Saturday, June 30, 2007

Couldn't it just be easy?

It would seem like it should, right?

BTW, I'm talking about attachment here...and in particular, between adopted parents and their children.

Before our two Ethiopian children arrived (nearly 7 months ago now!) we read up on attachment and adoption. We dusted off my old grad school course books and even a paper I wrote (that was published way back then) about secure attachment in children. We *thought* we were prepared.

As you may already know, or will learn from reading our story, God and I tend to have an unsigned agreement with each other. I pick a topic, invest loads of time and energy into it, discuss the topic with friends and maybe even share some of my wisdom with a lucky few and then, just when I think I know what I'm talking about---WHAM!!!---God reminds me that I'm really not the one in control and oh, by the way, I don't have all the answers and maybe, (insert big gasp) I don't even know what I'm talking about.

So, as we've been feeling pretty confident on this attachment journey thus far, it should have occured to me that another fairly large (read: God-sized) shoe was about to drop. I should clarify by explaining that Baby T did not decide to run off and join the circus as the bearded woman or some other such nonsense nor did H not take off for parts unknown or lock herself in her bedroom refusing to leave the house or (heaven help me) unbraid all of her newly braided hair in protest. No, this time it was something much more subtle and something which has cropped up several times over the past few weeks, given the time of year. And it was one for which we had not planned.

This time, it was the bad side to the effects of a good attachment. Have you got that now? Because it took me a little while to see the connection. We'd been so happy that our kids seemed to be attaching so well that it hadn't occured to us (okay, with Baby T it did but he's well, a baby, so it didn't feel so strange) that part of opening up your little 9 year old heart to attachment also means opening it up for hurt and sadness---again. If my own mother had died within the past year and the hands of fate dealt me the cards of a new, white, English-speaking, American family, I'd probably be a little slow on the attachment-o-meter. Not H, though. She steadily and solidly began to see herself as our daughter right from the start, which was a beautiful blessing to us. Now, however, that emotion is out there. All the joy, happiness and love shared between parent and child, between siblings, between others significant enough to have impacted her daily life---and with that comes healing as some of those people drift in or out of H's life. This past month, we've said "good-bye" to her first teacher in America, to the school who welcomed her, to friends and classmates we no longer see each day, and to the short-lived (but oh-so-sweet) summer school teacher and students who were a large part of our month of June. And with each of those goodbyes came fresh new tears, not big, loud, gulpy sobs, but head-nodding, sniffly, knowing tears about loss. And all I can do is stand and listen as BAM!!!---there goes that other shoe.

It's true, I can reassure and console. I can hug and distract. I can try to empathize, but the truth is, as God's reminded me again, I've still got a lot to learn.

You can read more stories about attachment in adoption on the June Round-Up at Adventures in Daily Living.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Couple of Links

The Online Catholic Newspaper of the Third Millenium

This just appeared in my email box this morning. This is the description that accompanied the link:

Description: The Online Catholic Newspaper of the Third Millennium featuring news content provided by YOU! Tell us what's going on within your local parish or diocese by submitting a news item and we'll share it with the world. Support the Pope and the Church by combining your voice with thousands of other faithful Catholics.
It looks like an interesting site for news (both local, national and international) from the perspective of the faithful. It is a new site, however, so I'd check in from time to time to see what they're posting, but for now it looks spot-on. You can find the link in the side bar or click here to check it out.
Catholic Women of Worship

in cooperation with the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Center for Chicago are sponsoring a Charismatic Conference for Men and Women beginning July 5th and running through July 8th.

From their website:

To go deeper into worship & experience the Glory of His presence! We believe that this conference will affect our nation, the Church and our families.

It looks like quite a schedule. You can read more about it here and here.
Top 10 Uses

for the little charcoal discs that are used with our at-home incense burner for special celebrations on the ark. Don't ask me how I know, just trust me on this one.

10. Black chalk, which is only needed for white indoor surfaces, obviously.

9. Fingerprint dusting kit component. I should suggest this to local law enforcement. Honestly, this little black beauty is just perfect for finding fingerprints-every. single. one.

8. Travel teething ring. Compact, discreet, perfect for little hands on the go.

7. Make-up. This is the perfect solution if you are looking for something that stays on all day and won't wash off with soap and water. Actually, I'm not quite sure what will wash it off entirely.

