Monday, April 16, 2012

Digest 26

Russian Adoption Chronicles said...

Hi Christine, I am a long time reader, never posted though.

Have you every heard of Pleva? It's a condition that resembles eczema and often goes undiagnosed. My son (adopted from Russia) was diagnosed with it a couple of years ago.. the pics of Dennis reminded me of it, thought I would mention it.
March 20, 2012 6:40 PM

Hi.  So nice of you to comment.  No I hadn't heard of Pleva until you mentioned it.  I researched it and I don't think Dennis has it.  Thank you though for sharing about it.  How is your son doing?
Right now his eczema is doing really well.

Queen B said...

I tried the truthful route once with my oldest and actually regretted it. The anticipation caused her to have a much worse reaction I believe. I don't think you really lied either. I try to be vague if I know the truth will really scare them.
March 21, 2012 6:13 PM

Me too.  I used to tell Dennis all the time but this last time he cried all the way in the car and actually began to scream when it was time to go into the office.  I have tried roll playing with pretend doctor sets and I have tried bribing.  NOTHING WORKS!  I'm not sure who has it worse-- him or I!

Rita in SPain said...
I sure will!
And just to add my 2 cents....Christine, when I was her age, I had alot of problems with headaches.....with age they just went away but for a time I remember having some really strong pills to take when I got them...I know I went to the Dr. and he prescribed them...
Anyway, They just disappeared as I got older..

I hope the same holds true for Rachel!
March 28, 2012 12:31 AM

This is very encouraging to read.  I hope it turns out to be nothing.  It has not been scheduled yet-- I just called on Friday and our insurance has not okayed it yet.

AnonymousBeth (A Mom's Life) said...
I hope your pie didn't contain Minnie's special ingredient! ;)
March 29, 2012 7:14 AM

Oh no!  None of Minnie's secret ingredient here.  :)

Wendy said...
I'm with Beth!!

Poor Rachel - she even looks miserable in her sleep! Hope she feels better soon, soon soon!
I just love it when you post pictures of your kids doing things together! I wish we had more than one, siblings are a blessing in so many ways.
March 30, 2012 6:33 PM

Rachel is doing great!  She was back to normal within a few days!

Laura said...

omgosh...I love reading your updates but this one put tears in my eyes seeing Dennis...he has just blossomed! God really had his eyes on Dennis the moment he decided you and John would be his parents. You are *all* so blessed!!
April 2, 2012 6:00 PM

Thanks Laura!  We think Dennis is one handsome little boy!  He is Mr. Social Butterfly too!  He can strike up a conversation with just about anyone.  He has just began riding a scooter.  He insists on getting up to get seconds at dinner.  He has blossomed in ways I never thought!

BloggerCarol A said...
I voted for you almost every day for several weeks to help you get named as the outstanding blogger of a large family....I thought you had the most votes....what happened to the award?
March 31, 2012 7:52 AM

Thank you for voting for me.  Smiles and Trials blog did win but it turned out to be nothing really.   They have invited me to blog about special topics but I do not have the time.  I learned that winning the contest really didn't amount to a hill of beans-- it was like chasing the wind.  It was sort of exhilarating at the time, but I am embarrassed I made such a big deal about it.  Live and learn. 

Anonymous said...
If I were you, I'd drop mixing the eczema cream with the baby lotion. The baby lotion has fragrances and oils in it that may be irritants for him. Poor baby! I think of Dennis often- I just wish I could help. I know so many others do, too.
March 31, 2012 11:40 AM

That makes sense-- thanks!  Since, I have bought Eucerin which works great!

:)De said...
Also a fan of liquid bandage, just wish the application tip was easier on the one I have. Glad your little guy is okay.

April 4, 2012 10:05 AM

Me too!  That stuff is tough to apply.  There was so much goop in his hair that it took three different sittings to gently cut it all out!  

 Expat Mom said...
Wow, Adam has grown! He looks like a man in that photo. Love hearing about the fun your family has. :)
April 12, 2012 6:37 PM

Doesn't he?  He is so grown up now.  He towers over me, shaves, drives.  And he is so responsible and mature.  Still, he will always be my boy.  Just the other day he wanted to make a bet with me.  "Mom, if I don't have any cavities at the dentist, will you buy me a bag of candy?"  Needless to say it looks like he has started a new tradition. I did the same thing with Caleb today.

Sue said...
Where did you get the table? I just bought two just like that from craigslist, and I would like to buy more matching chairs, but I don't know where to find them! I have them both with the leaf in , pushed together, to seat 12.
April 10, 2012 8:13 AM

I read your next comment about it being the black table that you were talking about.  We got that one from John's coworker who was getting rid of it.  Sorry I can't help you.

