Thursday, March 22, 2012

Home Tour, Part 4

The Laundry Room.

Fun stuff, right? :)

Mine is nothing exciting, but since I'm taking you on this virtual home tour, I thought I better include the laundry room.

Remember when I told you we don't use the front door at our home? (unless you are a delivery man?)

The laundry room is accessed through the side door that really functions as our front door.

I hung a coat rack in the laundry room right next to the shoe bins because my five youngest children cannot yet hang up their own coats. Which translates to mean that every time we came home from an outing, Mommy had to hang up FIVE coats (not counting my own!).

It was getting a bit ridiculous, especially on the cool days when the little ones would go out to play for like, oh, three minutes, and then come back inside because it was "too cold, Mommy!"  I would have spent several minutes gathering all of the coats from the various closets, putting them on the children, zipping them up, and sending them outside, only to remove the coats and re-hang them all back up less than five minutes later.


So, the inexpensive rack from Target has been such a time-saver for this Mommy. :)

Next to the coat rack are the shoe boxes. Not very pretty to look at, I know, but sometimes you just gotta be into functional with seven children. :) The "big" kids use the laundry basket for their shoes, the "little" boys use the left box and the "little" girls use the right one. Helps a little bit when we're hunting down everyone's shoes on Sunday morning.

On the right-hand side of the teeny tiny (especially when 5 loads of laundry are on the floor) room is the practical washer and dryer.

On the left side is one of my treasured finds.

One Family Day, Brent found this shelf for me at a little Shabby-Chic store in NC. It used to be in the kitchen, but there just isn't space for it anymore, and I'm so wanting it in the house. Relocating it to the laundry room was my only option, and I figure at least I can still imagine it's in a lovely pink room. :)

I didn't take a picture of the trash can, because, well, Brent is teasing me enough about this home tour. I guess men wouldn't want to read about other men's couches and beds? :) I'm sure no one is disappointed with not getting to see our trash can. LOL

The pictures for the children's bedrooms are already downloaded, so I should be able to add them tomorrow!

Saturday, March 17, 2012


With my first four children, I never child-proofed anything.

I prided myself (and we all know pride is a sin) with the fact that I house-proofed my babies instead of child-proofing my house.

But that was BEFORE.

Before I had three toddlers, all the same age.

It's not that they are unusually naughty.

And it's not that I am not vigilant at teaching, training, and watching them.

Fact is, there are just more of them than there are of me!

Contrary to what my Momma always said, mothers do NOT have eyes in the back of their heads.

I just cannot always catch my littlest ones before their toddler curiousity gets the better of them.

This week was the final straw.

Gabbey and Lyssie flushed EVERY toothbrush in the kid's bathroom---AND the toothpaste!!!---down the toilet. Oh, and did I mention the toilet had already been used?

The toothpaste didn't go down. Lucky me, I got to fish it out of the used toilet.

Three of the toothbrushes got plunged back out (at 2 am, by Mommy again) after one of the children had an upset tummy, used the toilet, and then called for me because it wouldn't flush. TEN minutes of plunging later (at 2 am!) three of the kiddie toothbrushes reappeared.

I'll let you use your imagination as to who fished them out of the USED toilet again.


So, the line has been drawn in the sand.

And I surrendered.

Yep, after 11 years of parenting and 7 children, we bought our first child-proofing gear today.

Eight of those little doornob things that go around the doornob so the babies can't open the doors. (How's that for a description?)

We came home, installed them to the pantry, BOTH bathrooms, my closet, and the girl's bedroom.

Brent and I experienced great delight when a few minutes later Ethan tried to open the pantry door. (and raid my chocolate chip stash, no doubt)

"Hmmm." he said thoughtfully, while trying to open the door.

"Guess that won't work anymore!" he muttered as he walked away.

Victory is sweet in the Bergey house tonight.

And all our children have brand new toothbrushes, too. :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Home Tour, Part 3

Our "Living Room".

I'm not sure why it's called a Living Room, since I truly do much more of my "living" in the kitchen.