6. Frisbee. Its flat, disc-like shape makes it a winner for getting good "air" when throwing.

5. And speaking of throwing, it makes for a great substitute for a ball when one is not anywhere around.

4. Trail marker. Seriously, folks, Hansel and Gretel wouldn't have run into any problems if one of them had just dragged one of these babies along behind them.

3. Prayer enhancement. It didn't occur to me, until we added this to our family altar, how much more important prayer would become.

2. Sibling squabble diffuser. Did you know that this tiny piece of charcoal in the hands of just one small 15 month old would cause all warring factions to declare an IMMEDIATE cease-fire and join forces to eliminate the new attacker? No, neither did I.

And the number 1 use for the charcoal is...

Mommy GPS. Somehow as soon as that little briquette is in the hands of a little one it locates mom within moments!

Stay tuned for more other helpful household hints brought to you from the Ark!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Family Operations Center

Okay, I know I promised (some time ago now) that I would share the terribly interesting details about the Family Operations Center. The pictures have been here just waiting-breathless with anticipation for my captioning. So, here goes...

As you walk in to the house from the garage, the door to the FOC (I know that sounds slightly offensive, but the full name is just too long to type out each time...)is located directly ahead. Hanging on the wall to the left of the door above the lightswitch is our key/note organizer. This is the place where the keys land as soon as we walk in and it has saved countless hours attempting to locate our missing keys. We also keep this organizer stocked with pencils, pens, notepads of paper, the "extra" cell phone, and the grocery fliers for that week. It makes it very easy as we are running out the door, especially during the school year, to write a last minute absence note (if one were to be last-minute in those sort of things...) or jot a quick grocery list down before leaving.
*In the future, we are planning to add a shoe holder of some sort directly below this organizer. Suggestions are welcome and appreciated!*
To the left of the door when walking into the FOC, is the backpack/coat/ hat/ glove bench. Even the dynamic duo can hang up their own coat or backpack here by standing on the bench seat. There are six hooks, which allows each child to have one (unless the ark grows at which point, I think we'd look to add additional ones-hooks, that is). Each of the older children has one of the baskets on the top shelf for their hat, mittens, gloves, etc...If they are wet, they can dry them off first in the laundry tub (located just to the left of the bench) or the dryer (located next to the laundry tub). Either way, they are dry and put away before the next use. The smaller baskets has made it much easier for each child to monitor their own winter gear without digging through a heap of everyone's fuzzy mittens and hats! The little kids have two bins on the bottom. One is for their hats and one is for their gloves. Even they have been able to follow this system and keep their hats and gloves together through this past winter. The last bin belongs to the Captain and I. We can actually find our own winter gloves without searching through toy boxes or kid's backpacks because someone got *confused* while dressing for the cold.
These cork boards were purchased at our local Office Max ($9.99/4 pack)and the dry erase/ bulletin board is from Target ($16.99 in the store, but not available on their website). The library pocket cards on each cork board and the chart on the bulletin board are from the local teacher supply store. (ed. note: I just can't help myself when I get in those stores...once a teacher, always a teacher--especially in September!)
Each of the kids has their own cork square with a library pocket card attached and bearing their name. As soon as they receive an important paper from school, sports, is thumbtacked immediately to their board. This has accomplished two things: first, it has enabled me to see the surface of my kitchen counter on a consistent basis and second, all those important papers don't seem to go missing any more. During the school year each of the school-aged children had a "What do you need today?" list also attached to their square (unfortunately, I threw this past year's lists out already, I know, I know, but the year was OVER already, people!) The gist of each of these lists, which helped me as well as them, was to break down the school week M-F and show for each day what "special" items each child might need. For example, if it's Wednesday, it's library for B and H's class so they need to have their library books. During the first six weeks of school, before we left the house, it was common practice for me to call out, "What do you need today? Have you checked your list?" Eventually, it became habit (most of the time) but there were some of those mornings when, well, you know...The last item on the square is the library pocket card. Two examples are shown below.
Shown above is one of the three younger kid's cards. Each one has three "jobs" on it. Everyone has the same last two jobs, which basically amounts to helping keep their room and the family room tidy. In addition to those two jobs, each child has one *special* job for the week (Sunday to Sunday). There are pictures to go with the *special* jobs so it can be easily "read" by a pre-schooler.
Shown above here is an example of one of the three older children's cards. Again, these are picked on Sunday night, so each card is used for one week. All of the cards go back in the pile after dinner on Sunday night and everyone picks again. Sometimes a new card is drawn, but not necessarily. When some of the children (who shall remain nameless) continued to draw the same card repeated times, the suggestion was made (by the aforementioned children) to be allowed to *trade* with a sibling. We did consider it...for about 10 seconds...and then decided that it was not a bad thing to have to do the same job more than one week in a row. As a matter of fact, it has shown itself to be a good thing. Nothing has made them more proficient at some of these jobs than practice and learning to do something that is boring or monotonous, while still contributing to the greater good of society, is a valuable lesson for our children. Additionally, the more often the same child performs the same chores, the more ownership is taken for that particular responsibility. When I hear a child say to a sibling, "Now, when you get out of the car, make sure you take out all of those books you brought with you and don't forget your juice cup, either!" I have to smile to myself--not just because of my pride in their actions but because not only is the task accomplished, but I need not be the chief nagger about it.

