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!


  1. Ergh! What a revolting looking banana! I'm not surprised nobody wanted to eat it!

  2. I love seeing their progress! You are doing a great job. By chance did you get some answers on the questions re. adoption I left for you a week or so ago? My husband and I are praying about a second adoption and doing research on adopting in CA re. laws and possibilities of reversals. We could never deal with that. NV law states once the adoption is final there is no reversal.

  3. So much fun in your house! I love the pics of Annalyn & Dennis with the wagon.

  4. I've only been following regularly for a month or two, but I have checked in on and off via Reece's Rainbow...
    Did you ever post a description of what all the doctors plan to do for your little man? He's such a cutie--makes my heart melt. Will be praying with you about the eye removal--that's coming right up, isn't it? What is the next step following that?

  5. Honor is my little pumpkin... most of the time. Sometimes she is my kitten. Or many other little nicknames. Brian never liked silly endearments.. only serious ones, like dear or sweetheart(!), so I use them all on his sister.

    Adam is getting good practice... it's good to learn young and build up confidence. It's amazing how many people make it to adulthood, afraid to try new recipes or feel 'comfortable' in the kitchen.

    We are still working with Brian on handwriting. He HATES it. I think we are finally reaching a stage when he sees that if he just sits down and works at it, he is building 'muscle memory' in his hands and brain. It is slowly (finally?!?) happening. It is hard though, because he can stretch 30 minutes of homework into 2 hours because he will just sit there and mope about having to put pencil to paper. I hate to torture him, but I am trying to explain that, what good is his hard work and correct answers, if the teacher cannot READ the paper?? Rachel's practice with lower level books is kinda what we do with Brian - sometimes we have him write his own work, often I'll just ask him to get a book and copy it. Exercising those writing muscles.

  6. Very sweet picture of Dennis and Annalyn. He never has to worry about being bored with all his older sibblings and they are so good with him.

    That is some yukky banana.

    When again in the upcoming surgery and how long will Dennis be in the hospital?

  7. I love reading about and seeing pictures of your family. They all seem like such great kids. It is so great to hear that you are giving Rachel books at a level she is comfortable with rather than books that go along with the grade she is in. This is how we ran the reading program at one of the schools I used to teach at and it really got kids more comfortable reading which developed an interest in reading and quicker progress rather than frustration! What a great mom!

  8. I don't have a blog but I read yours all the time. My daughter had several warts that we also tried to get rid of by freezing and it did not work. Then I tried an old "wifes tale". Put apple cider vinegar on the warts before bed time and cover with a bandaid. Most of them will start to turn black by morning. My daughter no longer has problems with warts.


  9. Dear american friends. Our little son from Ukraine, Karlos, had to had some surgery last week, and it was all ok, but we felt so nervous. Now, we think of you and the surgery for Denis, and we wish you all the best. You will be in our prayers. You have such a nice family!!!! Your kids seem to be so good; its sure that they have a good example in their parents, you both.

  10. Duct tape is also excellent for warts, it cuts off the oxygen supply to them. Supposedly, it's better than freezing. Maggie couldn't feed herself either, they make them sit at the table and just shovel food into their mouths as they are done. It's much quicker that way. Maggie is such a slow eater, no wonder she was so small!!!!

  11. I enjoy my kids, too! I love that you and Adam have cooking in common and get to spend that special time together. What a sweet guy. Could Dennis be any better taken care of??? It is so sweet that everyone finds their special times to share with him.

  12. You have such amazing children. And little Dennis just fits right in there and is getting so much love.

  13. Dennis is filling out so nicely!!
    My son Lane loves to cook as well.. I think that it is a GREAT skill for boys to have for the future. We have a meal rotation weekly where each child chooses a meal and dessert and makes the entire dinner ( once a week) of course I still oversee.. but for the most part they do it. They love it and I find it funny when we have some "downtime" the kids are going through cookbooks!

    Anyway, the kids look great and I am glad that you treasure these moments!


    P.S. Question.. Do you share your blog with Rachael and Annalyn's previous family? I am debating if this is something I want to do with Caroline's previous family or not... we do give them updates now and have agreed to that every so often. Thanks

  14. How sweet! What great kids you have!! I also have a wart that keeps coming back on my leg--what the?! I can't ever seem to get rid of it--UGH!!

