Quote of the Day


Mrs. Mama

We did a trial run of home-school today (alphabet song, day of week, and the number zero). The children decided that since they call their school teachers Mrs. SoAndSo they should do the same with me. I was Mrs. Mama all morning.


We really like it that our cats are mousers. Living in a 1924 farm cottage in open acerage in a cold spell as we are, we are bound to have a mouse in the house, or maybe two or three. So we do appreciate the cats' diligence and we have even come to accept that they will play with their prey. We do wish they wouldn't do so on our bed. While we are still in the bed. Sleeping.


Nifty resource

In the birthday report, I shared that we purchased a book titled Annie and the Wild Animals. I bought it because I loved the illustrations. Tonight, while searching for some flashcards and coloring sheets to help Juliana with her numbers, I found that the illustrator, Jan Brett, graciously shares her artwork on-line. You can find days of the week coloring sheets, numbers trace alongs, the whole alphabet to color and trace and a lot more.

If you are home-schooling, you want these. Even if you are not home-schooling, these are a delightful way to augment whatever is happening at preschool or kindergarten.

We are officially starting to homeschool on Friday, December 1. We'll start opening the advent calendar and do everything around the number 1 and the letter A on Friday. I just can't resist matching the curriculum to the calendar.

Snow Report

Well the neighborhood is no longer trapped by drifts and Jamie was able to go to work today. We very much enjoyed him being home with us yesterday. The wind blew hard all day and kept us indoors so we amused ourselves by watching bully trucks get stuck in the drifts in front of our house. One truck off-loaded its passengers into our living room while they worked to get unstuck. Imagine our surprise when our unexpected guests spoke Russian! The family immigrated years ago and the children speak English at school and Russian at home. From them I was able to add to my vocabulary the Russian words for "tell the truth" and "don't lie". Very handy words.

My laundry room is a balmy 40 degrees Fahrenheit today, up from the 18 degrees F yesterday.

updated to add that it is snowing again and we are expecting another six inches. Eeeps.


How Snowy Is It?

It's this snowy:

(all you Alaskans can snicker; for us this is a big deal.)

It is so cold in my laundry room that the clothes I left overnight in the washer were frozen. The pipes, however, are not. Yet.



We don't always get snow in the winter, and sometime it is just a thin sheet of sloshy stuff, but today we awoke to a nice thick coating of crunchy snow, the sort that makes snowmen and snowballs.


a word to the wise . . .

Okay, so if you are in a restaurant and they bring you clam chowder and you think," hmmm, it's yummy, but something is wrong here", pursue that thought! Don't let yourself get distracted with portioning out the children's plates or with the conversation at hand. Stop and ask yourself, "what is wrong?" You will then have a chance of noticing that it is clam chowder at room temperature and then your Master Food Preserver and Safety Advisor training will kick in and inform you that a dairy and seafood dish must be kept piping hot for food safety reasons. Once you realize this, you will refrain from eating the soup and save yourself from hours of misery. Trust me on this; I learned it the hard way.


Late last month I commented to my sister that I wasn't even sure we could do Thanksgiving as the children were so wild and Andy's hands were so busy touching everything he saw. I imagined a stress-filled day full of jumpy parents and lots of discipline. Wrong again!

We had a lovely dinner at my Mom and Dad's. We ate off of china on a nice tablecloth. The real silverwear and glasses were used. Andy said grace, thanking God for each and every family member. The children used nice table manners. After dinner they played with their cousins (young adults) and enjoyed the crafty project Aunt Christy and Uncle Grape had brought. On the few times we had to remind them of some boundaries (inside voices), they complied. Other than the fact that my brother was away working and I missed him dreadfully, it was a perfect day.

On the way home we dropped by my Aunt and Uncles where we got to see many of my cousins and their children. I thought we would be able to stay only a little while as my children were tired and already over-stimulated. We ended up staying a couple of hours as the children played nicely with their second cousins, obeyed nicely, and were obviously enjoying the visit greatly. At one point Juliana came running over to me to say "I'm happy." She came back to say "fun fun." On the way home Andy thanked me for "horashow egratz with detsky" (good play with children).