Finally, on the dry erase/bulletin board we keep a chart where the children can check off when they are finished for the day with all of their jobs. The younger ones, who need assistance, receive help from their buddy. (If you notice on the top of each of the older children's cards, there is the name of a younger child assigned to be their "buddy" for that week.) While it is not necessary for anyone to put a star or a smile face in the box each day, we've found that the idea of having a clear, specific, finite list for what is expected each day and the opportunity to "cross it off" leaves everyone with a healthy sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. We've used the dry erase board (which is also magnetic) to leave each other messages, create countdowns to special visitors arriving or events happening and to write a note of encouragement or just something humorous to kick off the week.

All in all, I'd have to say that it is a fluid program--as the children grow and change, parts of it will change as well; but for now it is one for which we are pleasantly content with its results.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Little N has had quite a sniffly nose lately. Seems we're doing some kind of early summer cold thing here on the ark. To keep her little nose clean, I've been after her with Kleenex pretty regularly. So the other day when she went to find one for herself and couldn't she called out:

"Mommy, we need more ISSUES in our house."

Is it naive to think that it was just her stuffed up nose talking?

I thought not.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Goin' to the chapel

Not me silly, my sister-in-law. She is the first of two siblings' weddings my husband (whom Kelli aptly nick-named the "Captain" of the ark! ;-)!!!) and I and the rest of the clan are attending this summer.

Fortunately, this wedding does not involve the loading up of 8 people into the Suburban (really, in this case, an ark would seem much more practical...) and driving half-way across the country to Boston. The good news, in that scenario, is that a) we will get to see my brother finally get married! b) we have top-notch accomodations for the stay, right Auntie F? and c) the wedding is the start of our vacation time in New England--hooray!

But for today, in the midwest, I am making final preparations to bring the Boy and the two big girls to the rehearsal tonight, where they will learn their roles as usher and greeters. Then, head over to the rehearsal dinner at my in-laws to meet up with the "Captain" and the three little ones. We also have my husband's Grandma B, who is 80-something years old, staying with us tonight and tomorrow; and who has given us a good excuse to give a somewhat more in-depth cleaning to the ark prior to her arrival. The wedding should be great. The forecast is iffy, but it will be a mini-reunion of sorts for the family and the "Captain" and I will get to dance together for the first time since, well, the last wedding we attended; which should garner all sorts of eye-rolling and snickering from the pre-teen set here on the ark. But most of all, it will be a wedding, a new beginning, a brand-spanking new start for the little girl who is the "Captain's" goddaughter and who was my flower girl (okay, how old am I now?) in my wedding. At her bridal shower, just a few weeks ago, I remember watching her open her brand new mixing bowls and kitchen towel sets, beautiful Calphalon pots and pans and dinner dishes; and I remember how even that choked me up. I guess I'd better make sure to pack some Kleenex, huh?

