"What lies behind us, and what lies before us are small matters
compared to what lies within us."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, November 16, 2012


On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Anastasia and Isabella go to the their homeschooling classes all day. Sometimes, I like to take advantage of only have three little ones (cause three is just so easy!) and attempt to get errands done, but usually, I like to really focus on teaching Francesca and Victoria. I try to be the speech therapist, physical therapist and occupational therapist, all rolled into one. 

I bring out the puzzles, the shape sorter, and speech cards and try to encourage them to learn everything I think they need to know.  To learn what the experts say they should know already. Whether they want to learn it or not, they are usually pretty good sports about the whole thing.

I want to fix them sometimes. Not their physical differences, but I want them to be able to learn like other kids do. I admit it, I am impatient. Not with them.  But impatient for them to progress the way society says they should. Or maybe I think they should. 

I don't think Francesca really sees the value of making a triangle out of her magnet bars. Perhaps I am working with the wrong venue. Maybe I should be making triangles out of cookie dough and then she would get the point. And why am I stressing about a triangle for anyway? Is the sign of a good person their knowledge of geometric shapes?

Of course, little Catherine, genius that she is, constantly wants to learn everything. I try not to compare. 

But when I see kids, much younger than them, passing them up, I feel like somehow I am not doing a good enough of a job. I feel like I should work overtime to get them to be on target for their age. Which, of course, is an impossible task. You can't undo two years of being neglected and starved. 

"See, Victoria. See the red heart. Can you say heart?" 
And Victoria, sweet little child, tries to say heart, but no one but me can understand her. 
I know she understands, even if she does have a blank stare on her face when others talk to her. She has a veil surrounding her, and she doesn't let many in. Maybe she never will. 

The fears of "what if" begin to trickle into my thoughts. What if they never really do learn to speak clearly? And how is Francesca going to learn to do a zipper? 

How much do I push? Do I expect too much?  If I worry about it enough, does it mean I am doing enough for them?

My friend, Jen, shared this quote:  "Motherhood is about raising and celebrating the child you have, not the child you thought you would have. It's about understanding that he is exactly the person he is supposed to be. And that, if you're lucky, he just might be the teacher who turns you into the person you are supposed to be." 
-Joan Ryan "The Water Giver"

And I know they are teaching me so much more than I am teaching them. 

So, I tell myself to chill and we all move on to chopping up playdough (I don't recommend the brown playdough, it looks waaaay too realistic. Ew.)

The one thing I am sure of though, is that my cooking skills will be easy for them all to learn! Yep, macaroni and cheese again!!


  1. That would be difficult to balance...but they do seem to have learned about love, peace, and joy:) So good job, Mommy!!!

  2. You are a wonderful mama.
    I remember when our Tim was a baby I was so worried.... and he was soooo behind! He didn't read until he was 12! TWELVE! But he went on to graduate from college and is now a teacher!

    From your perspective, because you are with your sweeties ALL THE TIME, the changes aren't as apparent as they are for those of us peering in now and then....

    I can tell you from our point of view, the girls are doing AMAZING!!!!! The little catatonic Victoria is TALKING AND WALKING!!!!! Something they said she'd never do!

    Francesca has FINGERS! And she is using them!

    Enjoy them.... every moement of them. And if they don't ever catch up..... enjoy them. :)

    But I bet they WILL and they will SURPRISE EVERYBODY!!!!!

  3. I think you've already taught them the biggest lesson they needed to know and that is the love of a family. They may be lacking in some areas but they are outshining all their peers in strength, determination, and guts. The rest will come.

  4. Thank you for this post. My little boy has NF1 and fetal alcohol exposure and I beat myself up over the same questions. He'll be 6 next week , and we've been struggling to read words like this and to for weeks. Lately I've wondered if I should put him in school and let them work with him, and yet I know who I want him to be, and he can't learn the values I want him to have there. I've had to think lately about worst case scenarios. For him, I think it will be that he won't be able to go to College and may not live independently. He will, however, be amazing at working in a nursing home, or serving those who need extra care. He's just that good inside. They'll all grow into the person God intended for them to be, and our responsibility is to teach them to love and live right. Andrew has that part down.

  5. I know you don't know me, and I'm not surer ive ever commented, but I wanted to say I really enjoy your blog. You are always honest and never scared to share that some days are rough. I was so sad for the short period of time when you didn't blog but I had to slow down on checking back on you because I worried there was some kind of tracker and that I was starting to look like a stalker. :). Anyways, I think you are doing a great job with your children. In my years of working with children, as much as I have worked to teach them, they some how always teach me mor than I can imagine. No matter what academic you teach your Victoria and Francesca, they have taught me through your writing and those perfect smiles that there is purpose in all lives and that there are no unwanted children,only undiscovered families, keep up the loving and beware, if I ever find where you guys live and am close by I want to come play!

  6. You are a wonderful Mom and those girls are lucky to have u.
    If u doubt go back and look at photos of when Francesca and Victoria first came home !

  7. You've done an amazing job with your kids. I cannot get enough of Victoria because she is like a child back from the dead. I can't believe the progress she's made. Who would have thought she would be walking around with a walker and doing everything she is doing? Francesca is doing great too! Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing your life with us.

  8. You are doing a great job with the girls ... remember they only have 17 months of life experience out side of orphanage walls.

  9. I think the key is not pushing them, but enriching their environment and letting them bloom. Look how much they've changed already with nurturing, food and love. It's amazing!

  10. You are a great mom Catherine! You love your kids like crazy, and you would do anything for them, even cross an ocean a couple of times ;) Like you said, the important thing is you are raising them to be good, compassionate people. And I'm sure they will be, all of them!

  11. I would echo the above responses. Who they are today is not who they will be in the future, after all they're both not even 4 years old. Just take it day by day. Annette

  12. Don't compare! I know it is hard but don't. Every kid learns at their own pace. As a first grade teacher I had to come to terms with that and tell parents that over and over. Some children could read like crazy at the end of a year with me and others didn't but in the next couple of years they could all read. You are doing a good job with all of them. And if Francesca can't zip a coat there are lovely wrap around coats to be had.

  13. Just wanted to echo what the others have said so well; you are doing a fantastic job with them. You have already given them so much. A kind, compassionate, loved and loving grown woman can accomplish so much. A person doesnt have to have degrees or even a proper education (or the ability to zip zippers :) to live a sucessful life. And sucessful they WILL be at so many things, whatever they are capable of.

    I love all the pics you post, but the ones of Victoria's determined face as she's working on her playdough, and Francesca's sweet smile while she's holding her playdough cake just warm my heart. I never get tired of seeing their progress, and keep praying someday that will be our family. The Mr. has softened to hosting (summer maybe), so thats a start!

    Thanks for sharing your life so candidly.

  14. I am with rosedel! Don't compare. Especially don't compare them to children that are their age. Look at how far they have come! Go with an "adjusted age", as they do with premies. They never had a chance to grow and learn before they came to live with you, how could they have caught up to their peers in so short time?

    And don't worry about zippers! Who needs zippers? Although I am sure that she will be able to do zippers. Look at how far Francesca has come. She can do everything! With time and love and patience.


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