Monday, October 27, 2008

I Enjoy my Children

Isn't Dennis just a little sweet pea? He is either that or a turkey or a muffin or a tomato. I refer to him by names of food because that's what my favorite Aunt did to me. I was always her asparagus, her little turnip, or her sour pickle. Now, my kids are her artichokes and cabbages. I have picked up her name calling habit, in her absence.

The other day I froze Jonny's warts. I froze a few of mine too. Funny how as a child I never had any, but now there is a few that I can't seem to get rid of. Ugh! Comes with the territory, I guess.

I try and do things with Jonny during the day that I think he would be doing if he were in school. We practice reading, speech, coloring, writing, and drawing. I am trying to get him to come out of his shell and draw a little more without being embarrassed. So how'd I do that? I drew a funny looking skeleton and had him trace and color it so that the drawing was ours together. He liked that.

This morning was a good morning! Why? We had some really good laughs as we were making school lunches. About what????

This poor, pathetic banana. Even Rachel wouldn't touch it, laughing out loud.
Adam is becoming quite the chef. He enjoys cooking and doesn't mind doing everything when I let him pick out a recipe that he wants to cook. Over the weekend, he chose to make a Boston Cream Pie. I had to think quick in the beginning when Adam realized that he had doubled the eggs, water, and oil for one cake mix (he is used to doubling everything). Thankfully, I had another mix of the same flavor and we just made a plain one so that people could have seconds if they chose.

Part of the prep was tracing round cake pans so that he could cut out Parchment paper to line them. It was so fun spending one on one time with my oldest son in the kitchen---- it will probably be near the top of my list of best quality time ever spent with him. Besides being an awesome cook, my son is responsible, inventive, respectful, funny, and just awesome to be around. He has a nice sense of humor and makes parenting such a pleasure. I feel blessed to say this about my teenager....... very blessed.

Here he is assembling the cake.

He took a few pointers from me on how to frost the top to make it look as smooth as the picture. I'm sure he won't need my help next time. The cake turned out wonderful as you can see, and him and I had the pleasure of sharing the last piece.
Rachel is having some trouble with homework. John and I both have been working with her everyday. Her reading and writing is getting better--- finally, but math frustrates her when she is expected to do many steps for one problem. Today we worked on multiplying fractions and then she had to simplify them. Each problem had at least five steps----- let's just say that she didn't like this.

Where we know she is struggling because of her language, we have reduced her work to an amount that is okay with her teacher. Instead of 20 spelling words where she might only get four right because she focused her energy on trying to learn them all, I pick out five to eight that I think she will most likely use in her writing now and have her learn those words really well. Her much improved spelling tests are proof that this is working.

I am also having her read second and third grade level books not because she can't understand higher level books but because this is the level that she can read where she doesn't stop and have to pronounce each and every word and yet still read it wrong. I want her to build up her confidence by reading with ease for awhile and getting herself familiar with blends that don't make any sense like "ph" and "gh".

In some ways, we have made schoolwork easier for Rachel and in other ways we have stepped up our expectations of her----- it is a fine balance. I just know she will catch up--- she is so capable...... it is just going to take time!
Now that the weather is cooling off, the kids are playing outside more. Anna is teaching William how to healy------- he thinks holding onto the scooter for balance will help him learn faster.

This has got to be one of my favorite pictures. Annalyn is enjoying being a big sister and there are times when she will spoil him rotten. In case you can't tell, Dennis is in heaven with his water bottle and wagon! Annalyn went on to pull him all over the cul-de-sac.

Later in the evening, I found Sveta sharing her cup of crushed ice with Dennis and Jonny. It was so sweet.

I remember when we first brought Dennis home and I gave him a cracker to feed himself. He had trouble finding his mouth, poor little guy that it was obvious that he had never been allowed to do this. Now he is great at feeding himself!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Helping Around the House

Chores which I like to think of more as just helping around the house, are a part of my children's lives as much as they are a part of mine and Johns. In order for a family to function there are things that need to be done. The dishes must be cleaned, the clothes washed, the trash taken out, and the floor swept. Of course these are just to name a few, but the point is that a home needs to be kept up in order for things to run smoothly. If dishes were not washed then what would you eat on? Same with washing clothes. If the trash wasn't taken out, it would smell and most certainly attract bugs and rodents.

