Friday, February 28, 2014

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sharing Lunch

In Ethiopia, it's a sign of affection to share your meal with someone, which means literally feeding them, especially in the case of a child. 

Although I spend quite a bit of time working with Abi on feeding herself neatly as part of her blindness skills course, today was different. I had some leftover Doro Wat for myself for lunch, and I offered to share. It was sweet, bonding, and very, very Abyssinian. :)

Cure For Whining

Little Mister whined that he was hungry. So, he got to make lunch. 

I don't think it was a huge inconvenience, however. 


I love quilting. Unlike life, there are very few problems when quilting. You just keep on stitching. 

A Girl and Her Bunny

Friday, February 21, 2014

Good Advice

There's a college-aged guy, Clayton, at our church who plays the drums from time to time. He asked me a couple of weeks ago if I would braid his hair, since we live in Northern Idaho and there are almost no places to get it done. Believe me, I know this is true, and that is why I do Abi's hair myself. 

While he did Algebra homework and watched drum videos on YouTube, I braided his hair one Sunday afternoon. I was surprised at how moisturized his hair was, so I asked what he used. He called his mom so that she could give me all the right names. 

Long story short, this stuff is!! We had to order it online as it isn't sold here in the Great White North. It made Abi's hair so soft and easy to detangle. 

So here we are, watching movies and braiding away today. For any other adoptive moms who read my blog, you gotta try this stuff on hair. :)

(Note: the products are a bit pricey, but we only use them between braids. When Abi's hair is braided, we use a gentle, moisturizing shampoo and put olive oil on her scalp after her bath. You can find both products on Amazon. Search for "Creme of Nature detangling moisturizing shampoo" and "Africa's Best Kids Organics Shea Butter Hair Lotion".)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Abi didn't realize that the faces she drew were sad. But she was glad to be shown how to draw happier ones using muscle memory (down, then back up). :)

Saturday, February 15, 2014


A few days ago, I posted about making our chore chart. I'm happy that combined with a new allowance system, it has been great for motivating the kids to do their chores without any nagging from me!

For allowances, we are giving the kids a "paycheck" each week based on their ages, and the amount of chores they do. Curly at age nine does three chores and gets nine dollars. Mister, at age seven does two chores and gets seven dollars. The Littles do one chore each and get four and five dollars.

The chore chart works to record the chores, and this week, it got completely filled! Every kid was able to use it easily, even Abi. Also, I used a Sharpie on it, so it doesn't get rubbed off. A little tip on using white boards: you can use a Sharpie, and when you want to erase it, scribble over it with a whiteboard marker and erase. It comes right off.

The kids received their dollars this week (I wrote a tiny initial in the corner of each bill so no thievery can occur). They are scheming whether to spend or save, depending on their personalities. I'm just thrilled that the chores got done this week. :)


This morning, Guitar Daddy and Little Mister bought an electronics kit that is designed for little fingers.

They have spent a happy hour doing the projects described in the book and learning about electricity, conductors, resistors, series, parallel, etc.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


We had a breakthrough with Abi this morning. When I came upstairs, she actually stopped what she was doing and came to greet me. She has also been way more genuinely affectionate lately. 

Never underestimate the power of snuggling with your kids. God can use it to even heal terrible trauma, fear and grief. Amazing.

Getting My Hair Done

While waiting for migraine medicine to kick in, I rested in the tent. The kids had set it up in the living room again. I figured a soft bed in there sounded nice. 

Anyway, Abi decided she needed to do my hair. She gently brushed and "braided" and clipped and arranged. It felt lovely. :)

I loved that instead of pushing her away when I felt sick, we found something bonding to do. Perhaps the pain she often experiences in her eyes makes her more compassionate toward someone else in pain. Sweet girl. 

Pictures are for humor purposes only. Please ignore the white T-shirt. Blame it on the migraine. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

More Practice

A Braille recipe provides practice reading! 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Recommended Reading

I've been reading the blog of a mom with four girls adopted from backgrounds with trauma. I love reading her blog, because instead of the miserable stories, her stories are full of hope, full of growth and healing.

I read this post of hers tonight: Adopting An Older Child. It describes what an older child might have experienced before she was adopted. It describes grief. 

It describes Abi. 

I'm so thankful for other moms who have walked this road before I did, and who cheer me on and tell me, "It's going to be okay!" 

It really is! :)

How Our Friends Do Sledding

One 4-wheeler, a patient dad, eleven kids, some sleds and some baling twine. 

That's how sledding is done on a Sunday afternoon in rural Idaho!

Snapshots: Painting

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Hello Book

1. Locate text online on someone's blog. 
2. Run through open source Braille translation software. 
3. Print on ancient Braille printer I got years ago on eBay. 

Book. Done. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sad Ears

Curly's ears have been bothering her since they were pierced. A few days ago, they looked swollen and icky, and we treated them with every remedy that Google could suggest. Today, she added a rash, so we took her to Quick Care. 

It turns out that she is allergic to metal, and the allergy was combined with a staph infection! Yikes!

