Monday, December 20, 2010

I just took four kids, three and under, to the grocery store.  Yep -- we have an extra friend here for a few days.  She's going to be three next month so she fits right in with Tink and The Captain.  She is pretty sweet and really cute and just jumped in with both feet.  I tried to get her to call me "Tia" as our last toddler friend did but being a white girl, she's unfamiliar with the term and took up calling me Mee-maw.  Heartwarming.

Tink decided to take advantage of the name-calling to try out "Dreena" and "Mee-maw" herself, but I kept looking around like I didn't know who she was talking to.  Finally she said "Maaaaa maaaa" in her sassy voice and kicked me in the shin.  I ignored the kick since I was egging her on so much.

But back to the grocery store.  Sunshine and Pepper are on a Little-free "vacation" in Houston with their friend, so I loaded everyone up and took them to the store.  I managed to find a cart that would hold them all plus the goods, so we just trucked up and down the aisles.   They were good as gold -- no crying, no reaching, no whining.  They were friendly and polite.  The super-sweet produce man brought them each a little box of raisins and that kept them busy for several aisles.

What was shocking to me was how many dirty looks I got.  This I did not understand.   You know, I didn't give birth to any of these kids.  But so what if I did?  Do we have the right to judge people who have more than a certain number of children?  They were all neatly dressed, hair combed; hopefully it is clear they are cared for.  I made an extra effort since I thought we might garner some attention.  They were actually being really darling.

It's good for me to be subject to occasional irrational judgment from strangers.  It keeps me from worrying too much about whether people like me.  The four little people with me like me a lot so I will leave it at that.

Of course I can't post any pictures of our little friend.  I suppose we are going to need a nick-name for her too, so let's go with Peisinoe (one of the Sirens),  because she lures you in and then the minute you say "no" or cross her, she wails.  And it is loud.  But she has waist length hair, big brown eyes and is so blonde, you can't see her eyebrows, so she can get away with it!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tinker just hearing about bedtime.
Tink is afraid of the dark . .  . and quite a few other things.  Since the time change, when we put her to bed it is quite dark so she cries and yells and basically works herself into a lather.  Dear Hubby and I have had several conversations on the topic and we have tried a number of things. 

Recently I bought "glow worms" for Tinker and the Captain which we call "lullies."  The Blitz already had one and we can often hear him in the middle of the night;  he'll fuss a bit then hit the lullie which lights up and plays about one line of a lullebye and then it stops.  I thought having her very own little light in her little bed might help her.  I think it does help, but the minute that little light goes off, she starts to panic again.

Let me digress to say this isn't our first trip into this particular territory.  Sunshine was much the same -- scared of the dark and lots of other things.  We placated her with nightlights, hallway lights, bathroom lights, etc.  She wound up in my bed 3 nights of the week.  She was 7 before she slept an entire week in her own bed.  At 12, she still needs the hall light on and she wouldn't go outside in the dark by herself even if a giant ice cream sundae was waiting.  We're thinking maybe we didn't do this so well the last time!

Last week after a particularly raucous bedtime and several trips by both of us to try to calm the poor baby down, I said, "Maybe we should just turn on the bathroom light and call it a day." 

But DH said, "No, if we can hang in there, she will develop a way to cope with it."

Which of course makes perfect sense.  And then he went out of town. 

The first night she had a white-hot fit the likes of which I have never seen.  I mean never.  After about an hour of this (while the boys slept peacefully unaware), I lost my temper and told her to hush up and go to sleep because I could not take any more of her screaming which was only serving to make her sweat and make me mad.  She stopped.  Shocking.

Last night I put her to bed with timidity and trepidation.  It had been a long day with no nap and I could not imagine what sort of froth she was going to fly into.  She fussed a few minutes -- quietly -- and then all was silent.  Absolutely silent.  I almost went in to see if she was still breathing.  But instead, I heartily congratulated myself on my fine parenting skills and turned on the t.v.

Very late, around 11:00, The Captain kept knocking into the wall.  I finally decided to go check on him, thinking his legs must be tangled up in his blankets.  Of course it is pretty darn dark in that room.  So I stood there staring at him, on top of the covers but right up against the wall and noticed the kitty was on his bed.  The outdoor kitty.  I scooped her and put her outside and went back to cover him up. 

As I reached for the blankets to pull them back, they moved.  I fought down a yelp.  "It's the dog," I thought.  Nope, as I patted around, I felt a mountain of soft curls.  It was Tinker.  The Captain had let her into his bed so she wouldn't be afraid!  Now that is a good  brother. 