Now I know that I don't need to tell any of you this , but I did have to explain this at some point to all of my children. As a family we work together to help keep our home clean and tidy. This is something that John and I fully believe in---- children need to learn at an early age that contributing to the family by helping out is important and the responsible thing to do. And just like I don't get paid for washing my kids clothes, my children do not get paid for their everyday chores.

But how many chores do they do? Oh--- they do their fair share, and by that I mean, they do chores before school and after and before bed. Now you can say that is alot of chores, but my argument would be, what do you consider a chore? Is fixing your bed in the morning a chore? If so you can count that as one. Is putting away your pajamas and hanging up your towel after your shower considered a chore? If so, add two more to the list. Is cleaning up the breakfast dishes you helped to make also considered a chore? If so add another one. I'm sure you get the point.

But what is cool about our family is that, we have a routine and so chores are not that big of a deal. Take the morning for instance. When we get up for school there are certain expectations--- everyday, like straighten the living room, unload the dishwasher, load the dishwasher, pack lunches, feed the dogs, and take out the trash above and beyond the normal fixing the bed stuff. When it is done simultaneously and cooperatively by all of the older kids it only takes 10 minutes or so when they work together. That's all. And by them doing this, it allows me to help pack their lunches, fix hair, pretest them before school if they have a big test, and discuss appointments for the day. Most mornings things go really well because the kids work together and they end up having at least 15 minutes of free time.

Only two years ago, I used to have my boys do boy chores meaning just trash and yardwork stuff and my girls do women's work like dishes and sweeping and such. Phooey!

How wrong was I and what exactly was I hoping to teach my kids back then? That my boys should never help their wives in the kitchen when they get married because it is women's work? Or that my daughters should not grow up to help their husbands in the yard because it is a mans job? How silly, since John and I are not that way. I am so glad that something clicked inside of me because I realized how important it is to teach my kids to learn to do all chores around the house so that one day they can be out on their own and they won't be calling me to ask how to prune a bush or wash a load of clothes. They will be able to do whatever needs to be done around the house because they will know how to do it and it won't even be a big deal doing it because they will be used to doing it as part of their everyday routine.

Here is Caleb sweeping up his cereal spill. Accidents are not a big deal--- they happen, but if you make a mess you clean it up--- this starts around age five in our home, but of course at that age there is alot of supervision with the clean-up. Oh, and I do not expect my kids to clean up glass until they are 10 and up and they know to run and put on shoes if something breaks before they start sweeping it up.

Recently I had to sit down with all of my kids and explain how I was tired of my van being a trash can. Yes I had had it with the trash all over the floor and yes I raised my voice. The kids had to clean out my car and I let them all know that if everything wasn't taken out of the van each and every time we got home from going somewhere and I found it on the floor, computer would be taken away from everyone for a week. This may sound unfair since the older kids don't necessarily do this, but there is no reason that they cannot take a second out of their life to remind a sibling to grab their paper or candy wrapper or jacket up off the floor as everyone is getting out. It is called looking out for one another and holding each other accountable. Actually, it has worked out beautifully and I have only had one piece of trash left on the floor in almost two weeks and that time I gave grace because it only happened that once in which my opinion made it deserving of grace.

One day Rachel didn't want to do her chore and she decided to tell me how unfair it was that she had to vacuum while Annalyn only had to fold a load of clothes. Of course she didn't realize that Annalyn would also be helping to set the table--- making it fair, but really that wasn't her business anyway. For arguing with me, she got another chore and her face was priceless so I grabbed the camera so that I could take her picture and later show her her sour-puss face. We later laughed at it when we were going through the pictures and she did apologize. Laughter is so healing and does the spirit wonders, by the way.

Sveta has pretty basic chores, but she does them well. She usually always makes juice from concentrate--- this time I had to show her how to measure the powder for lemonade. She likes being able to say that she made the drink for our meal.

