Monday, June 18, 2012


My boys have a bad case of it. The only cure? 15 minutes outside. Together. Apparently it's a recurring illness. We may need several treatments to permanently cure this disease.

House-itosis can lead to an even worse condition: Insanimomatosis.

So we're trying to keep the disease contained before it spreads.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

If Momma Ain't Happy...

You know the saying. "If Momma Ain't Happy, Ain't Nobody Happy." The problem? Sometimes there ain't no one but Momma makin' sure that Momma stays happy.

Sometimes I have a hard time figuring out just what it is that I need to stay happy. For me, it's NOT shopping. (Unless you give me a good, used bookstore!) It's not getting fancy and going out for a night on the town. (Although I do like to eat out with dh occasionally.) I like to be at home. I don't like to spend money. But I do try to do a few things to stay sane. Here's my list:

1. Exercise. Seriously, I'm a basket case without it. I try to jog almost everyday. When my kids are too small to be left alone, they go in the jogger, rain or shine. (If it's dumping rain, I don't go...mostly because I can't see with my glasses on!) Recently, they're big enough to ride bike alongside me. If someone is home who is big enough to babysit, I go alone. But I go, no matter what. (A slightly embarrassing side effect from daily exercise? I often stay in my jammies until I put my jogging clothes on. So I might greet you at the door at 11am with my pjs on because I'm still debating about when to jog.)

2. Rest time. As soon as my kids were too big to nap, they started "rest time." Frankly, I didn't care what they did, as long as they were in their rooms and I couldn't hear them. I introduce it by saying, "Would you rather take a nap, or have some quiet time on your bed with some books?" They think they're very big when they tell me they are big enough to rest. If they aren't big enough to be quiet during rest time, they still need to "nap." (Sometimes that means they "rest" with the light off.) Whatever. I just need an hour of quiet.

When my kids got bigger, on nice days I'd give them a choice between rest time and outside play. I prefer them to go outside to play because I think it's healthy. (And because it makes them more tired so they sleep well...and go to bed on time.) They don't know that. I always say, "Today you can choose between rest time and an hour outdoors. I don't care which." If I cared, they'd probably pick the one I didn't want. I keep my poker hand close. :) During outdoor time, I keep an eye (ear!) on them, but they know that if they interrupt my rest time, I'll probably choose to have them rest in their rooms. During rest time you stay in your room.

As they learn to be quiet during rest time, it gets more and more flexible. I've been known to let them play together as long as they stay in one part of the house and stay quiet. If they've been having a bad day, I separate them. On those days, they don't have much to do but lay on the bed and look at books. Either way, it doesn't affect me. I still get my hour.

3. Bedtime is around 7pm for anyone that I have to put to bed. My "kid" workday ends at 7. I go to bed fairly early myself. So if they're in bed around 7, I still have a couple hours to myself. (Or to dedicate to the big kids and husband.)

4. Work. I've always had some kind of little job. Not big. Just something. Sometimes for pay, sometimes not. But it was always something that gave me job satisfaction/something to think about that was not just about the kids. (Although I've almost always chosen jobs--usually writing jobs--that somehow connect to my kids' current developmental stages.) In order to do this, I usually give up my free time. Often early in the morning. In the last several months, I've worked almost daily from 5:45-6:45am. My little kids aren't supposed to get out of bed until 6:45am. They are up on the dot. Sometimes I also work during rest time. For me, this is brain stimulation. By the time I've worked hard for an hour, I'm only too happy to sit down and read to the kids about dust bunnies.

That's it for now. Rest time is over...   Off to make the kids ride their bikes while I jog...

So what makes YOU happy???

Monday, May 7, 2012

5:1 Magic Ratio

A child psychologist told me that for every 1 negative interaction a parent has with a child, there must be 10 positives. I don't know where she got her numbers, but here's a study worth considering...

In the book, How Full is Your Bucket? (great, fast read!), the author mentions John Gottman's pioneering research on marriage, suggesting
"there is a 'magic ratio' of 5 to 1 -- in terms of our balance of positive to negative interactions. Gottman found that marriages are significantly more likely to succeed when the couple's interactions are near that 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative. When the ratio approaches 1 to 1, marriages 'cascade to divorce.'