  15. I'm just smiling. I don't know how you find enough hours in the day to do all you do, but I'm glad! Your children all look so happy. Especially when I see Rachel and Annalyn I just want to clone you.

    Adam's cake looks wonderful (that is one of my favorite deserts!); I have to say, though, I bet he "left 'em wanting more!"

  16. Christine, thank you for stopping by my blog a while back!

    I second the duct tape method! It has completely worked in our family. Per our doctor's recommendation, we would place duct tape over the wart to completely seal it, leave it on for several days (can't remember how many specifically...I'd try 3-7days), remove the tape, roughen the wart with a dry wash cloth and repeat the duct tape again for several days, followed by roughening up the wart with a dry cloth. His theory is that since warts are caused by a virus, doing this will irritate the area & force the body's immune system into fighting off that virus. My daughter had one on her foot and several on her hand. Our doc said that you could treat just one on the body and get a response from other warts present on the body. We only treated the one on her foot but the warts on her hand went away at the same time the other one did (about a week after the last duct tape cycle). I've known many people who this has worked for. Just a thought!

    Tracey (who's dad went to Heaven 9 days ago, unexpectedly...on my youngest daughter's birthday...boy do we miss him!)

  17. Just and FYI. We found that duct tape worked really well on Cosette's warts. She had two on her toes. I guess there is something in the tape that irritates the skin and elicites an immune response to the tape. Warts sit on top of the skin and are "immune" to your immune system and are not recognized there for not faught by your body, but the duct tape is! So by wearing the duct tape you are sending your immune system to work on the spot where the wart is and it takes care of it. It worked wonders for our daughter, though I did read it works better on younger children because their immune system is better so might take longer to work on an adult. I bought some red duct tape to make it more fun for Cosette! I cut a little circle of the duct tape and put that on and then put a bandaid over it some times to help it stay on. With hers bein on her toes it was so easy to rub the duct tape off.

    The duct tape is pretty cost effective too when compared to the expensive over the counter treatments!

  18. I love those dark bananas because the BEST to make banana bread with. YUM!

    Your children seem to be so content! With the way things are now, I love to see children outside, cooking or just spending time with each other instead of glued to a TV. You are doing a great job!

  19. Thanks for commenting on my blog. I have read yours before (not sure if I commented) and I just love your family. You guys are amazing and I can see that there is so much love in your bunch. Blessings, Courtney

  20. Hey! I know I haven't commented in forever, but I am still reading everyday and loving it all! I can't believe how great Dennis is doing. Scratch that. I believe it because he is in your household. There is something about him that reminds me of Caleb, my 3 yr old. Can't put my finger on it exactly...but anyway. That's why I am commenting now. I call Caleb "muffin" all of the time! I have no idea when or why it started, but it has stuck. Glad to know it's a term of affection in your house, too! (Makes me feel less random and weird about it.)

  21. Ummm, where are those nifty spectacles?

  22. It sounds like you have a good homework strategy going on. The boston creme pie cake looks wonderful!

  23. Dennis has changed so much. It is neat to see him thrive. I can really see it in the first picture.

  24. Your family is certainly beautiful. I just can't understand how Dennis is getting cuter and cuter all the time! How cute can you get, anyway? I'm so glad that you found each other.

  25. I love hearing about your children. You are very blessed. The picture of Anna and William reminded me how small Anna is. I was wondering if any ever happened after her doctors visit, I remember you saying that she qualified for growth hormones but I haven't hear anything about it since.

  26. Hello there! Here is a suggestion for coloring with Jonny. Have each of your older kids draw a picture similar to something you would find in a purchased coloring book with a Sharpie or other dark marker. Make sure they sign his/her name on the bottom as the artist. Then Jonny can color it in as he likes. Next step is for Jonny to create a color page for his siblings. You can make copies of one of his outlines or he can create multiple copies of different silhouettes. His brothers and sisters then color one of the pages in for him. Old substitute teacher trick that kids love. Take care and thank you for your blog.

  27. I love all the pictures, and seeing your kids interacting with one another.

  28. Hi Christine,

    Your school district should be able to give you some books that are at a lower reading level but at the interest level of a preteen. I think they call them "high interest" readers. Maybe the special ed. teacher could give some to Rachel's general ed. teacher. Just a thought. Take care!

