Thursday, July 31, 2008

I Blog Therefore I Am . . . A Bad Mother???

This is my 300th blog! Three Hundredth!!! I wondered if I should blog about Vu or Joe or about my 300 most embarrassing moments or simply let 300 come without blogging about anything in particular.

But, since some (including me) may be surprised I spend so much time blogging, I thought I should share a recent conversation.

I was volunteering at school working on a project with other moms when a conversation came up about blogging. Here's a synopsis of the conversation between "Good Mom" and "Bad Mom."

Good Mom: My sister is one of those bloggers who spends all her time on the computer. She's addicted!

Bad Mom: Oh really? I like to blog, it's a great outlet.

Good mom: You do??? But do you, like, read other blogs and do your own blog and put pictures on and stuff?

Bad Mom: Well, yeah, but the pictures are a great way for extended family members to keep up with us and they love seeing the kids.

Good Mom: But don't you have a TON of kids?

Bad Mom, laughing: Yeah, they're my fodder for my posts and pictures!

Good Mom: But wouldn't you rather spend your time WITH your kids and not just writing about them?

Bad Mom: Ouch!

"Ouch" was all I could think to say.

Of course, I eventually recovered and explained to Good Mom that I spend a TON of time with my TON of kids. I tried to tell her that writing is a creative outlet for me, an oasis that helps me through the good and bad. It's family history and writing actually makes me a better mother!

She stared at me, unconvinced so I went on to explain that I often blog when my kids are in bed or at school.

At this point, I could see my explanations were for naught. This mom obviously had already pegged me into the "bad mom" category and there was no way out.

As I left the school I couldn't seem to shake what the other mom had said and for the next couple of hours I explained myself away to myself. Fart on that old lady! I don't watch TV, I don't shop (unless it's life or death--grocery store yes, mall no), I don't talk on the phone and I'm relatively good at organizing my time including time with my ton of kids.

So why was I bothered? Because I knew she had a point. Computers can eat up time like a time machine. Was I wasting mine?

Before my blogging days I used to spend free time journaling and scrapbooking. I also used to read more and those things seemed to be on the "mom approved" list. Since blogging combines all three it should be a go, right?

After mulling it over I realized the time I spend blogging is time well spent. I don't regret the time it takes from other important things like scrubbing grass stains out of underpants. I DO wish I had more time to write a post, ponder and then re-write it, but I usually type at cyber speed and barely take the time to spell check! So much to blog about, so little time!

I finally realized the problem was not the blogging. It's easy for me to get on the computer to simply shoot an e-mail and get caught up in cyberland and an hour later look at the clock in shock . . . not blogging but just puttering away. I like reading other families blogs and being part of adoption/parenting forums. I had to ask myself exactly how much time I wanted to use for those purposes and honestly, the answer was--less. My kids weren't suffering but my garage was.

I took a look at the many blogs I had saved in my "Favorites" and weeded out most of them. Of course I didn't cut yours. My ax chop came after asking myself two questions: 1.) If I had a chance to meet this person, would I? 2.) Does their writing improve my life?

I also unsubscribed to everything from Old Navy ads to forums I really enjoyed.
I set the timer when getting on e-mail. It keeps me focused.

I keep a small notepad by the computer and instead of getting on every time I need to e-mail someone (I don't like the phone, remember?), I write it down for my specific computer times. It is too easy for me to head off into my favs once I get on.

I only allow myself certain times during the day to get on, not just for blogging but for any computer time.

Even tho that Fart Face Good Mom made me mad, I'm glad she helped me really look at how I was spending my time on the computer. So while my i-won't-even-take-the-time-to-use-capitals e-mails really stink these days, I'll still be bloggin' away for a long time to come!

Hear, hear! To the next 300!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

RTW--Deborah Gray's Top 10 Attachment Tips

Here is some of the best advice you will read on attaching after adoption. I also recommend Gray's books, my favorite being Attaching in Adoption.

Other favs are: Adopting the Hurt Child by Keck and Kupecky and
Toddler Adoption The Weaver's Craft by Mary Hopkins-Best.

Another book to be enjoyed esp. by those adopting an older child:
The Waiting Child by Cindy Champnella.

If you don't do anything else to prepare for your adoption, at least read the Attachment Tips by Gray. Some of our success in Vu attaching so well comes from implementing Gray's advice.

I especially love her advice in tip #10:

"It means trying hard and trying patiently for a longer time. You are the one who has the responsibility of engaging your child positively. Do not use punitive techniques to try to build relationships. After all, no one wants to attach to a mean person. Instead, be strong, dependable, available, and kind. Veer away from advice that is strong, controlling, and mean in tone. Sensitive and kind parents gradually build empathy and security in their relationships with their children. That process takes time and the type of parenting that caused you to want to be a parent in the first place!"

