Friday, September 30, 2011

Farm Friday

I love farms in the fall....


















































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4) Repeat daily.
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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Homework


















To Homework or Not to Homework?
That is the question.

OK, maybe that's not the question. So how about,

What do you think of homework?

Me?

In a word (or three), I hate it.

Do I hate it because I despised it when I was a kid?
Do I hate it because as a virtual single Mom to six kids I have precious little time left over for policing/teaching/supervising homework issues?
Do I hate it because studies have shown there is no correlation between homework completion and achievement in school?

Well, yes to all of the above. But there's more to it than that. While I do think that homework has its place, and is often neccessary for a child to learn a skill, I emphatically do NOT think homework should be counted as part of the child's regular grade. And here's why:

In any school setting, one can find three general categories of students: honor roll students, middle-of-the-road students, and those children who either struggle academically, or have no support at home, or both.

For the students who do well, homework is just more busy work. They will do it because they are diligent, conscientious kids who care about their grades, but it will not help them to learn the concepts taught in class, because they already got it when they were sitting quietly with folded hands and open ears. So they work hard, they do all that was assigned, and they take care to present a neat paper. For all that, though, homework is rarely checked by the teacher. Instead, it is simply collected and recorded as "complete". These students would get an A or a B in the class whether they did the homework or not.

At the other end of the spectrum are the kids who struggle. When they sit down with their homework, they might not understand the assignment. Although homework is supposed to be work that the children can complete independently, for these children (and I have a couple), this is not the case. If this child has a supportive, available parent, it now becomes that parent's job to teach these concepts that were not learned in the classroom to begin with. The child still does not really "get it", but is able to hand in an assignment the next day and get a checkmark for it in the grade book. Nothing has really been accomplished here except to frustrate both parent and child and suck up the precious time of the parent when she had dinner to cook, carpool to run, papers to sign, a kitchen to clean, etc, etc, etfriggincetera. If the struggling child has no parent available to help, either because the parent is at work or does not care, the child is frustrated at not understanding the assignment, his self-esteem suffers, and he does not receive the coveted checkmark the next day. His grades, while probably already poor because he can't keep up with the class, will now drop even lower.

Middle-of-the-road kids? They will probably benefit the most from the repetition that homweork provides. They learned (kinda) the concept in the class, but finding the least common multiple 20 more times at home will certainly help to cement it.

So what about them? Shouldn't they, along with their overachieving and struggling counterparts do the homework? Yes. Teachers should assign homework. Students should do the homework. The only thing that needs to be changed, in this humble stressed-out Mom's opinion, is how it's counted. I do not believe it should be counted as part of their grade, per se, but rather, as extra credit.

If completed homework goes toward extra credit points, the honor students are delirious because they moved that A or A- up to an A+. Woot, woot!
The middle-of-the-road students are happy because they learned the material a little better, scored a little higher on the test because of it, and oh by the way? They just boosted their grade because they applied themselves.

Those struggling students, who need the most help with their grades, will also be happy to get some extra credit. Instead of feeling like a failure for not being able to do something that was required of them, this child now feels proud for going that extra mile for something that was optional.

There are also a few students who do not fit neatly into any of the above categories. I have a son, for instance, who struggles with a disorder of the attentional variety which shall remain nameless. He needs loads of structure from Yours Truly to get him to both complete the assignment and place it in his backpack. His work is done. My work is done. Any questionable "learning" that came from writing his spelling words three times each and in a sentence? Whatever. He could spell each and every one of those words after seeing them once. The kid's pretty bright, not to brag or anything. But OK, learning - check. The problem is that the next day, invariably, the assignment will never make it out of the Dark Abyss that is his backpack and into the teacher's homework box. As a result, his grade will not be a true reflection of how well he learned the material in the class. He might ace every test, but to look at his grades you would never know it. So now his chances of getting into a good college are lower because, although he learned the material that was taught, and he did the homework, he did not hand it in.

And finally, how 'bout them parents. The overworked, stretched-too-thin parents will appreciate the decreased pressure. As a Mom, I know firsthand how elusive that Perfect Parent Middle Ground can be. That place where you are neither doing so much that you have become one of those obnoxious helicopter parents that completes Suzy's diorama while she sleeps, nor so little that you don't even know the name of Johnny's teacher. No time to help your not-the-brightest-crayon-in-the-box daughter understand the difference between the simple predicate and complete predicate? No worries. If she can get it, wonderful. If she can't, your dreams of her one day attending college (read, leave the house), have not neccessarily been dashed to hopeless bits. Her grades will reflect how much she knows about the subject taught, and chances are, she's going to need more help. The homework, which she didn't understand anyway, is not going to change that.