But, anyway, here's the tour of our Living Room.

We used to have floral furniture, so the tanish colored walls matched well.

When we were finally able to purchase new furniture, we went with oh-so-sturdy-and-oh-so-comfy-but-oh-so-ugly-in-my-shabby-chic-kind-of-mind furniture.

Brown. Not white. (hello? With 7 kids that wouldn't last long! ;)) Not even a hint of pink or floral. Nope. Good ol' reliable hope-it-lasts-a-really-long-time kinda furniture.

SO, I now had brown couches and tan walls. Ick.

Try as I might, pink paint just would NOT work!

So I got really brave  (for me anyway!) and went with a lovely RED accent wall. I picked out some fabric (floral!) from Hobby Lobby and made new curtains.

And can I just say that I love it? :)

While I'm quite sure I wouldn't win any Better Homes and Gardens awards :), I love the functionality of our Living Room. There's as much floor space as possible---for little feet to run around on---and a little corner just for the babies. My piano/music have a corner all their own as well.

Next up on my Home Tour? The Laundry Room. Can't say it's my favorite room of the house :), but it is one of those necessities---unless we all stop wearing clothes, lol!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Family Day

It's FAMILY DAY today!

Oh, wait---you don't know what Family Day is?

Just ask any of my children and they'll tell you that Family Day happens every Saturday.

You see, Daddy doesn't have to work on Saturday! Back when Ellie (10) was just a tiny baby, Brent and I established our Family Day. A special day to spend together having fun as a family.

It's the highlight of our week (not counting church on Sundays) and we talk it up BIG to our children from the time they are babies, so they get just as excited as Daddy and Mommy about spending ALL day with each other!

We almost never do anything on Family Day that will separate our family. Our children don't play sports or do sleep-overs. We established from the beginning that Family Day was quality time spent with each other.

And we ALL (right down to Johanna, who just started having Family Days when she joined our family in July!) have a blast every Saturday.

Brent even has a silly song he sings about Family Day. But I won't share that here. LOL :)

Among other things, I'll be spending this Family Day lovin' on some really cute 2 year olds I know. :)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Home Tour, Part 2

I have seven children.

Who are homeschooled. (which translates to mean they are home with me, all day, every day)

And they love to eat. Funny thing about my children, they're not happy with just one solid meal a day.

Nope. Not my children.

They seem to constantly be hungry. They require 3 meals every day and often one or two snacks in between.

Which means I spend ALOT of time in my kitchen.

So while my bedroom is my SANCTUARY, I'm most at-home in my kitchen. :)

We enter the kitchen from the laundry room (the door on the Left in this first picture) which is off the side door. Our front door is never used (unless you're a new delivery man who treks around to the front of the house and rings the doorbell, only to hear me yell, "Kids, stop ringing the doorbell RIGHT NOW! You KNOW we only use the side door!" Um, yeah. I did that once. Big time OOPS.)

Anyway, back to the kitchen. The door on the right is my walk-in pantry.

This is the view when you walk into the kitchen from the laundry room---well, the cute 7 year old isn't always there, but you know what I mean. (I got my camera out and he thought I wanted to take his picture. I couldn't resist his sweet grin!)

My mom made the quilt on the wall and the framed pictures are my girls Chinese/English names in calligraphy. (there's only 3 right now because one of the babies accidentally knocked the fourth one down and broke it......)

First on your right is the refrigerator.....

and then the sink.....(I have a family picture right above the sink so I can look at my family while I'm working!)

We have three restaurant-style wooden highchairs for our 2 year olds at our table.

On the left is the stove and my "office". :) I don't have space for a desk, so my laptop, printer, and file cabinet are on the counter. Not my preference, but it works for our small space!

This is the view from our living room into the kitchen....

and from our kitchen into the living room.....

With three bedrooms, less than 1500 sq feet and NINE people (three of which are 2 year olds), I "needed" a playroom.......of course, there isn't one, lol. So I made a play area in a corner of my living room. It gives a safe place for the little ones to play, and a visual boundary for them. I say, "Go play on the 'rug' and stay there until Mama calls you" and they know where to stay.

