Friday, July 26, 2013


Time for answers---
  CHRIS--As far as re-doing chores and attitude. I don't usually get that because attitude brings ANOTHER chore assignment and then ANOTHER until an attitude adjustment is made. And the chores get less "easy" as I go. So as smart as my kids are they certainly don't "go there" often. Once in awhile (Chance being the worst about this because he likes to do things FAST, but not so GOOD).

 I try not to let any poorly done chore "go" because it means anger from the other kids who see that as me playing favorites.  They end up resenting the one who gets away with this. Not good all around. But I totally understand too, because sometimes you just get tired of saying "do it again" and you wipe the sink and move on, yes you do. And so do I.

The thing is, not one person goes to their grave saying they wished they had spent more time cleaning. So I am all for FAST, but want it done RIGHT, so if they can do both I allow it. If they can't I ask them to redo because it has to be done. And I explain to them that they wasted time they could have been out playing, doing fun things, but instead, they are cleaning something for a second time.

DAWN-Now for technology. Well. I think we would be called "Strict" in this sense. I don't worry about what other people think though, cause we gotta do what works for our family. And what that looks like from "out there" isn't as important as kids getting what they need "in here",  in the family.

So as far as cell phones, Camden and Chloe have them. Chase has one that uses units, we put them on the phone. Chance doesn't have one. Nor does Paisley. Chance and Paisley (as well as Chase) have the least amount of "phone etiquette." (And yes, we have tried to teach it MOM).  When anyone that doesn't have a cell phone goes somewhere they can take along someone else's cell phone to use if they will need to call home, etc.

Because certain children here, regardless of  their ages, decided learning was hard and they "didn't want to do it." So we find it impossible to hand over electronics they can't/won't use appropriately.  Thus we must go by maturity/abilities learned instead of age.  An example is-- Chance, Chase, and Paisley. All 3 were given I pods from the school for translation purposes and other uses.

We realized very quickly they were accessing sites on the Internet they were not allowed to access even after we sent the I pods back to school and told the tech guy to block them from doing this--- they turned around and did it AGAIN. (nothing illegal MOM, just not things we approved of) 

 As well, they were hiding/ non responsive using these devices (ear plugs) --- and we wanted to SEE, SPEAK, ENJOY our children.  The common picture of people doing everything bent over their electronics is NOT what we want our family to be. This does not teach FAMILY, love, English, relationships.  

Matter of fact, it doesn't foster anything healthy that we could see. So the I pods went back to school never to be brought out again, not even in school because they were doing the same thing there. Hiding away and not bothering to communicate or interact with anyone. Sooo not good.

It's VERY, VERY easy to let a teen be swallowed up in electronics and think they are "happy" because you don't hear anything from them. It's a lot harder to actually PARENT and teach a child/ren and that's our goal. Our kids NEED parents.

All of our teens came with few self regulating abilities, huge doses of  immaturity-- I couldn't imagine handing them typical teen electronics just because of their number age. They don't know how to say "Well, I need to go do this, so I better get off my I pod."  Not at first, no way.

Again, I'm not trying to win any popularity contests and my kids aren't thrilled at times that they don't have what their friends in school may have. I just know from my vast experience with adopting older kids that electronics are NOT something to hand them right off the bat. We think, oh they are a teen, they will want them. And they might.

But wanting and knowing what's good for them is 2 different things.

 Take for example Paisley--- when she arrived at first family- she came with the know-how of computer use. So they unknowingly allowed her to have computer access, phone, Skype, you name it, feeling that she needed it to help her adjust. This is a common thought with those adopting older since our kids have lost everything comfortable (known) to them.

BUT this is NOT good.  Paisley immediately had herself right back in China, via computer, phone, Skype. She was VERY unhappy with the work she was facing to learn English, make friends, start school, learn how to be in a family. And as things got worse, she retreated MORE in to her contacts with China. Trying to BE back in China.

If course, it didn't work, at all. Didn't help her one bit.   It damaged their relationship with her for good, crashed their computer and honestly by the time we got her she was like a newly adopted child (in adjustment sense) with better English.

We started at square one with her. And her progress has been great, mostly in part to not allowing her to hide in electronics.

Nope-- it just doesn't help any of our kiddos. And we don't wish to hinder their learning, no way, we care too much about them to do that. 

