Monday, July 30, 2012

ShanLin Has Glasses!

Today ShanLin picked up her new glasses!! She is quite pleased with herself, and has given us no problem wearing them.  Hopefully this will help Amelia be more willing to wear hers.

Jamie is now off for the remainder of the Summer, and we have been very busy.  Today he and Leif planted two peach trees while I canned 7 pints of dilly beans, blanched and froze a head of cabbage, and made a batch of fridge pickles.   Some time this week I need to clean the little boys' room, but there is still plenty of week left for procrastinating.

I have also finally begun to plan in earnest for the upcoming school year.  I intend to use FIAR to do book unit studies with the triplets, and recently stumbled across a website with a ton of unit studies and free printables.  Today I printed out tons of stuff I now need to cut apart and organize, then tomorrow we are going to do a few days of  Blueberries for Sal.  It should be lots of fun, and start to set a pattern for the kids to be ready for the Fall.

Leif and Kimberly have been very busy loving life, and here are a few photos to illustrate:

Nikita now has a new horse and is working 4 days a week for a farm animal sanctuary.  She also keeps begging for driving time but it seems hard to fit in between her work schedule, my work schedule, and little siblings who don't want to spend time driving all over. 
Zachary is still up at Camp Good News as a counselor-- he is working the Mountain Bike Camp this week and is no doubt having a great time.

We have not heard from Alexander, and I am assuming no news is good news.  His graduation from Basic Training is at the end of September, so I am squirreling away tip money to pay for my journey to South Carolina to see my boy! (sorry, my young man)

And now, I am going to watch some Olympics with Jamie while cutting and organizing for tomorrow.

Good night, and God bless.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

10 Months Old!

Today Kimberly is 10 months old, and she ate breakfast in the high chair for the first time!

First she checked the integrity of the tray, to make sure it was solid.

Then Kimberly let Dante know she was taking over Leif's seat.
He seemed unconcerned.

Then it was time to eat!!

Dante made his move, although I am going to assume he was just checking the temperature of her food.
He did not actually eat any- it looked too much like something a baby would eat.

Life is good!!


Today I was also able to spend some time weeding my garden.  I have already frozen 8 bags of green beans from my garden, plus a large amount of blueberries and cabbage that was given to us.  Jamie brought home a bunch of bananas and apples one day, so Leif and I cut up and froze the bananas, and I made the apples into applesauce and froze 16 pints.

This morning after weeding I planted a second crop of peas for fall picking.  The Sunflowers in the photo are ornamental, not for food, but I planted a ring of peas around each of the sunflowers, so they will grow up the stalk.  I also planted a second crop of spinach and lettuce around the bottoms of the sunflowers.

My 35 tomato plants are also doing well, and I should be able to make a lot of salsa for canning and sauce for freezing starting in a few more weeks.  (The tomato and pepper plants are not in this photo.)

God is good!

Life is peachy!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dante and Leif

Dante does not initiate interaction too often, which we attribute to his autism.  Leif often tries though, although usually in the annoying little brother way, not in a "hey let's have some fun together" way.

Last night Leif was being his high energy mischievous self, jumping from the back of the couch onto the cushions.  (I know this is probably not something we should allow, but he was having so much fun.)  Dante started giggling and watching him.  Then Dante went over to the couch and climbed onto the cushion.  Finally, Dante climbed up onto the back of the couch with Leif and was laughing and watching Leif jump.  It was pretty sweet, especially when Dante slid down onto the couch cushions once or twice, I think trying to mimic Leif's actions. 

It is actually a little bittersweet, considering that Dante is 6 and it is he that is learning from his 2 year old brother, when typically it is the other way around.  Leif has definitely surpassed Dante in every way developmentally.  I have been reading a lot about neurodevelopmental therapies, and doing a lot of work with Dante.  It would cost $2000 a year to have him professionally evaluated and given specific exercises, but I am doing what I can with what I have read.  I would like to think his attempts to interact with Leif last night show that we are getting somewhere.  I have also taken Dante off all processed foods, with nothing artificial or chemical as best as we can.  He certainly hasn't complained about all the fresh fruits he has been eating!

In the meantime, I am loving the moments where he definitely seems to be initiating more interactions than is typical for him.

God is good!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Two Sisters (and a mischievous brother)

For the next 3 1/2 weeks of Summer, we are minus Zachary and Alexander (Xander for much longer, Zachary will be home August 10th).  We still have so much to do each day, the most unchangeable being Nikita's evening stable chores for her horse in the next town over. 

So tonight Jamie was running up to get Nikita while I cooked dinner, and suddenly Kimberly decided it was bottle time. 

Amelia stepped up to the task of meeting her baby sister's needs.

I was so proud of Amelia and Kimberly looking at her adoringly.  They were not two little adopted girls who have Down Syndrome...they were a just a big girl and her baby sister. 


And the mischievous brother?  
He does love his sisters, but oh my goodness is he a busy little boy!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

One of Nine has Flown the Coop

Alexander turned 18 in January.  That made him an adult, technically.  He was still a senior, still my boy who needed to be told to get the dishes washed and write the history essay that was due.

Alexander graduated from high school in June.  This left him edging more towards adulthood, but I still needed the floor vacuumed and the table cleared and set for dinner.

Alexander left an hour ago for Basic Training.  Now he's gone and done it.  My first baby is an adult now.