So, wish us well, actually-wish them well...after 14 years of marriage, I know that the mixing bowls will get scratched and someone will use one of those beautiful kitchen towels to wipe their nose and one of those dishes will eventually break, but there is nothing more precious than when a marriage is new, when you stand hand-in-hand with your new spouse, gazing out into the future, waiting to see what God has planned for your new life together.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Guess where we spent Tuesday afternoon?

Yup, you guessed it...

At the braid shop!

Armed only with their two happy meals, the girls arrived at the shop at 11:30 and did not return home until 6:15 that evening. Ever the good sister, B spent the entire time with H!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Champions of Faith: Baseball Edition

What do you think of when you think of professional athletes? Do you think of their outrageously wholesome lifestyles? How about their upstanding moral character? Or do you sometimes just think about their life and how it reflects their faith as Christians?

Yeah, me neither.

Well, whatever you were thinking-be prepared to think again.

In a little over an hour, my 12 year old son, my husband and myself (armed with pen and paper to write this review) settled in on our family room couch to watch the new DVD Champions of Faith: Baseball Edition.

Before you read anymore about what I thought of the DVD, go and watch the trailer for yourself. When you're finished, stop back here and I'll tell you how you can save 10% when you order.

If the top-notch sports footage and uptempo music of Grammy Award winning group, Third Day, haven't yet convinced you, let me give it a try. In a time when the stories making sports headlines both on and off the field are filled with less-than-exemplary behaviors, to see these big name ball players witnessing their faith in the Lord is a breath of fresh air. And what's equally impressive (particularly to those who follow baseball on a much more regular basis than I) is that the twenty-plus superstars who participated in this project are just that-even by secular standards. Although some of the featured players have traded uniforms since the making of this film, their message hasn't changed. Their names and faces will be familiar, as will many of the highlights that are shown. What I suspect will be less familiar are the personal stories of faith shared by the men.

Of the seven players, who are highlighted throughout the program, my favorite one has to be coach Rich Donnelly's "Chicken Runs at Midnight" story. If for no other reason, bring home this DVD to hear Coach Donnelly retell a bittersweet memory and how the overlap of his faith, his family and baseball came together one memorable night.

From start to finish, Champions of Faith-Baseball Edition lives up to its aspiration to be a "groundbreaking tool of evangelization." Included with the DVD is a Companion Guide containing a brief synapsis of each segment, quotes from players, reflection questions and relevent scripture passages; which provide an excellent springboard for further discussion at home or in a group setting.

Tom Allen, who worked with Mel Gibson on his "Passion of the Christ" mega-success has but one prayer for the project, "that every Christian in America gets the opportunity to see this film, own this film and share it with others."

Perhaps a child you know plays baseball or an adult you know follows the baseball season. Or maybe someone you know could use a sports-infused shot in the arm of faith. You can order a copy here or by clicking on the banner in my sidebar (and use the code COFSAVE10 to save an extra 10%!!!).

Here's our chance to batter-up and hit one 'out of the park' for Christ and help to bring the rest of the team safely home!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day 2007

For two very special who helped to raise me and one who raises me up.

There is an excellent article here about what makes a man a hero. There is really no real reason for either of you to read it, as you already know all about that. You know about the level of commitment required of a father: the sheer exhaustion that you work through to play one more game of catch (or soccer in some cases), to wake in the pre-dawn hours to head off to a job that you may or may not feel like going to that day to support your family, to mend the hurts-both big and small-that those entrusted to you feel, to stand aside proudly and oh-so-humbly as the parenting accolades are doled out upon your *better* half. Maintaining the status quo has never been your strong point. You've always managed, in your own quiet, unassuming way, to lead by example and we as your family are the better for it.
What makes a man a hero? I'm not sure of the specifics, but that's okay, because I'm sure that you are. May God bless all our fathers today and always.

"It wasn't the reward that mattered or the recognition you might harvest. It was your depth of commitment, your quality of service, the product of your devotion -- these were the things that counted in a life. When you gave purely, the honor came in the giving, and that was honor enough." - Captain Scott O'Grady

Friday, June 15, 2007

Randomness Remix Times Eight

What a willing bunch of friends you are! I had no idea how many truly random things I had forgotten. So, as promised, here are the real 8 random things about me...

1. I cannot stand the sound of the word "ankle" or the word "somewhat". Don't ask me why, remember these are the truly random things.