Adam has really changed this year. For the most part (except mowing the lawn) he is always very helpful with little to no lip service--- a huge change from last year. However, I am not saying that he enjoys it--- just look at his face.
Adam and Caleb wash dishes too, just like Julia has learned to mow the lawn.

I praise them often for being such awesome role models for their younger brothers. And speaking of younger brothers, even Jonny has little chores like helping carry in groceries, putting away shoes or jackets, and picking up toys around the house.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bread Pudding and a Butterball Turkey

I have to be careful with Thanksgiving around the corner. My son might be mistaken for a Butterball Turkey!
He sure loves showers and will spend as much time as I will let him after I have gotten out.

Here is my handsome guy brushing his teeth. He does a really good job! For those of you who have been wondering what exactly Poland Syndrome is, you can see how his right breast is lower and much flatter than his left. He is basically missing a left pectoral muscle, but nonetheless, he is my little cherub. After discussing with doctors, we do not plan to do anything unless Dennis wants something cosmetically done when he is a teenager. That would include removing muscle from his thigh or calf to build up the appearance of a chest muscle so I am not eager to go down that path for purely cosmetic reasons anytime soon if ever.
Julia and Sveta made this bead necklace the other night. It is so big that it can wrap around their neck at least six times.
I gotta love my kids hearts, especially Williams. Today after eating his snack on this plate, he wanted to show me how he wiped it clean so we could use it for another time. Nothing like trying to save our family money by not being wasteful. The other night at church, Anna brought out a dessert plate to the car. "Why did you bring that Anna?" "It had my snack on it and I didn't get it dirty. It is still clean so we could reuse it at home."
Last night, I made up a new recipe for bread pudding and it was delicious. Honestly, my family thought it was the best ever....... so good I am not sure I am going to post it. Isn't that rude?
Anyway, when the bread pudding was done we topped it with pureed strawberries and whip cream. It was heavenly.
Guess what I finished up for lunch?
Today we got a package in the mail all the way from Australia. Souvenir rulers and pencils and a book....... Thanks Chelley.... that was so thoughtful of you! As you can see, you made my kids' day.

I am Exempt!

Boy, they didn't wait long to serve me. I promptly got back to them, the same day that I voted.

To Whom it may Concern,

I am juror XXXXXXXXX and I am writing to get an exemption from jury duty. Not only am I a stay at home mom of 11 kids, but we just adopted our 2 year old son with special needs at the end of July, 2008. I do not leave him with a babysitter yet because I want to avoid attachment issues and he is going to be having his first major surgery on November 5th to remove his right eye. I need to get an exemption from jury duty because of this. If not, hopefully you guys don't mind my two small children coming with me and sitting on my lap. Unless, I hear otherwise, I am assuming that I am excused.

Sincerely, Christine Reed
Ms. Reed,

Your request to be excused from jury service has been approved. You will receive confirmation by mail.

Thank you,
United States District Court

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

All About Food

I have always loved to cook. Even as a young girl, I remember wanting to help in the kitchen--- probably to sample all of it more than anything. But sampling the food and cooking what I know tastes good is part of why I am so passionate about food and what I prepare for my family. Not only do I love to cook for my husband and children, but I also love to entertain and cook for friends and family whenever I get the chance. I guess you can say that a huge way that I show my love is by cooking delicious foods for those that I care about.

So what does Christine cook? I try to balance my meals out with inexpensive foods most days like pasta, casseroles, and potato or nacho bars and then I am able to splurge on better cuts of meat a few days a week. I also buy what is on sale and as all of you know that ranges from week to week, store to store, so often times I surprise even myself with what I pick out and decide to delight my family with.

One day last week I made fried Polska-Kielbasa and red potatoes with green beans on the side.

I love to buy stew meat and make different recipes with it.

Last week I made Beef Burgundy that was very yummy. I always try to take the time to braise the meat first so that it will sear in the flavor and come out more tender.