Monday, July 28, 2008

What Have We Been Up To?

Swimming lessons:
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Drive-in movie to see "Kung Fu Panda":
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Playgrounds:
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Another trip to the cabin--lots of frogs to catch:
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Snowcone fun:
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Ice Cream--these kids sure do eat a lot in the summer!:
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Going places:
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Visit with cousins and friends including a trip to the hat store in Big Blue and yes, Lizzy still has the same boyfriend, err, uh, friend who is a boy:
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Hope For Those Still Waiting

I love getting daily inspirational e-mails from Joel Osteen. Todays was especially encouraging for those still waiting for their children to come home and those still waiting for a match.

Closer Than You Think

Today's Scripture

“Do not cast away your confidence, for it carries a great reward” (Hebrews 10:35).

Today's Word from Joel and Victoria

Have you been praying and believing for something that seems like it’s taking a lot longer than you thought? Many times, people can miss God’s best simply because they give up before they see their “due season” come. Don’t let that be you! Be encouraged today, your answer is closer than you think. If it seem like things are getting more difficult, remember, when the intensity heats up, that means you are closer to your victory. It always seems darkest just before the dawn arrives. You serve a faithful God, and He’s working behind the scenes on your behalf. Don’t cast away your confidence today because your reward is coming. And just like a new mother forgets about her labor pain when she is finally holding her newborn, you’ll forget about your struggle when you are holding on to your promise. While you are waiting, keep an attitude of faith and expectancy. Wake up every morning and say out loud, “I’ve come too far to give up now. My due season is coming. I will reap my harvest.” Stay in faith and look for His hand of blessing because He has promised you victory and it’s closer than you think!

A Prayer for Today

Father in Heaven, today I stand believing that You are working behind the scenes on my behalf. Give me Your strength to continue believing until I see Your promises fulfilled in my life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

RTW--My Genius Brain

Recent conversation:

Me: Okay, I'm all ready to go to the park. (pause) But I feel like I'm forgetting something . . . .

Lizzy: Your brain?

Me: That's it! Have you seen it?

Lizzy: No, you lost it before I was born.


As I've said before, I have no brain. I once did. I miss it. But, I'm still a genius! I have the best way to remember something I'm sure I'll forget when I leave.

I put my car keys right next to it. For instance, if I have a salad to take to a potluck, I put my car keys IN the fridge, right next to the salad.

There must be some portion of my brain still functioning because when I go to get my keys in their regular spot and they aren't there, I always remember where they are whether it be in the fridge, or in the birthday gift bag, or by my charging cell phone or next to the sleeping child . . . JK on that one but it's not a bad idea!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Milestones

Vu was in the bathroom and he suddenly started screaming for me to hurry up and come quick!!! The way he was yelling I thought he must have pooped out a four foot long tapeworm or something! (The way he eats, a tapeworm is something I've considered.)

I ran into the bathroom and there's Vu, sitting on the pot, smiling up at me with a look of achievement and his arms raised way up high.

"Look Mom! No hands!!!"

Who needs a scale? It's pretty obvious the kid is gaining weight! He doesn't even fall into the toilet anymore!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Father's Love

Here's a good post for Sunday.

When I think about how much I love my kids I'm amazed to think that our Father in Heaven loves them (and every single one of us) even more than that! It seems impossible, but it's true!

Here is the love of one father for his son. Get your tissues ready.



And here's more info on the family:

I especially enjoyed learning about how their son learned to communicate once he was given the opportunity. In our family, our kids would probably surprise us with, "Go Beavs!"

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Where?

Sing this song to the tune of "Oh Where Oh Where Did My Little Dog Go"--ready? Go!

Oh where, oh where did your blogger friend go?
Oh where, oh where can she be?
With her hair cut short and her big van cut long
Oh where, oh where can she be?

She's been taking a class in the early morn
Running kids to swimming at night
With her time cut short and her to-do list cut long
You'd think she'd be quite a fright.

But she having such fun with her little ones
Too much fun to even blog
With her cleaning cut short and her kid time cut long
Her mind's in a happiness fog.

She did go look at some houses to buy
Decisions are hard to make
With her money cut short and her square-foot needs cut long
She'll decide over coffee and cake.

Oh where, oh where did your blogger friend go?
Oh where, oh where can she be?
With her hair cut short and her big van cut long
Oh where, oh where can she be?


Having some good times here just enjoying some lazy, fun summer days! Ice cream, sidewalk chalk, swimming, fishing, reading, watching movies, staying up late . . . all interspersed with some house hunting.

