Thursday, June 2, 2016

Mastering the Granny Square {My Continuing Quest to Learn to Crochet}

I taught myself to crochet about ten years ago now, but I didn't fully understand where the hook was supposed to go when starting a new row. Thus the few very basic projects I made had a rather strange look about them ;o). In late June, early July last summer, I was rather preoccupied even during the quiet times and I knew that reading was not the therapy I needed. I needed something to keep my hands busy because my mind was not going to slow down enough to read a book.

I am left handed when it comes to writing, eating, and apparently, crocheting. Murray's mom was left handed too, so I thought she could teach me and had taken my crochet up with me when they were still living on the farm, but alas she had learned to crochet right handed and my dreams of her teaching me were dashed. Finally, last summer, I watched a YouTube video that taught it left-handed. It finally made sense! I was so thrilled that I took my work up to the hospital to show Mom. She seemed pleased. I don't think I will ever be as good at it as she was, but I am glad I could show her yet that I had finally learned to properly crochet too.

I have since learned to do a granny square. So now I am making a couple afghans and a lap blanket (maybe?).

You've heard of the ugly Christmas sweater? Well, I am making the ugly Christmas afghan. :oD

This is new wool I bought. It's actually cotton. I have no idea why I bought it except that cotton washes up nice?

My leftover wool...

I have been telling myself that I am not allowed to buy new wool until I have used up my entire stash. Granny squares are great for that! Too bad I don't seem to have much time lately for any crocheting...

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Dining Room {Good-bye Dark, Hello Bright!}

Although I do love the flower pot orange, the colour was just not working for me in our dining room. It always felt dark in there and we tend to spend quite a bit of time in our kitchen/dining area. Being a northern exposure it is darker to begin with, but I was getting to the point where I felt like the orange was sucking the life out of me. It was time to paint!

I chose Benjamin Moore's Edgecomb Grey. Some of my children had a hard time liking me switching to grey, but when I told them it was grey walls or cut down our big Crimson King maple, the boo-hooing suddenly stopped.

The last two photos almost make the walls look cold, but in real life, it's not cold at all. It's cozy and relaxing feeling. The printed sign is from our paint store where I purchase all my Benjamin Moore paint. The photos of the Amish and Mennonite people were taken when the Engineer's parents sold their farm. As much as I love those photos, they will never be available for sale because, well, truth is, I never got any of those folk's permission to take those photographs. Horrible, I know!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Silly Girls!

Our rhubarb is growing like crazy and producing some giant leaves. The other night the three oldest girls gathered on the front lawn and got a little silly. Stress relief maybe?

At least they can't say they never have any fun!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Discovering My Home Style {Farmhouse}

In perusing Pinterest and looking at what I pin, I have discovered that I really like the farmhouse style of decorating. Not the industrial farmhouse style, but the bona fide country farmhouse style. Minus the white kitchen cupboards. Why would anyone living on a farm who was in their right mind put in a white kitchen!? Don't get me wrong, white kitchens are beautiful, but with children, animals, and the dirt that comes with country/farm living, why would anyone put in white cupboards!?

Anyhow, white kitchens aside, I love the farmhouse look and have slowly been adapting it to our home.

This is what you see just to your left when you walk in our back door. Bench, watering can, and mirror were all given to me by my parents. I'm quite liking the fact that they're downsizing! ;o)

I broke down and bought this bouquet the morning of the prom.

The mirror was originally wood that I spray painted white. (Yes, loving on the spray paint again!) The frame is from the Philippines and is made with rolled paper. It holds the first photo of our newly enlarged family.  The jar on the shelf is a painted mason jar (just acrylic craft paint and sealed with a matte spray varnish), and the hanging jar is just from the dollar store. The tulips were picked from our gardens.

To the far right is the laundry room. My dream is to switch the machines to stackers, but if it's not broken, you don't fix it, so I will live with it the way it is for now.

The green mason jar is from Michael's and the multicoloured jar is thrifted, but originally from Pier 1 Imports.

The glass jar is also thrifted, and the galvanized pot is another "cast off" from my parents. It holds luscious scented soaps from The Melaleuca Company.

 Every country home needs rubber boots, right? :o) This pair holds all the random objects that fall out of my family's pockets -- mostly hair elastics, buttons, change, and safety pins.

To your immediate left when you walk in the door is this sign. It's made by a wonderfully talented wife and mom at Owl Craft That.

You see this pic on your right as you leave. Also from my parents. :o)

Every time I paint this room (third time now), I go darker. The colour
is now Benjamin Moore's, Copley Grey. It's my favorite colour yet for this room!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


This much-anticipated event arrived and departed in a whirlwind of activity over a week and a half ago already. The Engineer and I spent much of the week outdoors getting our rather neglected property looking decent again. It has been so cold this spring that up until this past week, we hadn't spent much time outdoors. It was beautiful most of the week, but Saturday's forecast never changed. Cold and miserable. Which is exactly how it turned out.

However, a scramble to get the house clean and tidy and set up the studio lights worked well and we took most of the group of fourteen prom-goers photographs inside. What a fun afternoon it was!

Follows are mostly all the outdoor ones because, truthfully, I haven't edited the studio ones yet. (They are giving me grief! So glad I edit in RAW or it would be even worse!)