In a fascinating study, Gottman teamed up with two mathematicians to test this model. Starting in 1992, they recruited 700 couples who had just received their marriage licenses. For each couple, the researchers videotaped a 15-minute conversation between husband and wife and counted the number of positive and negative interactions. Then, based on the 5 to 1 ratio, they predicted whether each couple would stay together or divorce.

Ten years later, Gottman and his colleagues followed up with each couple to determine the accuracy of their original predictions. The results were stunning. They had predicted divorce with 94% accuracy -- based on scoring the couples' interactions for 15 minutes." [p. 55]

It's not easy to remember to emphasize the positive over the negative. It doesn't come natural to me. But when it comes to our kids, the magic ratio is crucial. I think of the teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoons. You just hear her in the background, "Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah." Nothing intelligible. I'd like to think we raise the odds of our kids hearing us if we use the magic ratio.

And it doesn't have to be "good job." In fact, it shouldn't be. The positives might be as simple as "I noticed that you used a lot of blue in your picture." Or, "I saw you pump yourself on the swing." It doesn't have to be much. Just something.

An easy way to remember? Put some 3x5" cards around the house with starting phrases:
  • I noticed how you...
  • I see that you...
  • You helped Mommy when you...
  • You must be proud of the way you...
  • I had fun doing _________ with you.
  • High-5 me! 
  • Tell me about your __________ (picture, walk, time with Daddy)
Just starting to think about magic ratios? I might challenge myself to say one, deliberate positive each hour. On the hour. ;) Maybe set the timer. I remember a period where I set the timer to give my kids a hug every 60 minutes because a specific child needed it. It felt a bit contrived, but it sure helped to keep me consistent.

And P.S.
I'll try to get better at doing this with the DOG. The 5:1 ratio. Not the hugs! :)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Building the Foundation for the Future

I'm thinking about bringing this blog back to life for a special little audience. If I sound preachy, I don't mean to. I've just been thinking of you all a lot. Praying for you. And wanting the best for you and your special little people. Don't read on if you can't stand mush. Cause I might get really mushy.

In addition to my special audience, I also think it might be worthwhile to jot down some thoughts on parenting for some other special people in my children. Parenting has been one of the greatest joys in my life. I hope that if you decide to parent, it can be one of the greatest joys in your lives, too.

A couple days ago, my 16yo son was converting some old family videotapes to DVD. I watched him and his now 17yo sister at the ages of 18 months and 3. I felt this overwhelming flood of love. MY BABIES!

The time you have with your babies is so, so short. And everything that you do during this short time builds the foundation for the relationship you'll have with these PEOPLE* for the rest of your lives. (For isn't that what small children are? Just small people.)

To small children, parents are the most important thing in the world. Children see everything in terms of their parents. The world is safe or not safe. People are kind or not kind. They feel loved or they do not feel loved. I don't say this to put pressure on parents of young children but to recognize what a magnificent and special opportunity parents have. The relationship a parent has with a child at 1, or 3, or 5, BECOMES the relationship that the parent has with the child at 13, at 16, and at 21. Make the most of that valuable "foundation-building" time. It's short. So it's even more precious.

Hold onto your babies while they're still babies to hold onto. They won't be little for long.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I Miss this Blog

Apologies to anyone who still visits here. And, wow, are you loyal! I'm generally posting to my teaching/learning blog now, 3 or more times a week. And have a New Year's Resolution to write 250 words a day that I'm not posting anywhere. (Does that actually still happen these days??? Write with no immediate feedback??? ;)  )

I miss you, blog!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

China Adoption...Current Status

For those who are interested in the current status of adoption from China, I highly recommend reading a blog entry on AdoptionTalk. The host summarizes a presentation given by Amy Eldridge of Love Without Boundaries, a non-profit who works closely with China to improve conditions in orphanages, etc.  Be sure to read the responses in the comments from Amy herself.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

GG says...