Not certain where it will lead us but thanks for the advice! I am very attached to our house here. We brought our last four kids home to this house! So many good memories here, but we're still househunting--stay tuned. . . .

Monday, July 14, 2008

Please Help! I'm Scared!

Folks, I need your help. Desperately. PLEASE talk me out of this. I already have a crazy enough life and I cannot stand to do this! And yet, and yet . . . hubby is insisting it must be done. Will is insisting it must be done. My mother and my sisters insist it must be done. Horrors!!!

I'm speaking a word I can hardly utter. M-m-m-ove! Move! As in, pack up everything we own and put our house on the market and keep our house impeccably clean so people can stop by unannounced to see our house only to run screaming away when they see the wear and tear of what eight children (and many daycare children) have done to the house over the past 15 years.

I exaggerate a bit. Hubby and Will actually keep things maintained well. They have repaired and even replaced every toilet in the house and several holes in the walls including the butt-sized hole that Will put in the wall when he was playing basketball. (I wouldn't have believed it myself if I hadn't seen it happen with my own eyes. The kid has true BUNS OF STEEL! A trait, no doubt, from his blogging-fingers-of-steel mom.)

Back to panic mode--I will need to repaint the entire inside!!! And we will need to re-do the totally outdated bathrooms and the kitchen counter and clean all the window sills! And clean . . . the garage!

I don't want to move! I love our neighborhood, nearby parks, shopping and schools. I love my house, never mind the fact we have been stuffing six+ kids into three bedrooms for more years than I can remember. That part doesn't bother me. It's our very small kitchen, very small garage, almost non-existent laundry room and lack of a bonus room/teenager hangout.

We really DO need a bigger house. Need as in want. Not need as in need, spoiled Americans that we are. I have moved rooms around more times than I can count in the ever elusive attempt to find more space. I have read every organization book out there including my favorite, The Not So Big House. I have downsized in every conceivable way sans Hubby and I don't think I should get rid of him any time soon since he still fills the ATM quite regularly. And deals with butt holes. I mean, he repairs holes made by butts. And he's good for picking up a couple gallons of milk, 3 loaves of bread and 5 dozen eggs on his way home from work. And signing adoption paperwork. He's worth the space he (and all his golfing gear) takes up.

But I think he's finally convinced me we need a bigger house and a bigger yard. And unfortunately, there aren't many of those close by. We will stay in the same general area but be further out.

But it might just put me over the edge folks. It won't be pretty.

Please, talk me out of it! I've opened up the anonymous comments Mom so you can feel free to say, "Hallelujah Praise The Lord! They're finally going to listen!"

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Update of Adoptions From Vietnam

My sister leaves for Ethiopia today! Yeah! She hopes to blog and I can't wait to see sweet LaVaughn finally in her arms! They have been in the adoption process for over three years (they started out with China) so this has been a long time coming.

On the adoption front, I was happy to see 149 members of Congress sign the letter to Secretary Condoleezza Rice urging her to work towards continuing ethical adoptions with Vietnam. It was interesting to see who did and who didn't sign the letter and rewarding to see our letters, phone calls and e-mails had an impact. Thank you again to those who participated.

As it stands right now, there will be no more children matched after Sept 1 but I'm hoping and praying something can be worked out before then. If you are a family waiting for a match, I encourage you to check out Holt's Waiting Child Listing. The children from Vietnam are: B06-18, G08-39 and B08-19. Though WC needs can seem scary on paper, they are usually not as scary in real life. Parents certainly need to be prepared for anything but most find that once a child has good nutrition, medical services and the love of a family, their needs are less severe than expected.

I will leave you with this video in honor of Vu's little friend with the limb difference who just came home to his loving family. Another yeah! He was one of Vu's "babies" at the orphanage and Vu was especially attached to him. We are hoping to take a trip this fall for a visit.

This video is worth the view. You will be inspired.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

RTW--Packing

I have unearthed myself from all the cabin laundry! Whew! And since we have several short cabin and camping trips this summer, I have pegged certain clothing as specific for that purpose and have simply repacked all the bags. Simple and easy--two of my favorite words! I have also taped an index card to each duffel bag handle with the contents of each bag. I can easily see whose bag is whose and what items are missing i.e. since my kids don't have spares, I need to put in their thongs.

Horrors! Did I really just say "thongs?" I can't get use to calling them "flip-flops!"

I remember a few years back when Will had several friends over. I was making some lunch and tripped on a toy. I looked down with horror and yelled, "Oh no! I just broke my thong!!!! My favorites!!! Ohhhhhh! Do you think I can glue it?"

