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Welcome to my family blog. I have been married to Mike for over half of my life. I love my Savior, Jesus. I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom to six terrific, interesting children. My 3 oldest were born to me in my younger years, while my 3 youngest were given to me by God in my older years. I am very blessed. ~Cheri


Fear of the Unknown

When we were preparing for our first adoption in 2005, our social worker approved us for special needs adoption. I got this sick feeling in my gut and told the social worker to remove that approval from our home study. There was no way China was going to refer me a special needs child. To me, special needs was a terrifying thing. For all of my pregnancies, I prayed that I would have a healthy baby. Why in the world would I willingly seek out an imperfect child?

As we waited for our referral of that perfect child, a few families within our LID group chose to adopted from our agency's special needs list. Being a client, I accessed the website and viewed these children myself. I needed to see what the fuss was about. To my surprise, these "special needs" children did not seem so special needs at all. There were some more serious than others, but the majority were very manageable needs. I was uneducated. Special Needs had meant scary, life-long disabilities. I was afraid of the unknowns. But, as I thought about it, wasn't adoption an unknown? While we were considering adoption, I was terrified of it all. I educated myself enough during the wait that adoption was not scary to me anymore. After much research, I realized that special needs was not as scary as I had made it out to be.

A few months later, we received Eva's referral. Our experience with adoption and the travel to China was such a wonderful experience for our whole family; we knew we would be adopting again. But, I knew in my heart, that I would go the special needs route this time around. I contacted a reputable agency who received special needs lists of children every few months (Our previous agency made us wait a year before a second adoption). I let the agency know what needs we could care for as a family and what needs we knew we could not handle at all. Shortly thereafter, we received an email saying they had matched us with a child, but were waiting on the translations. I had another week to wait to see my daughter. Finally, we received Joy's file, and I saw this cute face.

Then I saw the hand. Although I had told our agency we would adopt a child with hand/limb issues, I was not fully prepared. I had to look at her hand over and over again. I had to get familiar with that Unknown. Our whole family had to get familiar with it. Jordan shared with me that she had a dream that Joy was chasing her around the house with the "hand".

Looking back, our fears seem so ridiculous. But, it was something we had to get used to and prepare for. Joy's hand is rarely even thought about these days. It is now familiar. It is so familiar that I never thought much about it until Joy brought this picture home from co-op the other day. Then I thought, "Oh, how cute!" What I once thought as imperfect, was absolutely perfect.


This and That and Pizza Recipe

For those of you contacting me about the pizza dough recipe, there are two sites that I go to for some yummy recipes. I used PW's recipe from here. But I also go to this site that has great recipes including one for pizza dough that I'm trying next.

We have had some very nice weather lately. The girls had an opportunity to walk around in the rain..until the umbrella broke.

Moxie took a trip to the vet to get fixed. Poor thing. The anesthesia took her out, but once that wore off, nothing was holding her back. Try keeping a 62 pound puppy calm. It doesn't happen.

Since the weather was so nice, Jack decided to get his paint ball gun out. He was not allowed to shoot the girls, the cars, the house, or Moxie (although she did eat the paint balls), so he settled for trees, rocks, and the swing set.

Joy decided to wear one glove all day. Why one? Maybe she couldn't keep the left-handed one up on her little hand? Still it was cute. So was her chocolate ice-cream-covered mouth and hair that had not been brushed since the day before. I never got around to taking care of Joy. She always seems to be the ragamuffin around here. Probably because I never seem to get around to taking care of her.

Now, onto this morning's incident. Not a good way to start the day. All 3 girls wanted this cereal. Can you believe it? They tasted it out of the box first. Ivy asked, and she never, ever, never eats cereal. She just does not like it. So, Eva followed suit, then Joy. I told all 3 of them, "If you asked for it, you have to eat it all." They all replied with a joyous, "I know!"