While we were there, one of my cousins called his three children to him. They "hurry-hurry-obeyed" (as we call it) and they all put their hands together in the middle of their circle. Andy watched, transfixed. The papa told the children that they would be leaving in ten minutes and reminded them to tidy up and then to say goodbye to their aunts and uncles and grandparents. The children obeyed. Andy was so impressed; he talked about it all the way home. I think he found it reassuring that other familes follow the same pattern of children obeying parents.

The children were also quite impressed that all these new people were also their family. "Bolshoy family" they exclaimed. Yes, they have a huge family including lots of cousins their ages with which to play. We have so much to be thankful for.



What is a Go-to-Sleep-Seeing, you may ask. It what you see when you go to sleep. We might call it a dream. I love the creative logic of it. It is so fun to watch my children sort out the language.

Has anyone noticed that scary go-to-sleep-seeing seem to happen during spates of leg cramps? Andy has been getting both recently. I think the leg cramps disturb his sleep cycles which open the door to bad dreams. Just my theory.

Stuck in the Truck

In our backyard sits this old red truck which is off-limits to children because the door handles don't work from the inside. Children who disobey are likely to get stuck in the truck. At first they will not mind this, as it is fun to play with the steering wheel and the knobs and buttons. Of course, after awhile, they will want to get out and cannot. There they will sit until Mom comes and a) catches them red-handed and b) reminds them that their good Papa forbade playing in the truck and c) discusses why they think Papa forbade this ("door no open" the children say) and d) sets the timer where the children can see it as they serve their "naughty chair" time in the truck.

After they were freed we had lunch. Andy said grace and added a line to the usual litany. "Thank you for no more truck."

Oh how I love natural consequences.


more lovin'

We are gaining daily. Now when we get to the part about Babushkas and Dedushkas loving her, she will say "Kapecho" (a tiny bit).

We went to Children's Hospital yesterday; my mom came with us to help with the driving as I am so sleep-deprived due to coughing (yeah Mom!). Anyway, we were able to see the x-rays of her legs. You can actually see the bone starting to grow on the inside of curves. The medical team there is very hopeful that her legs will straighten without surgical intervention. We'll be back down there next month for another check-in. It's a lovely hospital; very patient-friendly with easy parking and pleasant spaces.

Across the street from Children's is a very nice shopping center, the sort that I browse but don't purchase from. Mom and I and Juliana had lunch at a white-table-cloth Italian restaurant. We had a really nice time; Mom and I got to visit and Juliana didn't disturb the other diners while she ate all her lunch, thus qualifying for ice cream. It was really lovely. If you had asked me two months ago if I would be able to take do this, I would have said "Maybe in a year". It's nice to be wrong.


Who loves you?

We are enjoying great progress with Juliana recently. She has started to approach me and ask "Please Mama hug." She backed into my mom the other day for a snuggle. She crawled up onto her napping Papa twice for snuggles. None of these last for long, but we are so pleased that she is initiating. She is also better able to give hugs and snuggles when asked, though they are quite brief as she is clearly mistrustful of affection and love.

But it gets better. I've long been asking "who loves Juliana?" and her answer is always "nyeto (no-one)" Then I go through the long list of family members who love her and ignore her disclaimers. Yesterday it went like this.

Mama: Who loves Juliana?
Juliana: Nyeto
M: Mama loves Juliana.
J: Da (yes), Mama loves Juliana. (!)
M: Papa loves Juliana.
J: Da (yes), Papa loves Juliana. (!!)
M: Dedushka loves Juliana.
J: Nyet (No).
and so on . . .

but she has gone from zero to two! That is a lot!

This morning Jamie and the children are at church. I spent the night in the chair trying to sleep. When I lie down I start choking and coughing. I stayed home to rest. Jamie was looking like he wanted to rest too, but the children begged, yes begged, to go to Jesu Christo-dom (church). How could he say no?


The menu

Jamie and I leapt out of bed this morning and after slaying a few housekeeping dragons, whipped together the following:
  • 17 lbs of rosemary turkey
  • yams glazed in apple-pepper jelly
  • mashed potatoes
  • perfect gravy
  • cornbread dressing with pecans, currants, and apples
  • baby herb salad
  • biscuits
  • apple pie with ice-cream and caramel sauce
Three of the items came either ready-made or from a kit; I'll let you guess which ones.

We had a lovely visit with Grandma Carol and the children are still engaged in imaginative play with the cool toys she brought.

We got the power!

Bom bom bomabity bom bom.