So there's my $1.02 on the issue of homework.

Now I want you to go through the above post and circle each transitive verb, underline each prepositional phrase, and highlight each conjunction.

I expect it on my desk tomorrow morning.




Awesome! You guys really bumped up my number of votes on Circle of Moms. Think it's possible to make it to the Top 25? Idk, but let's give it the ol' college try. You can vote every day. Thanks!!!!





cartoon courtesy: socialhunter.tripod.com

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

We had fun painting (and building) some fall things over the weekend.

Rosie painted the white pumpkin;
I painted the owls (on a piece of scrap wood),the pumpkin (on a slate), and the spooky forest/moon (on scrap wood);
Bella colored the flower;
James made the spider and the creepy clown thingy;
And Julie painted the pumpkin.

Yay fall!


























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And this one, too, if you don't mind. I would love to make it to the top 25. With a late entry and only a couple weeks to vote, it's gonna be tough. But hey, it's possible, right????

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Truce?

A friend of mine (Lori from Five of My Own) recently came under fire when she posted a picture of herself wearing a t-shirt that said "Paper Pregnant."

Now, many of you might wonder what's so objectionable about that term. And you'd be right to wonder.

After all, if a woman is bringing a baby into the world through pregnancy, all those who cross her path will be in on her news thanks to her baby bump. Or her "I'm not fat, I'm pregnant" shirt. Or her shirt that says "Baby" with a gigantic arrow pointing to her protruding belly. And most of these path-crossers will wish her well and ask when she's due, and perhaps may even cross the line and inquire as to the state of her cervix.


So to my mind, this "paper pregnant" shirt is nothing more than a lighthearted way of sharing the news of an impending addition.

But apparently there are others who feel differently. Others who said things like:

...for someone to usurp that one beautiful thing from the women who make the sacrifice for them....
...these women need a therapist to deal with unresolved infertility issues....
...entitled adoptive parent - one who believes it's OK to buy someone eles's baby if nature doesn't play nicely.


When I read those responses(and more), I felt momentarily disoriented. I had no idea that there were those who were against adoption, and it made my head spin.

My first reaction, after my head cleared, was anger. I felt the need to go toe to toe with these people who would besmirch (I love that word) adoption and all those who play a role in it.

But then I realized that their hate was probably stemming from frustration. From loss, perhaps. And my heart softened a bit.

And I think, at the core of things, we're maybe closer in our viewpoints than I first guessed. I know that we probably all see that giving birth to a child can be a noble act; that loving and caring for a child is life itself.

With that in mind, I thought I would list a few things concerning pregnancy, adoption, and child-rearing that we could perhaps all agree on.

NOBLE
Pregnancy/Delivery
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout pregnancy and delivering a child into the world, whether through a planned or unplanned pregnancy, is a noble, self-sacrificing act. It means you have chosen life for your baby, and have agreed to go through all the pain and discomfort of pregnancy and delivery in order for your child to come into the world.

NOT SO MUCH
Planned or unplanned, if a woman commits to carrying a baby to term, but does not quit drinking, smoking, or doing drugs, I've got no respect. I know too many children, my own included, that will suffer the lifelong effects of fetal alcohol syndrome. No matter how you slice it, it is wrong to subject a baby to such devestating problems. Babies should never be born brain damaged, or addicted, because of the acts of their mother.

NOBLE
Choosing to love a child, parent it well, and keep it safe, is noble. Whether it is the child's biological parent, foster parent, or adoptive parent, it matters not.
On the flip side, when a parent chooses to give up her child when she knows she cannot provide for it, she has demonstrated the highest form of love. If the parent knows the child has needs that she cannot meet, if she knows she cannot keep her child safe and cared for, and she lets her child go in order for it to have a better life, she is nothing short of heroic.

NOT SO MUCH
For a parent to keep her child as her own when she is unable to provide basic safety, health and love, is not parenting, and is not in the child's best interest. There are those that would say that children should be kept with their biological parents at all costs, but I do not agree. When children are physically abused, sexually abused, starved, kept from school, living in filth, endangered, they should be reomoved from the home. The parent has my empathy, and my prayers that she can get the help she needs, but I do not think she should be allowed to keep raising her child under such conditions.