Within 10 minutes, 2 of the girls were not happy. One asked for sugar on an already sweetened cereal. One asked if she could be done. I was the tough mom. "You asked for it. What did I say when I gave it to you?" So, they slowly force fed themselves until they finished. Ivy sat for 15 minutes in tears over that cereal, not wanting to eat it. Eva did not cry, but she will not ask for it again. Joy...well, she is Joy. She gobbled it up with a smile on her face and never complained once!


Pizza Man

I tried making pizzas back about 10 years ago, when buying the pizza stone, and making your own pizzas were all the rage. I did not like it. The dough was just hard to work with. I used my bread machine to make the dough, though. I stopped making pizzas at home. It was just so much easier to order out. Recently, I found a new recipe for pizza dough and thought I'd give it a try. It was so much easier since I purchased this bad boy:

Notice the nice dough hook? It works well.

Then Mike reminded me that he worked at P@p@ John's a couple of years ago as a 2nd job when we were waiting to adopt Ivy. I had completely forgotten! So, he decided to show us his moves. Quite impressive! His employer did not like him to make the pizzas. He put too much of the toppings on them.

The final result! It was really yummy. My mixer and the dough thrower made it so much easier this time around.


My Verbal Girls

Joy is constantly talking, humming, or making some kind of noise all of the time. The only time no sounds are coming from her is when she is sleeping or watching a movie. She even makes sounds when she is eating. Anyway, I used to be concerned about her because she never said much at all. Now, I'm eating my words! The other day, this short conversation took place at bath time:

Me: "Okay, Little Girl...time to get out Little Girl."

Joy: "Okay, Big Mama!"

Then, of course, Eva is reading. Back in September she could not even put three letters together to make a word. Now, I'm happy to say that she is reading wonderfully. And of course, as new readers do, she seems to put the wrong vowel in the wrong place to make just plain wrong words. For instance, today, she just could not get the word "shut" out the proper way. Instead, she wanted that short "i" vowel in place of the "u". As she read and I kept correcting her, I chuckled out loud. I couldn't help myself. Here are her two sentences she just could not get right:

"The shop will shut when it is six."
"When will Jim shut the shop?"

Understand why I laughed?

I'm thankful she is so oblivious to those words.

**I wanted to thank everyone who commented and emailed me with suggestions about Ivy's speech and language development. I've some calls in to her cleft therapist and clinic. I also had a long talk with Ivy, and she seems to understand the importance of being understood, especially when I'm not around her. I appreciate everyone's advice.


I Love Jack

I loved Jack since before he was even in my womb. I loved the thought of who he would be. Twelve years later, I love him with a fierce love that only mothers know. Jack is simple, a young man of few words and no guile. Jack is sweet. No one would know that he is sweet. No one hears him being sweet, but me. I have to coerce a kiss from him. But, that only happens when no one else is in the room, and there is not even the possibility of someone walking in the room. It goes something like this. His lips quickly brush my cheek. Then I say, "Jack! That is not a kiss! Where's the smack?" Then he gives it another try, barely making the smack of the lips. I give him a look. Then he is always successful on the third attempt. I think he secretly wants to kiss my cheek 3 times.

Jack at his sweetest. I couldn't resist.

Then Chaos Moxie came in the room. And, well, Jack loves Moxie


Ivy's Language

Ivy did not speak a bit of English when I met her last year. She knew a few nouns like cat, dog, coke. But, that was it. So, we communicated quite well those 2 weeks. I pointed to things and gave the English word or phrase. She seemed to understand and caught on quickly. During those first few months home I just let her learn. I helped her say words the correct way, never over-correcting her wrong usage of pronouns. Ivy got to the point where she felt comfortable with her English, but no one could understand a word she said...she spoke too quickly.

