Thursday, September 09, 2010


I seem to be plumb out of blogging "ooomph" this week, despite my best intentions. I am plain old drained, pooped, fried, and basically emotionally on a big fat ZERO. This too will pass, and in fact it needs to before Round 3 (or is that 43??) when we head to Chicago next week for Kenny's next surgery.

Kenny will be getting a bone graft for the other side of his bilateral cleft, replacing bone in his upper jaw that never existed. There will also be yet another attempt made to close his palate which we are praying is successful. Thankfully, he is in great spirits about it all this time around, as fears have dissipated and he realizes that pain will be well controlled. Still, it can be awfully hard to watch his still-little body on that gurney as they wheel him in. This parenting stuff isn't for sissies, is it? And yet I am still so very grateful for the fact that all our kids are healthy, and our hospital visits are not for life threatening conditions.

Speaking of hospitals, we received amazing news. We have an appointment at Shriner's in Salt Lake City for Matthew to be assessed for his orthopedic issues. What a huge surprise that was! What started out as merely asking for a referral in an effort to find a good pediatric orthopedist ended in an unexpected surprise automatic acceptance for treatment. God's blessings are so numerous, so overwhelming, that I am often left stunned and wishing for all I am worth that somehow Dominick and I could pay it forward in some big way. Now we go for the evaluation and hope that there is something non-invasive that can be done to help Matthew so he is not in pain so much. However, we have been told that it might come down to surgically braking his leg or legs and resetting them perhaps with rods. We will see...and face that if we need to. And I remind myself, one breath at a time, one step at a time...

The girls started TaeKwonDo last night with the boys, and came away completely and totally excited about it. They had both had exposure to Judo at the orphanage somewhere along the line, and although at first insisted they didn't want to do it, over time they began to ask about it and decided they wanted to after all. There was a lot of giggling as they worked in the back with the teacher and 2 other new students, but they got the hang of it quickly and can't wait to get uniforms so they look like everyone else. And Dominick and I are thrilled to have only one place to run to each week with all 5 of them, and that all 5 really and truly enjoy it.

We are trying to get back in the swing of things with school, which is hard knowing we are leaving again next week. I am so glad we worked so much over the summer as we already have a tremendous number of hours in, but we also have huge personal goals set for ourselves as well so we will keep plugging away at it. After we return we will settle in and gain some real headway. In the meantime, reading continues and Kenny has found something that completely sucked him was just what I had hoped for! Awhile back a dear friend sent us the entire series of A-Z Mysteries along with a huge supply of Magic Treehouse books. I have tried not to push much of anything with any of the kids, preferring to let them sample a lot of material, gain a love of reading in general, and see how it all played out. Kenny is hooked on this A-Z Mysteries and for the first time is reading as much as he fact at 11:15 PM he is still reading here at the foot of our bed, as Matthew just finished his book on Winston Churchill. This is his 3rd and he intends to read the entire series!!! I was hoping this would happen, as I know if we can get him hooked on material he wants to devour, chances is we will see his reading fluency increase. Saying little prayers this works!

Olesya also is working her way through her first "real" book and seems to enjoy the Magic Treehouse books a lot, so maybe she will also get hooked. I hope so! Now, if we can just get Angela hooked on something, which is proving more difficult. Little House will be there eventually, but we are a tad bit behind that level yet and I need something in the interim that is smaller chapter books. She has shown no interest in the other 2 series, so I will keep investigating and leaving stuff around in the hope that something will light a spark.

We are experiencing some struggles with homeschooling in that Matthew is simply not getting enough one on one time, and I am trying to figure out a way to attend more effectively to his needs. He understands that the other kids are at a stage where they really can't move forward much without individual attention, and he is so far ahead he can easily do it...but it is taking it's toll and we need to fix this ASAP. This has been quite an undertaking and a logistical challenge on many levels as we try to get kids up to speed with reading so that much of this gets easier, but we are a long way away from that and I am afraid I have failed Matthew terribly in some ways, which breaks my heart. We have such an incredibly wide gap to teach here, and a lot of special needs to attend to, and that makes it far more interesting and at times frustrating than it might otherwise be. I'm doing my best, and we are making progress, but man this is hard...and exhausting...and still the best thing we ever did. But pretending it is easy would be a joke, as it sure isn't. I keep holding on to the fact that we are gradually figuring it all out, more and more it feels like we are actually going to make it, but there are times deep in the night when it all weighs so heavy.

Then there is Sunny...the, the puppy...who is not showing any signs of being willing to be house trained...and is spoiled rotten by every single kid in this house. The kids are all fantastic and honestly I never even ask them to clean up her messes, even Joshie just automatically runs to the cupboard and grabs the Resolve and paper towels. It is the only thing that has kept me sane with this, their eager response to meeting the dog's needs. She is growing, and she IS very cute, but still totally a puppy as should be expected and this is probably the last thing I needed right now :-)

On the other hand, why not? Add a little more chaos to the existing mess!!