And phooey on the parenting skills.  Maybe next time.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Organization, Oh My

Nine months into having a household of seven, I am still not well organized. The jump from 2 children to 5 really affected the work on every level.  I think I need to start a support group for "sudden mothers of many" so we can all commiserate about how hard it is to wash all the clothes, keep everything picked up and feed everyone!  I should point out that the only one of these I actually accomplish is feeding everyone.   This lack of mastery over the household is contributing to a fair amount of "mind talk."  I keep telling myself that loving them is more important, but I am not yet convinced! 

I think I need to purge a lot of stuff from the house to create more storage space.  That is probably my first step.  I think I also need to re institute my system for focusing on one major task a day (kitchen, ironing, vacuuming, etc.) and not sit down for the evening until I have actually done that one thing.  I notice that I am lots happier when all the floors are clean.  It's weird that clean floors have an impact on my happiness.

What I somehow want to find out is how anyone manages all the people and things without making the older kids do tons of work.  When I look at ridiculously large families, like my dad's or The Duggars, the older kids do a lot of the labor and child minding.  I am trying to avoid that if I can.  Right now, I am working with Pepper and Sunshine to just pick up after themselves, thinking that would help my sanity quite a lot.  I have also figured out that toys with many pieces need to be put away and only played with under supervision, or said pieces wind up everywhere, including being carried around by the dog.  I think we just have too much stuff.  If anyone has any wisdom for me, please share! 

Here are a couple of funnies for you.  Tinker is a huge Sesame Street fan, and Elmo is her particular favorite.  To be fair, it's almost the only TV they watch, so of course she loves it.  About 4 pairs of her panties have Elmo on them so lately, she's taken to calling them "Elmo-ware."  As in, "I don't want it fairy panty.  I want Elmoware!"  Funny girl.

Pepper left her vocabulary cards on the kitchen table so Sunshine and I picked out a couple of words and have been liberally sprinkling them into the conversation.  It's easier than you think to work in  "proclivity" and "rollick" when most of your conversation centers around a bunch of toddlers.   Pepper seems surprised and annoyed by Sunshines' sudden proclivity for using complicated language, but does not appear to have figured out the cause yet.

 I was busy soaking up the love while my folks were here so I did not make many posts.  Pretty quick I am going to backtrack to Thanksgiving and post my sweet potatoes and Cranberry Sauce recipes because I really liked how they turned out.  See ya!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

National Adoption Day aka TISCHLER Adoption Day!

We had an amazing day yesterday, when "The Littles" officially joined our clan.  For today only I'm using everyone's real names in the post, just so you don't have to work your brain so hard!  Just a minute ago, I was reading the headlines to Paul:  "28 Former Foster Children Welcomed into 11 Families in McClennan County,"  and Gabriel said, "Me, Mama?  That was me?"  It was the sweetest moment ever!

We had to drive to Waco (85 miles or so) to McClennan County for the National Adoption Day.  The good folks at McClennan County did a great job of making it fun for the kids -- which is great because really only Gabriel had a clue about any of it.  They had a fun party room with a balloon-animal guy, life size Toy Story characters (Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Raggedy Andy and a Toy Soldier), balloons, chicken, pizza and cake!  Oh and chocolate milk.  And grapes.  Every kids' dream and every mom's choking-hazard nightmare!  But they loved it.

The day was extra sweet for Paul and I because ALL the grandparents were there.  Paul's Mom, Gerry Tischler and my folks -- Les and Donna Huntley --- traveled up with us and Paul's dad and step-mom, Fred and Pam Tischler drove down to meet us.

Our CPS caseworker, CPS adoption worker, Gabriel's original caseworker, our Marywood worker, and our CASA volunteer and superviser were all there to enjoy the fruits of their labor.  There are lots of "hard" days in the world of CPS so it was truly wonderful to see them have a good day!   They have all worked so hard on behalf of these kids!

Enough talk -- on with the photos!

Benjamin, Gabriel, Marguerite

Gerry Tischler, Allison holding Bennie, Donna and Les Huntley, Dreena holding Maggie Rose, Paul holding Gabriel, Chanelle

The welcoming committee

All of us with the judge

"The Littles with Kara -- their worker

Fred and Pam Tischler (waiting our turn!)

The Judge!

Pam and Maggie Rose

The big girls, Alli and Chanelle

Ms. Diane - CASA volunteer for the kids

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Short List of Random Things

All the kids are funny.  Even the big ones --- although they appreciate it less when I laugh at them.  So I am making a couple of notes for posterity.