The lights came back on around 3ish on Thursday and there was much rejoicing around our house. There was also quite a bit of laundry, dishes, and bathing going on.

Andy's school news:

  • He got up in front of the class and shared about his family, human and critter. Apparently he spoke English, as his teacher understood and asked me about the housebunnies.
  • We packed for him a sack lunch and, as this if the first time he has had access to a food stash, he kept getting into his bag for a snack. We had to talk about eating only in the lunch room.
  • He learned to write his name in English! He practices every night.
  • He came home with a book called Whose Mouse Are You? in which all the family members of the lead character (a young mouse) die or are captured or disappear. What a nice choice for a former orphan! But it gets better. Because this mouse truly loves his family, through his own hard-work and diligence, he gets them all back. So if you are a good enough kid, you can regain those lost relatives. The book has mysteriously disappeared.
  • Do you know the story Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? My sister read this to the children once, and I have read it 2-3 times. Last night Andy came over with the book and asked for a few of the names of animals and colors. Then he, with the book to guide him, read (recited) us the whole book. A few minutes later he came back without the book and recited the whole thing from memory. We are quite impressed.

Today Jamie and I are sharing an early Thanksgiving meal with Grandma Carol -- Jamie's Mom. Grandpa will not be with us as he is at the side of his recently bereaved brother. Jamie is wrestling with the turkey as I type and the children will help me make pies after breakfast. My sister gave us a darling Thanksgiving sticker book which we read and stickered this morning. The children have now some clue of what Thanksgiving is: "bolshoy chicken and pie".


boom BOOM and out go the lights

What is even more fun than being sick with kids? Being sick with kids without power, which means
  • no lights
  • no central heat
  • no water (showers, laundry, dishes, hand-washing to prevent spread of illness)
  • no vcr/tv
  • no oven
  • no phones
  • no nightlights for kiddos
  • no bedtime/naptime music
We lost power yesterday at 12:15 and have been camping ever since. How am I posting? We charge the laptop in the truck last night and I have a nifty gadget that acts like a cell-phone for dial-up access.

We have a nice woodstove in the living room and a gas stove, so I can cook, as long as the menu is boiled or fried. We are reading lots of books by the fire; this is cozy and fun.


Not quite dead . . .

. . . but not quite living either. Today was Andy's first day of school and I have been too sick to even find out how it went. Many thanks to my Dad who came over and kept the children safe and entertained as I collapsed on arrival.

Thank you all for your ideas. I think I had neglected to mention that we don't have television channels here. We have a TV that is connected to the DVD player and that is it. Alas, no Sesame Street for us. But wait! I have an idea (runs off to Google something). Why yes, we do have Sesame Street.



Okay all you experienced Moms, I need you.

I need a list of menus and activities that will keep my kids happy and pleasant and that will take the least amount of energy from me as I am completely busy coughing and hacking and sneezing and collapsing onto horizontal surfaces.



This evening we had a wonderful first. Juliana and I were in the kitchen, from whence we could see Jamie relaxing by the fire in the living room. Papa, ya tebya lu-blue, I-love-you, she called out. As far as I know, this is the first time that she has initiated an I-love-you.

As I sat and stroked her cheek to help her fall asleep this evening I realized that both kids seem to be attaching well. I reflected for awhile on the reasons for this. The first and foremost is of course the Grace and Mercy of God. We've also done a lot of little things that I am sure have helped; I'll share some with you and I hope you will share some with me.

I try to touch their cheeks and palms and the soles of their feet as often as I can. We just work it into the daily routines.

  • After sending the children to wash their hands, we check for the smell of soap. This of course puts our faces near their hands which is perfect for kissing the palms of their clean pink upstreached hands. They love this; I love this. Considering that they eat four meals a day, this is a lot of kisses. Kisses are good. (Have to mention here that they announce that they are ready for their kisses by saying "mama, I washed my hands." Today is the two month anniversary of our final decree and they are uttering grammatically correct sentences in the past tense. But I digress . . .)
  • Whenever I put lotion on my hands I put it on their hands and cheeks. I rub it in.
  • Any time a child seems to be heading towards trouble (whiny, or pesky, or naughty) I tell them that I can see that they need a snuggle and we have one. I hold them sideways, like a baby and cup their face in my hand and coo at them. Juliana can only handle a little bit of this, Andy lots more.