So now it is time for me to force Kenny to put the book away, for even though we are homeschooling I still want to start at a semi-reasonable time tomorrow! But there is beauty in late night book fests, and homeschooling definitely allows for flexibility...he just finished enough reading time to cover 4 days worth if we wanted!!

Night all!


Anonymous said...

Has Angela been exposed to any of the American Girl books? My daughter really enjoys them and there are quite a variety to choose from--the original series with several books about each historical girl, as well as many newer mystery books. She may find them interesting, especially because they include girls whose families came to America from foreign lands, as well as girls from different cultures within the United States. I have a few duplicate copies of these books if you'd like me to send them to you--I'd be happy to share!

Caryn in Indiana

Kara and Quentin said...

You might already have this info, but there is a great tool called LEXILE on the internet to find books at a certain level. If you put in a title of a book one of the kids has read that is at their reading level it will give you the LEXILE number. Once you have a number (reading level) you can find more books in that range. The link is
My girls also really like reading about animals right now. The Puppy Place series is really good.

Anonymous said...

Have you tried the "My First Little House" books?
since she loves Little House she may love these, bigger print and pictures.
Billy and Blaze books? Or the Bobsey Twins?
Here is a list of easy chapter books

Hope you find lots of ideas to strew.

Teresa F.

Anonymous said...

You are paying it forward--hundreds of small and large acts each day times five.


Anonymous said...

I've never commented before, but I found your site in searching for information about adoption. I am a teacher and like another commenter mentioned Angela might like the American Girl series. I have a wide variety of reading levels in my class, so we study literature in themes, but use leveled reading books. I've found that the lower level readers really do enjoy the American Girl series (now if only there was a boy version!). The stories are interesting and tell quite a bit about history. I think there is even one character that's from Russia or around there in one of the immigrant stories.


Anonymous said...

Another series that might still be a bit to difficult, but an in between after the American Girls, but before Little House is the Orphan Train (fictional, but based in the actual move of orphans from the east coast to the midwest) series. This series might also prove a way to encourage discussion about the feelings involved in older child adoption as many of the kids that rode the Orphan Train and were adopted were older.

Melissa in California

Karon and John said...

As I read your comment about being thankful that your trips to hospitals were for managable things I had to comment. We recently adopted a son who was born with a cleft pallet and so we have been spending some quality time at childrens. I must say, if one is every stuck in their own pitty party, that place will make you feel blessed beyond your wildest dreams. The strenghth, courage, love and laughter I see there is in its most beautiful form. And also just in case you didn't know it already, you guys are paying it forward every day.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts and prayers for you and Kenny, as he goes for his next surgery. A good friend here has a grown son, born without one bone in his jaw. He went through a number of surgeries to correct this. He's a great guy, now a college graduate. His mom was involved in an organization called "About Face", and she did some presentations at school about facial differences. They also have a daughter (10)with Downs, and their family is also involved in many organizations that lend support to families with children with Downs. She's an amazing mom and community member, putting me to shame with what little I do but parent and help with homework! You are also one of those amazing moms, teaching various levels at home and much, much, more.

Safe travels and speedy recovery for Kenny. He is a very courageous and wonderful young man.

Nancy in the Midwest

Christina said...

Did you know that there are non-fiction books to go with the A-Z books? They are at a higher reading level than the fiction stories, but they pair together nicely. After we finished reading the series, and we were a bit stronger readers, we let the kids go back and "reread" the fiction, and then tackle the non-fiction book that 'matched'. The kids LOVED it, and it is the best way to teach non-fiction by pairing it with fiction. Also, Magic School Bus has chapter books that are a bit harder than A-Z and are science topics...

My daughter loved Junie B Jones chapter books (about same level as A-Z or a hair easier) and loves Animal Ark (those are a bit harder). Animal Ark titles are Bunnies in the Bathroom, Pony on the Porch, Kittens in the Mitten, Goose on the Loose... series about a girl, her dad is a vet, and she helps animals out of trouble. We bought a ton of Animal Ark off ebay... ended up being like 75 cents to $1 a book.

Hope this helps!

Lori said...

I don't remember what the other two series books you had referenced were, but were the Beezus and Ramona books one of them??? You might have to explain a few things that were colloquial then, but with the Beezus and Ramona movie out now (and maybe on DVD by now!) that might spark some interest?

I love that Kenny is into those A-Z books!! And I wonder also if he wouldn't just really enjoy the heck out of the Magic School Bus books--there are chapter books and then there are more primary--the flatter ones if the chapter are too difficult right now for him.

Praying for the next weeks and days with the appointments for the boys at Shriners'...what a blessing!