Monday, December 28, 2009

Fat, Happy, and Loved

Kyle and I fight over this cat. The awful truth is, Misha loves Kyle more than me. Well, she does love me, but only when Kyle's not present. Last night, I got a special treat. While I was sitting right next to Kyle, she climbed up on me and fell fast asleep. I felt so special! So loved! So admired and appreciated!
Don't try to convince me that it's only because I offer a wider surface on which to balance. No, no, no. Misha chose me because she thinks so highly of me.

And you better believe Kyle fell asleep to the sound of my happy gloating.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Media Malpractice

Kyle and I just watched this documentary last night and we were glued! We knew a little of what the media had done to get Obama elected, but the footage in this film was just dumbfounding, absolutely stunning.
I strongly recommend you watch this film, if only so you won't be one of the ignorant minority who were so duped by the liberal media.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lazy Rules

I recently read a blog post about the top 10 ways not to yell at your kids. (I'm exaggerating a little; I don't know that there was actually 10, but there were plenty.) The notion struck me as a little ridiculous.

Since the dawn of time, men have tried to come up with rules to live holy lives. God gave the first rules, the Old Testament law, whose sole purpose was to make people realize that they couldn't live holy lives on their own. The law points us to our need for a Savior.

Many well-meaning Christians have tried to come up with guidelines for movies that are acceptable, such as only allowing their children to watch G-rated movies. First of all, why trust Hollywood to tell you what is acceptable? But more importantly, have you ever noticed that some G-rated movies are worse than some PG ones?

Bottom line: God calls us to practice discernment. (Hebrews 5:14) Legalism is just laziness. It means we aren't using wisdom or dependence on God's guidance to make good decisions; we are only relying on a set of rules.
Rely on God whose grace is always sufficient.

ETA: I just rechecked the blog post I was referencing and there really were 10. Dave Letterman would have been proud. {snicker}

Monday, November 23, 2009

Can You Stand Another?

This is an oldie. From the months before and just after the adoption of our triplets. I'm really enjoying looking at these old photos. Maya, Isaac, and Daniel were all so little! Speaking of little, we had our annual growth contest recently and Daniel came in 1st place AGAIN with a whopping 3.5" of growth. That boy's going to be a giant!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thinking Outside the Box

Lately it seems I've heard this comment about myself quite a lot. Someone was recently asking what our school year schedule is like. As I tried to explain it, her face looked more and more confused. We school year round. I don't plan breaks, we base our breaks on the weather. When it's nice, we slow down and sometimes even stop. When it's cold, hot, or rainy we get a lot done.

Other than a list of what all books I want us to read in a given school year, I don't have a detailed plan. Sometimes we're halfway through a math book when it's time to start a whole new time period in history. It doesn't all end neatly at the same time. And I don't care!

I have no idea what lesson we'll be doing in math next Thursday. I just know we'll be doing the lesson that comes after what we did the previous day. Same with history and literature. Tomorrow we'll read the next chapter. And so on until we finish all the books.

Now, tell me honestly: are you confused or are you relaxed as I'm explaining our laid-back schedule?

P.S. I'm not a laid-back person. Perhaps that's what is so flabbergasting about the way we school.

You Need to See This!

We recently Netflixed this movie and I strongly recommend it. It isn't the type of documentary that leaves you thinking you'll never eat anything again. It gives hope. It provides solutions (and no I don't mean crazy expensive solutions). It was extremely eye-opening.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

It's Pedro!!

Doesn't he look great?! We only get to see him about once a month since he's at the university full time. We love those visits. Especially Kyle as the two of them have man-to-man talks every time he visits. Kyle just loves relating to him that way.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just Good Business

A few weeks ago, Elena owed Isaac $5. She got two $5 Target gift cards from the Orthodontist for being such a stellar patient. She gave one of them to Isaac. Debt settled.
Today, Maya earned $2 for cleaning the master suite. Isaac, ever the business man, saw his chance at wealth and prosperity. He traded Maya the $5 gift card for the $2 cash.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ask & You Shall Receive

I feel full almost all the time now. After eating like a horse the first several months of my pregnancy (was waking in the middle of the night starving-- that was annoying!), I'm now eating like a bird. Last night, I took 3 bites of my dinner and then felt full. Crazy!