I served the tender meat with onions and mushrooms in a red wine sauce over rice pilaf. It was a hit as long as those who didn't like the vegetables were allowed to pick them out and have John and I eat them. I was okay with that because they still had their veggies from the side salad I served with it. Crusty French Bread sopped up the rich flavorful sauce. Mmm-mmmm-mmm-mmm-mmm.

Just had to throw this picture of Dennis in because he is afterall eating food and that's what this post is all about.

Taco Soup is another big hit in my family. It is so versatile that I have no set recipe. Each pot is never the same.

The main ingredients are ground beef, taco seasoning, tomato sauce, canned beans, canned corn, and water. Sometimes I add Ranch dressing seasoning or green chiles.

We pour the soup over crushed tortilla chips and top with cheese, chopped olives, green onions, and sour cream.

For snack, I give the kids anything from handfuls of cereal, to apples with peanut butter and a few M&M's on top, to toast with jam, cookies, cheese and crackers, or bowls of Top Ramen.

Dennis can eat just about anything now, and now that he has exercised his mouth so much from all his eating, he can almost touch his lips together. Here he is reaching for his sippy cup. That is a huge achievement for him since he used to just let his drink spill all over him. He is learning to control the amount of liquid that goes into his mouth.

Tonight was more of a splurge night because dinner came out to about $3.00 a person. On the menu---- tri-tip, rice pilaf, fruit cocktail, and butter-baked bread.

I season my tri-tip with worcestershire sauce, pepper, salt, and ground mustard.

I cover the bottom of the roasting pan with seasoning before I lay the meat down so that the juice will be extra flavorful.

Then I season the top of the meat before I cover it and slow roast it for three hours.

I love this part because I get to sample what I have made.

We go through about a gallon of milk a day.

With the leftover tri-tip I will be able to make John a sandwich in the morning and still have some meat leftover to make myself a yummy quesadilla.

There's a First Time for Everything!

One good thing about having a large family is that it is never boring. Come take a look into one of our weekends.

It started on Friday afternoon when I picked up Dennis' glasses. It only took me two times sewing on two different straps until I got it right.

Here is Dennis sporting his new safety glasses---- finally-- and he keeps them on too!

Our little man has started getting the step stools and moving them so he can get cups and snacks off the counter. He is so smart, that little turkey!

Look at him in action!

William built this cool cup pyramid. Don't you love the wild assortment--- all plastic--- and most compliments from restaurants that serve kids meals.

Poor Sveta fell asleep with silly putty! Ugh! She didn't even realize it until one of her sister's pointed it out after school.

But don't worry, peanut butter got it out. No need to cut her hair after all! Yeah for peanut butter!

Today, Caleb and I got William to try his first piece of gum! You can't even imagine how big this is for a child with sensory issues. William absolutely hates gum-- the smell, the sound of someone chewing it, the texture, the color, the flavor, just the thought drives him crazy, but somehow we got William to try it today. Here is the video.

I think it is very important to encourage children to try new things. I am a firm believer that by gently pushing a child to step out of their comfort zone and try something new that
Sveta is doing really well in school this year. I am ashamed to admit that in the beginning I thought that Sveta might never read. Well even still, we never gave up helping her, and just look at her now!


Here is a video that has by far been the most convincing, yet graphic illustration as to why abortion is so horrible--- unthinkable. I don't understand how anyone can support a woman's choice to do this. It is of my opinion that if we as a country are allowed to do this, than we should be allowed to murder whoever harms us, threatens us, ticks us off, or merely inconveniences us --- just as easily. Honestly, what is the difference? I can't understand why so many are unresponsive to the war that is being waged on the most innocent lives of all.

Just click on the video on the right hand side of the site, but beware, this might change your mind. Are you open and willing to have God work in your life at this very moment? Every woman thinking of doing this, should be required to watch a video like this.

I also want to encourage you to read this. It was lifechanging for me.

So was this........ but even more so. Redeeming Love changed my life so much, second to the Bible, that I went out and bought at least five copies and handed them out to friends and family.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Playing with Forks

The other day we went to McDonald's. We sat outside and ate---- Sveta called it a picnic. As we were finishing up our food, Adam came over to our table and asked if we wanted any fries. One of my daughters quickly reached for the fries even though she had just as big of a pile still on her wrapper. "Sweetie, you shouldn't take those fries when you have those to still finish up."