NOBLE
Because adoption is choosing to parent a child, it is a noble and self-sacrificing endeavor. The reason a person arrives at adoption does not matter. The common thread connecting all adoptive parents, whether they are infertile, single, have a desire to be parents to more than just their biological children, they are a gay couple, whatever, they are choosing to give a child a good life. I have known adoptive parents that chose adoption before even trying to conceive a child on their own, simply because they believe in adoption. It is not neccessarily a last resort for people.


NOT SO MUCH
Pointing fingers at anyone choosing to give a good life to a child is mixed up. The bottom line is that a child will be cared for. Whether the parents have to pay exorbitant adoption fees or are adopting a child through the foster care system, whether they are able to give birth or not, or whether they choose to adopt severe special needs or perfectly healthy newborns, they are opting to give up a substantial chunk of their lives in order to parent, and parent well. They have agreed to endure sleepless nights, school plays, teen driving, and cleaning up vomit. They have consented to walk the straight and narrow, keep food in the fridge, and to discipline their child with love. They have promised to read to their child, hold their hand crossing the street, and dream about their future.
If a person commits to parenting a child and putting that child's needs first, no matter how he or she comes into parenthood, they have acted gallantly.

To those who choose to do right by a child, even, or especially, when that means giving your child up, I salute you.
To those who choose to keep their child but not provide for it, I say to you, seek help. My wish is for each and every child to have at least one loving parent. If you can be that parent for your child, then go out and be the best parent you can be. But if you cannot provide love, safety, food, warmth, and guidance, let someone else step in to raise your child up.

But let's all of us keep the child first. Then everyone wins.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Button Trouble

I swear, all these blog contests are a pain in the patootey.

There's the old standby Top Mommy Blogs. You, my faithful readers, keep me in the top 1 to 1 1/2% of the whole pile.

But lately there seems to be some sort of glitch and I can never vote for anyone or even check my numbers. Frustrating.

Top Mommy Blogs - Click To Vote!




Then there's the Parents.com site, where someone was sweet enough to nominate me as one of the best blogs under the Special Needs category. How awesome.

But sumpin's up wit dat, b/c the votes never change. Though I've been on there for weeks, and I know that people (myself included) have voted, the votes never budge from 6.

There is an email of someone to contact with questions, which I've done twice now, but I have never gotten a reply.

Sigh.






And last but not least, there's this here Circle of Moms thing. I'm entered in that for best big families blog. Or somethin'. That one, I think, seems to be working.

But because I've had so many problems with these things, I haven't even mentioned it. Which means I'm about dead last. Ug.







What difference does any of this make, you might ask?

It feeds my ego.

Well. Beyond that. If any good comes out of my blog being positioned well on these sites, it's that my blog gets more exposure. More exposure means more awareness to issues like adoption. Issues like Reactive Attachment Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

More awareness means more understanding, more tolerance, and maybe, just maybe, a few more kids might find their families.

You know those sites you can go to that if you click the button, a cup of rice is donated to feed hungry children, or an acre of rainforest is protected, or pet food is donated to an animal shelter? Yeah. You can kind of think of this like that. I mean, no, I'm not out there feeding rice or rescuing kittens from drain pipes or anything, but the more you view, the more you vote, the more exposure my blog gets, which in turn leads to more awareness, more tolerance, more homes.

So pain in the patootey?

Yeah. Absolutely.

But it's all good.

Mirth Monday

Movie Quotes

Airplane
There's no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you'll enjoy the rest of your flight. By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?

Airplane
Hanging Lady: Nervous?
Ted Striker: Yes.
Hanging Lady: First time?
Ted Striker: No, I've been nervous lots of times. »

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
If I'm not back in five minutes... wait longer!

Yeah I called her up. She gave me a bunch of c*** about me not listening to her, or something. I don't know, I wasn't really paying attention.
- Dumb & Dumber (1994)


Steve Martin: All dames are alike: they reach down your throat and they can grab your heart, pull it out and they throw it on the floor, step on it with their high heels, spit on it, shove it in the oven and cook the sh*t out of it. Then they slice it into little pieces, slam it on a hunk of toast, and serve it to you and then expect you to say, "Thanks, honey, it was delicious."

Steve Martin: You know when you're telling these little stories? Here's a good idea: have a point. It makes it so much more interesting for the listener!






Ha, ha, click.
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Quotes from
About.com
funny-quotes-life.com
humorsphere.com

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday Social - Bella

Next one down on my siggy line...