  29. I also call my kids names of food (although never a sour pickle). Rachel is doing so well considering she's only been in the US such a short time!

  30. I enjoyed reading about adam baking a cake! he looked like he was trying hard to frost the cake just right!

  31. The cake looks yummy!
    My boys could use some mentoring from your kiddos when it comes to attempting to cook!


  32. I love reading your blog! It is so real, and I have always dreamed of having a big family. I love seeing that you work one-on-one with each of your kids on their school work. I am an Elementary Education major (I graduate in May) and we need more parents like you! Dennis is such a cutie! :)

  33. A little tip for helping kids work through the process of reducing fractions. It can be a really daunting cognitive activity.

    I make my 5th graders who are learning to reduce/simplify fractions for the first time memorize these three questions.

    1. Are the numerator (N) and denominator (D) both even?
    Yes - you can at least divide both N and D by two. (You may have to do it many times, but it is a place to start.) Even if the answer is yes, you may still want to continue with the next questions for a larger number with which to divide.
    No - Go to question 2.

    2. Is the N a factor of the D? In other words, can you skip count by the N and land on the D?
    Yes - divide both N and D by the N.
    No - Go to question 3.

    3. Do they share a factor other than 1 or 2 (if N & D are both even)?
    Yes - divide both N & D by that factor.
    No - Fraction is already in lowest terms.

    Once you have divided - always ask yourself the three questions again to make sure you have completely simplified the fraction.

    My kiddos get sick of saying it over and over, but they soon memorize the process and have a tool to use to reduce fractions. That one process can be overwhelming and daunting and spoil getting a correct answer when they have done all the other work correctly.

    Hope it helps.



  34. Oh, and btw, skip counting is a great way to help kids learn multiplication facts. I don't have my students recite traditional facts (ie 3 x 1 is 3, 3 x 2 is 6, etc.) We always skip count by the denomination we need. With enough repetition, they get quite adept at skip counting even by 11 and 12!

  35. I love calling my kids food names too. I'm big on chicken names like Chicken Nugget or Chicken Chimichanga. Oh Muffin Butt, I love Muffin Butt. I find it even funnier that my kids answer to all of them with no hesitation.

  36. I think it is so cute that Adam likes to cook. That's so great. He looks like a great kid. Dennis is a cute little turkey/tomato/pickle/etc. =) He always makes me smile. The thing with Rachel, this may or may not be comforting, but I stunk at math too. I was homeschooled so my mom made me work on the basics like addition, subtraction, multiplication, division etc, but when it came to the stuff like algebra and even some things like fractions that I struggled with she took it really slow and when I hit 17 (I know it's a ways down the road) but math just clicked. My dad talked to a math professor and he said most people don't get math until they are older. It is the way their brain grows or something. So there is hope. My mom also had me help her cook to get fractions. That seemed to help, cuz I could visualize it with measuring cups. Hope that gives you some extra hope. =) I wish I lived closer to you too. I would love to take your family picture. What fun that would be. I hope you are well. Sorry for the novel. =) Love your face.

  37. I have loads of nicknames for my kiddo, and a lot of them are food related, too - Sweet Pea, Sweet Potato, Sweet Potato Pie, Pumpkin Pie.... My hubby has been known to call me "Baba Ghanoush" too... what is it about food and terms of endearment?

    Anyhow, I popped over from Where Are My Angels, in case you're wondering who this random person is! :) Your kids are so cute! Our daughter (um, we only have one, not eleven!) is adopted, domestically not internationally like your kiddos.

    Okay, I'll stop rambling now. Cheers!

  38. What a great post! I love hearing about what you are doing with the family....truly, you and your family are an inspiration.

  39. I loved seeing your oldest son baking. How sweet... and that picture of Dennis in the wagon with Annalyn is so precious.

  40. I don't know that you'll even see this with all the replies, but do you mind my asking how Rachel learns best? I'd love to share a phonics program with you (it's very multi-level but she really only needs a small part of it) that I discovered this last year. It's called spalding phonics but all you'd need is the flash cards. If you're comfortable giving me your address I'd be more than happy to send you a copy of them! They have helped my visual/hands on learner TREMENDOUSLY!! LMK


I find your comments so inspiring! Thanks for visiting our family blog, and sharing your thoughts.