When I need to discipline them by putting them in the malinky-stuhl (little chair), I present it as a whole-family sadness. I'm sad for them, their sibling is sad, he or she is sad. We are all sad that he or she has to sit in the malinky stuhl . As a family, we empathize with each other about how un-fun it is to sit there. After the required number of minutes, I arrive at the chair and sit down and ask him or her why they are in the chair. They tell me. I ask them if it is nice or happy or fun to be in the chair. They say no, of course. I ask them which is better: not obeying and sitting in the chair or obeying and not sitting in the chair. Of course, they pick obeying. Then their chair time is over and we are all happy for them. Even though I am the enforcer of chair time, and the one who determines the duration, they focus on the fact that I am sad with them and that I too hope for no chair time. After chair time, no matter how small, we have a very big snuggle. We just recently went out and bought a very big chair expressly for snuggling in.

In a couple of other posts (this one and this one) I mentioned that Juliana has trouble with being scared at night. The minute we would leave the room she would start to whimper and it would work up to a full wail. We tried lots of thing and nothing really worked but I do think we have stumbled on the path to peaceful bedtimes.

The first thing we did was stop trying to talk her out of being scared. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it took us awhile. We had been trying to focus her attention on the big papa, barky dogs, fenced yard, etc. This helped a teeny tiny bit. Then we figured out how to use what she wanted (for us to stay) to get what we wanted (for us to be able to leave and go to bed ourselves). I taught her how to make hand puppets out of her fingers. One finger is Scared Juliana. She says "I'm scared." The other finger is Mama y Papa's Juliana. She says "Wait, good mama (or papa) will come." We tuck them in and remind her that, if after a short interval we hear no whimpering or crying, I will come back and pat her until she falls asleep. The first few times I just sat in the hall and waited to hear her breathing change and then returned so that she could feel as if she had been successful. I didn't want her to break into a cry and have to do without us.

Anyway, we have been stretching the interval so that she is settled for about 15 minutes now and when I do come back, she can fall asleep very quickly. I think hearing herself affirm that she is in a good place and that we will not disappear -- hearing herself affirm this, not hearing it from us -- is settling her, and of course is super for attachment as she is practicing the ability to believe in us.

The other trick is that when I am there to pat her, I only pat if her eyes are closed. If her eyes are open we exchange I love you-s. After a few of these, she gets a bit uncomfortable. I think it is a bit too intimate for her, so she closes her eyes again. Every night though, she can take a few more I love you-s before she closes her eyes. With her eyes closed, the pats resume and soon she is asleep, nestled into the covers and layers of physical love, visual love, and auditory love.

I'd love to hear your attachment and parenting tricks and tips.

and more thanks

er uhm . . . thank you to Aunt Ruby (she who must be obeyed) for the lovely card and books. We are quite delayed in our thank you notes; I think I just sent out the ones from early October. We haven't yet opened the books as we are saving them for the Christmas Tree, but knowing Aunt Ruby, they will be awesome books.


I love Jenny!

Have I ever told you how awesome and clever and good-looking my cousin Jenny is? And she has excellent taste in gifts, bringing both this (which the children love) and a lovely LUSH facial (ayesha) which is the key to looking fresh and perky when one is actually weary and bedraggled. It is one of my favorite things, and cannot be acquired in the US through mail order. Yeah Jenny!


Calming My Wild Child

One of the adoptive parenting groups that I belong to shared this helpful article by Debbie Jeffrey on how to help my busy boy settle down. I've cut-and-pasted it here, as the webpage version printed very strangely. If you want to print it, you can cut-and-paste from here into your word-processing program. I hope I've put in enough links that will direct enough traffic to Debbie Jeffrey's pages that she will overlook my copyright liberties.

My sons have always been the kinds of kids who everyone called hyperactive. Just watching them would give you a headache. When they were going especially hyper and crazy, we used to always send them for a run around the block. We figured they needed to blow off some steam and it'd tire them out.

"Everybody" used to tell us that all boys go wild, and that's what they needed.

I must admit, it didn't work too well for our kids - they'd come back still chomping at the bit, and with enough energy for another hundred blocks. It got them out of the house and away from a mother who was about to blow her stack, and that was useful. But that's about all.

Sometimes "everybody" gets it wrong.