(For those of you who have that keen photography eye, yes, I am aware of the blotchy wall. I will fix it another day. I was having issues. Time is of the essence at the moment!)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

What the Adoption Books Don't Tell You...

We had adoption training and I read almost every book I could get my hands on, but it's not enough.
Our daughters will be home five years this June 11 and almost every day I go to bed shaking my head and wondering, praying. "Lord, there has to be a way to help these girls!"

This year, we have reached the pinnacle of frustration! What can we be so frustrated about? By all accounts, if you see us out and about, our three youngest look like they are pretty well adjusted. They seem bright enough. They're obedient. They look happy. I want to say that they put on a good front, but that's not it. They are all those things.

The adoption books all talk about loss, and anger, and acting out. We have dealt with very little of that. At least in the physical raging, desperately upset child, sort of way. They outgrew that in their first year of being home. Holidays are not a big trigger point for them. Eg. this Mother's Day, they didn't even talk about their bio mom.  They very rarely do. They would rather talk about life in the orphanage, but even that doesn't happen often.

Not to say that they aren't suffering from a huge loss. They are! It manifests itself in a completely different way than the adoption books and adoption training ever told us about. (Maybe someday I will have to write a book, but these days, I am barely keeping my head above water.) These three little girls have yet to develop thinking skills. Everything is done by rote or imitation. They rarely think for themselves. For example, if our schedule changes because we are running late and I tell them to dress before breakfast, well the next day they will dress before breakfast again. If one decides that it's warm enough to wear shorts in March, the other two will promptly put on shorts too. They leave no room for individuality. Oh, and before you think that one of them actually thought about the fact that it might actually be warm enough in March to put on shorts, yes there is occasionally a glimmer of thinking, but the odds are higher that an older sister put on shorts that day for a reason that could be completely unrelated to the temperature.

They were in school for four years. Although the school did their best to help them out, we could see that they weren't advancing very well. We didn't pull them because I thought I could do a better job, but rather so that I could tailor their education to better suit them. In the meantime, we had Bright Eyes tested. Yes, she has some learning difficulties, but to this day, I still feel that she is stubborn! All three of them have a poor work ethic. They try to find the simplest and quickest way to get things done often choosing to completely ignore any instructions given. Again, they don't want to have to think. If everything could be memorized, they would be fine, but we all know that most things in life require one to think. Read, think, discern, and you can do almost anything. Don't do any one of these and you will not get very far in life.

In September, I began homeschooling them similar to how I had schooled their older siblings. It was a nightmare! I could not leave the room at all. They could not be trusted, and someone was always finishing something that needed to be looked over before they could move on to the next thing. Eventually, Murray found an online program. It works better for them and me, but they have learned ways around it to "cheat" too. Their writing is still not improving despite the comprehensive grammar and writing this program provides and again, I find myself at my wits end! I have actually gone out to the garage and screamed in frustration.

I ask myself questions. I wonder if it's because they are biologically three sisters? Is there chemical damage to their brains? Is it their genetics? Am I that lousy of a mother? Is it all the fault of adoption trauma? How are we supposed to raise them into decently functioning adults?

To put into perspective how behind they are, I will share their age and where they are at grade wise according to their age and where they should actually be if they weren't adopted and had grown up from day one in a normal functioning home and family.

Bella is twelve (She is a December baby, so that does make her a young twelve.) She is currently working at a grade three level. Realistically, she should be in grade seven, a year behind Squirt (who is in grade eight and is also a December baby). If she was still in school, she would be in grade six. However, even socially, she is not close to the behavior of a grade seven girl. She and Squirt rarely play together because Bella is so juvenile yet in so many ways.

Bright Eyes is eleven and is sort of doing grade two. She hasn't mastered writing at all. There is no subject-verb agreement. Punctuation is unheard of and often, even the sentences are not coherent. If her life had been normal from birth, she would be in grade five -- grade four if she was still in school. Again maturity-wise, she is not even close to the level of her would be peers.

Peanut is starting grade two work. Her writing is awful, but likely the closest to her grade level of the three girls. She too is very immature for her biological age. She would be in grade three if she had had the opportunity to have a normal life from the beginning and grade two if she was still in school. She is definitely the most feisty and vocal of her sisters. She needs a constant eye on her and a firm hand guiding her, which despite driving me crazy some days, I find encouraging. I feel the most hopeful for her.

Not only are they behind their would-be peers academically, but even in their slightly corrected grades at school, they are all socially behind their peers. It doesn't seem to have an effect in the younger grades, but we did start noticing with Bella last year that she was being left out of many of the happenings of her classmates. She is generally a happy and sociable girl, so she either didn't notice, or it didn't bother her as she still had a friend or two to spend time with.

Having the three home together worries us because who do they have, but each other. No one is more mature than the other, and because they seem to feed off each other, they don't gain any social skills by being at home all the time.

Add to all this frustration, are three older sisters who lead normal busy teenage lives and who still need their mom and dad very much too, and perhaps you can understand why we are at a complete loss.

I've prayed, I've ranted, I've cried, sometimes in turn, sometimes all at the same time, but we have yet to figure out and understand what will help our girls grow into healthy functioning young ladies.

There must be more adoptive families out there who are facing these very similar struggles, but we have yet to find them, let alone find answers on how to help our daughters.


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