Anne,
Wife of Fred for 23 years
Mom of:
Patrick (16)
James (16)
Rosie (13)
Bella (13)
Julie (13)
Daniel (12)
My children around the world:
Milly in Taiwan
Felice in Hong Kong
Eun Hae in South Korea
Nadya in Germany
Obrin in New York
And our critters Annabelle, Fiona, Sunny, Sophie, Cindy-Lou and Blue; Mamfy, Mali and Punkin; Nick; Frog 1 and Horny Toad; Charlie and Dizzy; Minnie and Alice; Elfie, Frex, Crope, Tibbit and Ozzy; Genevieve, Pippin and Finnegan; and a dozen or so chooks.

I'd like to ask God why He allows
hunger, poverty, and injustice
in the world,but I'd be afraid
He'd ask me the same thing ...



Is Bella.


















Bella is my 4th child in order of when they came into our family, my 3rd in birth order, and my last in order of tallest to smallest.

Once upon a time I had three children. Boy, girl, boy, all brought into the world and into our family the old-fashioned way. Then one day it occurred to me that my little girl did not have a sister.

I could not have that.

I am very, very close with my sisters.

I had talked in my younger, idealistic days of adopting children. Why not now? I wanted another daughter, Rosie wanted a sister, and I was quite sure there were oodles of children in the world that would want a family. All I had to do was go out and find one. Easy peasy.

And so I did, but ain't nothin' easy peasy about adoption, let me assure you.

Long story short, we found our Bella. And it was meant to be. We knew she had some special needs, but we also knew this was one little mighty love muffin of a child and that she was our daughter. Make no mistake. Grab a tissue if you have a spare minute and read our meeting story. Or read a little about the beginnings of her life, and why she still sometimes has bad dreams.

And so she came home to us back in 2003, started Kindergarten a few days later, and turned six a month after that. That was just about exactly eight years ago. That's right. Next month, my little peanut turns 14. I shall faint.

To look at the next eight years, on paper, one might ask, what the hell did you get yourselves into?

There were surgeries. Medications. IEP meetings. There were appointments with many specialists to assess needs/treatment plans for her strabysmus, hearing loss, cleft palate, stunted growth, speech delays, diminished IQ, learning disability, precocious puberty, ADHD, malocclusion, and more.

Today, there are still meetings. Team meetings now cover, in addition to all of the above, planning for her adult life. How much assistance will she likely need? What type of vocational path will she be suited to and how can we help steer her towards that?

I took her to AI duPont a couple days ago to meet with her pediatric endocrinologist. She lovingly calls him Stretchy Guy because whenever he sees her he stands on her feet and stretches her up by her jaw to measure her maximum height. We were delighted to see that after a year and a half, she had grown a little.

She is now 4 feet, 7 3/4 inches tall and weighs around 80 pounds.

She is just about done growing.

Her "working memory," which allows your brain to store away just-learned-things to draw upon later, is at the 2nd percentile. 98% of people have better working memory than she does. Because of this, anything she is trying to learn takes her about 10x longer to learn than her peers. What another child might have to go over five times before it sticks, she might have to go over 50 times. Or more. She is currently struggling for competence at a 3rd grade reading level. She is in 7th grade.


OK, so that's all the nitty-gritty on "issues." And if you're still scratching your head and wondering,

"Why????",

Let me tell you why.

This is The. Most. Loving. Person. You. Will. Ever. Meet.

EVER.

When we were at AI the other day? She spotted her eye doctor in the cafeteria. The man responsible for putting her through four of her six surgeries to date. What did she do?

"Mom, there's Funny Man!" And off she ran to give him a hug and chatter at him, and ask him did he have a fun time on his vacation?


When we have IEP meetings to discuss her progress and her goals, we unfailingly get to talking about how special this child is, and I am never the only one with tears in my eyes.

When I was helping in her Kindergarten class many years ago, a little boy fell off his chair and got hurt. While all the other children stood around the teacher and the boy, Bella immediately ran off to the sink, wet and wrung out some paper towels, and ran back, pushing her way through the crowd to do what she could to help the crying child.

She is always there to rub my back or give a hug if she thinks I'm having a bad day.

If even one little thing happens that makes her really happy, she is filled with emotion and smiles an enormous smile and says, "This is the best day EVER!"

This little child was abandoned by her birth parents, hospitalized for a long time with no Mama to hold her hand through all the pain and fear, and put in an orphanage to be an outcast even among orphans. She struggles and struggles and struggles with learning even the basics, and will need support all her life. And yet about four days a week she has her "best day ever". She loves just about every person she meets. She tries hard, and always does so with a smile on her face.