We suffered their hyperactive behaviour for years, managing it by dosing ourselves with large quantities of bourbon and paracetamol (sorry), until my reading finally helped me to figure out what was going on for them, and what we, as parents, could do about it.

In my article on hyperactivity, I wrote about how the brains of young children who've experienced trauma or disruption actually get stuck in the fear response. As a result, their brains shift very easily into a "fight or flight" mode. So they get aroused and "hyper" very quickly, and sometimes in response to things that you or I wouldn't normally think of as stressful. These children sometimes look like they have ADHD. What they have is actually more like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

This understanding is relevant to adoptive families because disruption early on in life - like separation from birth mother and changes in caregivers - can be quite traumatic. We expect adopted babies to cope with it; however some children seem more sensitive to it than others. Added to this initial trauma that all adopted children experience, many of the children who we adopt at an older age have experienced abuse and neglect. This typically causes the changes to brain and behaviour of which I'm writing.

Thus, I came to realise that my kids, adopted at an older age and who do have problems related to early trauma and attachment difficulties, were hyperaroused. What they needed was quiet and calm to help their brains settle down - not more physical exertion. Asking my kids to go for a run was revving them up, not settling them.

In the last few years, I've developed a different attitude and learned some calming strategies, based on this understanding.

So how does a parent develop a calming attitude?

When your child is being hyperactive, fidgety, argumentative, loud and silly, even overly anxious, think of his brain as being hyperaroused and out of control. He lacks the ability to self-soothe. His environment needs, ideally, to be low on stress and stimulation and high on parental contact and calm.

I find myself using these principles, to a lesser extent, even with my relatively well-balanced biological child. When she's overanxious or tantrumming, I can see that, from another perspective, she's stressed and out-of-control. Her brain has reverted to a more immature level of thinking - she can't calm herself down, she can't problem-solve, her behaviour is escalating, and she needs the soothing influence of a parent to get it together. So the strategies I'm about to explain can be helpful for all kids.

I like to think of two guiding principles.

(1)Lower the stimulation level.
(2)Time-In (keeping your child close).

Let me explain.

(1)Lowering the stimulation level.

It keeps your child aroused and stressed. Loud music, screaming and yelling are pretty obvious examples (don't you find that you get on edge when people are screaming at each other?). Less obvious ones are lots of unstructured physical exercise, TV (especially cartoons), video games, incessant talking, and crowds of people. I mention video games and cartoons because they contain lots of fast-changing images, and sometimes violent themes.

When your child is hyped up or anxious, keep those things to a minimum. This is not the time to take her for a visit to a theme park or send him out for a water fight with the neighbourhood kids.

How? What can you do instead?

First, when she flies off the handle over something trivial, don't argue with her. You can't reason with someone who's stressed, frightened, hyperactive - do that later, when she's settled. Be sympathetic but firm, and stay calm. Say to her, quite directly, "You're hyped up, and you need to calm down. I know what you need."

Find some quiet activities, preferably some that involve sitting and concentrating. Simple craft activities are great. If hyperactivity is a frequent problem with your child, it's worth having a box of stuff that you've pre-prepared to bring out at these times.

Some practical suggestions: drawing and colouring; jigsaws; playing with playdough (even my teenagers still love this); stringing beads; knitting; Lego; cutting and pasting (collage for older kids); chalk drawing on the driveway; playing with toys in the bath; puzzles such as word searches and simple crosswords; Hama beads (for older kids); finger-knitting. Your child should be doing these things alone or in your company only.

If your child is really hyped up, of course, it'll be hard to get him to concentrate on anything, so before you try these things, you might need to start with some of the "time-in" strategies suggested in the next section. However if you learn to read the signs that he's getting out of control, you may be able to stop his behaviour escalating - "nip it in the bud" - by trying some of the above ideas.


Time-in means keeping kids close to you when they're anxious or being troublesome.

Why? For healthy, well-attached children, it's very comforting to have mum or dad close when they're stressed. (And if your child doesn't feel comforted by having you close, then you need to actively encourage her to stay close - it'll help the attachment process). Remember, when they're stressed and aroused, their brains have reverted to an immature level of functioning. Babies need to be close to their parents. Research is showing us that, for a young child, just being physically close to a parent will increase the levels of calming hormones in her brain, and decrease the stress hormones. Physical contact is even better.