So, out come the earrings until she heals. At this point, she doesn't think she wants pierced ears at all. Looking at her swollen, crusty earlobes, I can't say I blame her. She is on antibiotics, antihistamine and Prednisone to clear things up. And no more earrings unless they are 24 karat gold or sterling silver. If she even decides to get the holes re- pierced at some point. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Snapshot: Chore Chart

Making the best of things

When life gives you snow...

...make snow ice cream!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Warm Birds

Little Mister got a pet bird. A parakeet. It was yellow, he named it Lemon, and it lived in the cage with my parakeet, Harmony. 

Lemon liked to puff up. We did not know why he did it, but he often could be found with his feathers puffed out. 

One day, I put the bird cage near a window, because I'd read that birds like lots of light. Unfortunately, we live in an old, drafty house in Idaho. Lemon was found the next day by distressed children in the bottom of the cage, deceased. 

Back at Pets Are People Too, I asked the clerk, who wandered around the store with a parrot on her shoulder, why our bird did not make it. 

She explained that puffy birds were sick birds, and the cold draft probably finished him off. She said to keep the birds warm. She also gave Little Mister another parakeet, this one blue and with a wing that sticks out at an odd angle. Mister felt consoled. He named the new bird Melody, and we brought him home and put him in the cage. 

We moved the cage to a less-drafty spot. After a few days, when one of the birds looked a bit puffy, I moved a heater right under the cage. 

Since then, both birds have been sleek and singing. 

Warm birds are happy birds. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


This is the temperature right now. 

This was last night. Brrr!

This is my poor hubby taking a power nap on the floor between a space heater and a fire in the fireplace. He and Curly both have a circulation condition like Raynaud's Syndrome, and this time of year is tough on them. 


I'm not writing this post to brag. I'm far, far from the world's best teacher and I don't presume to know more than Abi's teachers. 

I'm writing this because as homeschool moms, sometimes we notice something about our kids that the "experts" might miss, and I want to encourage other parents. The TVIs know a lot, and I'm very thankful for them, but they don't know everything, and as moms, we ought to trust our instincts, even if they differ from the "experts."

Our TVI (Teacher of the Visually Impaired) is wonderful, and I love that he comes to our house each week. He is a great help teaching Abi to read and write Braille. Still, something happened this week that illustrates how important it is for parents of blind children to be on the lookout for low expectations, even from someone who ought to know better.

This week, our TVI did a progress report on Abi. He wrote on there that he had not begun teaching the abacus to her, which is true. He started a few lessons a few months ago, and then stopped.

When he went over the report with me, he mentioned that section, and told me that in his opinion Abi wasn't interested when he had introduced it to her, and he decided she wasn't ready. I responded that maybe she was bored. He chuckled dismissively at this, and I wondered how "not ready for math" and almost six-year-old could be.

Today, then, I respectfully asked him if we could demonstrate the work we had done with the abacus together. He chuckled again, as if there could not possibly be anything of note, and said sure, why not.

I asked Abi to count, enter numbers, read numbers up to twenty that I entered, correct mistakes, add and subtract up to five, all of which she did completely easily and accurately. I think he was a little blown away. All of his goals for the year were met, in an area where he had thought she "wasn't ready." Uhm, I think a kindergartner with normal intelligence IS ready to learn math, and I taught her the skills to do it. And there is the difference.

Return of Enthusiasm

This. This is why unschooling works so well for us. When we had IDVA assignments, I practically had to bribe Little Mister to write word lists. We went around and around with dragging heels, tears... Today, he is writing a word list by his own choice, looking up spellings himself, in order to create a word search on the computer and print it out. All of it 100% his idea. He is completely excited about it, and the words are more difficult to boot. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Ticklin' the Ivories

Little Mister started this fall with piano lessons from Yours Truly, but when he finished the beginning book, I knew we needed a teacher who knew more than I did about piano technique. I was lucky to find a good teacher who is willing to come to our house, a big bonus for a non-driving mom!

Words, Words, Words!

Abi's in that stage of reading where she needs to practice like crazy, but it is still super tedious. She needs to get hundreds and hundreds of words through her little brain until they become instantly recognizable, and with Braille, it takes a lot of practice. (Print does, too, but it happens more without noticing, since there is print everywhere around us.)

Luckily, Abi is pretty patient. I'm trying to give her reading opportunities that are fun, not just drudgery. For example, she picked this board book of colors up at the library. I brailled it for her, and stuck the braille on with tape that can be removed next week when we take it back. We play a little game where she closes her eyes, reads the page, and then looks at the color on the page to see if she got it right. After she does it, I have to do the same thing!

As I mentioned, I stuck braille in our copy of Go Dog! Go, which she loves to read with me. The silly story keeps her interest and the repetition makes recognizing words easier. Just today, she said, "The word 'they' looks like a little box that keeps your finger safe!" I laughed because I had always thought the same thing about that word. I love how it makes a little box. :)

graphic of the words they in braille

I know from teaching the other kids to read that this stage seems like it last f-o-r-e-v-e-r but in reality it isn't very long. A little patience and practice and she will be off and reading. That's when the real work begins. If she keeps up with her older brother, she is going to want to read every A-Z Mystery book ever written. How am I going to find all of those in braille?!?!? Yikes!!! Hopefully our transcribing software will come to our rescue. :)