"Oh, yeaaah," she mischievously replied with a sly look on her face. Just one of many little things that we are working on daily.
Today after school, Annalyn thought it would be cool to make a fork sculpture. She was incredibly relieved that her $600 clarinet wasn't lost after all--- the bus driver found it last Friday and was holding onto it until someone claimed it. I so wanted to take away this privilege from her, but John helped me to see how giving Annalyn another chance was in her best interests if we wanted to teach her responsibility. So, even though she temporarily lost her instrument, she has another chance to prove to not only us but to herself that she can be responsible. Come on Annalyn, you can do it!

For snack today, Julia made everyone Top Ramen--- mmmmm!

Andrew was so sweet with Dennis tonight. Isn't this adorable?

Annalyn has been bugging me to cut her hair. I was glad to see her happy face when she looked
at the back of her hair in the mirror. She thinks she looks like Ramona Quimby. What do you think?

Dennis is learning to drink from a cup on his own.

How smart is this?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Digest 4

crispy said...
I have asked before and still wondering what the answer big is that table and where did you get it? How many does it seat?

Our kitchen table, which is actually two put together is 16 feet long and always has seating around it for 16. However, it can easily sit 22. We bought it at a local oak liquidator store where we were able to special order the fabric for the chairs.

Mary said...
I'd like to know what cooking for a large family is like. I usually cook for four, so I can't imagine what it's like to cook for three times that number of people every night! Do you find that it's pretty similar to cooking for a smaller group, only you just make more of each dish, or does it require a very different approach?

Cooking for a large family is not that different than cooking for a small family. Over the years as our family grew, the amount of food that I prepared naturally grew too. It is not like I had to learn overnight how to cook for a crowd. Sometimes the prep and clean-up work can be a little tiring, but thankfully I enjoy cooking so much and I have plenty of helpers that it isn't that big of a deal. Soon, I will be sharing some recipes that I have found to be especially yummy, crowd pleasing, and fairly easy to make.

Nikki said...
I have a question for the next digest in response to the one asked today regarding the girls speaking Russian. You said they barely know any anymore... do you have any plans on getting them in lessons so they can keep the language? Do you do anything with them to keep the Russian culture in them alive, if that makes sense? I plan on adopting my kids in 5(ish) years (although probably from Haiti and Ethiopia) and find it really interesting to hear adoptive parents thoughts on language and culture... although that probably also has a lot to do with me getting a degree in cultural anthropology :) Thanks, and I look forward to reading more as always :)

First off, I am thrilled that you have a heart for adoption. What a wonderful road you plan to travel. As far as re-teaching my kids Russian, I don't think we will be doing that. Spanish would make more sense where we live, LOL. But I do believe in keeping their Russian culture alive. I am Russian myself, so this isn't very hard. We talk about Russia and Ukraine on a regular basis because it is a part of who my daughters are. Since they were older when we adopted them, they have a lot of memories and I don't want them to forget them. I try to cook Russian food like borscht, compote, Stroganoff, and potatoes. We have Russian trinkets around the house, and we play games to see who can remember the Russian names of things. I suppose if they wanted to re-learn Russian we would let them pursue this as long as their other studies were fairly strong.

Denise said...
I am a stay at home mom with 3 adopted children from Russia. Well, they're toddlers.. I find it so hard to live off of 1 salary. How do you do it. Any suggestions.

Our family is blessed that I am able to stay at home. John's salary has continued to meet the demands of our growing family in the form of raises, and to honor his hard earned money and stretch it to meet our family's needs, I have learned to run a tight ship. For the most part--- we don't try to keep up with the Jones'. I am constantly looking for ways to cut costs and live within our means without making our kids feel like being part of a large family makes them do without. I would say that my top three secrets to being a good steward of our money is tithing, using things until they have completely worn out (the kids do not automatically get new backpacks every year just because it is a new year), and helping my kids to realize that there really isn't anything that they need that they don't already have.