Fast forward 12 months. I feel like the bad mom. Should I have done more correcting last year? Am I expecting too much? She still misuses her pronouns, she leaves out important words in a sentence, and my most bothersome....she leaves the end sounds off her words. For example, leave off all the consonant sounds of the following words and this is how Ivy will say them: bed, God, teeth, dog, what. Get the idea? This would not be so bad if she lived in China and her native language was Chinese and only spoke English now and then. But, she does not speak Chinese anymore. She has moved on to all English. Instead of a sentence that should be said, "How do you draw a cat?", she would say to me, "How you draw a ca?". She leaves off important helping verbs. Since I am a home school mom, this is very difficult for me. I feel like I should not have let her have free reign with her language those first few months. Ivy has developed terrible language habits. I feel like I am spending more time correcting her than encouraging her. I do not want her to quit reading aloud because of all my correcting. But, I cannot let it go. Her pronunciation is also lacking on certain sounds, which I know are because of her ethnicity, and I am not sure if she will ever overcome those. They are making the "n" sound instead of the "l" sound. She just cannot get that "l" at all. She has terrible struggles with the "r" sound, whether at the end of a word, or in a blend sound. This makes for terrible spelling in such words as "spring". Ivy says it as spwing, and spells it wrong. She consistently interchanges the short vowels "i" and "e". Ivy goes to a cleft clinic and has had her hearing checked. When I stress the words, she will sound or spell them correctly. Even when she reads, she will leave off the ending sound of the words. So, I know her hearing is fine. Ivy's cleft is minor, only affecting her upper gum line. I know that speech therapy is going to be in her future, but to be honest, Ivy is not even trying to change the way she talks. I wonder why.

So, I would really love to hear from those who have adopted older children. How are your child's language skills? Is this normal? Am I overreacting? Any suggestions on how to deal with it? Will it get better? Ivy is really doing great, and I know her language skills are very good considering how long she has been home.


My Three Man Band (and signs of grief)

Well, that would be a 3-girl band. As I type they are having fun, playing their parts as Ivy calls out their names. It makes her piano practice more fun.

Joy once thought (because of her hand) she could only play the drums.

Eva's smile brightens up any day.

For some reason, we girls are not in front of the TV watching the Superbowl. When the girls walked into the room to see what Dad was watching, they turned back around and headed for their music.

Onto another subject...grief. Eva and Joy did not experience much grief when we adopted them. Just during the first few days together with each girl did we see some heartaches. But, since we've been home, they both are just lovin' life. Eva and Joy were only a year when we met, so I know that makes a difference. When we decided to adopt Ivy, I read all I could about grief and attachment. I read the good and bad of what I should expect from Ivy. Other than the first couple of days of tears and crying, Ivy has not shown much grief of losing her Chinese life. The first few days home were uncertain days for her, and there were tears that first week, too, but generally speaking, she was settling right in and happy.

Last week, I decided to play a children's CD of Chinese songs...songs that Ivy was familiar with and understood.

Immediately, I recognized the widening eyes darting back and forth to hold back the tears. I am sure it brought back a flood of memories and feelings. So, I picked her up and asked if she was sad. She nodded a big yes when I asked her if she missed China? How could you not after living there for those 7 years? It was familiar to was all she was home. I told her it was okay to cry and to miss China. After wiping away the tears, she went back to playing. This was the first time in almost a year that she has shown any signs of grief. Ivy may be the exception to the norm in the adoption world. She is a very happy, well-adjusted child. She knows she is loved, and she feels secure.


Six Down

That means all 6 children have gotten hit with something. First, Jordan, then Seth, Eva, Jack, Ivy. Then last night, Joy.

(I never realized how "Chinese" Joy looks. Her eyes are more unique than my other girls.)

She woke this morning very, very warm. I dosed her with some Tylenol around 7:30 a.m. She went back to sleep but still felt warm at 8:30. So, I gave her some ibuprofen. By noon, this was my girl.

We've been very blessed with good health this season. No one has gotten sick. But, this stuff in our house is just plain yuck. Fevers are around 102-103. The the phlegm-filled coughs follow. I've never heard so much mucus rattling around in my kids' chests. Ivy seems to have a non-stop cough going on.

This is my kitchen stash. Mike and I are sucking down the zinc in hopes of conquering anything that comes near our mucus membranes. We don't seem to get "sick days" around here.

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