Welcome! I blog about adoption, adopting from China, special needs, clubfoot, limb differences, developmental delays, homeschooling, large families, large family life, sewing, crafting, book reviews, curriculum reviews, parenting, and more.
Top o' the mornin' to ya! Happy St. Patrick's Day! I miss the art projects we did last year. The girls' school didn't do anything for St. Pat's, which surprised me a little, but since it's on a Saturday this year, I have them home with me!
I found this little leprechaun in our front yard and decided to take some pictures.
I love my peeps. And they tolerate me. Even when I torture them by making them stand and smile and *gasp* hold hands.
They're pretty good sports. I miss them. I'm looking forward to having them home for spring break soon. And summer! I'm going to appreciate the heck out of summer this year.
Because before you know it, they'll be off again.
I'm so glad I get to capture these fleeting moments.
It's fun to have green noodles and green ice cream and grapes and Snapeas and, of course, corned beef.
But I wish I could slow down time, just a little bit, to savor these moments before they're gone.
After finishing up her year in New Zealand, Annaliese decided to move to Hawaii. For my birthday (and Valentine's Day, and our upcoming anniversary), Paul said I could go visit her.
I took Josiah with me.
Good gravy, that's a long flight (6.5 hours). And I swear the screen said, "5 minutes remaining" for at least 20 minutes. We were dying. I know, it's shorter than going to China, but it still felt like forever.
But eventually we got checked in to our hotel and wandered out to find a bite to eat. I love all the lit tiki torches in Waikiki!
We found a little second floor Mexican restaurant with a view of the beach.
The food was really good.
In fact, we ended up going back there another night.
Our hotel left something to be desired. I think I've gotten spoiled staying in 4 star hotels in China.
But it was a place to crash between adventures.
And if you stand in the right spot and use your imagination, it even has a view of the mountains.
This was my first time in Hawaii, and I was delighted with the warm ocean. Growing up, the beach was nearby, but it was cold and windy.
Hopefully, I'll get a chance to post some more of my pictures over the next few days.
After 14 years of PURPLE and GOLD as our school colors, it's kind of nice to have something different for the younger kids (although purple is my favorite color).
They had to dress in red, white, and blue for one of their recent spirit days.
After school snacks, instituted this year, have been immensely popular with everyone (and Sam is annoyed to have missed out on this particular institution!). Mostly muffins, sometimes cupcakes or cookies. Josiah has been baking chocolate chip cookies when I don't get around to making something, which is very helpful and appreciated. This was using up the last of the candy canes on chocolate mint cupcakes. They were ugly (but tasty) after baking.
Yes, my 16 year old is wielding a chain saw.
I actually love it when Paul teaches the boys real life skills. Note he is wearing hearing protection, eye protection and "chaps."
Homework: I have to admit, it's not as bad as it could have been. I remember when Josiah and Sam went to kindergarten. Paul and I hated the "homework packet" that came home every week. Thursday nights when we tried to catch up on everything we hadn't finished really sucked.
Katie's teacher asks the kids to study their spelling words, but leaves it totally up to parental discretion HOW that takes place. We've done spelling words on a white board, with letter tiles, with blocks, written in pencil on lined paper, written with markers on construction paper, sidewalk chalk, etc. Probably the favorite, though, is making spelling words out of Trader Joe's letter cookies.
Eli even "helped" her find the letters, eliminating pesky extra Qs and Vs and such.
I belong to Facebook groups for families with kids from the provinces that Hannah and Katie were adopted from. Recently Katie's province group put together a search video, hoping it would go viral in China, and that families who've given up a child would come forward for genetic testing so matches could be made and communication could be opened up. The photo above is the one we submitted of Katie to be included in the video. The finished video is below.
伸出你的手，寻根广西 Adopted Guangxi Children Seeking Roots YouTube - YouTube
Because of this, we took another big step recently:
Spit testing with 23 and Me went better than I feared it might. We are awaiting results (which usually take 6-8 weeks).
Speaking of genetics... no denying a resemblance there.
Jack and I recently made a run to Toys R Us so he could spend his Christmas gift card from Grammy. As you can see, he's still into Legos.
Valentine's Day is a birthday in our house, but Someone did not want a fuss this year.
So no flaming cake picture of this guy, who is now a grown up, grown up.
The day after Valentine's day is also a birthday! Brianna turned 18, and wanted a cake surrounded by Kit Kats and covered with peanut butter M&Ms.
If you notice the walls behind Josiah and Brianna, they're a different color now. They used to be a nondescript beige. I wanted a warm, soft yellow. What we ended up with... well, Eli refers to it as Ramen Seasoning Packet Yellow. It's like being in an inside out taxi.
I totally stole this photo off Class Dojo, which is an app the school uses to facilitate communication between parents and elementary teachers. I went to the school to give a little lecture about Chinese New Year to Hannah and Katie's classes. I brought along visual aids, a craft, and a coloring page. It was fun! I had a great time teaching again, even if it was only for an hour. I also left a bunch of our China books at the school for the kids to enjoy during the 2 weeks of Chinese New Year, and I've enjoyed seeing pictures of the kids reading them.
These two went out to a fancy dinner celebrating both Brianna's birthday and their one year anniversary together.
I got to babysit for a friend of mine, and it was so fun to have a toddler in the house again!
