Saturday, December 8, 2012

Just some cutie-pies

"The great thing about a desk is that it has a built-in footrest."

Big Girl loves to look at books.

She was studiously ignoring me.

This one wouldn't let me take her picture until I told her I wanted to take a picture of her baby.

Then I got a real smile out of her!

A happy little guy lately!

Okay, my big kids can officially be jealous, because I never did any crafty stuff with them when they were little.  Of course, there was the issue of the one daughter who had to use up every bottle of glue, glitter, and every piece of paper at one sitting...

He really loves to cut.  Not great at it yet, but tablecloths and other pieces of fabric are in danger...
Life with these chipmunks is so entertaining!  They really keep me on my toes.  They are so fun, and have so much personality, but they are still soooooo much work!  No rest for Mama!  Little Girl constantly seeks attention, while Big Girl goes off by herself to dream, and drift off into her own world the minute I turn my back. 

Little Boy is my best kid right now, and I never thought I'd say that.  He's happy most of the time.  He keeps himself very busy and entertained, always seeking out a new activity, and finding things in his environment to learn about.  Daddy noted that Little Girl knows he's coming up on taking her spot as the cutest of the three. 
"Do you think she really knows?"  I asked. 
"Oh yes!" he responded.
 "He is pretty cute these days," I agreed. 
We feel that developmentally he's really turned a corner.  He's still behind the girls, as always, but he just feels so much more present than he used to be.  He's very affectionate, and playful, and giggles a lot.  He still thinks a lot of things don't apply to him, like clearing his own dishes off the table after a meal, but he likes other chores, like taking his dirty clothes to put in the laundry.  He's still nonverbal, as well, but is spontaneously signing now.  He does make lots of sounds, mostly for emphasis, and he likes to yell-- a lot.  He also says, "mamamama-MAMAMAMAMA!!!" when he gets mad.  Read that as pitch and volume going up!  He has a sweet little talking voice, and likes to say, "buh-buh-buh-buh-buh..." in a conversational tone.  So adorable!

Little Girl is still her strong-willed self, and out to make sure she gets her share (especially of attention.)  If I tell anyone to go do something, she hops over there and does it.  I've always had issues with kids taking other people's jobs, and I've still got it!  She automatically assumes that she gets to try or do any new thing first, and usually just assumes that every new toy or item is brought here especially for her.  She is always unpleasantly surprised when it's not.  She has a signature sound, which is something like, "Aaangh!!!!"  Read this as loud, and grating.  Also, add a foot stamp to this.  It wasn't long before the other two picked this up, although by nature, they are less likely to be unpleasantly surprised. 

Little Girl also came up with the raspberry, to be sassy to her teen siblings.  It evolved into a good means of communicating certain things to the other two little ones, though.  They picked this up, as well.  So, the raspberry now means:  "I don't like you!" or "I don't like what you're doing!"  It then became necessary to find a means to respond, and a strong, "meh!" with a dismissive hand wave fit the bill quite nicely.  It means:  "I don't care if you don't like me!" or "I don't care if you don't like what I'm doing!"

So, we have a lot of conversations around here that go like this:
"Aaangh!!!" (foot stamp) "Pbbbth!!!"
"Pbbbth!!!"  "Meh!" (hand wave)
"Meh!" (mutual hand wave, then grabs whatever is at issue)

Little Boy likes to tease us big people by waving his hand at us, and saying, "meh!" while wearing an impish grin that says, "I don't really mean it, you know!"

I think Big Girl is very bored right now.  I am wracking my brain to keep her occupied.  She has always had issues with a little bit of stimming.  Not surprising, considering six years in an orphanage, but for a while she seemed so excited about the big new world, and willing to learn whatever we threw at her.  Lately, she doesn't want to try the games and toys, and just wants to hold them in her hand and flip them back and forth.  She seems to be advancing, as she can do all of our puzzles now, and knows most of her colors most of the time.  I can't get her to write or color, though, and obviously that's needed to perform schoolwork.  She sings the alphabet over and over, and looks at the letters, but doesn't want any corrections, and doesn't want to try to trace them.  She would be happy if I just let her watch educational videos all day long.  She doesn't like any other kind of videos, and would even just watch the same one, and be happy if I never changed it.  Little Girl would never stand for that, though, and won't watch one a second time.  So, my answer to this has been the same as for Little Boy when he wanted only to play with toys that had push button lights and sounds, and he would do nothing else.  I ended up taking them all away.  So now no one is watching educational videos, even though I would like a break now and then, and the other two love them as well.  I'm working with her to increase her skills to do some jobs around the house, since most people feel needed and useful when they work, but it's a long-term solution.  Any ideas for right now?