Peanut moves all the time now, which I love (unless my bladder is full). He/she is supposedly 14.5" long and 2-3 lbs. I was excitedly telling a pregnant friend that baby isn't going to grow but a few more inches. She ruined my enthusiasm when she reminded me that the baby is going to get a lot fatter. Oh yeah. Bummer.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

One More Scrapblog

I'm telling ya, this new schedule is awesome! It's amazing how quickly I can put these scrapbooks together with an hour a day. This is my Spring 2009 album. Enjoy:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Great Movie!

We just got this movie from Netflix and it was fantastic! It's the story of Ben Carson, world renown black Christian neurosurgeon. I highly recommend it. Watch it yourself first; I'm not sure we're going to let the kids see it yet. Although it's all appropriate, some of the material is too heavy for them right now.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I've Been Scrapping Again!

After listening to the audio teaching of Teri Maxwell on "Managers of their Homes", I was encouraged to create a schedule for myself. In the past, I've only had an order of doing things. (A friend gave me the Managers of their Homes book when I first started homeschooling. I was completely overwhelmed and vowed to stray as far from that kind of schedule as possible. I was wrong.)
After hearing Teri say that she scheduled half an hour of sewing into her daily plan, I thought: Hey, I could do that for scrapbooking!
So I did! I now have time every afternoon that I spend scrapbooking while the kids have playtime. I've gotten so much done!! (And you know how I love being productive.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Maya's Big Sister

Well, not really, but that's what Maya calls her. Tanya goes to our church and has taken a real liking to Maya once she got to know her. She came running up to me one Sunday as we were about to leave and said: Maya's a talker! (This was exciting news to this kindred loquacious spirit.)
Last Sunday afternoon, she came over to "help" me to Maya's hair. I part Maya's hair into quarters and do one section at a time. I was halfway through the first quarter when Tanya came. She chatted with me while I worked, then it was her turn. She kept right on chatting with me as she did all the rest. I kept saying: I can do it now. Why don't you take a break?
Apparently there was something therapeutic to doing this mindless work. Regardless, it was a real blessing.
Tanya is a sweet big sister to Maya. I'm so grateful for her influence.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My Weakness

Phonics is my absolute least favorite subject to teach. I just never seem to trust that it will work. Once a child can read, I’m home free. I enjoy all the rest. Reading did not come easy for my firstborn. I was ready to pull my hair out after the first year. Everybody had told me how their child completed half their phonics workbook and then they just took off reading. Elena didn’t.
She was my preparation for teaching my Africans how to read. It has proven a much harder task. Because of their small vocabularies (people weren’t constantly talking to or reading to them as they grew up), they have a hard time knowing when they’ve sounded out the right word. For instance, Maya sounded out “suddenly” 3 times correctly, when I finally said: Yes, that’s right- suddenly. You don’t need to keep reading it.
Maya looked at me perplexed and said: That’s a real word?
This has happened so many times that I finally realized that although she’s reading fairly well for someone who’s only been reading for 2 years, she still can’t read alone.
The other main problem (never mind malnutrition beginning in utero) is vowels. In Liberia, the vowels aren’t distinct the way they are here. I frequently close my eyes to discern whether Maya is saying the correct vowel sound. For instance, today she was supposed to read the word “bite”. She read what sounded like “bat”. I said: No, a bat is a small creature that flies at night.
She was insulted. She said: No, I meant “bat” like you play baseball with.
Most days I console myself with the knowledge that Maya will eventually learn to read fluently. But some days, I whine to Kyle: Why is the progress so slow??? What if she never reads?!
Despite the fact that I thought Elena and Chloe would never learn to read, they are both fluent readers. Why do I have to relearn this lesson with each child?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Adoption & Extended Family

Got this email:

We're in the process of adopting from Ethiopia and aren't looking forward to sharing this news with our families, as we aren't sure how they'll respond. How did you handle telling your extended families?

