Monday, February 23, 2015

Smart Cat

Rose was sitting on my lap and the very second she heater start firing up, she hopped down and sat on the vent. A moment later when it warmed up, she laid over it. She's not my only cat that does this, but it seems she's the fastest and definitely knows the sound of the furnace clicking on and tries to get to the vent first!

Sewing Project #3: Travel Tissue Pack

What should have taken an hour took two days, but the girls managed to measure, draw and cut out two rectangles for the pattern and sew up these cute little tissue pack covers. They only have four seams and are SUPER easy! I made one in only 9 minutes in case anyone wants to make a super quick gift and has a few fabric scraps handy. HERE'S the link to the free tutorial, but I did make some adjustments since my tissues (Kleenex brand packs) were longer and narrower than other brands. My outer fabric rectangle was 5 3/4" x 6 1/4" and my inner fabric rectangle was 5 3/4" x 7 1/2".

Sewing Project #2: Lazy Pants

The girls began this class at our local fabric store with an elderly, mostly deaf, teacher who was more inclined to do the work for them rather than teach them. It was a four hour class, spread out over two days. Had we done it the teacher's way, they'd have finished a rotten pair of pants in about an hour without learning a thing. I asked my girls if they wanted to learn to sew well and, if so, to follow my instructions. They did and they got a nice little pair of jammie pants that have an elastic waistband, seams finished with a zigzag on the raw edges, proper hems, and they did it themselves almost completely. We used Simplicity Pattern #2290 and they are generously full. We'll make another pair and make them 2" narrower since my girls are pretty thin.

The other student in the class went home with something pathetic and without the knowledge of how to make them again. I can see why the three other students never showed up - they obviously knew to wait for the next session that would be taught by the younger gal.

Shin Nian Kuai Le

We spent Chinese New Year going in search of snow. We had to drive up past 8000 feet to find it and what we found was just patches in the shade and some man-made stuff as a ski resort where the owner was walking around in shorts! The girls had fun, though, and that's what mattered.

My Valentine!

In case you haven't heard, California is in a very, very serious drought right now. This is a boat launch ramp at a popular mountain lake. Notice that the dock isn't floating because there isn't any water?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

11 Years Old

It's so hard to believe, but Jie Jie turned 11 last week. I love how she's just glowing in these pictures and looking so happy. She's 48" tall now and about 48-50 pounds. Quite a lot different from the little girl who came home at age 7 wearing size 3-4T clothes, but still very small for her age.

Friday, February 13, 2015


As I clean my home in the middle of the night, thinking about my life and the lives of my daughters, the word purpose popped into my head, clear as can be. My children lack the feeling of purpose in their lives. Especially Sissy.

What am I hear for? What is the purpose of my life? Questions humanity has asked themselves from the dawn of time.



Even small children live with intent. They play intently, imitating the adults around them, creating, exploring, imagining, experimenting, wanting to become just like mom or dad, at first, then they learn that the world is so big and they can choose anything...

But not my children. They didn't know how to play when I adopted them. They didn't move through live with purpose. They waited for things to be done for them, to them, around them. They still live without purpose, without intent.

I know my purpose. I have spiritual beliefs that guide me and give me purpose, and personal beliefs and desires, such as to become a mom, that increase my purpose.

This requires further pondering as I figure out how to help my children acquire a sense of purpose in their lives so they can live with intent.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

My Poor Firefighter

It wasn't the hamburger that got me after all, it was some kind of illness. That same night, without telling me, Sissy was also throwing up. I didn't find out until the end of the next day. You see, it was her first time being sick since being adopted and she didn't know a child is supposed to tell their mommy they are sick. We've talked about it before, but she just didn't relate it to herself.

Today I received an email from My Firefighter, the subject, My Turn. He started throwing up this afternoon.

Poor thing! He'd come over to help me out Thursday morning and, since I thought it was the hamburger and not illness, I let him hug and kiss me. He also tended to Sissy, who was, by then, showing signs of not feeling well even though she still hadn't said she'd been throwing up during the night. What a trouper he was, tending to me, tending to Sissy, he even fed my 8 cats. I've not been that well-cared for since childhood!

Then, the next morning, he came over early and helped me make a double batch of catfood. With his help, I made a double batch in the same amount of time it took to make a single batch by myself. Then he watched the older three girls while I took Apple to speech therapy. We were back in 40 minutes and the place had the most delicious smell. He'd made them banana pancakes and had started their reading aloud time. He'd even saved pancakes for Apple and me!

I'm so sorry he's ill because of us. He's even going to miss work tomorrow because of it.

UPDATE: He didn't miss work, but was able to have an easy day (only one medical aid call) and even managed to have a nap.

Sewing Class

Last Friday, the girls took their first sewing class at the local fabric store. We had quite a lot of drama getting out the door (related to the issues they've been struggling with since day 1), then we encountered traffic due to a car wreck on the way, so we arrived just over 30 minutes late. That instantly answered the question of what I'd do while they were in class. It was only fair that I stayed to help and catch the girls up with the other class participants. The relief on the instructor's face was obvious. It actually worked out well. Whenever I started feeling impatient with one girl, I'd move on to the next and let the instructor take over. The result was that each girl got to iron, pin and sew for the first time and two got to use a seam ripper for the first time. All three walked out with a full size pillowcase that they are proudly sleeping on and something smaller that they sewed up after class when they got to dig into a box of scrap fabric.