Since I'm now past the kitchen and into the Living Room I'll stop the tour for tonight. Next time, I'll show you the remainder of the Living Room!

(Did you notice one of the reasons why we don't use our front door?)

Goodnight, friends. :)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Homeschooling the Older Adopted Child

(Okay, I lied. This was supposed to be a post about my kitchen. Silly me, I forgot to take pictures of my kitchen today and I'm quite frankly too tired to do so now. So, rather than get up from my comfy chair where I'm enjoying the silence of the evening and take pictures, I'm going to share this post instead. Check back tomorrow for the promised KITCHEN post!)

I don't always give my opinion on my blog. Hmmm, well, maybe in a round-about way I do? :) In any case, I'm going to share my opinion tonight, on the subject of older adopted children and their education.

You can disagree with me if you want. I'm good with that. This is what I think, based on my experience and maybe your experience has given you a differing opinion. No problem.

I think older adopted children should be homeschooled.

There. I said it.
Now for why I think this way. First off, let me say that I love homeschooling, was homeschooled from 7th grade and up and have homeschooled all of my children from the beginning, with the intention of homeschooling them until graduation. That being said, I am not anti other forms of education, nor am I naive enough to think that parents can only do a good job if they are homeschooling parents. (Case in point---my husband, who was public-school educated and is, in my not so humble opinion, a perfect man. :))

Homeschooling Johanna wasn't even an option. That's just the way we educate our children, so naturally I would homeschool any adopted children.

Having had her in our home for 7 months now, I can say with absolute certainty that we would NOT be where we are with attachment and bonding had we put her in school.

You see, Johanna came to us completely peer-dependant. As in, 100% peer-dependant. And did I mention she was peer-dependant???

This means that she had NO problem lying, cheating, decieving, manipulating, and avoiding adult interaction. She was most comfortable with our children. Hugging, snuggling, touching, and opening up emotionally to adults was not even on her radar. She didn't even cry for weeks after she joined our family because she knew how to control her emotions so fully and how to hide her feelings from adults.

Teaching Johanna what it means to be a daughter and sister takes time. An immense amount of time. Time I would NOT have if she was gone 8-10 hours a day.

Being home all day (and having very limited time with anyone outside our family) has forced Johanna to open up to Brent and me. She is removed from her peers (who, for her entire life, met every emotional need she had!) and becoming parent-dependant, the way it should have been from the moment of her birth.

She is learning to open up to me and accept (and even crave and ask for!) my affection. In a way, because she is home, she has no choice but to grow closer to me. We cannot recreate her birth and begin bonding from infanthood like we would like to, but we CAN learn each other intimately.

I am convinced that if we had put her in school, it would just have transferred her peer-dependancy from the orphanage to her school. If she had bonded with an adult, it probably would have been a teacher. She could have kept us at arms-reach and continued the unhealthy dependance on her friends for her security. There would have never been the hour-long holding sessions in the middle of Math or the necessary discipline action during our lunch break.

Instead, we are seeing a depth to our bond that is amazing. Letting us IN is hard for Johanna, and she's honest about it. Just this week we had a long period of crying/holding/talking where she told me that sometimes she starts to feel so happy when we hug that she pushes me away so she doesn't start crying. (She cries almost daily now, working through so many of her losses, emotions and feelings.)

Books on attachment and adoption mostly highlight how to bond with a young child. It's a whole 'nuther ballgame with an older child, although many of the processes are the same.

Johanna is working through the stages of childhood now, and I firmly believe that she needs to be daily, hourly, consistently close enough for me to help her through them.

And that is why I think the older adopted child should be homeschooled.

You can throw the tomatoes now. Only don't hit my kitchen, cause I need it clean enough to take pictures of it tomorrow! :)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Home Tour, Part 1

I thought it would be fun to give you a tour of our home.