We received every possible reaction, so I know exactly how you feel.
My mom and stepdad were very excited. They had a very enthusiastic response and the day after we told them, my mom called me to tell me all about the history of Liberia. She had clearly been doing quite a bit of research. We were so blessed by her response. Her enthusiasm carried us through all the ups and downs of the adoption wait.
My sister and her family responded in the exact same way. (Minus some of the research. ;) ) She asked lots of questions during the process, which of course we loved since we loved talking about it.
My dad and stepmom said something like: "Huh." And that's about it. That was quite a let down. We weren't expecting that. (Or maybe we were, but that didn't make it any easier.)
Kyle's parents gave a full inquisition. They were not at all thrilled about our decision and made it very clear. Not only were we adopting, but we were adopting from Africa. It couldn't get worse in their opinion. His siblings took the "we're not going to talk about this and maybe it will go away" approach. They never asked anything about the children or the process.
Obviously, we were hurt by the negative and/or non-reactions, but we had so much support from friends that it all balanced out. A couple of our friends had adopted and we also connected with other families who were adopting from Liberia, via a Yahoo group, and we all shared our experiences together. Talking to other families who were adopting from the same country (and many times, the same orphanage) was very therapeutic.
I was expecting to have a lot of negative reactions to our family post-adoption, but that hasn't been the case at all. What we figured out was: it's easy to reject children who are an ocean away. But once they are in your family, attitudes change. Our parents all love them just like they do our biological kids, or at least they act like it, which is good enough for me. And we almost never hear negative comments from strangers, because everyone assumes we run a daycare. lol

If your family has a negative reaction to your adoption plans, find friends (or other family members) who support it and spend more time with them. :D Give others grace and time to change their heart.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Up & Coming Big Family Issue

Now that it's fall, you know what's coming up? Christmas! At least my kids are sure it's right around the corner. The concept of time is totally lost on my short people. But I digress.

A common problem among big families as you all know is: stuff! Grandparents want to buy a bunch of toys that your kids will have discarded before Valentine's Day decorations are up in the stores and you're wondering if your life will always consist of constant decluttering. (Although your kids love to help declutter too as they can't stand cleaning up all those toys!) The other issue, of course, is the gifts that you just don't want in your house. The crop-top Barbie with the leather mini-skirt or the video games that will train your handsome boy to be a couch potato.

So, tell me, how do you handle it?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Too Good Not to Share

A friend just posted this on Facebook and I thoroughly enjoyed this hilarious bit of opinion that all of us "big families" share:

So You Prefer I Use Birth Control?

Will you please allow me a little rant? Yes I know about love and grace and kindness, but does that really bar my right to get agitated?

The pastor sitting beside me as I waited to get my hair cut was a talker. I mean big time. You should know, by the way, that I don’t “jump” to tell people I have 8 children anymore. Not because I’m ashamed of it…maybe it’s more of my weariness of the cliches and attempts at making me feel ashamed for my convictions.

So he’s really chattering, to me, and to my 7-year-old about the baby who’s sleeping in her seat. And it finally comes up–the number of siblings. His response? (Grabs arms of his seat on either side and leans forward…) “ARE YOU CRAZY?” Did I mention he was a pastor?

Rolled off. Smiles, answer with my own cliche...”No, I’m blessed.” Another day.

Then yesterday, at the Thrift store, a lady I recognize. Oh, she’s a lady that frequented our home often when my mother used to cater a monthly meal for The Gideons. You know those people who do the wonderful work of spreading the Word of God? She had already bumped into my mom. So she says, when she sees me…

“I hear you’ve got number 8 in that buggy?” Now, most people who see someone they know whom they haven’t seen in a while say things like, “Let me see that new baby?” Or even more simply, “How have you been?” Not this time.

“Yes ma’am”, I say.

She replies, “Don’t you know what causes that?”

OK, here’s the thing. That question is as tired as jelly shoes and twist-a-beads. (You’ll only know what that is if you grew up in the 80’s.) If you feel the need to make a joke, could you come up with an original one?

Read the rest here.

And please share if you have any unusual or comedic responses to these old and worn comments?

I Did It!!

Last night, for the first time in 5 months, I brushed my teeth without gagging! What a wonderful feeling. And the bonus of Kyle not laughing at me while I choke and sputter was also great.
Perfect timing too- today's my turn in the dentist's seat.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Where Did All the Manners Go?