Unlike so many others that I have met, she does not focus on the disadvantages in her life, but instead rolls around in all the good like a pig in mud. She slathers herself till she is drenched and dripping and stands up proud and beaming.

I love this child more than I ever thought possible. I sometimes get all teary-eyed just thinking about her. Not because I'm sad for the less-than-normal life she has had or will have, but because of the love that just shines out of her pores.

She hurts my heart.







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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Top Mommy Blogs

You guys know how I bug you all the time to click the button to vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs?

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Yeah, that annoying thing that I do at the end of just about every post?

Well, sumpin's up with that.

I don't know what, but I'm hoping someone out there in blogland can tell me.

Every time I click on the button, either from my own page or from someone else's, my computer glitches and I have to do a restart. I cannot do anything on the page, not so much as scroll down to see what my votes are. I haven't been able to see them in probably over a week.

I also know that my visits from TMB are down, so I am assuming others (but not all) are having the same problem.

Can anyone tell me what is going on? For those of you who are not experiencing this trouble and who also have accounts, can you see if there is a way for me to contact the Powers That Be without me having to go to the site? Maybe there's a number I could call, or perhaps you could report my problem to them?

Thank you, I sure would appreciate it. My rank is slipping and I'm afraid of losing my front page status soon if this can't be fixed. Sorry to "bog the blog" with blogging housework.



Tune in tomorrow for your regularly scheduled programming.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Farm Friday

Big Daddy and his ladies roostin' for the night.

Ain't they fly?????























Click if you think they're just the cutest things.....
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Thursday, September 22, 2011

What Seems To Be the Problem, Officer?

People love to point and laugh at some of the more ridiculous laws on the books, such as these:


In Florida, it is illegal to fart in a public place after 6 P.M. on Thursdays.
You cannot chain your alligator to a fire hydrant.
You may not drive barefooted.
You may not have an ice cream cone in your back pocket at any time.
Kangaroos are not allowed in barber shops at any time.
Donkeys cannot sleep in bathtubs.
When being attacked by a criminal or burglar, you may only protect yourself with the same weapon that the other person posseses.
You are not allowed to walk across a street on your hands.
In Delaware you may not sell dead people for money without a license.
It is illegal to say "Oh, Boy" in Jonesboro.
One-armed piano players must perform for free.
In New Jersey, it is illegal to slurp soup.
In Kentucky every citizen of is required to take a shower once a year.
It's illegal to take a lion to the movies.
Citizens may not enter Wisconsin with a chicken on their head.
It is illegal to have a sheep in the cab of your truck without a chaperone.

















But as any Mom can tell you, these laws are nothing more than the impulsive settling of ridiculous disputes between two or more immature people crying "NO FAIR!"

We decree laws like this all the time from our living room sofas, standing at the stove, or while folding towels in the laundry room.

We say these things to our children of questionable intelligence that, in the moment, make perfect sense. But when the dust settles, we must question the neccessity of our not-so-carefully chosen words that have become one of the 17 million household rules for now and forevermore....

You are not allowed to pinch your brother's nipples.

We cannot swing swords in the house.

Riding bikes/scooters/skateboards in the house is only permitted on tile floors, and they may not be operated at full speed.

It is against the rules to lock your siblings out of the house.

You are not allowed to throw your belly button lint at anyone.

No eating dinner in your underwear.

You may only go on the roof in pairs.

If you find it neccessary to use an entire roll of toilet paper in one sitting, for God's sake, you must flush multiple times during your period of confinement.

When you sled off the barn roof, you must wear a well-padded snow suit.

Only G-rated Play-Do sculptures allowed.

You are not allowed to put snake eggs in your pocket.

When we have company, you must be dressed in something more than your underwear.

You are not allowed to put beads in your nose. Or in your ears. Yes, belly buttons are OK. But then don't throw said bead at anyone.

You are not allowed to put beads in someone else's nose. Or ears. Or even their belly buttons. Ok, I guess their belly button would be alright. As long as they're cool with it.

You are not allowed to throw/drop your food onto the floor.

If you are going to pick your nose, you must place the boogie in a tissue. No boogies allowed on walls. Or pants. Or in your sister's hair.

You are not allowed go outside in your underwear.

Peeing in the trashcan is not allowed at any time.

It is against the rules to put a pencil in your nose. Or in your ears. No, not even in your belly buttons.

It is against the rules to aim your farts at your siblings.

Jelly does not count as a fruit.

You are not allowed to race the shopping carts.

When tying up your brother, you MUST make the knots easy to come apart.

Butter, by itself, is not a snack.