Sunshine has been wanting "boots" for a year.  I'd characterize them as go-go style boots.  Yesterday we bought her Christmas dress, tights and boots.  She's so happy.   She looks like a girl from the 60's but with more sparkle.  The boots are Candies brand.  So Sunshine modeled her outfit for the folks and I and mused, "There are a lot of things that are Candies brand.  Clothes and purses and shoes and even Lamme's chocolates."  Funny.

The Blitz is talking up a storm and has entered a new funny phase.  He stands in the middle of the room with no one touching him and points at various people and says, "No.  No, NO!"  This is very confusing to The Captain and Tink.  They keep looking at me to make sure I know they are not actually doing anything to him.  He has also learned to sing Happy Birthday, thanks to Grandma and Aunt Toots having a birthday this week.  The only word you can actually understand is "you" but he is obviously very sincere about it.  Yesterday's phrase was "I love you"  which sounds a lot like "Lie-La-LOOOOOH" but it is really cute.  He was tickled pink that I understood him.

This morning someone accidentally tooted -- okay it was me.  I was sitting on the sofa.  Tink looked at me very compassionately and said, "Did you poop?" She can make the most sincere faces -- it is really hard to discipline her without cracking up.  I noticed Mamaw suddenly has to leave the room almost every time she gets in trouble.

The Captain was really into Trick-or-Treating.  Now every single day he asks me, "Trick or Treat?"  And the time change has thrown this poor boy for a loop.  He wakes up early and then mommy gets cross when he wakes his sibs.  And he is STARVING the second he awakens which has messed with my schedule, big time.  He is also starving when he gets home from school and he is mighty impatient to get into the house and eat.  He is really taking charge of his talking now and actually initiates conversations with me, especially about school.  I cannot believe how truly thrilling this is.

Pepper had a couple of sick days lately and has amused us all with her ability to quote movies with accents, especially Monty Python.  She has also suddenly become an accomplished whistler, something I am utterly unable to do.  She recently got a chance to do a field trip with the older art students -- they sketched a live model.  She totally amazes me with her artistic ability.

That's the news from the funny farm.  Wish I'd have had a blog when the big girls were "littles!"

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween with the Bigs and the Littles

Halloween is over. I survived. As usual, nothing quite went as planned; lesson learned. Next year (and I am saying this out loud so I actually have to stick to it) NO pizza! Last minute changes in plans equated to a LOT of leftover pizza -- again. Next year - build your own sandwich bar. That way, the leftovers are more useful.

I really wanted "the Littles" to get an early start. I was afraid the
"spooks" would scare the pants off Tink. Well we did get an early start about an hour later than I'd planned! We have a family rule -- you only trick-or-treat as far as you can walk. Because that's probably about how much fun you can stand.

The Captain was a bossy cowboy. Ooops. Did I say that out loud?  I meant a cowboy. Tink was a "whimsical witch" - super cute. The Blitz was a sweaty doggy. His costume was way too hot. I feared that -- I bought it when we had that real brief cold spell. Of course I can't post pics of the darling dearlings because of foster care rules. So you will have to take my word for it.

The big girls were enterprising in their costumes this year and I spent a grand total of $10 on both! Sunshine was a "scene girl." No one seems to know what this is. I'd call it "punk rock meets pink." Pepper was a kitty -- adorable -- although this photo is scary. I like it that the girls aren't gruesome in their costuming. Even hubby got in on the act with his jester costume.

The church still had Religous Education last night. Both girls laughed themselves silly when I asked them if they wanted to go! Seriously? How many people do you think turned up? It's pretty over the top when even I am not "that good."

I let Pepper trick-or-treat. I know she's "too old" -- but she was not anywhere near the oldest of the kids who came to my door. What do you think, dear reader, is 14 too old?

After all the yelling (mine) to get the Littles out the door, it was actually fun. The Bigs had a ball and the Littles could not believe they were lucky enough to be given CANDY! Hope your day was just as great!

Monday, October 25, 2010

"PC" Talk - Food for Thought

Yesterday I told The Blitz, "Be a better baby!  Be a better baby!"  I said it because I like the rhythm of alliteration.  Normally I say, "Make a wise choice!" or, "Be a good friend," or "Share with your sister, please."  This clear departure from the usual patter caught Pepper's attention.

She called me on it.  "Why did you say that mom?  Why didn't you just say, 'Be good!'"?

"I don't want to label him as good or bad.   I am asking for what I want.  I am being specific.  I am trying to raise a kid who thinks and not just one who tries to stay out of trouble.  We can't be 'good' but we can be 'better."   Sometimes we can make a 'wiser' choice but we can't always make a 'good' one.  I am trying to make it do-able."