I popped up from behind the counter and looked up to six 8th grade boys gaping at me from the other side of the room with horrified, open mouthed stares. It took me a moment to realize my blunder and I quickly explained I wasn't talking about THAT kind of thong!!! We all laughed so hard and those same boys often remind me of "the THONG incident!"

Anyhoo, while I'm on the topic of packing, I thought I'd share a few hints. The more children you have, the more helpful this will be.

Pack an individual duffel type bag for each child. Duffel bags take up less space than suitcases and pack much tighter in the car. They can also be collapsed when empty.

On "real" vacations where I want my kid's clothing to actually match, I use gallon size ziplock bags and place a complete outfit in each. This makes it easy for the 6 yo to just grab a bag, dress themselves and have no arguments about why they can't wear the blue dress pants with the orange basketball jersey. (For some reason, Lizzy will no longer allow me to put her clothing into ziplock bags.)

Think by activity and pack like items together for the WHOLE family.

Swimming Bag: Include everyone's swimming suit, goggles, beach towels, sunscreeen and of course, thongs :-). It is so much easier to keep it all together than dig through individual bags for each child.

Church/Wedding Clothing: Packed together in a garment bag (all the stuff on hangers) and suitcase. I do use a suitcase here to keep things from getting squished. I include EVERYTHING from all the dress shoes, dress socks, nylons, belts, hair ribbon etc.

Bedtime Bag: For the four youngest, I keep all their p.j.'s, toothbrushes, blankies etc. Again, no digging through bags! EASY!

Happy packing!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Cabin Pics

Happy 4th of July! Highlights from the cabin and Eric's family reunion:

Looking for frogs:
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BFF
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Paul swimming:
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My beautiful MIL. We celebrated her 81st birthday. She is a great inspiration and the mother of ten children.
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Ten children means LOTS of relatives including tons of fun with cousins . . .
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more cousins . . .
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more cousins (Lizzy with Miracle Man)
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and more cousins including lots of fun fishing . . .
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and lots of fun untangling fishing poles which usually takes about half of every day. My very patient BIL and another nephew:
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Learning to paddle--Vu LOVED experiencing all the new fun. Patrick LOVED teaching him the ropes:
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More experienced boaters and for the record, yes, I know how to swim but I've seen enough overturned boats to get paranoid about wearing a lifejacket so I can save the kiddlets. Someone's got to be the hero even if it means looking like a dork. And yes, my kids say this is more proof that I'm a safety nut.
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Auntie M brought bubbles:
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The boy-chop. It's actually grown out some in the last two weeks. I am making a wish on Eric's bald-is-beautiful head.
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We end every night with a campfire and s'mores. Anyone like black ones???
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Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Birds And The Bees

I'll post a picture of the boy-chop later. I like it. It is easy. Easy=more time. Time is something I like!

More on babies--today I overheard this conversation:

Lizzy was wrapping a baby gift for our new niece coming home from Ethiopia in just two weeks! Patrick was watching. Conversation overheard:

Patrick: I don't like babies.
Lizzy: Why not?
Patrick: They poop and throw-up and stink.
Lizzy: So when you grow up you aren't going to have kids?
Patrick indignantly informs her: Of course I am! My wife is going to MAKE me!!!

Here's a conversation I had with my own mother when I was a third grader. I had developed an intense desire to learn everything about the birds and the bees so my mom checked out several books at the library. After I devoured them she asked if I had any questions. My reply?

"Well, I'm not afraid to HAVE a baby even though it's going to really hurt. But MAKING a baby? I could NEVER ask my husband to do THAT to me!"

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

RTW--Sibling Rivalry Part 2

I have a great strategy for the days when my kids are fighting non-stop. I know that's hard to believe given how they usually walk on water! Honestly tho, there are some days I wonder if I will end up in the corner mumbling nonsense and trying to macrame my hair into a plant hanger! (Actually, I don't think that's possible since I just got a boy-chop. Upon returning home from the hairdresser Eric looked at me in shock and said, "OMG! Did you ASK her to cut it that way???" Lizzy, equally stunned said, "Mom!!! What happened???" Vu said, "I like your hair Mommy!" Guess who was my favorite person? Guess who wasn't?)

But I digress. On bickering-until-I'm-crazy-days I gather my kids together and profusely apologize for being a bad mommy. I tell them I have not been doing my duty as a mother for I have let them get bored--bored to the point they are arguing about everything.

And then of course I tell them nicely that I am very, very sorry but have a wonderful solution! Since they are so bored I will give them something to do! They will help clean the house for an hour!

An hour later the house is much cleaner and the bickering has stopped! In fact, the bickering stops for some time! Amazing!