We do allow all the kids to have some type of music player, not hooked in to the internet. They listen to Chinese music/Christian music.  This gives them "down time" that they really do need especially at first when they NEED to be able to take a break from hearing English all day long (mostly needed for this reason when newly adopted, now they just like music:)

For TV, we have a TV in every bedroom and in living room and family room. Only the 2 main ones have DVR's so the kids want to use them the most. TV time is NOT limited now, it has been in the past and I have been known to ground children who seem to think life is watching TV,  so mine know if I see them watching endless TV (like during the summer months) there's gonna be an issue.

 The kids know what they are allowed to watch, even some shows on Disn*y channel are not allowed because we see some snotty behaviors from Kat when she watches certain shows. And, again, in this big family, you aren't gonna get away with watching anything that you aren't allowed to watch because someone will rat you out.

Honestly, we pay attention to what they are watching, doing, getting in to, etc. It's a lot of work but then we didn't expect it to not be with 7 children at home. It's what we are used to doing.

Our kids really like movies- karate ones, (of course Jackie Ch*n movies) anything with dogs, cats,  animals---we watch Animal Plan*t stuff, and Chase likes to watch cooking shows. None of the kids can watch anything besides "G" rated movie without permission.

As swearing is usually PG, we allow the kids to watch (after checking with us)  with them all understanding that if one swear word comes out of their mouths EVER that will be over for them. (probably for the rest of their lives-- just kidding MOM)

We aren't stupid and know they are going to hear swear words at school, on the bus, etc. We are teaching right and wrong because they will be exposed to it no matter if we like it or not.

  The kids do many other things besides watch tv. Kat makes crafts every day. Paisley likes to make jewelry, Phoebe likes to do both. Chloe even makes folded paper treasures, as well as cleans her room, helps get lunch for the girls. Chloe likes older (like the Annie movie) movies, ones about kids and tv shows-- Brady B*nch, Walt*n's. All clean, wholesome shows.

Chance and Camden like to play on the Play station, it's set up in Camden's room, and the girls like to play on the Wii, which is in the family room. Really all of them take turns, they can record any shows they want to see "later" so if the TV is being used they can go do something else till that person is done watching their show.

They rarely ever fight because that means they ALL get grounded  and have NO TV to watch. (How's that for FAIR, MOM?)

MARIA--As for 3rd grade vs. Kindergarten-- our school placed our kids where we asked them to. All but Paisley, they asked that we start her in 7th so we did. (We were thinking 8th grade)

Here's my opinion--- Do NOT place your 9 year old child in Kindergarten. Go with 2nd grade even if he/she is struggling with the alphabet at 4 months home. And DO NOT stress that she is struggling with that. I know, you are saying "But, BUT, she's gotta learn this and FAST, she's already behind!!"  RIGHT? 

I totally get that. BUT here's what's really super important at 4 months home with a 9 year old-------- FAMILY.  Love, care, security, provisions, acceptance, adjusting, LOVE.  Learning alphabet-- NOT SO MUCH. Yep, I said it. And I have kids much, much older than 9. But seriously-- your child needs time to adjust to this HUGE change in her life. Having parents. Maybe siblings, pets, a bedroom, clothes, food every day.

At 9 there's soooo much more leeway than 15. Trust me, I know. So stop trying to teach the letters, work on the social things- the verbal language, and the written stuff will come later. She needs to be able to communicate verbally first, for her own wellbeing. Give her security of your family and home and don't put stress on her about learning, not yet.

Then when school comes around, I would push for 2nd grade because she will catch up and she's gonna know she doesn't "fit" socially, maybe physically, maturity wise with kindergarten children.

Matter of fact, our school sent Phoebe to kindergarten at first, for the morning session, thinking it would help her to learn. She refused to go after day 2. I wasn't told they were going to do that- even though we had a meeting about her placement, schooling, needs, etc. 

So when I heard she "refused to go to Mrs. X's class" (Kat told me) I asked "Who is Mrs. X?" And Kat told me the kindergarten teacher. I knew the problem right off the bat. And I told the ESL teacher "NO, you will not do that to her."  This is NOT the way to teach her.

I know it seems like a great solution. But it offended her. She knew she wasn't "A baby learning" and she did not want to be in with kids 4 years younger than her. Since our school only gives her so many hours with the ESL teacher one on one, they arranged to have her work on worksheets left by the ESL teacher, as well as do "Starfall" on the computer when the other kids were doing more advanced computer time. All staying with her own 3rd grade class.