Connie said...
Hey sis, I nominated you for
a blog award :-)

Thank you so much. I feel honored. I am so glad that I inspired you to start blogging again because you do an awesome job. I think it is a wonderful way to keep in touch. I pass this award to Heidi, Maleri, Kathy, Carrie, Jen, Rachel, Carla, and June.

But the real question is, did you go and vote for me? Just kidding. :)

Faith said...
"I couldn't even think of starting a new project until my first book was done---- and I finished it last night!"Umm...what? I never heard about that! Please do dish!!

I'll share in a couple days, I promise.

beth said...

Questions I have:

1. Do any of your children take medications for behavior issues?

2. Your table, that everyone is interested in, does it happen to be a Broyhill-Attic Heirlooms piece? It looks a lot like mine.

3. How do you handle the constant "noise"?

4. With so many kiddos what things have you learned to overlook?

(1) None of my kids take medication for behavior issues. When William was in kindergarten and we insisted he be evaluated because of Autism like behaviors, the school wanted to have a pharmacologist be part of the IEP team. I was adamant that I did not want to go down that slippery slope and would not allow a pharmacologist to be part of the team. William, with his issues now recognized has done a total 360 in school and is now the best behaved student in his class--- no joke. I'm not sure why he still struggles with certain behaviors here at home--- but nothing is even remotely bad enough to warrant any kind of medication in our opinion. I think he feels that home is the one place that he can be himself which still includes saying Binky and Dad at least 100 times a day. If one of my children all of a sudden became really aggressive, suicidal, or had a change in behavior that was totally out of character for them and medication was the best option, I think we would definitely consider it after exhausting all other resources.

(2) Already answered. (3) The noise level is naturally loud in our house. For the most part I have come to accept it and ignore it-- accept when the phone rings. That is when I get louder than all of them and shout, "BE QUIET RIGHT NOW!! I AM ON THE PHONE!!!" Great example, huh? (4) I have learned to overlook very little. I run a tight ship. My kids know I run a tight ship. My husband is 100% onboard and he is an equal co-captain. But, we honestly try to practice what we preach and we dish out tons and tons of love while we are parenting. Our kids are really good kids and because they know how the ship operates, they don't do too many things to make it go off course. And I must mention that we are all about grace--- but that is different than overlooking something.

dj said...
My husband and I are thinking of adopting. Most of my family is against it and two of my friends think it's a wonderful thing. What are your feelings about adopting out of birth order?

We have adopted out of birth order four times. Each time it has worked out beautifully. While we may sound totally "out there", we just felt that a child should not be considered or not considered for adoption based solely on their age. When we adopted Rachel, she became our oldest daughter, and if you were to ask any of my kids, it was and is not an issue. What reason could be good enough that would trump a child not having the chance for a family? Would it be that my bio daughter might not be the first to walk down the aisle? Big deal-- what would God say about that? Or might it be that my oldest son might have to let his new sister hitch a ride in his car to school in the morning? He should be thankful to have a car if you ask me. Now, I am not saying that any of my kids have said or felt this way, but honestly, if they did I don't think we should be adopting another child because in my opinion if my kids felt this petty about such non-important things than I should be focusing on raising the kids I already have to have hearts more like Jesus and less like the world before trying to add another child to our family. (sorry for the run-on sentence)

Pat said...
Just a purely educational question, what are your thoughts on professional counseling for the kids. I obviously don't know much about RAD or other emotional disabilities but I don't recall you mentioning it and I haven't seen a discussion of it on other blogs. Have you had to struggle with RAD? This seems, by your posts and how well your children are doing, to be one disorder that fortunately bypassed you.Again, just purely educational for myself

Good questions. Both of my girls were said to have RAD. One family was doing the Nancy Thomas approach including strong sitting. I don't want to go into too much discussion since I am not a "professional", but I will say that my girls do not have RAD nor have they ever been in therapy.

They are Stuck with Me

My children are so special to me. Each and every one of them touches a different part of my heart. They have brought out the child in me all over again---- I think they keep me looking and feeling young. I have truly been blessed because I have both biological and adopted children, and the secret to my parenting above all is that I treat every single one the same. I have read so many books how adopted children need to be parented differently, but I beg to differ. This is my blog, so I can do that.