I'd love it if I had a spacious, large home. Our space seemed much bigger before we had seven kiddos running around inside it. As it is, it is just under 1500 ft. That's not much more than 100 ft. per person. But who's counting? (me, on rainy days when my littles are all playing TAG in the kitchen!)

Learning to make the most of the space I have is my new challenge. I don't have any great secrets (at least I don't think I do?)......just decluttering and organizing constantly seems to be working for now!

I love shabby chic decor (although sometimes I just decorate with whatever I have on hand), clean, uncluttered countertops and anything floral. I love to reorganize and several times a year (or more!) I will rearrange anything I can get my hands on. :)

Without further ado, here is my bedroom--my sanctuary (when it's not being overrun by legos, dinosaurs, and screaming toddlers, of course)......

Lyssie sleeps next to my side of the bed, at arms' reach if she needs me.

We have a sleep-number bed (and LOVE it!) that doesn't "attach" to a headboard, so I crafted a make-shift one out of lace and rose garlands.

Our treadmill sits in the corner of our bedroom. The oldest three children LOVE to run on the treadmill!

And here's a peek at my pink bathroom. Yes, I love pink. I saved the pink paint for my bathroom alone, though!

Tomorrow I'll show you the room I spend the majority of my time in---you guessed it!----the KITCHEN!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Toddler Tip # 1

Here's the first of my sanity-saving tips for parenting toddlers.

Empathize and verbalize your toddlers' BIG emotions for them.

It goes without saying that toddlers have big feelings and they are known for expressing them in a big way! Whether it be through tantrums, meltdowns, screaming, or acting out, toddler behaviour is often just plain BIG!

(What Mama hasn't wanted to crawl away and hide when her toddler decided to act out in front of the Pastor or right in the middle of an hour-long grocery trip? not me.)

I remember when I first read about this tip. Ellie (10) was about 4, Nathaniel (7) was 2, and Noah (5)  was an infant. I tried it and found instant success! Since then I have used it with all of my toddlers with equally great success.

Here's how it works: Toddler starts getting upset (screaming, fussing, falling to the floor in tears, etc). Instead of instantly disciplining the child, get on eye-level with them by either picking them up or kneeling down in front of them. Then verbalize what they are unable to say. Ask questions. Offer empathy. Finally, gently redirect the child to whatever you need or want them to do next.

Seriously. I know this sounds really simple. But it REALLY WORKS!

I'll give you a practical example from one of our Bergey Bunch toddlers, Ethan (2).

----At the end of a family shopping trip to Sam's Club, we pushed our full to the brim with kids and groceries carts past the book section. Ethan immediately saw a train book he wanted. "Mommy, can I pweaaase hold the twain book?" I told him "no" because it was time to go "bye-bye", then pushed the cart right past the books.

Ethan was not happy. :) His little bottom lip started to stick out and he started to whine and fuss.

(This is the point at which, before discovering this tip, I would have immediately disciplined my first two toddlers for whining.)

I picked him up and whispered into his ear. "Ethan, are you very sad because you liked that train book?" (EMPATHY)

A slightly whimpered, "Yes!"

"And you really wanted to read it, didn't you?" (VERBALIZE HIS FEELINGS)


"It looked like a fun book to read, didn't it?" (MORE VERBALIZING)

Now he was starting to calm down. "Yes!"

"Well, we can't read it this time because it's time to go bye-bye now. But next time we come to Sam's, I will let you look at that train book, ok?"(EMPATHY AND REDIRECTION)

Completely calm and starting to smile at this point, he said, "Ok! Thank you Mommy!" and wrapped his sweet little arms around my neck. :)

"Ok, buddy, why don't you help Mommy with the groceries now?" (GENTLE REDIRECTION)

He sat back down in the cart and we didn't see an ounce of attitude after that.

I could have handled this situation more confrontationally ("Stop that whining right now!") but have found that, often, toddlers fuss, whine, or scream because they lack the necessary communication skills to act otherwise. If a parent can help them work through their big emotions by verbalizing them for them, the toddler feels understood instead of frustrated.

This simple tip has helped me tremendously in parenting my toddlers!