She pondered this a minute.  "Well, I remember being little and you saying "Make a wise choice" and me thinking, 'She wants me to be good.'"

Hmmm. Perhaps there is such a thing as too "enlightened parenting."  I'm not sure.  I have to ponder it a bit.

Both Pepper and Sunshine are "good kids."  We say it all the time -- though not to them.

To them, we say, "You are thoughtful.  We trust you to make wise decisions.  Your schoolwork reflects your hard work.  You're responsible.  You're a hard worker.  You are beautiful inside and out -- and the insides are what count the most.  You're a good friend."

Yet, even though we tried to raise them differently, I'm not sure we did.   It's thinly veiled, at best.  It's clearly human nature to label things.  I see it in "the Littles" all the time.


They don't get all this from me (though I can imagine the fingers pointing!)  It is in them.  We have religiously avoided the label "bad" with all "our" kids -- and yet it is one of the first words each of these "Littles" have said.  A child who makes a "poor choice" is frequently chastised by one of the other two as "bad, bad."  No amount of ignoring or protesting on our part has changed this.  And even though they've not heard the word from us in 8 months, they still know it and use it!

I don't think this revelation will necessarily change my parenting style --but a dose of reality sweetly administered by a wiser-than-her-years 14 year old is certainly useful.  Food for thought.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


A couple of years ago, our visit to San Francisco produced a new interest in Rice-a-Roni.  When we realized that China Town and the Italian section were next door neighbors, the whole Italian/Asian fusion in that particular product just seemed so perfect.  At the grocery store recently, one of the girls begged me to buy Rice-A-Roni.  We usually eat brown rice and whole wheat pasta, but we all  know kids dig the simple carbs.    I did pick it up, but the list of chemicals is l-o-n-g.  So I put it down.  I said, "I wish we could make it at home."  Pepper said, "You can do it, Mom!

You gotta give the people what they want!

Herb and Butter Dreena-Roni

Serves 8 - 156 calories

1/4 lb. angel hair - broken into pieces of 1" or less
1-1/2 cups medium grain rice

1/4 cup butter - melt it in a LARGE skillet
  • gently brown the rice and angel hair in the skillet until lightly browned
1 tsp. Herbs d/ Provence
2 cloves garlic
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
  • Mash all this together with a mortar and pestle or crush the herbs in your hands and stir together
5 cups chicken broth, warmed*. 
  • Add the herbs to the rice
  • Add chicken broth slowly, 1 cup at a time, bringing it to a boil each time
  • Stir gently as you add the broth
  • Once all the broth is in, put the lid on tightly, turn the heat all the way down and simmer 20 minutes.
*  If using homemade broth, you may need to water it down about 1/3
*  If you don't have chicken broth, you can crush 2 chicken bouillon cubes with the spices, but go easy on the salt.

For a full nutritional breakdown, I have recorded the recipe on SparkPeople.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Time In and Sick Kid

The moratorium on time-out continues.  Life is easier without it.  Time-out on time-outs had an unexpected side benefit:  It effectively took the "big" girls out of the discipline equation.  All along, I've asked them to let me do the disciplining, but I think wielding the power is pretty alluring.

For my part, the moratorium has caused a burst of creative thinking.  Some things kids do require a response -- when "The Captain" clocked his sister with a matchbox car (on the face by the way) I needed to respond.  I decided in the "natural consequences" world, if a car is a weapon, you therefore cannot have cars.  He lost his large collection for a day.  You have never seen a sadder boy.  I actually was starting to feel pretty guilty about it until the BRUISE showed up on her face a few hours later.

Most of the time however, a quiet word is all that's needed.  All in all, it seems to be working.

The Captain is sick.  I think he gets this stuff at school.  It's his second bad cold since school started.  Yikes.  I am trying not to imagine what is going to be like when cold and flu season starts.  Since I have never had a little kid in school before, I could use some disease prevention advice.  Should I just dip him in chlorine when he comes home? On the bright side, we did seem so stave off our inevitable "post doctor" illness in the little kids.  Maybe the diaper-wipe barrier plan actually worked!

The Blitz is continuing his hobby of emptying cabinets and drawers at lightning speed.  And Tink, having been revived by the lack of time-outs, has amped up her  hobby of stealing whatever anyone else wants to play with.  In response to several quiet talks about sharing, she now announces her intention with a loudly declared "My Turn!"

It's life as usual.  Come visit!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Paranoid Mommy Finds a Cure

I admit it, I hate taking "the Littles" to the doctor.  Don't get me wrong, I love Dr. Azuma.  She is the greatest.  It's just that every time we go, someone gets sick two days later.  I can set my watch by it -- or my calendar, anyway.

