would like to receive as birthday presents, and opening the gifts was exciting, but she really didn't do much with the gifts afterwards. It has just been in the past …

What my family does when I'm away

They go to the park.

They work on fairy houses. (Thanks, to M. for the additions.)

And J. got to listen to the question, "Mommy, airplane, come home?" probably at least one million times.

I have a new article published. Click and share away. Five Unique Questions to Ask Yourself before Adopting 

What I didn't know I needed

If I had unlimited funds and unlimited room, this is the little souvenir I would be bringing home from my little judging jaunt.

Do you not love it? It's a panda piano. Who doesn't need and love a panda piano? It's made my Pearl River Pianos. (It's a  Chinese business out of Guangzhou, hence the name Pearl River, since it runs right through the city. I've seen it. The river, not the company.) The recital halls where I was judging are attached to a piano store, and are owned by a friend of my mom's. He has two of these pianos in his store. I love them.

Sadly, even just one will not fit into my carry on.


It doesn't always pay to go out of town. Because when you do you miss exciting events. Exciting events such as having a snake arrive via FedEx to your house. I mean, how often does that happen in a person's life? Not many, I think, unless you happen to be a snake breeder. And how many people are snake breeders I wonder. (Yes, I'm kind of punchy of the moment. I've spend five hours listening to piano students play and writing encouraging comments to each of them. It leaves you feeling a little loopy.)

But back to the snake. M. bought a snake. For various reasons, the snake was to be delivered to our house. This morning. Evidently there was some drama involving the snake arriving. Or not. But I wasn't there, so haven't gotten the full scoop yet, which means you don't get it, either. The most you get is third hand news without any amusing details. Sorry. Oh, and you get a picture of a snake, which then puts you and me on the same level of knowledge regarding t…

Leaving on a jet plane

I am heading to Arizona for the weekend, both to visit my mother and to judge a piano competition for her. It's two o'clock now, and we need to leave for the airport at 4:30. At some point in the next two and a half hours, I suppose I should pack. In order to pack, though, I need the clothes that are currently in the dryer. It's been that kind of a week.

I am also seeming to continue with my phenomenal track record of bringing rotten weather with me on vacation. Get this... so it's February, a month usually known for its miserably cold and grey weather in Chicago. It is also a month in Arizona where the weather is starting to warm and spring is already springing. Except for the three days I will be there. This weekend? It's due to be 60's and sunny in Chicago, and 60's and rainy in Phoenix. Trust me when I say the 60's feel completely different in each location. It's a gift. A gift I'd be happy to pass along to someone else.

Of course the bigges…


Let's talk about the point of tests and exams. That's always a nice, calm, unemotional topic, right? One of my children and I were just talking about this a bit ago, and I thought it might make an interesting discussion. Now, before I begin, I need to say up front that I test extremely well. This post is in no way sour grapes. Taking tests and doing academic work is definitely a strength and I played the school game quite well. Perhaps I was able to play it too well, and that has more than a little bearing on my thoughts about tests and testing now.

The stated purpose for tests and exams is to determine how much of the material the student learned and understood, often so that a grade may be given for the class. On the face of it, it doesn't sound too bad. Students are in class to learn, and it is not unreasonable to ask them to show that they've done that. Seems reasonable, huh? In fact, for a very long time, I was right there. Teachers teach. Students learn. Tests ar…

Hi, My name is E. and I am a craft supply hoarder

At least that is the only conclusion I can come to based on yesterday's little extravaganza in my craft supply area. After five bags of garbage, seven bags of donations, and six or seven boxes packed for moving, the craft area is empty. (In my defense, not everything in those boxes was craft related, but junk item which belonged to other people which ended up in there for one reason or another.) Still, there was a lot.

I suppose this is the trouble with having lots of different activities that I enjoy doing and am vaguely successful at. This and my wide-swinging whims of what I feel like doing at any one time. I go through seasons, where one particular thing is all I want to do, then I'm over that for a while and on to something else. But I know myself, and eventually I will swing back to many of those crafts. The storage of multiple crafts and their needed supplies is an effort to save myself money when I cycle back again.

While cleaning out, I came across all my hand spinnin…

Monday Move Update

I've decided to limit myself to writing about moving and packing to just one a week, to spare, you my readers, the monotony of reading about it every single day for the next six months. It would give you sense of what it is like inside my head, but it's not a lot of fun in there, so I won't subject you to that.

The surrealist feeling of life continues. It will be months (if we're lucky) before we move, and yet nearly every single waking moment is spent thinking about or doing something towards that event. And then when you add in children whose sense of time is a little shaking to begin with, well... At least one child is convinced we're moving tomorrow and other are convinced that as soon as the weather gets warm, a moving van will pull up in front of our house as if it were a part of some odd seasonal migration. They just cannot wrap their heads around the idea that I am boxing up almost everything we own, yet have no idea when we will move. Sometimes I have a ha…

Teaching the reading of English

Some days I find it nothing short of miraculous that any of us learn to read, especially given the number of phonetically irregular words that English contains. Consider the example below. How many phonetically irregular words can you find?

"Chloe! Chloe! Run! We'll miss our boat!" Phoebe shouted with more than a little panic in her voice. She was standing on the quay, undecided as to whether to board the boat or wait for her friend. Before she had a chance to make up her mind, Chloe came running and both girls dashed up the gangplank and onto the ferry at the last moment. As Chloe tried to catch her breath, she also developed a case of hiccoughs which took a while to go away.

Finally, both girls were able to relax a bit and enjoy the ride. "I can't wait to get to the island," Phoebe told her friend. "It's been three years since I last visited. I'm so glad Daphne and Michael agreed I could bring a friend. You'll love it!"
"How lon…

Friday bullets, Feb. 10, 17

And here we are at Friday again. I'll take a break from the endless cleaning and boxing extravaganza to share a few things from the week.