AnonymousAnonymous said...
How on earth are you able to afford so many children and such a nice big house on John's Starbucks Salary? (just curious, not meant to offend)
April 10, 2012 8:24 AM

Have you heard of Howard Schultz? :)  You can do more than make coffee working at Starbucks. :)  Not that John makes anywhere near the founder of Starbucks, but he is in upper management.  If he was just a barista we could not make ends meet.  Thanks for asking-- no offense taken.

AnonymousRita in SPain said...
Christine, I´d love to hear an update on how Anastasia and Paul are getting seems like they just slid into your family with no issues whatsoever..amazing....: ))
Working on my puzzle usual I am being OVER Perfectionist! UGH....
Hugs, Gina/Rita
April 11, 2012 1:55 AM

Anastasia and Paul are doing really well. You are very observant-- they have slid right into our family. 

Anastasia is learning by leaps and bounds.  Her english has come so far.  She can write complete sentences with most words spelled right.  I am absolutely blessed and encouraged to see her progress each day.  Paul is doing great now that he has an IEP in place.  They have him in a lower grade where he is learning the foundations of his education like phonics, sentence structure, math facts, etc.  I talked to his teacher last month and she shared with me how he participates in class discussions and raises his hand with the answer.  He used to never do that and it showed in his lack of confidence.

They both like to draw and play outside.  If they could, they would live outside-- when they are not playing the Wii.  Anastasia loves spending time with our two dogs and Paul loves to shoot baskets.  They both prefer to stay at home.

They are both great eaters! They enjoy everything I cook unlike a lot of my other kids. 

Anonymous said...
Dear Christine,
I am interested in hearing your thoughts on 'dating'.
Can there be varying standards within the same household to correlate with varying degrees of discretion/self control?
Please address this topic.
Thanks in advance,
April 12, 2012 12:53 PM

Hi Jen.  Great question on dating.  For the most part we do not allow dating unless you call allowing Caleb's 
girlfriend to come with us to the beach-- dating.   If you only knew that I made sure Caleb politely told his girlfriend "No bikinis"  (Not that she wears one anyway-- but just in case)As for there being different standards for different children-- yes there is.  Some children are more responsible and mature and it has nothing to do with age.  However we still want to try and hold to the not dating until you are 18 rule no matter the child.  We encourage our children to make sure their priorities are in order.  God should come first.  Next family, and school, and finally a boyfriend or girlfriend-- but nothing serious or they are only going to be disappointed by their inability to go out. Caleb asks all the time to have Taylar over or to go over to her house (Her parents are on the same page as us) and most times we say no.  Not that he is not responsible or trustworthy but simply because we expect him to take things really slow.  If they are meant to be together, there is no reason to rush anything.  They may have both decided to remain pure until marriage but temptation is a powerful thing and part of being mature is realizing that sometimes the best thing is to avoid getting into a tempting situation.    Now imagine if one of our children who lacks responsibility and maturity in getting their school work done or being honest with us wants to have the boy or girl that they like over.  Sorry, but it is not going to happen.

AnonymousAnonymous said...
I love reading your blog :-)
Can you tell me what the name of the font is on your adoption blog? It's kind of like how I print ... so I like it but that doesn't look like a font we have (yet).
Looking forward to receiving the puzzle pieces.
Gave dd the bible book I won in the auction and she LOVES it! I found a great bible story book at COSTCO for ds today, so that worked out perfectly.
MariaG (Canada)
April 13, 2012 12:24 AM

Hi Maria,  I think the font is called Crafty Girls. Not sure though.  Thanks for the reminder on the puzzle pieces.  I will try and get them mailed out this week.  So glad that your daughter enjoys the book. :)  Thanks for everything.

 Michelle said...
I disagree SO wholeheartedly with what the psych said :( Granted, I dont know Sveta, but I DO know the world of special needs, and schooling, and the games they play. NO child "maxes out", or plateaus, thats a myth. And the reason they push life skills is because they get federal dollars for it. Her words offended the heck outta me. MY child, with Down syndrome, will likely drive. and she is in regular classes, and they DO have meaning to her. much to say. Im angry hearing what she told you. How dare she. :( Im sorry this may upset you, but despite you being at peace, this is an AWFUL thing to say to parents. Sveta needs to continue to be challenged, ways of teaching her abstract ideas DO exist. Did I mention UGH!!??
April 15, 2012 11:39 AM