Lest I end on a depressing note, tonight after I read a book to the girls, I looked over to see that Big Girl was animatedly reading the book to Little Girl, who was then reading it to her baby doll. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Thanksgiving Star

Okay, without meaning to, I heavily weighted the pictures from our Thanksgiving get-together in favor of Baby Boy. Sorry! No, I'm not. He's too adorable to hide under a bushel, right? We must let this star shine, and shine brightly. You're only 5 months old once, right? Of course, 6 months old might have just as many photogenic opportunities...
This was the only picture that I ended up with that included L.  Big Girl finds coloring boring, and these two were trying to inspire her.  Thanks anyway, guys!

Yes, I find him delicious, too.

I love his expression!  You know he thinks he's all that!

His hair doesn't look that red in real life, but in pictures it sure does!

Whatever one mommy did with her baby, another mommy had to do it with her baby.

It looks like he's crabby about being held by Big Girl, and maybe he is, but he was crabby anyway...

There's lots of baby-love around here these days!


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Big Girl's birthday

Two years ago, we had our gotcha day on the day before Big Girl's birthday. We never did celebrate her birthday that year, nor the other two kids who are both January babies. We were too busy coping with each day. The next year, though, we celebrated each of their birthdays, and boy, did they know what it meant! This year we celebrated Big Girl's birthday, and she understood very well. No problems opening presents, either (the first Christmas no one knew what to do with a present.) Just to show how far we've come, today I overheard Big Girl singing "Happy Birthday." Were the words understandable? No. Can she carry a tune? Not really. Was it completely recognizable as "Happy Birthday?" Absolutely!
Obviously, she needs help.

Moving in!

"I'll just rip this paper off..."  Sanctioned ripping.

Everyone enjoyed these lip whistles.  Yes, those are real glasses.  These are the style we decided on after he repeatedly mangled the metal framed pair, and then stashed them somewhere--back of a drawer, under some furniture, in the garbage... who knows?

A game everyone can play!  We're starting to grow up, people!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

More pics from our trip

I'm just going to keep sticking these pictures up here, since I have quite a few!
This is just his speed, as this boy eats, sleeps and breathes small recreational-type vehicles.

This pony ride was pretty fun, too.

He grudgingly admitted that he might, finally, be starting to have some fun...

This little pony wasn't scary at all.

Such beauty!

And cuteness!

"Haven't you ever heard of 'personal space,' Grandma?"

"I like spending the night at Granny's and Poppa's!"

"Me, too!"

Trip to visit parents/in-laws/grandparents

Here are some pictures from that trip to visit my in-laws. They showed us a wonderful time, and it was so refreshing to be with them again. They looked so healthy and happy, and that made us so happy (but not necessarily healthy.)
My beautiful daughter, who is a loving mother...

I imagined that the carousel might be a good photo op, with bright colors, and happy smiles...

The kids were a bit reserved, though, as this was the first time they'd ever been on one.

This was the first time Little Girl started smiling, in fact, as all the big plastic animals in this park were quite scary!

Little Boy did not enjoy the ride, as he wasn't sure what the purpose of a carousel was suppposed to be.  Better safe than sorry, he always says...

Big Girl was game to go on the ferris wheel with Daddy, though, and enjoyed it quite a bit, waving to everyone on the ground, when Dad pointed us out.  She was braver than Mom!

These two were braver than me, also.  My vertigo was acting up.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Back home

We just returned from a cross-country trip to visit my in-laws, who hadn't had a chance to meet the adopted kids yet.  We flew, and it took all day each way, three flights, and two layovers each way.  Our 14 yr old, B., went with us, as well as our daughter, J., and her baby. 

It was wonderful to have our daughter as a traveling companion, as she's an excellent companion anyway, and our son was so thoughtful of his sister, always switching seats with her, so that she could nurse the baby while sitting next to one of our family members, rather than strangers.  (Interestingly, I saw lots of babies traveling, lots of them being breastfed, and not once did I see any mother give her baby a bottle.  Awesome!)  My two kids were such a help with the little ones, and it wouldn't have been as nice a trip without them.

Little Boy gave us a scare a couple of times (think:  large crowds, interesting sights, child with no sense of ...well... sense.)  The girls stuck pretty close to us, which surprises me, since they haven't always been so aware of the family unit, but they seem to be evolving that direction.  There wasn't the random hugging of complete strangers by Little Girl, although at first Big Girl was inclined to trail a hand out, to brush against people as we walked.  This has been an issue for some time, but after a few hours, I guess strangers looked less appealing, touch-wise.  At any rate, Little Boy earned himself a ride in the umbrella stroller.  Apparently, it's easy to forget you're strapped in, because he kept standing up and trying to walk away, with a giant stroller hanging off of his backside.