It was very interesting watching them work on their own with the scrap fabric. Jie Jie clearly understood how to repeat what she'd just learned on the pillowcase and cut, pressed and prepared her fabric well. Her actual ability with the machine will take more practice, but the concept of design, planning and execution is clear to her. Sissy can use the sewing machine quite well but has no ability to design or plan so unless the project is given to her in utter clarity, she'll just stand there and stare, perhaps longing to participate but never daring to try anything on her own. Blossom is all about speed, never mind if she runs off the road. She'd put her foot down on the pedal and start looking around the room, not realizing her fabric wasn't going where it was supposed to go. I asked the instructor about this and she said it's common, just not in someone as old, but we all know that Blossom isn't developmentally on target (as are any of my older girls and Apple still to a small degree, remember, for every 3 months spent in an institution, they lose a month of development). So, it took some effort to get Blossom to dig into the scrap pile and more effort to get her to decide what to make. Then she was off at top speed, but by then the instructor and I were ready and slowed her down. She made something she really likes, a tiny Barbie pillow case with Tinkerbell front and center (thanks to my own cutting and design) and during the night, I made a little pillow to fit inside it. Blossom's biggest accomplishment happened in preparation for the class. She is now able to cut on the lines! Fine motor skills are hard for her for many reasons, but she's making progress and she sees it and LOVES it. I've always had left-handed scissors for her, but I was also able to purchase fabric scissors for lefties and they really work!

I took pictures of the girls in the actual class, but they are on my cheapy buy-minutes cell phone that I can barely use (I hate cell phones!) so My Firefighter will have to help me get them out. My computer doesn't recognize it as a removable device, despite a new driver, so I couldn't get them out myself.

I was inspired by how much the girls liked the class to look on craigslist for a used sewing machine. Instantly, I found one, a cheapy model that sat in the original box, never used, by the previous owner for the past 8 years! They wanted $70 for it and I offered $40. They accepted $50. Each girl put in some money and they are now the proud owners of their own sewing machine. Sissy got to try it out first tonight. Her after class project Friday was a tiny pillowcase. Tonight, I helped her make a rice warmie to go inside it. She went to bed with her own little warmer (which included a lesson on how to heat it in the microwave), very happy.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Locked Out!

After speech, I sent the girls to the car while I had a quick moment with the speech pathologist privately. Seconds later Sissy runs in to let me know that Blossom locked the keys in the car. The remote opener. How does one open the car, get in, lock the car and get back out with a remote?

It was my lucky day as My Firefighter was able to get into my house and get my spare key and drive it across town to us.

He then took us to lunch at a burger place, a better one, and that hamburger sat like a brick in my stomach all day. A couple hours later I started getting spells of dizziness if I stood too fast and at 7:45pm was checking out at the local warehouse grocery store when my hamburger decided it reappear. I said a quick, "Hurry please, I'm going to be sick," but it was too late and I ran for the restroom as fast as I could, ringing in my ears, light-headed, two kids left with the cart. I know this is gross, but I barely made it and it was flying out my mouth and my nose. IT WAS AWFUL! But I was so relieved to be rid of it!

I managed to pick my girls up at their church activity (I had the two youngest with me) and got us home safely. They managed to get some oatmeal and get to bed and I curled up on the floor in front of the space heater shaking. It was just like when I was up at Yosemite with food poisoning in Oct.

Anyway, I am managing to keep down a little water and clear juice and my stomach is making encouraging, though tiny, gurgles.

I think I can try and sleep somewhere other than the bathroom floor now.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Our Homeschool Day

My girls begin each school day by rolling 15 letter dice once and making as many words as they can with the letters that come up. Since they've been doing it for so long, the words have to be at least 4 letters long. Then they write sentences using those words.

Today was heavy on grammar. We are using two different first grade grammar workbooks and the IXL grammar program online. Today we only did workbooks. Tomorrow, they will work online, repeating there what they learned today. The subject was action words/action verbs and capitalizing titles and names. It was the second lesson on these subjects.

We did reading today! It went well. Each girl read aloud to me and and I'm using new methods to keep the flow going. I'm focusing more on flow and continuation, even if it means giving her word away before too much time trying to sound it out passes. This way we cover more pages in less time and the experience is more positive. We are trying a sort of Five in a Row approach in that they must read the same book each day this week. My hope is that they will memorize/learn the words they missed at the beginning of the week. If not, I'll try something else.

Today, they got their chores done after lunch, then rode their bikes for PE. They still do PT every morning, too.

After dinner, they did math online. Blossom got her first gold certificates, which she earned by passing a subject with a 90% or higher!

I learned a cool new way to multiply double digits using a grid/diagonal addition method. It was the first time I'd seen it, but the computer program explained it and I was able to teach it to Sissy, who got it right away.

Monday, February 2, 2015