I've been noticing a consistent pattern lately. Whenever I'm out with the kids and one of the kids gets in the way of an adult, the adult just stands there silent and irritated. I can see that they're annoyed, but while the child is oblivious, they just try to will the child to move. They never say: Excuse me.
This happens fairly frequently and I'm wondering why adults will speak to other adults, but treat a child as if they should just read the adult's mind. I don't get it. A couple of times I have said, smiling sweetly: If you'll just say excuse me, they'll move out of the way.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe adults don't talk to other adults either. What do you think?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What I Call a Vacation

Before we had kids, Kyle and I went on two consecutive trips to Cancun. Business rewards. The first year, we did all kinds of stuff. Went snorkeling, took a boat trip, wind sailing, etc. We had something fun to do every day. When we got home from that trip, we both felt like we needed a vacation!
The next year, having learned our lesson, we did almost nothing. We laid on the beach and read and talked. We relaxed. I mean really relaxed. When we got home we were rejuvenated.

This is all I cared about doing while we were in Colorado. Sitting on the balcony and reading. Just enjoying the wonderful weather and beautiful views.

There's a bunch of these little critters to greet me each time. Chickadees, hummingbirds, stellar blue jays, and tons and tons of chipmunks. Elena fed a chipmunk from her lap. He sat on her knee and ate out of her hand.

The night we got home from the bonfire, there was a family of four deer on the driveway. Two babies. I wish I could have gotten close enough to get a decent picture of them, but deer aren't quite as friendly as chipmunks.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

For Your Entertainment

Yesterday, the kids and I were running a bunch of errands picking up things for my friend who just adopted a newborn. (The baby came 5 weeks early, so she wasn't at all ready.)
After picking up fenugreek tea and honey for her, I headed next door to get some socks. The lady in line had a cartful of clothes and was just starting to unload it all on the counter. The cashier looks at all my kids and the one package of socks I'm holding. She says: Oh, you only have one thing?
Then she turns to the customer in front of me and says, smiling: She only has one thing. Wanna let her go ahead?
Cartful lady: Nope.

I laughed out loud as the cashier looked at me bewildered.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Go Ahead. Be a Quitter.

In talking to moms who are wanting to take their kids out of the school system (public, private, whatever), I've noticed a trend. They all want to wait until the end of the semester or the end of the school year.
But what is the point of that exactly? I recently found Guilt-Free Homeschooling (and despite my husband's joking, that does not mean "How not to homeschool and not feel guilty about it." har har) It's a website full of resources, solutions, and encouragement for homeschool moms or those who one day hope to be.
The author, Carolyn, has this to say about quitting the school system:

Let's take a reality check time-out here. By leaving the child in a school system that is not teaching him, or that is teaching him incorrectly, what you, the parent, are teaching him is that quitting is not ok, but failing is awesome.
Once you realize that something isn't working, why do you feel the need to stay commited to it?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pin Curls & Magic Shows

My dad and stepmom, Shannon, came over the other day to drop something off. When they walked in the door, I was putting pin curls in Elena's hair, as requested. Shannon asked if she could do it.
Who am I to stand in the way of a woman who wants to do tedious work? I quickly got up and handed her the hair pins.

After the hair styling, I asked my dad if he'd do a little magic for the kids. I've been begging him to do this for quite a while. (Now, when I say "magic", I should specify that I mean card tricks and such. My dad's specialty is slight-of-hand, not cutting people in half or making them disappear.)
The last time he had done a magic show for the kids was before the adoption.

"Pick a card. Any card." Ever heard that line? I've heard it all my life.

After awhile of doing a bunch of tricks, he did my favorite one. He loves me and never leaves this one out. "Who wants to help me with this next trick?" he asks. And despite Daniel and Liddy's frantic hand-waving, Dad could see that Isaac desperately wanted to help out this time. Elena must have noticed it too. (She's pointing at him.)

First, Isaac picks a card. Look how excited he is to do something so exhilarating as picking a card out of deck. He can hardly stand it!

Now dad has half the deck stacked on top of the other half. It's a two story building and there's about to be a killing. (Dad wisely left the story out of it for the sake of the kids.)

A little twist of the wrist, and the building becomes a gun.

See the gun? The kids were all very impressed with this. (They're still trying to learn how to shuffle cards.) I was too the first time I saw it, but my dad is smart and skilled and he can do anything.

So, now he takes Isaac's card back and it becomes the bullet. Can you see it down there? Dad popped that bullet through the gun and out shot Isaac's card.

Everyone was entertained, including me, and I know all his tricks.