I think I've figured out another part of why I'm not blogging as much any more. Obviously, the biggest reason is that I don't have all the homeschooling stuff to talk about anymore. But I used to spend a lot of time on my computer in the school room, while the kids were doing school work. Now, I'm really only in there a couple times a week. I keep thinking, "Maybe I'm done blogging." But I guess it's just that my blogging has changed. Again. I have a trip planned next month, so I'm sure I'll have some vacation pictures to share later.
I started volunteering in May, and my grand total for 2017 was 180 hours for 9 organizations. I mentioned in a prior post that I hadn't really figured out what I loved to do yet. Over the last 4 months, I've settled into a routine.
First, some 2017 stats:
BloodSource - 29.25 hours Book Den - 21 hours Library - 7.5 hours Zoo - 20.5 hours SPCA - 85.83 hours Sac Tree - 8.25 (Although they sent me a letter, thanking me for my 11 hours of service, so I may not have written down a day. Either that, or they're really generous with hours.)
I also put in a couple hours making giant poster board letters for the Christmas parade float for the younger kids' school. Then there was the time I took Jack and Hannah to pack meals for FMSC. And I don't count hours for these, but I donated 3 blankets to Project Linus in 2017.
Now that I've been at it a while, I spend one day a week at SPCA, helping out with the vaccine clinic. This is like the DMV for dogs. Wait over here, pay, then wait over there. I like to get there a little early so I can still get some cat petting time in before hand.
I also spend a couple of days per month helping out with SPCA's feral cat spay and neuter clinic. Because let's face it: cats on drugs are hilarious.
Our local Friends of the Library is part of Book First, a way to get books into the hands of underprivileged first graders. I spent a day helping to assemble bags of books to take into the classrooms, and I've gotten to go to one of the distribution days so far. I'm scheduled for a few more of those, which should be fun.
I've been spending one morning a week washing the toys at my library branch. It's not my favorite thing to do, but it needs doing, and it gets me into the library once a week. I usually bring home a bag of books for the kids after I'm done.
I spend one day a week at the Book Den, run by Friends of the Library. I started out doing "first sort" and now I maintain the $1 fiction section in the store and help shelve fiction out in the warehouse. My problem is that I find all these books I want to read! I've been reading a ton lately, and my "to read" pile just keeps getting bigger and bigger. I have donated a lot of books, though, so at least I'm getting some turnover in our personal library.
Volunteering has been a great experience for me. It gets me out of the house. I'm meeting new people and learning new things. I feel like I'm "giving back" for all the years when I couldn't do anything because I had lots of little ones at home. (Not that I wouldn't drop 75% of my commitments like a hot potato if the chance to have a little one in the house came up!)
I may go "on leave" from a couple organizations during the summer so I can focus on the kids. I'm really looking forward to them being out of school! Although I've enjoyed the quiet house, I do miss them while they're gone.
Eli photobombing his adorable little sisters in their nativity smocked dresses.
The whole family, waiting for me to pass out new jammies on Christmas Eve, after we drove around looking at light displays.
And then after they all changed into their new pajamas, we had cocoa.
Eli and Miss Adorable helping me pick up pizzas and cookie dough for dinner one night.
One of Brianna's gifts was a camo backpack, which she filled to pack for winter camp.
Our tree had a little "battle of the branches" going on. Someone was quick to point out that the Army ornament was bigger than the Air Force and Marine Corps ornaments. I'm very proud of my kids, regardless of which branch they serve in. (As well as the ones who choose other paths, of course.)
I wanted to share a few things that I've made recently. In December, I got out the bucket of Christmas fabrics.
I made some napkins with print on one side and solid flannel on the other.
We ended up with about a dozen new Christmas napkins (which I'm still weeding out of the everyday napkin basket).
Our family wraps using fabric gift bags during the holidays, and most years I find myself needing to make a few more bags when I'm almost done with wrapping Christmas presents. Sometimes it's an odd size gift that I need a bag for, but mostly it's because there's more of us than there used to be. I also wrapped the gifts Sam bought the rest of the family before he left, so that accounted for some of the extra, too.
More Christmas fabrics. I used a slightly too big for Katie leggings pattern here. Stripes and Pooh are daywear; snowmen and penguins are a super soft poly knit that we use for jammies.
Finally finished up (and delivered! Huzzah!) my latest Project Linus quilt.
I went through a bucket of scraps in the sewing room, cutting squares from anything big enough, and getting rid of the rest. Feels good to have a little more room to breathe in there. I hope to roll out a couple more of these scrap quilts from the rest of the pile of squares I have going.
Also, our Project Linus chapter is collecting for the ladies at a local shelter this month. Such an easy way to donate: open cupboard, toss a couple boxes in the bag with the quilt, and drop them off together!
This isn't sewing, but it is something I made. Walking around Hobby Lobby in November, I got inspired to paint and decorate our own advent treat calendar. Well. Let's just say I made life more difficult than it needed to be. Next year, instead of blinky bulb bracelets, ornaments, mini games, and craft ideas, I'm totally going to fill this sucker with candy and call it good enough.
The girls should still be able to wear their Valentine and St. Patrick's Day shirts from last year, so I don't have any big plans in the sewing room right now. Maybe Easter will inspire me?
We received The Rock Maiden as part of Multicultural Children's Book Day. It's touching story and beautiful illustrations make this folk tale from Hong Kong a great addition to any child's library.
Author Natasha Yim does "soften" the tale a little for young readers, in that there's a happily ever after ending that the traditional version does not have, which she mentions in the back of the book. We actually have another book by Natasha Yim, Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas, which I bought the kids for Chinese New Year in 2016.