This is how it "should" be done for a younger child. ESL is supposed to meet the child where they are at, not place your child lower than they should be. Because your child will have huge issues when they are say, in 8th grade and be able to go for a driver's license. Kids PICK on differences. Your child will feel out of place. And you do not want that for her. It's HUGE to fit in once you hit those  teenage years.

It's one of the issues our kids have faced with being older. Kids ask them "Did you flunk?" (Other) Kids are MEAN when it comes to "differences". And all our kids want is to "fit in" like any other kid.

With our older kids, we didn't have the luxury of placing them by age in their grades. We had to tell our school district to "show us the law" when we wanted to place our first older child lower than her age dictated. (There is no law, they had to concede to our wishes) So all of our older ones are much older than their classmates and we deal with those issues because we had to give them as much time to learn as possible. It takes 7-10 YEARS to fully learn English as a teen coming here, we didn't HAVE that much time with them if placed by age.

And for them education is very important. It's going to dictate where they can go in life, how they support themselves, a family, etc. For Chase and Chance, likely Paisley too, we will be looking at technical programs that teach job skills. Chase wants to go on to culinary school after graduating, Chance wants to learn welding in Vo Tech (high school) and Paisley wants to be a nail tech. (Can also learn in Vo Tech, high school)

Chloe may go to college because she came earlier than the others and English learning came easier to her, although she works her butt off to maintain honor roll grades with no sliding scale from ESL, where the other 3 teens are still on sliding scale grading and will be for some time to come.

But for Phoebe, she is the only one we placed at grade level-  I chose 3rd grade for a number of reasons. Big one was- Kat was in the same grade and could/wanted to help her. Another big one- her size, she's taller than Kat. She is our only child who has been bigger and couldn't really pass as much, much younger. A few other reasons were her desire to go to school, her very open and social personality, probably last was her actual age. We are blessed that both girls are very bright and I knew  early on it wouldn't hurt Kat to help Phoebe, nor would it be hard for Phoebe to learn.

Kiki- I will be checking this out, sounds interesting, just have to find me some time to do it!! Thanks for the heads up, it's just downright crazy what you can save using coupons, bonus buys, etc. I totally get so excited to see how much I can save, although I'm not anywhere near what some people save.  But then I do refuse to buy 100 bottles of mustard just because I can get them for 25 cents each. Nope, just what we can use but even that is ALOT of stuff. Razors, body wash, shampoo, dish soap, besides actual FOOD really adds up for 9 people.

Hope nobody thought you were getting "short answers" nope, not from me- ha ha.
I DID jazz up this post with pictures, of the kids and us, going crayfishing, cooking those buggers up and having supper.(No, I don't eat them)

 A beautiful day, a gorgeous lake, hungry kids who love to catch crayfish, and a few that went just to goof off. We ALL got in and got wet, it was harder for Paisley but dad helped her in over the big rocks and she sat on one of the big rocks, held the bucket and helped. Phoebe had help to get in too, then she played and was quite happy to be wet.

Paisley was amazed by my rock skipping abilities (7 skips from 1 stone) and Camden enjoyed swimming, as did Chase. Chloe and Chance are quite serious about the "catching supper", they didn't even take a break to swim?

So there you have it. Lots more about our crew. Feeling amazingly blessed to have them and to share them with you all:)


rachel garber said...

I thought of a question! :) Does Chase ever cook dinner for you guys or is it more of a hobby where he makes something small just to try and make it? What does he like cooking? What does Chloe want to do professionally someday? I know you've mentioned
things regarding English and tour guiding and China??

I've been reading your blog for years now and my friend I went to China to do volunteer work with came to visit earlier this month. We were talking about blogs and I mentioned your family and she said, "I read that one all the time! It always makes me cry!" You have fans in us, Vickie. Big fans.

Jennie said...

Vickie - I follow your blog regularly (not a "lurker"). This post is a wonderful read, and the part on electronics is spot on.

Maria said...

Thank you! Now I feel like I have some direction! You're so right!

Rebecca said...

Great advice! I always love your posts!!!

DreA said...

How many of your older kids are (near) home? How do they feel about/interact with the younger kids?