2. I drove undercover with a flat tire to my now defunct small Catholic women's college, for some wholesome college living with your wee little sister (who obviously hasn't gotten this month's payoff yet).

3. I lost the mensa contest to both my siblings; making me not only the least edumacated one in the family but also the lowest IQ haver; which, in turn, makes me the least big of a geek--thankyouverymuch.

4. At one point, I used to eat my food in alphabetical order. Don't ask what I did when I had both cheese and chocolate, any self-respecting second grader would tell you to look at the next letter in the word.

5. The night I met my husband-to-be, I didn't have a pen or paper to write down my phone number for I wrote it on his hand in lipstick.

6. Speaking of that same night...I met my husband after attending a party called the "Pajamajammy Jam" (how very early 90s that sounds now). Needless to say, I was sporting my jammies at the time we met. In my defense, they were a very cute pair of Lanz cotton pajamas, white with a light pink pinstripe AND I wore a matching light pink turtleneck underneath. Hey, I am from New England after all and it WAS January.

7. I used to have an extensive salt shaker collection. No further details are available at this time.

8. During my freshman year in college a West Point (my beloved's alma mater) cadet climbed out my dorm room window on a sheet. Terri B., if you're reading this, I am quite certain that Kapo was responsible for this illicit act. As you well know, I was not USMA groupie until, well, I married one of them.

Thanks to everyone who sent me such fun (and funny!) memories and for all the very kind things you said which I am not gratuitous enough to print. I am holding onto the *unused* random things you sent to be used for future blackmail memes.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

They're heeere!

My entomologist-in-training was pleased to inform her not so pleased by the news mother that the cicada population had not (as I had hoped) vanished for parts unknown, but rather decided to show up fashionably late to the party. We noticed they had arrived when, this past Monday morning, while waiting for the Boy to finish with his golf camp, we decided to kill some time at a nearby park. B (shown below with her find) located a cicada of the deceased persuasion almost as soon as she jumped out of the car. Her enthusiasm was, well, enthusiastic and yet, strangely unshared by me for certain phobic reasons I won't get into right now...Needless to say, she was bound and determined not to leave the park without her catch. After scrounging around the car for a minute, she settled on an only-been-used-once Ziploc sandwich baggie and dropped the red-eyed little critter inside. Feeling satisfied, she gathered her baggie and we all headed off to the playground area. This seemed a fine plan. Until she realized that she couldn't both hold her treasure and navigate the playground freely. All hope seemed lost but then, as she turned and saw me, her loving mother, standing nearby, hands full of baby but carrying a very.large.pocketbook a lightbulb went on. And so, to my utter dismay, my lovely summer handbag became a shuttle bus for one dead cicada while his new owner played unencumbered.

My first ever purse passenger.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

To clean or not to clean

This arrived in my email late last night (HT: Dawn) and then I noticed it was also on Yahoo! as one of its featured news stories.

I can't stress enough people, all good things come from Connecticut; especially Conn College, long known for its science department and as home to many budding microbiologists, right Pettey?

Regardless of its source, check out this study. After seeing it, I'm not sure why I even bothered to mop my kitchen floor yesterday.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Alrighty then

Since some of you have emailed (and others have quite boldly told me across the dinner table) to let me know that my self-selected 8 random things were not, shall we say, random enough; I'm going to give you a shot at it yourselves. If you have a random thing(s) about me that you think SHOULD have made the cut, email it to me at patjrsmom at yahoo dot com before noon on Friday. I'll use the ones I like best first 8 I get and post them in a brand new 8 things meme, okay.

Lizardo and J. Randolph, you should most definitely look upon this as a personal challenge. Seriously, I dare you.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Potty Training

Yesterday morning before church, I asked my just-turned-four-year-old to grab my red sandals. Unknowingly, she grabbed a different pair of red shoes and my almost-three-year old appeared beside her and said, "No, no. She wants the ones I went potty in yesterday."

I'm quite certain those are NOT the ones I want.

The little lost bar has been found. Now, if I could only fix the font in my new header...
Desperately seeking...

the little bar at the top of my computer screen that contains such important tabs as: file, edit, favorites, etc...

Last seen sometime last night before 10pm---whereabouts presently unknown.