Sadly, oh so sadly, I have said all of these things to my children at one time or another.

And many, many more....





It is against the rules to read my blog and not vote for me. Well, it's not really against the rules. But I sure would appreciate your vote! Just click this button. Thanks....
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dumb laws courtesy: http://www.bored.com/crazylaws/

Image courtesy: legaljuice.com

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

I guess our Amish community is growing. This is the new school they just built down the road.

Get this: his and hers outhouses. We're just marching right on into the future, aren't we?
























Thanks for your vote!
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Tip For Tuesday

OK, for all you Moms of school aged kids out there, I'ma gonna lay a tip on ya'.

And I'm even going to play off my recent post "I Hate Frugality."

All those leftover notebooks of your kids from last year? You're going to repurpose one of them to be used as a

Sh** I Have To Sign For School Notebook.

I've just taken a run-of-the-mill comp book, ripped all the used pages out (recycled them, of course), and if I sign something for school? I write it down in the notebook.
















[I have not yet gotten crafty with my notebook. This is the sad state I found it in.]





Now, I just keep a simple running tab. New date, new sh** to sign, new page. I write down the date I received it, what the form was (like a permission slip, the parent/teacher contract, syllabus, whatever), and when it was sent back in with the kid.

















Then later, when I get one of those e-mails from a teacher that says,

"Thanks to all the parents who sent in the blah-blah-blah. Your cooperation is appreciated. For those schmucks who haven't sent it in yet, get your act together. We all know who you are and we laugh about your ineptitude in carline."

I can confidently pull out my trusty
Sh** I Have To Sign For School Notebook.
and see at a glance if indeed I did send in the blah-blah-blah or if it is truly time to panic.


Now, you can go ahead and get all fancy with it if you want. Three kids? How about a 3-subject notebook? Whatever floats your boat. Point is, write it down. Because if you're anything like me, no WAY you can keep it all straight up in your noggin.

And there you have....

My Tip For Tuesday!


You're welcome.




And for the vote? Thank you!
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Monday, September 19, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Social - Rosie

Next one down on my siggy line...

Anne,
Wife of Fred for 23 years
Mom of:
Patrick (16)
James (16)
Bella (13)
Rosie (13)
Julie (13)
Daniel (11)
My children around the world:
Milly in Taiwan
Felice in Hong Kong
Eun Hae in South Korea
Nadya in Germany
Obrin in New York
And our critters Annabelle, Fiona, Sunny, Sophie, Cindy-Lou and Blue; Mamfy, Mali and Punkin; Nick; Frog 1 and Horny Toad; Charlie and Dizzy; Minnie and Alice; Elfie, Frex, Crope, Tibbit and Ozzy; Genevieve, Pippin and Finnegan; and a dozen or so chooks.

I'd like to ask God why He allows
hunger, poverty, and injustice
in the world,but I'd be afraid
He'd ask me the same thing ...



Is Rosie.

















My second child by birth.
My first girl.
Now fourth in birth order among the kids.

What an amazing person....

Beautiful.
Talented.
Smart.
Funny.
Full of life.

She's on the honors track in school and gets pretty much straight As all the time.
I remember finding out that she was reading at a 3rd grade level when she started Kindergarten and that she had gotten through at least half of the Harry Potter books by 2nd grade.

A talented goalkeeper in soccer, she's aggressive, sharp, completely fearless.
She's also dabbled in a number of other activities throughout the years, including dance, gymnastics, and drums.

I will never have to worry about her being bullied, or taken advantage of, or stuck in a bad relationship with someone who is treating her badly. She won't stand for it. She was sandwiched between her rough and tumble brothers up till she was nearly six before her sister came along, and she's tough as nails.

She's always had a thing for frogs, and her first pet was "Hoppy", a little toad she found when she was three. He used to ride around in her pocket.

She has a cat named Mamfy that adopted her about 10 years ago, and a little kitten named Milky that sleeps curled up with Rosie every night. And of course, two toads.

I sometimes call her DubCeeDub (WCW), which stands for "When Can We....?" because she's full of drive and always wants to be going somewhere, doing something.

Of course, like any 13 year old girl, she's able to content herself for long stretches at a time by chatting with friends on FB and texting. I don't know how many texts she sends/receives in a month, but suffice it to say it's a good thing we have an unlimited plan.

She loves to fish, swim, read, go for walks to the creek, go on picnics with friends, watch scary movies, and paint her nails.

She was in her school play Godspell last year and she just got herself into the fall play.

Her Aunt Mary is one of her biggest role models and she wants to be an actress someday, just like her. Or maybe a vet.