But how do I treat them the same?

Well in every way of course.

That means that I love them the same, discipline them the same, pray for them the same, treat them the same, think of them the same, act the same around all of them, talk with them the same, and make sure to spend equal time with each and every one of them. Now I may fall short as a parent, but one child is never singled out by getting less of me than any other child.

By treating them the same, I am promoting the same kind of bonding with each of my adopted children that I have had with my biological children. This of course doesn't mean that they all have the same needs all at the same time, but it does mean that my heart does not differentiate between my kids just because one was born from my tummy and another was born from my heart. Let me share how this looks.

When Adam and Caleb were little, the three of us would eat breakfast from the same bowl of cereal. I would take turns giving each of us a bite--- germs and all. I do that same kind of thing with each of my kids today--- unrelated germs and all. Adam and I shared a sundae tonight and took turns feeding Dennis from our spoon. The other day Sveta and I took turns biting from a huge sucker. This might gross some of you out, but I know it has helped all of my children to bond to me and to each other.

I give lots of physical touch to all of my kids. That includes hugs, kisses, tickles, nose rubs, back rubs, foot rubs, hair combing, back scratching, and gentle rib poking. Some things might sound too out of your comfort zone and some probably sound down right silly, but the point is that physical touch promotes bonding, and no child goes without. What is really nice is that each of my kids reciprocate affection in the way that they feel comfortable. For Adam that means giving me a bear hug. For Jonny that means rubbing my hair. For Sveta that means rubbing my feet or combing my hair. For Rachel that means going through my hair and pulling out the gray. For Caleb that means taking turns giving each other a hand massage while sitting quietly in church. For William that means rubbing my arm or shoulder as he says, "I love you so, so much Mom."

I don't hesitate being myself around my kids. I sing alot of made up songs, I make up words that my kids would be embarrassed if their friends heard yet they quickly pick up and use the same exact words. It is funny how I will see them dancing around the kitchen singing the Pa-coo-chitz song to the tun of LaBamba just like I do. I think they see me for who I am. I expect them to take me as I am--- quirks and all. They have no choice but to love me because they are stuck with me. I think this helps them to feel like they are also "stuck" in this family, which my adopted girls desperately want to feel.

One word to describe my parenting is REAL. I am real.
We have had a family sleep night with all the kids on our bed.

I have pulled a kid out of school early so that they could spend some special time with me.

Us girls have shared deodorant.

Rachel has pulled a mint out of her mouth and broken it in half to share with me.

I have licked my finger to wipe a dirty mark off of Annalyn's cheek.

I have quickly popped a daughter's pimple in the diaper aisle of Wal-Mart only to have another one quickly ask, "Will you get mine too, Mom?"

I have admitted feeling like a failure to my children, only to have them comfort me and tell me that they think I am doing a great job.

We share drinks with each other.

We share bites of my food.

The kids dress up in my shoes.

I have went through my childhood pictures and shared stories with them.

I have kissed owies, and let the kids kiss mine.

The kids enjoy getting special notes in their lunch box, I enjoy stories written in school by my amazing children.

We wink at each other across a room, we stick up for each other, we do nice things for each other, and sometimes that includes walking into a stinky bathroom to deliver a new roll of toilet paper.

I play Peek-a-boo with every child in the house just to be a nut. Most times the kids play along.

Out of the blue, I will sneak up on a child and quickly cover their eyes and tell them to open their mouth. They have come to trust me and obey because I always give them a special treat like a couple of chocolate chips or a Starburst or something. ALL OF THE KIDS LOVE THIS!

How do you bond with your children? Do they know without a doubt that they are very special to you? I think it is time for me to remind my kids again.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Dennis in the Box!!!

Dennis wants my camera so bad! I think he wants to play Mr. Photographer.

Time to go wake him up to go pick up his safety glasses and get the kids from school!

I rented "Facing the Giants" and bought candy and popcorn! What are you doi