Friday, September 30, 2011


 The Friday that our children all finally moved in was September 30th.  We picked up our son, "Lego Man", first and (after getting lost a few times on the way back) dropped his things off at our house and then hurried to the girls' foster home to pick them up.  At that point we still weren't 100% sure that the kids wouldn't have to go back to their foster homes.  We thought we had approval from their attorney, though.

We took them to the park to play and all the kids decided to play "Look at me, Mom!"  That's the game where all nine of them take turns doing ever more hair raising stunts in an effort to steal my attention away from the other kids.  Part of that is due to the fact that I'm the one holding the camera.  No crazy stunt is official until it can
be immortalized on film.  And, of course, if your sister or brother does it... you have to prove that you can do it better.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Big Hairy Deal

For weeks before our new daughters joined our family I obsessed over their hair.  I watched videos on line and checked out helpful websites.  My favorites, by the way, are Chocolate Hair, Vanilla Care and Keep Me Curly, both are by moms like me who adopted transracially and had to figure out how to take care of a different kind of hair.  This photo is of my first attempt to work with 2 year old Happy's hair.  It was in puffs already.  We only had her for the day.  So I didn't wash it or anything, I just separated it a bit and tried some braids.  She was very patient with me, but wiggly.  The next time I did her hair we washed it and detangled it first.  It looked a lot better.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hat Mania!

I've been making crochet hats as fast as my fingers will go.  The blue one is my 4th one, a new style I found in a book.  The kids have asked me to make one for each of them, but I don't know if I'll manage to accomplish that.  Meanwhile, having our newest daughter, "Hoops", who is interested in all kinds of crafts, has renewed all of our interest in crochet.  We find her working on something she's crocheting or knitting (yes, she does that, too) or finger knitting and the other girls and I get inspired to grab some yarn and a hook so we can join her.  I'm pulling out old blanket projects that I left by the wayside half-finished years ago and working on them.  The girls even take turns working on them, so they are getting done much faster than they would have with just me trying to do it.  I'm loving having so many older daughters!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Another Hat, Another Visit

 We got to pick up our new daughter, "Hoops", after school on Monday.  She had stayed the night with us on Saturday and went to church with us the next morning.  Monday was a little sad, because we couldn't get her brother since he lived over an hour away and the foster family wouldn't let us have her little sister. (We got that fixed right away so next time she not only came, but both girls got to stay the night)

However, we took the opportunity to get to know her better.  The older girls and I all had some girl time working on crochet projects on the couch.  I helped "Hoops" figure out how to make a granny square and we made plans to start a big blanket as a group where we'll all make squares and then sew them together.
I also made another crocheted hat.  It's the one that Brianna is wearing in the photos.  She really loves it and wore it every day everywhere for about a week.  She especially likes telling people, "My mom made it!"

Saturday, September 24, 2011

First Family Adventure

 We used our new family membership to the Denver Aquarium for our first official outing with our new kids.  Our son, "Lego Man" had stayed the night with us the night before, and we picked up the girls from their foster home that morning.

All the kids were a bit hyper and it was obvious that, although there was some awkwardness, they were all trying really hard to become instantly close.  We only had two rough patches,
once when we couldn't find 2 yr old "Happy"
for a minute, and once when "Lego Man" had a moment of sadness and needed to be comforted.  It was especially tough for him.  He'd been moved four times in a year and a half, so this was kind of scary... hoping it would work out, but not really trusting that this was going to be "forever".

It was all kind of bittersweet.  The kids were finally united, but only for the weekend, since we wouldn't get official move-in approval for another week.  But they were also sad to be leaving families that cared about them and school friends.  I still think that it almost instantly seemed like these kids were made for us.  And all the things their foster families warned us about turned out to be no big deal for us.  God definitely seems to have His hand on this match.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Adopting Again!

 We decided that we were ready to adopt again this year and be done with foster care for the next decade or so.  After months of searching online (and wondering if the two girls we were fostering for the first 8 months of this year would become adoptable) and submitting our home study to case workers all over the United States, we were starting to lose hope that anyone would ever choose our family.  We heard a lot of "you already have
your hands full with six kids" and only seemed to get serious responses from caseworkers who had neglected to mention in the online photo listing that the children had terminal illnesses or major problems like blindness or extreme violence.