Hi Michelle.  Thanks for you input.  Believe it or not, I do understand where you are coming from.  I am so thankful that your child is doing so well.  That is awesome!  Sveta is doing well too!  However her reality is that she most likely will not drive.  And me saying that does not mean that she will not be challenged.  You have no idea how challenging it will be for her to learn her address and phone number, retain it, and then actually pick up a phone and dial the right number or explain to someone where she lives.  Sveta is challenged everyday but she is maxing out at 3rd grade curriculum.  Next year we will teach different 3rd grade material and she will be challenged.  Trust me.  I can reteach what I taught Sveta yesterday and she will not remember most of it a minute later.  That is Sveta's reality.  And without someone to help show me what it is that she really needs to learn-- realistically-- well we were all being exasperated on a regular basis.  Part of why I began homeschooling her was because the previous school was trying to teach her things that were way over her head.  They expected her to learn concepts that she most likely will never be able to grasp and as a result everything was going over her head and she was actually learning nothing.  Now that we have a realistic look at what she is capable of and how we can step things up a notch to keep her challenged-- she is blossoming. 

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Special Needs and Large Families":

I think the school psychologist's honesty is refreshing and sadly, very rare. Our almost 12 year old son (who does not have FAS but has learning disabilities along with ADHD, OCD, anxiety, and bipolar disorder) has struggled academically and socially since pre-school. At every IEP meeting I express my concerns and am repeatedly blown off. He is going into middle school and cannot spell first grade words, he still reverses his letters, he cannot retain information, does not know our address or phone's worrisome. However they continue to tell me these things are "common for 5th graders" and "nothing to worry about." I have older kids and know these things are by no means common. I worry about his future and they make me feel like I'm being ridiculous. We know there are issues, we are not in denial. I'd really like some direction from them but I guess I will have to figure it out on my own.
We also cannot let him do things other kids his age are usually allowed to do because of his impulsiveness, immaturity, and poor judgement. I actually had his school counselor call me and suggest I let him take a bus to a museum in the city ALONE because she thought he would enjoy it and we really need to give him more freedom. Your post gives me hope that as he gets older and goes to middle and then high school I will be able to find someone that will be as honest with me.

It is rare.  After being in four different school districts, and told that she would "catch up" in a matter of time, but not seeing it, I was so thankful to finally have someone care enough to be honest.   I have been concerned about her upcoming high school years knowing that she would not be able to complete the classes needed to get a diploma short of me doing all the work for her.  The Cahsee was another stress.  After working so hard to have her be able to take a special state test that leaves her feeling like she did a good job instead of the one that everyone else takes that left her feeling like an overwhelmed failure, I could not imagine her being handed the Cahsee.

Here is what the school psychologist followed up with most recently.

I think she could earn a certificate of completion but I really don't see her being able to pass Algebra and it looks as though the state will be requiring kids to once again pass the CAHSEE within the next year or two. The functional curriculum with always the thought in mind of helping her with future tasks would probably be the best way to go. You will need to be her advocate and judge as to whether or not the curriculum she is given will be useful for her and something she will need as an adult. If she is in the functional curriculum, you have a lot more freedom in picking and choosing what you think is important for her to know. We don't want to sell her short in terms of her capabilities so it will be important for you to watch her for signs of extreme frustration and task avoidance because of the difficulty of the assignment. She should be challenged but not to the point of being completely overwhelmed.

I hope Karalyn that you find someone who will come beside you and help make a plan that is perfect for your son.  Honestly, I think that most schools want to paint a rosier picture of a child's true academic ability in order to save money on the costs of giving that child the services that they need.  If a child appears to not need services than the school can get by giving the child minimal if any services thus cutting costs.  Sad but true.


  1. I think someone said you answered it once before, but I didn't see it. I am curious how you would handle the situation if one of your children is gay/lesbian. They don't choose to be that, so do you think they would be comfortable enough to come out to you and john?

  2. Thank you for sharing Svetas' challenges. You know how hard things are for her - after all, you are working with her every day. You have been validated by that therapist, but you really already knew the things she was telling you. It's just nice to have support from someone else who gets it. I think you hit the nail on the head when you commented that the school tries to "paint a rosier picture" of the kids academically. I have seen it over and over. My son was failing math one year (well, every year actually). We spent hours every single evening - JUST ON MATH - and the concepts were totally over his head. At his IEP I was told that he was doing fine in math and he'd have an A if only I would make him do his homework (I also learned that if they can make this YOUR problem, they don't have to come up with a solution). I asked how that was possible since he had an overall grade of 41% in math (they had adjusted his grade from an F to a D- since he had an IEP -how thoughtful!) and we were spending every single night with him in tears telling us he didn't get it. They said he did perfectly fine in the classroom. YET, I pointed out that he still had F's on every test and in-class assignment. Hmmmm....completely illogical and so frustrating.