She loves the beach and can't decide whether she wants to live on Long Beach Island in New Jersey when she grows up, or Salem, Massachussets.

And it won't be too much longer (sigh). She's growing up so fast. She's taller than I am now, and so mature. She's my most reliable child and I know I can count on her for whatever I need (unless it's cleaning her room).

Ack. My heart is hurting.

I love my baby girl.







She's also one of my biggest blog fans. She would want you to vote for me, I'm quite sure of it.
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Saturday, September 17, 2011

I Hate Frugality

I come from frugal stock.


My mother raised four kids on her own and we pretty much had squat, so she learned, and learned quick, how to stretch a meal or find the best bargains or come into a lawn-bag-full of outdated ill-fitting hideous clothes with plenty of good life left in 'em. She could feed seven people on one can of tuna and a loaf of generic white bread, as long as there were large quantities of mayonnaise on hand. And some celery.

And my grandmother, bless her soul. I curse her! Living through the depression. Has she any idea what that has done to me? I don't believe the woman ever threw a solitary thing out in her life. Oh there were trash cans in her house, to be sure. For others to use. But she would usually fish out whatever you had thrown in to her recycled paper bag/plastic bag can liners. And she would wear a puzzled and hurt look on her face while she tried to think what could have possessed you to throw away a perfectly good toilet paper tube. Why, she could use that to make....















And I inherited their frugality gene. I inherited it, alright. And again, I say, I curse them! I hate frugality.

I hate sitting on the floor the week before school begins, drowning in last year's notebooks, going through each and every one and ripping out the used pages to give the notebooks new life. I CAN GET COMPOSITION BOOKS ON SALE FOR A QUARTER AT STAPLES IF I WATCH THE SALE CIRCULARS! A QUARTER! So what if they only used 15 pages last year and it looks like new. Throw it out, throw it out!

But I can't. I can't do it.

I hold the comp book aloft over the trash can (well, the recycling bin), poised to toss it callously in. But my grandmother's little angel is perched on my shoulder and whispering in my ear
"Don't do it, it's a sin, look at all the life it still has in it. If you don't want to use it for your child's notebook, then maybe you could start a journal. Or you could write down some favorite recipes, you could paste clippings from magazines."

I even talked my girls into getting all crafty with their old notebooks a couple years ago by covering them with scraps of construction paper and scrapbook papers (not whole sheets mind you, I was saving them, just the scraps) and stickers and what-not. See how cute these are, I said to them. You'll be the only ones in the school with notebooks like these.

I tried the same approach this year but they were not having it.



Couple weeks ago I brought my vacuum in to the repair shop.
The man told me there was nothing wrong with it except for a clog deep in its innards and it needed a filter changed.
Great, how much will it be?
93 dollars.
And I stood there, mouth agape is dismay, for a solid two minutes.
Big Mama was whispering in my ear.
I thanked the man kindly, bought the requisite filter and some new belts, took my vacuum and I left.

When I got home I hoisted the behemoth onto my table and I got me a wire coat hanger and I went fishin' deep in the bowels of the vacuum and I retrieved a wad of hair and fur and old Easter grass and carpet threads and buttons all wound around the dismembered arm of a little soldier. Then I reattached hoses, changed air filters, and cut the hair out of the beater bar with the hedge clippers.

When I was done I was coated from top to tail in vacuum dust. I looked like a chimney sweep.

BUT I SAVED 93 DOLLARS!

ARE YOU HAPPY BIG MAMA, ARE YOU HAPPY?

I hate frugailty.....




I don't hate your votes, though. Big Mama would want you to vote for me.
"Just click the brown button, darlin'," she's whispering to you.
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Thanks for the image archive.feedblitz.com. Big Mom would love it!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Farm Friday

One would think that kids who grow up on a farm would tend to have a higher sense of responsiblity than their suburban peers.

And I would be inclined to say that just might be true.

Case in point:

Last week, Bella went out to the barn to check for eggs. I was busy flippin' flapjacks for about 10 or 11 kids, so I kind of forgot about her for a minute. Or ten. OK, maybe 15.

Anyway, it finally somehow dawned on me when I tripped over her sneakers and nearly put my eye out with my spatula (it could happen) that she hadn't come back yet.

So I sent a runner.

A runner, 'round my house, is whatever kid is nearest on hand at the time it occurs to you that you need something and you're too tired or busy or OK I'll say it too lazy to do it yourself.

So I saw Julie first and sent her out to check on her sister.