I'm reading a book to GG in which chickens are the main characters. After about page one, he turns to me and says in a slightly annoyed tone, "Chickens don't talk!"

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Organizing Recipes

This has been a VERY long time coming.

I am a SCRAP RECIPE hoarder. Definition?...  I collect scraps of paper (recipe cards on a good day, newspaper clippings, envelope scribblings) containing my favorite recipes. It's always been an organizational nightmare, but the more I cook (family of 7), the worse it gets. I'm finally turning over a new leaf...of paper, that is.

I put plastic sheet protectors in a binder. Printed out all the favorite recipes I've been posting on my blog. I sorted the recipes into categories that I find most helpful. (For me, that's things like: breakfast, bread, eggs, vegetarian, chicken, beef, etc...  I put soups in the beginning of each section that they fall under. So "chicken rice soup" would go under "chicken" with other main dish chicken recipes.) I'm now cutting/pasting all my frequently used recipes into the binder...ALL the scraps of paper.

I bought a "cast iron" cookbook holder from Target. It's pretty, very sturdy, and holds the binder quite nicely.

What can I say? I'm proud. :)

And relieved that I will never again have to search for a favorite recipe.

Assuming, of course, that I don't lose the binder. ;)

Freezer Celery

Several years ago I started growing celery in a half barrel on the back porch. It's always done long as "well" is defined a bit differently than traditional grocery store celery.

A perennial, it comes up in the spring. Lots of leafy growth. Thin stems. When the weather gets warmer, it starts to bolt. I harvest it prior to bolting and chop leaves, stems and all, putting it into freezer bags. During the winter I just grab handfuls for soups, stews, casseroles, etc. I'm not excited about big celery chunks, but I like the flavor in food, so this method works well. It is quite flavorful. And since it's one of the top 10 "bad" foods, pesticide-wise, this seems like an easy alternative.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Wallpaper Wonderings...

In honor of the holiday, I'm wondering. About wallpaper.

We're in the middle of a kitchen remodel. We just removed a kitchen cabinet to discover the wallpaper at left and the wallpaper shown below. In the original house decor (from the early 1970s), the two wallpapers would have joined where the kitchen and the family room meet.

Do you think this is what our nation's forebearers had in mind?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Incredible Gluten Free Cherry Brownie Delight!!!

Pie cherries are ripe, so it's time to post a recipe we invented this winter. (A "sugar fix" moment!) It's super easy and absolutely delish... And now is the time to put away the pie cherries!!

Gluten Free Cherry Brownie Delight

by US! :)

Make the cherry pie filling:

Combine the following in saucepan and heat to boiling:

2-3 c. pie cherries, undrained
1/3 - 1/2 c. sugar (depends on how sour cherries are)
1/4 t. salt

Mix together til dissolved:

1/2 c. water
3 T. cornstarch

Pour the cornstarch mixture into the pie mixture. Cook just til thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

At this point you can either freeze the cherry pie filling for later -OR- go ahead with making the brownie dessert.

Mix up a double batch** of Bob's Red Mill GF Brownie Mix, following package directions. [You can buy this in bulk if you live near the Bob's RMill store.] We prefer to substitute coconut oil for the margarine/butter; and the coconut oil flavor is superb with cherries!

**We've tried this using one batch and two batches. Either works. Depends on how much chocolate you want in proportion to the cherries.

Spread the cherry pie filling in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Pour/spread the brownie mix over the top. Bake at recommended temperature until the brownies are done to your preferred level of gooeyness. (Start with the recommended baking time for brownies and go from there. We prefer them slightly gooey rather than completely cakey. It's not a fine science!)

ENJOY!!!! ;)

Monday, May 24, 2010

We're Home from Oahu!

In a mere 6 hours we went from 85ish degrees to 45ish degrees.  A few photos from Oahu...

P.S. We took this trip because ds won a $500 travel voucher and we found plane tickets for $309 each. My husband's sister lives in Oahu and graciously hosted all SEVEN of us for 8 days. She's an incredible woman! :)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

GG says...

One thing that has been almost constant since GG came home...his love of eggs. Every morning, "Momma, want eggs. Eggs, toast, Momma. And ketchup."