I know that it goes against the grain, in our culture, to keep our kids close when they're misbehaving, so this may require a significant shift in your thinking. Typically we like to send them away - to their rooms, to time-out - because we think this will decrease stimulation (which it kind of does), give them "thinking time", and get them out of our hair (which is sometimes, after all, necessary). We like to think our kids should calm themselves down independently of us.

But the trouble with time-out is that because it is so isolating, it actually increases the child's stress. It raises levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and adds to a child's sense of aloneness. It rarely works as "thinking time", because when a child is feeling stressed and upset, he's not very good at problem-solving.

Let's be realistic, sometimes parents need to do it when they're really at their wit's end and going spare. But I've come to realise that keeping your child close is a much better way, when you can manage it, of calming him down, de-stressing him, helping him to think rationally once again.

Your child needs you to be stronger, wiser, calmer and more in control than she. Keeping her close when she's hyperactive or stressed won't make her dependent on you. It increases her feelings of security and trust and, in so doing, actually builds connections in her brain. When she feels calm and secure she'll be confident enough to break away, to explore and develop independence.

I know that being around hyperactive, stressed out kids makes you, as a parent, feel on edge and stressed out. But I found that, when I started to make a habit of time-in rather than time-out, I started to feel more in control myself, and it was easier for me to stay calm. It probably won't happen at first, so "fake it 'til you make it". And when you do have the occasional bust-out and blow your stack, forgive yourself.

How? How do you practise time-in? Here are some ideas:

- Have him do some of the activities suggested above, while close to you, e.g. sitting on the floor or at the table next to you.
- Get her to help you with the housework, alongside you. e.g. wiping walls, hanging out the washing.
- Have him help with cooking. Baking biscuits (cookies)is great - grab some pre-prepared dough from the fridge section of the supermarket, which makes it easy to bake on the spur of the moment.
- Have her just sit on the floor next to you.
- Sit and read to him.
- Play some finger games (e.g. "Where is thumbkin?") or singing games with you.
- When he's up to it - hugs and cuddles and rocking. Hold your child like you would a baby, across your lap with his head in your left arm, get him looking in your eyes and talk or sing to her. Holding like this, especially with eye contact, engages the right side of the brain, which is the part that regulates emotion. It's what mothers automatically do with their babies, and scientists have only recently begun to figure out why. It's very soothing, and it helps to develop the parts of the brain that regulate emotion. You can be quite direct in how you explain it to your child: "Here's what we're going to do. Some kids find this very relaxing." With an adopted or foster child, you might even say, "We didn't get to do this when you were a baby. So we're going to do it now."
- Strong Sitting. This is another very powerful tool for settling kids. I consider it about as close as you can get to meditation for children. I've been told that you can teach children to meditate, but I've never been able to teach my wild kids to do so (funny ...)I have, however, been able to get them to strong sit. It seems to help the brain shift gears, to engage the rational, thinking side that moderates strong emotions. Here's what you do.

The child sits quietly, cross-legged, on the floor, with her back unsupported, eyes open, mouth closed, hands comfortably in her lap, nothing to fiddle with. The aim is for her to eventually sit for one minute for every year of his life (i.e. a 5 year old would sit for 5 minutes).

You need to build up the length of time the child can do it, so start with just a small amount of time - even 30 seconds is good. Try to do it 2 to 3 times a day, and make sure your child is with you when he does it. While you're cooking dinner is a good time, or sitting doing paperwork. I set the timer on the stove for my son, and if he breaks the silence, or starts moving and fidgeting, he has to start again. He's learned (eventually) not to break it, which also makes it a good exercise in self-discipline. Surprisingly, he now does it with a minimum of fuss when I ask him, which tells me that he must recognise, at some level, that it helps him.

In conclusion: If you have a wild child, start by limiting the time she spends in stimulating activities. Monitor the amount of time he has with TV and video games. Recognise the signs that she's becoming hyperaroused, and redirect her attention to quiet, calming activities before she really starts losing it. This is helpful even for the not-so-wild distressed child. Make sure he spends plenty of time in close proximity to you and has plenty of physical contact with you. Do your best to stay cool and, in time, your wild child will be calmer, and you'll both be more in control.

- Debbie Jeffrey



Birthday Report

Andy had a great birthday weekend. After birthday lunch and cake and his cool present (kid's digital camera), we headed for town.