I can't help but wonder where this leaves us as a family. He'll be back- in November for a few months before he goes off to College in January.  Yet...I can't just put him back on the chore chart.  He'll always be my boy and I'll always be his mom, but the dynamics of that relationship will have shifted, and I am not ready.

He most certainly was ready though!

This really isn't about me.  After he left with his recruiter, I still had to fix breakfast for the kids, milk the goat, water the horses, and consider what I will cook for lunch and dinner.  My days will change without him here, but not drastically. 

His days, however, are another story.  A story that will be unfolding for him in the days, weeks, and months ahead.  Jamie and I have done our best to raise him, with God's help, and we pray that he will continue to seek God's guidance in this new book he is just starting to write. 

God is good!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Kimberly Tricked Me!

I thought Kimberly might like some tummy time out in the fresh air, while her siblings were on the swingset.  She was playing so nicely on her little mat.  Smiling at me sweetly and rattling her toy.

She was being so good, I put the camera down and turned away for a minute.  The sweet little imp used that minute to make her move.

I should have known better than to have her wear the t-shirt that says "Dirt makes me cuter"!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Crazy Days of Summer

Now that we are full into Summer, I am ready for vacation.  We do not get away until the second week of August, and until then I am finding the lack of routine difficult.  Zachary is in New Hampshire, Nikita is working, Jamie is teaching Summer school, Alexander leaves in a week, and I am trying to keep the garden weeded and the kids from going stir-crazy.  The days at home with the 6 youngest are nice though, and I have been doing a lot of therapies with Kimberly and Dante.

However, this past Thursday was particularly nutty.
7am - milked the goat.  Jamie left at 7:45, dropping off Nik at the stables on his way.
8am-  went to the stables to pick up Nik and bring her home arrived in time to leave again with Kimberly
9am- Kimberly had her 9 month well-check .
9:45 arrived home to the pony being picked up to spend the weekend at the stable, since this weekend the fireworks and carnival are directly across the fence from our yard.  Nik and I followed the truck up to get Ginger settled.
10:30 arrived home from the stable (again), changed 2 very messy diapers, and left again at 10:45 with Micah.
11:30 Micah had a dentist appointment.  He was very good for the cleaning and x-rays; he has NO cavities (!!), but 4 baby teeth that needed to be pulled because he has adult teeth coming in completely crooked.  We scheduled three more appointments.
1:30 arrived home and started to wash the breakfast and lunch dishes.  One of Kimberly's therapists called and asked if she could come at 2pm since I had cancelled next week's appointment (because Sunny will be in the hospital that day).  How could I say no??
3:00 the therapist has left, I have just over an hour until I need to leave for work.
4:40 I leave for work, this night I was home around 11pm.

Thankfully not very many days are like this!!  Today we are enjoying our town's Independence Day celebration, and are expecting family and friends for the fireworks tonight.  Next week there are three  appointments and Sunny's adeno-tonsillectomy, but I will worry about that when Thursday comes.


I mentioned Kimberly had her 9 month well-check on the crazy Thursday.  And she most definitely is well!!  Baby Girl is up to 15 pounds 3.8 ounces, and is 26 inches long.  She was given one shot (we only do one at a time, of the doctor's choosing), and did not even flinch.

Kimberly now rolls both ways, and is VERY close to sitting up unassisted.  That alone is cause for celebration, she is so strong!! She gets tons of tummy time, joint compressions, and balancing on the big ball. Kimberly is now eating rice cereal, and also likes squash, sweet potato, and avocado.  I am considering starting her on ginkgo biloba as well.

We are blessed!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Birthday, and a Special Dinner

Yesterday Leif turned 2!  He is such an amazing little guy, and such a blessing to everyone in this family.  (Yes, even Dante is motivated to pay attention when Leif is around!)

This weekend is extra special because Zachary is home from New Hampshire, and it is the last weekend until late November that all nine kids are here.  Tomorrow Zachary goes back up to Camp Good News for 5 weeks, and in 16 days Alexander will be leaving for his Army Reserve training, not returning until after Thanksgiving. 

Thankfully a co-worker covered my shift, and I was able to make a special dinner. 
This morning I put two roasts in the crockpot along with some green beans, then Leif sat on the counter eating strawberries while I peeled potatoes to boil and mash later. 

Leif of course had to keep on eye on what his siblings were doing, in case something more exciting than watching me peel potatoes happened.  He was fresh out of the tub and church was coming up, so playing outside was not an option for him! 

After church he and I went out in the yard to pick black raspberries.  He held the pail while I plunked them in, saying "Tank you" over and over.  Oddly enough, when we came back in the house the pail was empty and his mouth had a ring of purple around it.

Although ShanLin is obscured by Jamie's head, this is actually a photo of all 9 kids, plus Jamie and our friend Doug.  I seem to be the only one feeling melancholy about this being our last meal together for quite some time!

Leif was thrilled to have us sing to him, and he blew out the candles.  Kimberly is so aware of everything that goes on and was watching it all with interest.  Only 3 months until her first birthday!!

When Leif was distracted by a gift, Kimberly snagged the toy car from Nana and Poppy!  I think the bright red color really caught her eye. 

It was a wonderful day, even though you can tell from this photo of Kimberly that we were all hot. There weren't any arguments amongst the teenagers, and Dante has had a very good day.  Even as Zachary leaves tomorrow, Nikita continues working 3 full days a week, we have a number of medical appointments coming up, and Alexander leaves in 16 days-- I will remain thankful for this day with my husband and our children.

God is good.