R.'s eye patching is going better. You want to know what turned her around (for the most part)? Three minutes of computer time. I found a website with eye strengthening exercises and she really likes the game where you touch the place where the little ladybug shows up. It moves pretty fast, so I was completely unsure of whether she would be able to do it or not, we are talking about the child who screamed, "I not see!!" when the patch first went on. But we tried it and though she is about a beat behind, she can do it. And she loves it. She watched other children play computer games and now feels she has joined the party. I worry about fatigue and her tendency towards perseveration, so we keep it short, but it is enough. At least once this week, she has asked when it's time to put on the eye patch so she can play the ladybug game…

The building of trust

I have started packing boxes in earnest, and am quickly entering the phase of it having to get worse before it gets better. Don't worry, I won't subject you to endless posts about me putting things boxes. That would be more tedious than actually having to do the packing. Instead, I'll address something adoption related.

Our children, when they arrive home at older ages do a great job of seeming to understand and navigate their new life. I will admit that I am often fooled by this appearance, and I don't think I'm the only one. The truth is, for a good long time, our children do not understand very much of what is going on around them. I remind people that the first year should just be considered a bust. Not much will make sense, everyone (family and child) are still adjusting to new circumstances and getting to know one another, and survival on all fronts is the name of the game. This is true even for a bright child who really seems to grasp what is going on. I hav…

Neurology appointment

Boy, neurology appointments for two girls at a place an hour away, takes it out of a person. On the whole, though, the appointments went well, and I continue to work well with this neurologist. In fact, there were some high points. First, she was pretty darn impressed with the gains that R. has made. She also commented how both girls seemed so much calmer and appropriate in their behavior. Actually, she mentioned these things more than once, which showed exactly how struck she was by the improvement. At the end of the appointment, she asked me what kind of OT R. has been doing. I said that she wasn't seeing an OT, but that her life was one long OT session. The doctor then asked me if I had a therapy or medical background. It's taken a year, but I think that we have reached a point in our relationship where she acknowledged I just might have some clue as to what I am doing. I am so glad that we don't have to switch specialists with our future move, because it is tiring to r…

Missing the point

(This post is directed at my fellow Jesus followers. It this isn't where you are right now, then feel free to come back tomorrow.)

I'm halfway through reading the book, The Insanity of God, by Nik Ripken. The past four years have been a bit tough in any number of ways, and I will admit to periods of struggling mightily with my faith as a result. Everyone goes through periods such as this; those times of wondering, "Do I really believe this?", "How do I reconcile evil with the goodness of God?", "Does God still love me if all I see around me are the remains of seemingly unanswered prayers?" That kind of stuff. When a friend mentioned this book that she had read, about a missionary who was struggling with the same kind of questions, I jumped on it.

In searching for the answers to her questions, the author visited countries where persecution of Christians had (or has) been intense. A place where it is truly costly to follow Jesus. The stories he hear…

More Saturday thankfulness

J. and I spent some time wandering from room to room around the house making a master list of everything that needs to be done. This is the absolutely essential list, and not the it might be nice to.. list. There were many of the same items for each room, things such as new paint, lots of boxing up, and new blinds. You know, those things you get used to and don't notice until you see them with the eyes of someone seeing the house for the first time, and then you are appalled at your own filth.

So, despite the filth and the work, I will look at the thankful parts of the day instead. My list includes...

Less screaming

Yesterday, we started patching R.'s eye in the hopes that it will strengthen her weak eye and help her to use it better. We had great success patching H.'s eye after she joined our family, and we're hopeful this will help R. just as much. Well, R. has never been quite as compliant as H. was, and when I put the eye patch on her it was a shock. At first she st…

Friday bullets, Feb. 3, 17

I am tempted to write this in Morse code, but I'll save us all a lot of work and restrain myself. (As I type this, everyone is busily decoding today's message about what the day holds. I kind of like this morning secret message-thing.) Anyway, all the non-spy related news that might be vaguely interesting follows.

I need a brain hat. How perfect is that? It's perfect in sooo many ways. I think I will knit mine with a white base (for the all-important white matter) with greyish pink I-cords for the the surrounding grey matter. It might be done in time for the march in March.... 2018. Plus, I would just totally wear this all the time. Don't you just love brains? And knitting? And knitted brains?To clarify from an earlier post this week as to who the human tornado is. It is actually the 10yo boy, and not R. I would be thrilled if R. started leaving detritus in her wake. It would mean that she was voluntarily picking up toys and things to play with as opposed to sitting end…

Method to the madness

This morning, I got up, put on my spy master hat, and posted a coded message for all of my secret agents. It was really just a list of what we were doing this morning, but it kept the imaginary play story line going. I also don't think it would be a bad thing if everyone learned Morse code by the end of our little adventure.

Other than just raking in the fun mom points, I do have a purpose in all of this. It was a good thing that I accidentally reread the book about habits a few weeks ago. As I was pondering the craziness of what the next few months could look like, I realized that I needed to create new habits in all of us. (And the adults are just as guilty of leaving things lying around as the children, so we are definitely included in that 'us'.) I also realized that I had just read a book about habits and I had some idea of how habits are formed and how they are changed. I could use this, plus my children's strong need and enjoyment of imaginative play to my benef…

Mission Impossible, Take 2

[Cue music] Duh, Duh, Duh-duh, Duh, Duh, Duh-duh...
A national security crisis has come to the attention of the authorities. It's time to call in the best agents.


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

Training will not be easy.

There are codes s…