I can't access any of the blogs or other sites I regularly read without you , little bar...please come home soon!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

8 Random Things

Praying for Grace, who also maintains an awesome kitchen blog, tagged me for this little meme. I'll try to attempt to select from the multitude of random things about myself and narrow it down to only 8. Here goes:

1. I'm the oldest of three children. My brother, 33, who is finally (did I just type that out loud?) getting married this summer and my *baby* sister, 24, who is a public school teacher in NYC. We grew up with our mom and dad in a small town in Connecticut famous for the creator of Scrabble, an old Breyer's Ice Cream commercial, dollar movies at the town hall and infamous for the "Woodchipper Murder" of an airline stewardess.

2. *Home* went and retired to northern New Hampshire a few years ago, but my mom still has her cell phone with Connecticut telephone number. For the first six months they were up north, in protest, I would only call the CT number. Can anyone say "attachment issues"? Sheesh.

3. As a little girl, I played school all.the.time. (I also frequently dressed my brother up as a girl, but we won't talk about that-ahem.) I decided in middle school that I wanted to be a lawyer and kept thinking that I would until my senior year in high school. The school offered a study hall in place of a religion class to any senior who was teaching Religious Ed. Desperately seeking a last period study hall, I quickly signed up and, much to my horror, found that I really did LOVE teaching. It's funny what God will use to bring you in line with His plans.

4. In college, I double-majored in Elementary Education and Psychology and spent my first year teaching a Pre-K at the cathedral school in our diocese. I then joined the long, chalked line of educators in what my brother (the hold-out) refers to as the "family curse".

5. I have children born on three different continents: Africa, Europe and North America. We have welcomed a child at every home we have bought, which causes people to flinch now if we even suggest we're moving...

6. I love to cook Mexican and Italian food, bake cookies, go to the beach (especially the Cape and Outer Banks), stamp anything and read/watch "cozy" mysteries.
I do NOT love to wash dishes, go camping, fly on airplanes, eat fish, or watch the nightly news (unless you consider the Weather Channel at night-"news").

7. I had no dental work up until I had children. For every child I have given birth to, I've either lost a tooth or gained a filling.

8. I lead the Women's Bible Study at our church. We just finished the second book in the Courageous Series by Stacy Mitch. Together with my husband, we coordinate the Couples' Bible Study at our church, using the book Family Matters. Doing this has prompted us to prayerfully consider the possibility of writing our own family-oriented bible study, presented in light of the fullness of the faith. We'll see what happens, I guess...

So, there you have it, 8 terribly unimportant, extremely random things about me. I'm going to tag fellow-bloggers: Faith, Cathy, Paige, Julie, Becky, Kirsten, Kelli (if your computer is up and running!)the Elm City Mom, and Denise to play. I know some of you others out there have played before, so I tag you all as well.

Just leave a note in the comment section to let us know where to find your post if you play!

Prayer Request Update #2

Our wonderful friend's baby girl was born into eternity yesterday morning. Please keep this family and all those who love them surrounded in prayer. We are all mourning this loss, while holding fast to our faith and rejoicing that she is now fully cured and held tightly in Jesus' arms until we see her again.

Listen to the words of the book of Lamentations:
My soul is deprived of peace,I have forgotten what happiness is;I tell myself my future is lost,all that I hoped for from the Lord.
But I will call this to mind,as my reason to have hope:The favors of the Lord are not exhausted,his mercies are not spent;They are renewed each morning,so great is his faithfulness.My portion is the Lord, says my soul;therefore I will hope in him. Lamentations 3:17-18, 21-24
Prayer Request Update #1

Thank you for the prayers for Baby T. He came through his surgery like a champ, although he was not fond of all the nice people there who were not Mom and Dad. I even have some cute pictures of him pre-op, wearing his teeny, tiny hospital gown. I'll try to post them soon.

Friday, June 08, 2007

More Prayer

Baby T goes this morning for his surgery. Please keep him (and us...and my mother-in-law, who will be holding down the fort with the other kids) in your prayers this morning!

We will update when we get home. Thanks!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Keep praying!

Okay folks, remember our friends who are expecting their sixth baby? Well, tomorrow, they are planning to welcome their new baby! Please continue to hold this family close in prayer as they prepare for the birth. We all can't wait to meet their new arrival.