Til this week when he firmly said, "Now I not like eggs. I like CEREAL."

The boy knows what he wants!

He also said, "When I grow bigger can I go church and talk?"

"Like Pastor Todd?"


The boy has things to say.

Wasn't sure what to make of the following... We talk about going back to China to visit when he's older; we plan to take both boys on a homeland trip. But I wonder what the thinking was behind this...

"When I get big I go NaiNai's (foster mom's) house. I stay NaiNai's."

I reply, "And then you come home with Mommy?" (thinking that he meant he'd stay at NaiNai's while we were visiting)

Shakes head no.

I say, "I will miss you."

He thinks. And says, "I will come with Mommy."

I often wonder what goes on in his head.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Reason My Hair is Graying...

We're at the library. I turn to type something into the search computer. GG disappears around the side of the bookshelves, out of view.

"GG, stay next to Mommy." I help LilDude find a couple books for homeschool. GG is right next to us. Behind me. I take one book off the shelf, turn, and find GG climbing UP the metal shelves. Slightly flimsy-looking shelves. Believe it or not, this is my 5th child and I've never before experienced the sensation of seeing a child climb library shelves. It's not pleasant.

Make a stop at Goodwill. When he cannot stop moving--and I catch him climbing in and out of the cart--I strap him in the seat. You might say, "Wow, is she a negligent parent...I'd NEVER let my child climb on a cart." Well, neither would I if he didn't do it in the time--literally--that it took to blink. He's a monkey.

After a good long sit, I let him get out for a bit of contained exercise. "You can walk on this row...where the carpet is." Our aisle is surrounded by tile floor on each end and clothing racks on the sides. I look at a pair of shoes with my daughter and observe a little foot disappearing under the clothing rack, army crawling to the next aisle. Although clothes hang almost to the floor, technically, it is carpeted.

We go home. I'm making dinner, GG safely seated at the table. I turn to face the oven. Turn back to discover he's opened the first aid kit and has managed to get both plastic gloves on...up to his forearms...looking ready to dissect the hamburger I'm cooking. Thankfully, he was only using them to play with bubbles, so I let him keep 'em.

Tonight, while Daddy was in charge, he jumped off the rocking chair and tried to land on our exercise jumper and banged his head in the process. Not that anyone would notice in the midst of all the remaining lumps from all the times he's bumped his head in the past few days.

In the last few weeks he is constantly EVERYWHERE and into EVERYTHING.

So I do what every modern parent does. I ask, "Is this NORMAL?" and question what ADHD looks like in a 4yo. And, while I realize that some traumatized children (due to adoption-related issues) can look hyperactive but actually be exhibiting signs of trauma, this just didn't seem related.

So I googled ADHD in a 4yo. And laughed and laughed.
"By age 4, about 40 percent of children act in a way that makes their parents and teachers concerned about ADD. ...There is a normal, average period of extreme energy that lasts about a year and often includes the 3rd birthday. This phase in normal children actually fits the official definition of ADHD."
I guess he's normal. Really, really normal.

So is gray hair, right?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Retaining a First (or Second) Language

GG came to us at 3, fluent in both Cantonese and Mandarin. We fully intended to help him retain at least the Mandarin, but he's pretty much refused to utter a word of it since the day he came home. This was emphasized today when we went for Chinese food at lunch. We learned that the restaurant owners are from the same city in China. (What are the chances?) A waitress is from a nearby city. So, naturally, they wanted to talk to him. They tried and tried and tried. He stared at his plate, refusing to even look at them. When they begged him to talk with them he said, "NO!" in a very firm, somewhat loud, voice. After they left, I reassured him that it was okay to talk with them, that he is staying with Mommy and Daddy. He showed a tiny grin. The next time they came over, he flirted with them from behind Daddy's sleeve. But that was the extent of it. As we were walking out the door, he got out "zài jiàn" (goodbye!)

We really don't know if he remembers any Chinese at all. He watches Muzzy and laughs at all the appropriate places, but when I ask him if he understands he says no.
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