We visited MindPort and were very happy that we did not have to leave early (this time) as no one fiddled with the lightswitches nor turned off all the displays.

From there we visted The Fairhaven Toy Garden from whence we had been blessed with gift certificate. They have lovely toys including HABA toys, which are the coolest ever. We've recently received several generous gift-checks which we plan to spend on Christmas gifts at the toy garden. We were absolutely thrilled that our obedient children sweetly asked if they could touch stuff and accepted with grace when we had to say no, though we said yes as often as we could.

We then visited our local independent bookstore and with another blessing of a gift certificate, bought Brown Bear Brown Bear, What do you see? and Annie and the Wild Animals and Olivia. I was super happy that we ran into two of my colleagues and that they could meet the children.

We had dinner out and then home for bubble baths and a Mr. Bean movie and one more round of presents . Each child got a costume thanks to the Old Navy post-Halloween sale. These have become the official television-watching garb. Not that we watch any TV, just videos, and not even many of those, but the children don their official grab on the mere whisper of a hope.

On Sunday we went to church and then to my parent's home for Birthday Brunch with Aunt Christy, Uncle Grape, Uncle Tim, and my Uncle Chuck. He received several nice gifts (books and cupcakes of his very own). We took lots of pictures to share with you until we misplaced the camera. Whoops.


and the winner is . . .

Option C, which arrived after the voting but resolves the problems of the first too. I didn't like the eye-hole in Option A nor the blockiness of Option B.

Happy Birthday Andy!

It's a rainy day - Andy loves rain.
Papa is home - Andy love Papa.
We are serving everything with whipping cream on top (Cheerios, juice, etc.) - Andy loves whipping cream.
Later we will have an outing - Andy loves outings.

We love Andy.


and more

Today when I went to pick up Andy, his little face lit up with joy when he saw me. This has never happened before. Usually, when reunited, he looks a bit peeved. I can't tell you how encouraging this is, that he rejoices to see his mama.

Over lunch, we were counting who loves him. We did Mama and Papa and Juliana and the two sets of Grandparents and the Aunt and Uncles (10 thus far) and then moved onto the pets, who are mostly paired. To my utter shock Andy said 12, 14, 16!! Counting by twos? We didn't teach this. All we have taught is the names of numbers, not even the shapes of the written number. Andy: boy genius.

In other news, we received the children's certs of citizenship in the mail this week, so know I can apply for social security cards and then passports and then, at last, make the trip to IKEA! My nearest IKEA is in Canada, just north of us.


A Happy Day

Today was the "trial" day at preschool and I am happy to say that we were indeed invited back. Juliana is invited back for the group we were in today, and Andy is invited back for an other day that has older kids. We all agree that he is a bit old for today's group. We are also looking into one-day-a-week kindergarten for him.

The preschool is FOUR minutes from our home at the local community Baptist church and meets on Tuesday and Thursday mornings for Juliana and Friday mornings for Andy. Juliana didn't actually make any friends, but she and two other little girls moved en masse from play station to play station today: sort of a side-by-side group play dynamic.

In other happy news, the children seem to have absorbed the relationship between being very quiet in the morning and having a jolly good-natured Mom. Yesterday I only heard one loud plonk and a loud SHHHHHHH; today I heard nothing. Their clock radio goes on at 8:00 and that is the cue for coming downstairs and making noise. In addition to me getting my much needed last hour of sleep, Juliana also gets a bit more, as Andy wakes up around 7 and had been in the habit of waking her up too.

In even more happy news, we found the Russian word for "obey" and were able to have a long conversation about children's jobs (obeying) and parent's jobs (earning money and buying grapes, according to Andy). Today my parents did the second half of pre-school trial and then brought the children home; they were happy to be able to report that the children obeyed. This has not always been the case. I am feeling hopeful again.

I found a useful website that has some good advice about sensible parenting, specifically about training in obedience and then most of the other training is done. While reading the website, I realized that has been my worry: if we can't instill obedience, there is no end to the troubles and anxieties ahead. When we get obedience in place, we can enjoy more and fret less.


Other happy families

Very happy to move families from the Families in Waiting blogroll to the Kids are Home! blogroll.

  • Bethee and DH
  • Brian and Rhonda (I presume)
  • Dave and Anna
  • Tina
  • Young Family
and SoFlaDad and SoFlaMom have drifted over to the China blogroll.