When they got back, Bella was all flustered. Turns out that when she was leaving the Hen House, she couldn't get the door to close. The wood of the door frame was all swollen with the dampness from all the rain we'd had. Since Bella had not taken her phone with her, she basically had two choices:
1) Let go the door and head back to the house.
2) Stand there holding the door and wait for help.

She chose the latter. She didn't know how long it would take before someone would realize that quiet little Natasha was neither present nor accounted for. What she did know is that if she let the door go, all the chickens could get out or something could get in and bottom line is it could all end badly for the chickens. And little bitty Bella decided that wasn't about to happen on HER watch.

So she stood there. Holding the door. Waiting. And waiting.

Poor sweet little thing.

Here she is on the beach this summer. No responsibilities, not a care in the world but running and spinning and jumping.
















I just love that little gal.




Voting. It's the responsible thing to do.
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Got Family?
















You all know how I feel about adoption. Hard to miss when I'm beating you over the head with it.

And as I said in yesterday's post, there are 143 million orphans in this world.

Folks? That is wayyyyyyy too many.

One would be too many.

I know that the idea of adopting a child seems like something that you cannot do. Someone else will have to. Too much work.

Know what else is a lot of work? Putting out fires. But it needs to be done.

Same with adoption. It IS a lot of work.

Paperwork hassles.
Becoming vulnerable.
Taking in a child born to someone else and trying to achieve the sense for both of you that you are now the parent. That he or she is your child.
You've already got kids.
Not enough money.
Not enough time.
Not a big enough house.
Not a big enough car.

I get it, I do.

But what if the child living next door to you was suddenly orphaned? Whole family died in a terrible car crash except for her. No living relatives. What would your mind frame be then? Could you fold her into your family? If she knocked on your door and said she had no place to go, what would you do? You can flog me later for using a cheesy, religious cliche, but WWJD?



I'm hoping I can still serve as parent for other children someday, by working with the foster care system. Right now I can't b/c they won't place a foster child in a home that has six or more children under the age of 18 (which I have so many problems with, but that's another post).

But no one said I can't advocate for them. So I'm going to start featuring foster children in need of adoptive homes on my blog from time to time.

You might wonder, since I have adopted three kids from Kazakhstan, why I am choosing to advocate for the kids in the U.S. as opposed to the kids overseas. The way I see it, adopting kids here, there, or anywhere, it matters not. Just give them homes for Christ's sake (not blaspheming here, I mean that quite literally). And since my friend Lori does such an over-the-top amazing job of connecting kids (particulary from China, particularly those with special needs) with families, I'm letting her stick to that end of things while I take the reins up over here. But check out her opinions on international adoption, and her blog in general, especially the featured kids. Wonderful work she's doing over there.

Anyway, back in my neck of the woods, foster system kids.
Like this boy. Oh my gosh, he would be so perfect for our family, wouldn't he?

I need to play with things a bit and see how to copy the info and pictures into a post, as right now I seem to be having some trouble with that (hopeless technophobe, I know). But it looks like you CAN get there by clicking his link. Don't be afraid. Click it. No harm in looking. No one will even know you did it.



To quote him,

"I love animals and would love to live on a farm."

Know what I bet he would love even more?

Having people in his life that he could call Mom and Dad.


I know most prospective adoptive parents are drawn to the little ones. So easy to see why. Ohmygoshtheyaresostinkin'cute.

But my heart pulls me in the direction of older kids.

Think about it. You're a 16 year old girl. You have lost your family and have likely been bounced around through several foster homes. All you want is a place to call home. Parents. A Mom to help you pick out your prom dress. Someone to roll your eyes at when she hugs you in front of your friends. In a couple years? A home you can return to at Christmas, Thanksgiving. Someday? A Dad to walk you down the aisle. You've got two years left to make that happen, and then, your chance is over. The first 18 years of your life are gone, and the rest of your life stretches before you without a home foundation.

I cannot imagine being 18 and facing the rest of my adult life without the roots of a family.

I just read a blog post from someone a couple days ago that talked about going to the wedding of a girl she had fostered years earlier. The girl had been a teen when this woman served as foster Mom to her, and she hadn't been with her long. The woman had felt like maybe she hadn't made a whole lot of difference in the young woman's life, but at the wedding, she learned differently.

You can make a difference. An enormous difference.

So go ahead. I DARE YOU. Put out some feelers and see what you can do. Even if only for a little while. Sometimes, "a little while" is all a kid needs for forever.....





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Quote courtesy vinyl.frizzymotorsports.com
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