Then, on the same day that our two foster daughters left (and the kids and I were crying like babies on the couch) we got an email that said we were matched with a sibling group from Texas.  They had some serious problems, but we were so relieved to finally be chosen that we were willing to move heaven and earth to make it work.  But then, for some reason, their caseworker never called again and would not respond to phone messages or emails.  A month later we were contacted about another group of kids in a nearby county and told we "might" be the right match for them.  A "Wednesday's Child" video had just been made of them. Click the link, then type in "Yuriah" in the search bar under the video thumbnails.

A day or two later, we got ANOTHER email from a different nearby county saying we'd been matched with another sibling group.  This group was very similar to the ones in the Wednesday's Child video except that instead of a two year old there was a 17 year old.  In the end, we chose the first group.  I'm very glad we don't have to wait for an interstate adoption to go through.  We met them at a McDonald's on September 22nd.  We liked them right away.  They had been placed in two separate homes, the girls in one and the boy in another.  I think, since their names are published with the Wednesday's Child video, I can probably use them online.  But I'm trying to be careful until we have official permission.  Meanwhile, I intend to call them "Hoops" (the 9 yr old girl), "LEGO Man" (the 8 yr old boy), and "Happy" (the 2 yr old girl).

Monday, September 19, 2011

Vegetable Overload!

My homeschooling group friends said, "It's so much fun!  The kids each get to pick two bags of vegetables, straight out of the ground.  They get to ride the hay wagon.  If you can't come, just send your girls and we'll take them."  I knew it sounded too simple.  Obviously, I should have gotten a little more clarification.

What they actually meant was that my three older girls would get to pick two bags each at every one of about 10 stops.  So we ended up with six bags of potatoes and six bags of corn and lots of bags of veggies that I have no idea how to cook much less store for the winter.  It's not even legal to can your own food as a foster family.  It's in the regulations that home-canned food can't be fed to foster kids or stored in the home because of the risk of botulism... Who even knows what that is?!  So, here I am, two months later, with five bags of potatoes and some green beans and carrots and corn slowly rotting in my garage.  But I feel guilty just throwing it away.

MBM: Made By Mom

 Yeah, I made that hat.  I've been able to crochet for 15 years and during that time I haven't made anything more interesting than a scarf and blankets.  But this year, I learned to make hats.  Why?  Because I was motivated.

You see, my good friend, Brandy, got cancer this year.  She was facing a lot of challenges from chemo, to trying to continue homeschooling her five children through it all and to top it all off, her husband lost his job.  I felt pretty helpless.  I don't even cook well or live nearby, so joining the meal chain in our Sunday school class was pointless.  But then I saw this display of yarn and a free pattern for making hats.  It was pink with a ribbon and said the money went to support cancer research.

So, I got a booklet on how to translate the crochet terminology and struggled through it.  I had to redo it a few times and made
some mistakes, but I finally made a hat.  It was perfect and I even made a little flower to go on it.  The only problem was that it was so small that the only person it fit was 2 year old Katie.

But my second hat was just the right size.  It's not much, but like I told Brandy, that hat wasn't made out of yarn... it was made out of love.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Love You, Stinky Face!

We found this book at some store the other day.  I don't even remember where we were.  The kids brought it to me.  I thought I'd get away with reading it to them really quickly and then leaving it behind.  Boy, was I wrong.  I could not put this book down.  It was just too adorable.  I don't spend that much on one book, ever, and I never buy board books new, only at yard sales.  But this one was a rule breaker.  If you haven't read it, you should.  And it will seem perfectly normal afterwards to tuck your child into bed at night, give them a hug and kiss, and whisper, "I love you, Stinky Face."