It was wonderful to be in the bosom of our family again, and the grandparents seemed to thoroughly enjoy all their grandchildren, as well as their new little great-grandson!

I don't know if it was becoming seasoned travelers, being cherished by their grandparents, or returning home to their well-loved toys and yard, but the children all seem to have turned  a corner, developmentally.  We've been calling them two-year-old triplets, but now I have to say that we're having a lot of three-year-old moments.  They had quite the growth spurt over the summer, and now it seems they're having a brain growth spurt.  I always noticed that with my first group of kids, that they grew up physically or they grew up mentally, but not at the same time.  Like the body trades it off.

I'll just name off some of the new developments I've seen, since I've been saving them up to write about, if I can remember them...  Little Girl can turn the outdoors faucet all the way in one direction, which requires turning, letting go, replacing your hand, continuing to turn in the same direction, until it doesn't turn anymore.  Up to now, everyone grabs it, and twists it back and forth.

 Little Girl and Big Girl are both able to climb the climbing wall on the playground, planning where to put their hand or foot next.  Big Girl is able to climb the spiral, and step over onto the platform, which requires stepping out over open space several feet up in the air.

 Little Boy likes to play with the other kids, and giggles a lot, like he thinks he's so funny, but the other day, he was doing something he thought was funny, and looked at me several times to see my reaction, like he was hamming for me.  When Big Brother was playing with the kids, Little Girl started laughing so hard, that her face turned red, a vein stood out on her forehead, and her face looked like she was in pain.  It was that funny!  I've seen lots of people laugh that hard, but not her. 

When I order the kids to do something, I always tell them, "Say, 'Yes, Mom!'" to which the girls reply, "m'Mom" and "Ma."  Even though Little Boy doesn't talk, I always give him the opportunity by ordering him to say what I tell the girls to say.  I figure someday he'll most likely start to answer.  He's started answering now by signing, "mom."  Pretty cute.

Big Girl likes to look at a book, and say what she thinks the picture is, often accompanied by a sign (sometimes her own made-up sign.)  I don't understand her, often, but she will go through the entire book, reciting what she thinks it is, such as "apple!" "dog!" in this manner, drilling herself, then start over again.  So, sitting at the lunch table, she started drilling Little Girl, who obediently recited the words and signs that Big Girl barked at her.  It was funny because Big Girl pronounces milk, "naw!" and I don't care how many times you correct her, it's "naw!"  If you try to get her to draw out the "m" sound, as in "mmmmm-milk!" it becomes, "mmmmm-naw!"  She also uses the sign "horse" for "tea" because "horse" sounds like "juice" and juice and iced tea are close enough to get the same sign (I guess.)  So Little Girl dutifully imitated all the signs and words that her big sister required of her.

I told Little Boy, "take off your diaper, and throw it in the garbage!" so he took off his diaper, and happily ran to throw it away.  That's two-step directions.  These are big developments for him, folks!

Tonight I had Big Girl repeat the alphabet after me, which she's pretty good at, although I don't think she could do it on her own.  "W" is really cute the way she says it.  Then Little Girl repeated it after me, although she wasn't really in the mood, so she didn't try very hard.  She does a lot of contorting her mouth and tongue into weird configurations, I figure because I over-exaggerate the shape of every sound, hoping to help them figure out how to pronounce it.  When it was Little Boy's turn he never repeated anything, but he did examine my mouth closely as if my lips were truly disfigured.

Here are some pictures from a few weeks ago.  Forgive me for the dirt and grunge on my children.  Oh well, it washes off, and I don't bathe them until the end of the day anyway.  Certainly not just before they eat watermelon!

Not bad for a kid who has sensory issues with touching or eating things with weird textures, and eating raw or fresh things.  Well, it is watermelon, after all.  What's not to like? 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

All about me

I know my title sounds narcissistic, but I really don't write about myself that much.  In fact, even though this post is about me, I won't post one single picture of myself!  I might, if I had a flattering one, but...

So, as some of you know, I quit my fulltime job, and now work only occasionally.  I've worked nightshift for at least seven years, and had been running on empty for awhile.  My brain feels like an agile antelope now (comparatively) after resting and sleeping full nights for several months.  Now I have some time and brainpower to chase down those interests I've had, but couldn't indulge.  Everyone who knows me knows that I've always got some new thing going, and it may actually be some version of some old thing, but with a new twist.