    None of us WANT our children to fail or accomplish less than they're capable of. In fact, I think we hold out hope way longer than may even be helpful when we should be finding other ways to teach them - and other things to focus on. I am glad that you recognize that what may be a challenge to one kid can be an insurmountable failure to another.

    Several of my kids have academically plateaued at a 3rd/4th grade level. I don't quite understand why that seems to be (maybe the material becomes more abstract?), but even a few of the kids who seemed academically gifted in K-2 started to struggle then and continue to struggle now. I cannot see them passing high school classes either.

  3. I am excited for you that you have someone at the school that understands Sveta's situation. I am very blessed that Caleb's ARD meeting went well this year - his challenge is Cerebrl Palsy and I have been trying for two years to get the staff to see him as a normal IQ kid with CP, and this year they made a plan for him to be included in regular preK some next year, with a plan for him to be in regular kinder the year after that. They even discussed him going all regular prek, but we all decided that it would be too much with the amount of private therapy he does at home.
    I feel your joy. Woohoo!

  4. I don't think people give schools enough credit! Most schools want to give students all the help they need, but there are so many hoops they have to jump through on the district and state levels. School based staff work so hard to do what is best for kids and to survive their parents. Many parents do want the truth about their kids, but most do not, if a kid is crashing and burning in a regular classroom aetting even after years in interventions and we sudggest a self contained program or something simmilar, parents go insane on us. We put our hearts and souls in to these kids and no matter what we do parents bad mouth us. It is a lose lose situation!

  5. Hi,
    I've been reading your blog for a little while and I am so inspired by your story and family. You and your husband are doing an amazing job raising these children.
    Would you be able to let me know which of your children are your biological children and which are adopted?
    No real reason, just curious as when I read some of your stories of what your kids are up to, of me it's hard to work out if they are having difficulties because they are adopted from another country or not.
    Thank you

  6. Starbucks pays really well! Even fo a barista/shift manager. I worked as a shift manager for a couple years and had no problems making ends meet, just for myself. When I read that John was working for Starbucks- I became SO happy for you! Granted, it is a tough company to work for- def no nonsense. BUT, it is a fabulous company to work for.

    Have you ever taken Rachel to the chiropractor for her headaches? I love my chiropractor and I know she helps a lot when I get headaches. Accupuncture is great too! But I'd try visiting a chiropractor (if you haven't) they are inexpensive, and easy to get into.

    Have you thought about doing a biopsy on Dennis's excema, to get a thorough understanding of it? It sounds like you have it under control with the latest meds, so might not be neccesary right now. Just something to think about, maybe they could do it while he is already under for his next surgery!

    Love your blog!

  7. Has the dermatologist told you that you should not use lotions in bottles? Bailey has a skin condition and the dermatologist said only lotions in "jars." She said bottled lotion has alcohol which dries the skin too much. 2 lotions she recommends are Cetaphil and CeraVe,

  8. Just wanted to add on about the headaches. I was just diagnosed with cluster headaches a couple months ago after having a brain MRI done (which was clean thank goodness!). I'm taking something called meloxicam once a day although I did try to wean myself off it a few times and that didn't work out so well (headaches came back). I'm 24 and I work at a job where I stare at a computer screen all day so that could be part of it. Apparently they come and go and can just go away for years (and then come back suddently) with no warning. Hope Rachel gets a diagnosis soon! Headaches are no fun :(.

  9. I am so glad you and the Psychologist are on the same page. As a former Special Education teacher, most teachers and members of the administration DO try to paint a rosy picture of the student's progress. Studying for and failing the CAHSEE multiple times does nothing but tell the student that they are simply not smart enough. Let's get real and concentrate on what they CAN do! I really wish that more parents were as in tune with their child's abilities as you seem to be.

  10. Hi Christine. I love your Q and A posts.
    I have asked this question before, but it is not answered here, so I hope you don't mind if I post it again (If you do not want to answer the question, that's fine)
    I wonder if you and John would allow your children (including daughters) to enter military, if they so wished.

    Also thank you for the wonderful blog: You and I have very little in common ( I am an 18 year old,
    non-religious, Australian girl who now hopes to adopt one day, after being inspired by you and your family.

  11. Thank you Christine, and yes I completely agree about the money thing.
    Amy, I would be THRILLED if my son was put in a self contained classroom. A classroom with less children and more one-on-one is where I have be begging them to place him for years. I do agree that some parents do get mad when things like this are suggested but I am not one of those parents and have been asking for more accommodations for years.

  12. Hi!You and John are so honest. Thanks for sharing about you large busy family, Pat

  13. In regards to migraines: Sometimes sniffing peppermint essential oil and/or drinking peppermint tea can stop one in its tracks. Just a thought, I hope that it might help.


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