Friday, September 09, 2011

Joining the Denver Aquarium

 We finally got the money from the adoption tax credit... only about 8 months after we applied for it.  I'm not complaining, though.  Never look a gift horse in the mouth, as they say.  When we adopted Bri and Shane we had no idea that two years later the government would decide to make a credit, that was originally useless to us since we don't normally owe anything in taxes, suddenly refundable.  We used it to pay off our big 15 passenger van, making us entirely debt-free again except for our house.  And we bought a family membership to the Denver Aquarium.
 Probably the only time we'll ever be able to afford it.

We used the two guest passes it came with to bring Daniel's parents along since they were in town.  It was so much fun!  Not really worth the exorbitant cost, but still really good.  We rode the 3D adventure ride, petted starfish and fed stingrays, and took a ton of photos.  Danya and Gloria even got to climb a different form of rock climbing, on palm trees.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Homeschooling with Grandma

When beginning homeschooling, I always recommend having at least one supportive set of grandparents.  I just wish ours lived closer.  One of the wonderful things about Daniel's mom is that, every time she visits, she doesn't just bring gifts... she brings educational gifts.  She can be counted on to bring new books, puzzles, math games, and even hand made journals that practically read like a geography book documenting travels that she and Grandpa Wayne have been on.  Sometimes, I think just talking to their grandparents is an educational experience for my kids.  They've been all over the world and lived such amazing lives.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Letters from My Son

Kevin, our five year old son, is starting to bring us daily letters and drawings. I've been hanging them on the fridge, inside cabinets, on the windows and bulletin boards. Someone who came to our house for the first time might think we only have one kid since 90% of the drawings have his name on them.

These drawings and letters serve an important purpose in our family. On those days when Kevin comes home from church with another note saying that he disrespected his teacher, wouldn't obey, hit someone, or refused to speak and on those days when his Tuesday school calls me to say that Kevin tried to run out of the building and had to be restrained by no less than four adults and locked in a room and can we PLEASE come get him right now...

on those days it's very important for my sanity, for my relationship with my little boy, and for my son's continued existence that I see lots of signs that there is a sweet natured child in there who will eventually show that inner sweetie to the rest of the world.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Spoon Bread

I decided to try a new recipe. Wait, did I just say that? Those words seem so foreign in my mouth. Well, okay, believe it or not, I do occasionally cook something new. I know my kids probably don't believe it, either, but it's true.

Quite by accident, I discovered that there are a LOT of videos on Youtube where people actually show, step by step, how to prepare food. This is one of those things that make me so thankful to live in the technological wonderland of today.

I made brown beans and spoon bread. The explanation for the name seems to be that the bread is soft in the pan that you could literally spoon it up to eat it. As far as I can tell, though, it's really just a sweet kind of corn bread. The kids loved it and begged me to make it again some time. No problem. I'll put it on my list for the next time I try another non standard recipe... How about December?

Thursday, September 01, 2011

A Journey of a Thousand Miles

They say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. In our house it goes more like a family walk to a destination way too far away begins with one crazy mom.

Ever since we moved here a year ago I've been curious to see if we could manage to walk all the way from our house on the 100 block up to our friends' home on 117th. One ridiculously hot morning, on the first day of September, I talked my husband into trying it. We forced... uh, bribed... uh, I mean got our kids excited about going, too.

By the time we made it to 104th we were thinking it might have been a bad idea. As we crossed 110th I knew for a fact that it was a mistake. Don't get me wrong. I did prepare in advance by dropping our second vehicle off at our planned destination, a playground near our friends' house. We only had to make it there, not walk all the way back. But there were a few little details I didn't take into consideration.

There were no side walks most of the trip. We were constantly snatching our more foolish children from the jaws of death at the side of the road as large trucks blew past. There was nothing to look at, so we couldn't even take fun photos along the way. This explains the photo of Gloria crouched down next to one of the only flowers we saw. It was excruciatingly hot and there was no water after we drank the bottles I'd brought. Even worse, there were no bathrooms past 104th. But most importantly, I'd forgotten to check with my friend to see if they'd be home. So there wasn't even anyone to play with once we arrived at the park.

My kids gave our family walk a universal "thumbs down" and made me promise not to suggest this walk again at least until the sidewalks connect all the way.