Every person is a gift from God...a wonderful, marvelous gift!
Try your luck!

There are a couple of great giveaways going on now.

1. What do you think about clothing from The Children's Place? We, here on the ark, LOVE it! So, we were thrilled to find on our most recent shopping trip that they are hosting a summer sweepstakes online now (and for the next 25 days!) You can play one time everyday. They are giving away a FIVE HUNDRED dollar gift card every day for playing the cute little beach themed game they've designed and entering in your mailing address. (There is a spot to enter your cell phone and agree to accept text messages from them for an additional *chance* at a prize, but it is not mandatory). Each time you play, your name is entered in a drawing for a GRAND PRIZE worth $5000!

2. And, if you're looking for something that will not only give you a chance to win some fantastic prizes, but give to a worthy cause at the same time; check out this raffle going on at Danielle Bean's website. This contest ends on Tuesday, June 12th.

What are you waiting for? Go and check them out, you never know, this might be your lucky day!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Taking matters into her own hands

Today was the All-School Picnic at our three oldest kids' school. I think they all enjoyed themselves despite a brief rainstorm and a minor injury on the part of the Boy. The highlight of the day, however, was that the big girls came home with their faces painted. As they settled into their seats in the car, little N sniffled, "I want my face painted, too." "Maybe another day," I answered, thinking the matter settled. You'd think I'd have learned by now, right?

Well, tonight, in the middle of preparing dinner, N tugged at my shirt from below. I looked down to find her staring up at me, both hands masking the majority of her face. "What is it?" I asked quickly before my brain had time to retrieve the obvious answer:

As a friend of mine would say, "Way to be a problem solver, N!"

How'd you get here from there-Part V

Wow! If this wasn't a timely topic for me to discuss...I don't know what would be--language acquisition and adjustment.

A reader writes, "What issues did you have with adjustment and language for your eldest daughter (who by the way is stunning)?"

First, thank you, we think she's stunning, too! But, to answer the question posed, I should first point out that each child will have his or her own unique timetable regarding adjustment and language. This will be dependent on a number of things: age, emotional condition, ease of adaptability in general, and with regard to acquisition of a second language (in this case English) the level of acquisition of the native language (in this case Amharic).

Our children, for the most part have adjusted well to life in America an in our family. There is definitely a difference in the adjustment and language development between an infant (less than 12 months) and a school-aged child. For the purpose of answering the specific question, this entry will address the adjustment of an older child.

What is interesting to me, however, is that this particular topic comes up as we are currently working through some decisions related to language development. In the case of either language development or the adjustment/attachment process, one thing seems clear--the child's first exposures and experiences will affect the present outcomes. Now, this is not to say that a child who has poor literacy skills in their first language will NEVER learn a second language or that a child coming from a neglectful or abusive situation will NEVER attach/adjust properly. It only helps to show that the attachment/adjustment will be easier given a secure primary attachment in the child's early development and the second language development will be easier if a high level of literacy was achieved in the first language.

Towson University offers a very thorough look at Language Development in Internationally Adopted Children here and specifically addresses Language Learning in Older Adopted Children here. There is a great deal of information available for parents, but much of it takes some looking and it should NOT be assumed that the child's school will do it for you. If they do so, great; but be prepared to advocate for your child's needs from the start. We have been blessed with a good friend, who has a great deal of experience in ELL both as a teacher, writer and general super-genius! She has given us oodles of support for which we are most grateful and pointed us toward some amazing resources.

When H started school in January (about a month after arriving in the US), we were confident that our parish school would be the appropriate placement for her. Our main concern at that time, and still today, is that she "fits in" with her siblings and peers, feels accepted and *normal*, and is showing progress in her acadmic work as well as her language acquisition. Considering that when she came home, she and I poured over K-level books, focusing on letter identification and initial consonant sounds, we're thrilled to find that she is working on reading books such as the Junie B. Jones series. While she still gets stuck on some unfamiliar words (it's quite hard to know what a word is when you've never spoken it before!) or names (such as Beatrice and Gracie); it encourages us to hear her call out, "Hey Mom, m-i-n-u-t-e, is that 'minute'?" or "Hey Dad, k-i-t-c-h-e-n, is that 'kitchen'?" As we continue to discern what type of schooling will best meet her needs (both academic AND social-emotional), we will have English Language Proficiency testing conducted next week through our local school district. Through the Illinois State Board of Education, we also have found the ELP Standards posted, including a wonderful video series that can be viewed online using RealPlayer. The Overview of Second Language Acquisition should be 15 minutes of required viewing for all educators, not just those who work in the field of ELL, as it gives an excellent description of what Second Language Acquisition is and the differences between social (BICS) and academic (CALP) language learning.