Today was "the Blitz" 18-month well check.   Our doctor has a "well-child" waiting area, which I appreciate, but then we all go into the same exam rooms.  Having burned through all our entertainment in the waiting room, I was hatching a new plan for fun when we got into the exam room.  My first thought was how I wished I could scrub the place down before the kids picked up any germs.  Oh, great idea!  I gave Tink and The Blitz two diaper wipes each and let them have at it.  Tink scrubbed the kids table and "her" chair, which was great since she wound up getting in and out of that chair 50 times.  The Blitz mostly held his to his nose and pretended to sneeze, but at least he was touching everything in the room.

Does that mean they won't get sick?  Who knows!  But at least I feel better, right?

PS -- The Blitz has officially overcome any preemie delays, is well and strong.  23 lbs, 25% of height, 30th of weight.  "Growing and developing robustly" is the official verdict.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Time Out on Time Outs

In what can probably only be called temporary insanity, I have placed a moratorium on time-outs.  With three aged 3 and under, someone is pretty much always crossing the line and I was starting to feel like a prison guard.

Don't get me wrong; I am a proponent of time out.  Pepper and Sunshine certainly did some "time" back in the day, and for them, it worked.  However, the amount of time I was spending monitoring this activity suggested that it is no longer working.

There is a difference in the trust level between a child you've had since birth (or nearly) versus a child who is relatively new in your home.  I think they are still trying to figure out if we love them.  What a heart-breaking thing to consider.

So I pulled the proverbial plug.  The final results are not in as this is only Day 2, but it actually seems to be working!  Yesterday, I just took the "offender" aside and spoke quietly  to them about how they had behaved and what was expected.  They apologized and went on their way. 

"The Captain," of course, then needed to discover the boundaries of this new prison-without-walls.  As a consequence, he has been sent away (temporarily, of course) from the table for 2 out of the 5 meals served since the moratorium.  He is usually hungry, so was happy to get his behavior under control so he could return.

The Blitz got physically removed from the kitchen this morning when he insisted on sitting right under my feet, but had a much shorter and less intense fit than usual.  There is apparently no point in having a giant fit if you aren't then going to time out to surreptitiously remove all the books from the nearby bookshelf.  He wailed a minute and then played with the blocks.  He also removed his diaper -- usually a time-out worthy decision -- and I just stuck it back on him with clothes that are harder to remove.  He wailed as I dressed him and even headed to where time-out used to be but when I didn't say anything he turned around and toddled back, looking as if he'd won the lottery.

And Tinker has completely dropped her hobby of taking toys from the boys when she is sure I am looking.  I had a sneaking suspicion she was only doing it to GET to time out and that may have been the case.  As a result, there is a lot less yelling and crying going on.

I've reassigned the little stools to other duty and the children are running amok.  Not really. I am employing "natural consequences" (like leaving the table) when all else fails, but we are all getting along quite well.  Who'd have thought less discipline was the way to go? 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

We Need Another Shoe Rack

The title says it all.  When we suddenly almost doubled the population of our home, some systems failed!  We have a serious plethora of shoes, but no extras.  Storage of every kind is an ongoing issue.

Things are really hoppin' around here what with the kidlets, the laundry, the dishes and the organization issues.  The days fly by so fast, I'm afraid I'll someday forget how wild and wonderful it all is.  Sometimes I have a really great idea or recipe, so this is where I'll store it.  Hopefully it will one day be of use to someone.   This blog is really just another extravagance -- me treating me to a big ole bag of love -- and lessons learned.

I have no real belief that I will draw any big readership ,but I wish I'd known about blogging when the girls were little because all that stuff I just knew I'd remember forever, I've already forgotten.  So here it is - a little peek into the life of a couple of nuts that suddenly decided to parent 3 tiny little cuties in addition to the remarkable two they already had.    For future reference, here's the current census of the household.  Everyone has been nicknamed so they won't have to kill me later:
Dear Hubby, aka DH - he's 48 on the outside -- young on the inside
Pepper -- Girl, Just started high school and just turned 14
Sunshine - Girl, 12 years old -- home-schooled 7th grader
The Captain - Boy, 3 years young
Tinkerbell , aka Tink, aka Tinker-- Girl, obviously, 2
The Blitz - Boy, 17 mos.

and the furry friends:
Bubby, aka Tyler Bing, chi-terrier mix of unknown age, thought to be 8
Daisy, lab-shepherd mix, 12, a good, good girl
Kiki la Vaca, 13 year old kitty with Hereford cow markings

Oh, and me;  51, certifiable.