For my summer vacation, I: 

didn't have to go camping, not even once, because the resort where we always go had a storm with power outages to the whole county.  Yay for me!  Boo for them, 'cuz that's how they make their living.  (I do have a heart, you know!)

found a juicer at a yard sale, and juiced up a bunch of apples for cider.  Too bad they were transparents, which are the original non-sweet apple, and the cider was sour only.

researched everything I could find about fermenting vegetables, built a still (sort of) with the help of my son, and made my own sauerkraut, which was amazingly delicious, with all kinds of wonderful bacteria that increase the nutritional value of the veggies, and some pickled vegetables, which were disappointing.  Edible, but that's all.  The dill pickles got dumped, because they didn't cooperate.  Using my newfound knowledge, I made some apple cider vinegar from my sour cider, and it was pretty darned good!

got a cold frame.  Built it in the hottest part of the summer, so it was sweltering inside!  This particular experience taught me something about myself.  I'm the one who comes up with all the ideas, and my poor husband is the one who always ends up trying to implement them.  Well, he is the one with all the tools.  And the knowledge.  Anyway, I also realized that I'm greedy, and between that, and being married to a cross between Tim the Toolman and Rube Goldberg, well, let's just say that big ideas get bigger while being brought to life, maybe too big, and then often don't get finished, or end up disappointing us.  We gave ourselves a limit of finishing this project and one other, which was the next thing:

got a fence around the entire property.  This is a big deal, as it's something that we'd wanted from the first day we moved here, twenty years ago.  It took a big need to make it happen, and that big need was Little Boy, and his absolute refusal to recognize our right to establish boundaries.  Well, we showed him!  How is this about me?  Simple.  I now have peace, no adrenaline rush everytime I realize that he's out of sight yet again, and I can breathe easy.  What is this worth?  No way to put a price on it.

got really into raw milk.  I've been trying to heal my skin naturally, with diet, for many years, because the constant handwashing with harsh soaps has been relentless, and I've struggled with contact dermatitis all this time.  I haven't wanted to get steroid shots, but it was to the point that the steroid cream didn't help anymore.  I recently read that Omega 6 fatty acids increase inflammatory response, and that we should attempt to get more Omega 3 fatty acids into our diets.  I was ready to jump right in, until I discovered just how hard that actually is.  Omega 3's are present in fish and fish oil, but you have to be careful of mercury in ocean caught fish, and farm fish doesn't really have much Omega 3, because of their diets.  Same goes for beef and chicken, which have a lot of Omega 3's if they're pasture fed, and Omega 6's if they're grain-fed.  Same with milk.  Soy, peanut butter, canola oil, are all high in Omega 6's, and soy is hard for me, because it's in a ton of stuff I eat.  Anyway, I've been trying to eat more ocean fish, but not too much, lots of fresh fruits and veggies, and less of the prepared foods which are high in Omega 6's.  The bad news is that my skin isn't any better after all of this.  I do feel like a million bucks, though, which could just be the sleep!

experimented with pastured poultry.  All the rage, because of Joel Salatin.  We've had chickens forever, but they've always been in a coop with a small outdoor run, and we fed them layer mash and kitchen scraps.  They've always been super healthy, but our new chickens are living a different, better life!  Now that the yard is fenced, they can run around the property all day, eating grass, insects, and whatever else they find.  They love it, and won't go back in the coop or run except at night or to lay their eggs.  And what eggs they are!  Very thick, hard shells, even with no oyster shell offered, and the yolks are a deep orange color.  The whole egg holds together very strongly, and it's a little work to whip them up for scrambled eggs, and when you pour them into the pan, it looks like you poured mustard in instead!  It takes a little bit to get used to the flourescent yellow color.  There's some good nutrition in those babies!  They taste better, too.

started making my own butter.  I use raw cream from the same dairy as the raw milk, and it's the yellowest butter, even with no food coloring.  It has a very strong taste, though, which is hard to adjust to.  When we were in Eastern Europe, to adopt the kids, we bought milk and butter, which tasted strange to me, but my husband thought they tasted wonderful, and not strange at all.  I wouldn't eat it, though, so we had to search around a little to find some that tasted like American milk and butter.  I decided that they must have a different breed of dairy cow, since I knew American dairies mostly have holsteins.  Now I know that most raw milk dairies have jerseys, with their higher butterfat content, so I think that's probably the difference.  My teens won't eat it, and my daughter says it tastes like she licked a cow's udder.  I'm surprised that she knows what a cow's udder tastes like...!  No problem getting the munchkins to eat it.  They know good stuff when they taste it.

learned a lot about pasture, and grass fed animals.  I needed to know for the poultry, and have gotten interested in maybe getting a cow for milk, and a calf or lamb to raise on grass for meat.  We would have to get a mini cow, because we have a mini property.  To increase the fertility of our soil, I planted a bunch of clover with the grass.  We still have lots of weeds, but that's okay.  Here's a patch of my pretty "pasture."