Stay tuned as we proceed with the testing and pray for discernment on our school placement decision.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Wash for Life

The Word Among Us, a monthly publication containing daily scripture meditations and articles pertinent to various aspects of faith life contained an article that caught my eye this month.

One of the testimonials that was given contained this quote:
“My favorite story from last year was one I heard about a youth group where the kids were initially happy to be part of the car wash, but not as comfortable talking about the pro-life cause. They didn’t really know what to say. Well, by the end of the day, they were passing out brochures from a pregnancy care center and talking to people about it. It’s this kind of active role that will have a lasting impact on them. That’s what we really hope Wash for Life can do for youth.”

As parents trying to make our faith come alive for our children, opportunities like this just make me smile all over. Having taught for almost a decade, and parenting for even longer, it is quite evident that nothing makes a better impression on a child than putting your figurative money where your mouth is. That is, get up and act. Preaching the gospel to my children is much more effective if I use absolutely no words at all, and here is a great opportunity to do so.

Think about it, pray about it, and pass the info along to someone you know who might work with a group of young people who could join in this worthy wash day this fall. Maybe you (yes, you!) have been looking for a pro-life event that your children could share with you; or maybe you might be willing to lead a group yourself? In any case, pray for the people who will come out that day, that many hearts and lives will be touched and the message of the Gospel of Life will be shared for the love of God and the sake of the unborn.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Adoption concerns-Ethiopia examines its adoption policies and procedures

This article, from the New York Times, demonstrates Ethiopia's current struggle to help its orphan children while maintaining the high standards of adoption for which the country has been known.

The article seems fair and unbiased (with the exception of not mentioning our most excellent agency, Adoption Advocates International). The following is a quote, however, that (I think)reflects a common concern that many adoptive parents face:

“It’s hard to know what the right thing is to do,” Ms. Suomala said. “Should we just give all the money we’re spending on this to the children’s mother?” Ms. Suomala and her husband, David Vasquez, had already spent time with her.
“It was obvious the birth mother loved her children,” Mr. Vasquez said. “She said to us, ‘Thank you for sharing my burden.’ ”
As a parent, is it possible to bring a child home to America guilt-free, knowing that doing so, in the case of those not *officially* orphaned, leaves a mother's arms empty half way across the world? Our children's birth mother is dead, surviving only a short while after the birth of Baby T, and still, our children's loss of their first mom and first family (who cared for them briefly as best as their resources allowed) is painful to think about.
Many have said that adoption is not the ideal; but at present, only the best option to ensure health and well-being for a growing number of children in need of parental love and support. I would tend to agree with that. I would also agree with another adoptive mom who said (and I am wildly paraphrasing here) that if her adoptive children grew up happy, healthy and well-adjusted; viewing her and her husband as the "really nice American people who raised her" then that was okay with her, too.
As for the choice whether to *give* money to the birth family (if, in that case, that was all it took) to "keep" their children or to spend tens of thousands of dollars on the adoption process, I can see where that argument is headed, but I'm not sure it's the ideal answer either. We've debated this issue in our agency's forum. Many families have some ties to some or all of their adopted children's first family and are aware of their great needs, but to *give* money, in any amount, to those families might imply that their children's lives were being bought and sold to wealthy, American couples; certainly not the impression any reputable agency would want to present. Delivering the money to the governments in some of these countries? I'm not sure anyone would want to open that can of worms either. Considering some of the corruption that already exsists in some places, the potential for stoking that fire with cash is just plain scary.
So, in the meanwhile, countries and waiting families walk a tightrope towards one another, stopping now and again, to check their balance in the hopes that no one falls.