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We are one sleepy family–what a day. Rory came to the hotel with three women she’d never met before today, and no one from her foster home. When we came in she was wailing–in English–I want to go home! I knelt down and started whispering in her ear–I knew her foster mother had told her that this was ok, that she could go with us and we would take good care of her, and she let me pick her up, […]

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Warming up–to our babysitter!

We’re discovering a pattern, and it’s a good one. Once something happens once–she meets someone, we go somewhere, someone leaves the house and comes back–and nothing dramatic happens, then it’s ok. It’s worthy of interest, and possibly comment. One thing that’s important is that I notice what’s happening. Mama, come see. Come see Heather. Come see Eli’s daddy. Once I’ve seen—Yes, it’s Heather! Hi Heather! Big deal greeting…. Then we can all go on, somewhat hesitantly. Today is the third […]

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The Mother You Get (and also, a little background)

When I think about it, all of my kids have had a totally different mother. They all had certain traits in common–overwhelmed, low on patience, mildly irritable–but in terms of permissiveness, we–the four mothers I have been–have run the gamut. When I was Sam’s mother, and only Sam’s mother, I made all of his baby food. I can tell you precisely when he had his first lollipop (Easter 2002–thanks mom!). Salty snacks were limited, and fell into the faux-good-for-you category. […]

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Everyone enjoys themselves in their own way

Everyone enjoys themselves in their own way Originally uploaded by kjda KJ Dell’Antonia sent from my iPhone

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Tomorrow’s dinner!

Tomorrow’s dinner! Originally uploaded by kjda KJ Dell’Antonia sent from my iPhone

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This Rory I Like

She’s getting used to us. I have judged her harshly these past weeks, this girl. I have a personal problem, which is that I invariably believe that whatever is happening right now must and will continue to happen exactly like this, world without end, forever and ever, etc. This applies with kids–Lily will always be unreasonable about the blue plate, therefore I should go buy all blue plates and just end this issue now (so last month)–and in other ways–I […]

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Nietzsche and Adoption

I don’t know about you, but I worry about my pampered bio kids sometimes. I moved and changed schools multiple times as a kid. I hated it; it was awful. My mom worked and, much as she did for me, there wasn’t anybody to bring me my lunch if I forgot it. As I got older, I had more responsibilities, and a few more baddish things to live through, etc. So I had my (small compared to, say, Jeannette Walls) […]

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Meeting the Guo Jis

We met up with the Guo Jis today. Much, much bonding. Among those adults crazed enough to adopt themselves into biggish although not huge families–or possibly those women crazy enough to come up with it, and those men crazy enough to marry said women. But no, let us admit that we are all crazy, and that that craziness seems to spread into other attitudes–about life, mountain biking and its importance, many although not all general child-rearing practices and, I suspect, […]

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Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! Originally uploaded by kjda KJ Dell’Antonia sent from my iPhone

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Playing Family

Lily, Rory and Wyatt are devotedly and cooperatively playing an enthusiastic game of family with Rory’s doll house. (“Special for me!” but she lets them play. Sometimes.) So far I’ve heard the children go for an airplane ride, someone prepare dinner and ask how a school day was, a very convincing crying baby (that caused Rob to worriedly consider a rescue, but I was pretty sure it was faux, and I was right) and now, some kind of building. The […]

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What I Think About When I Think About Running

What I Thinl About When I Think About Running Originally uploaded by kjda How many people do you think were really walking and only started running because they heard you coming? KJ Dell’Antonia sent from my iPhone

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One Less Kid Than You Have

A wise parent once told me that the easiest number of kids to deal with was “one fewer than however many kids you have.” It’s not the smoothest statement, but it is so true–if you have three kids, going out with two is a piece of cake, and so on. My new addition, even less smooth, is that the easiest number of kids to deal with is one less than the number of kids you wish you didn’t have. Actually, […]

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Holiday concert

Holiday concert Originally uploaded by kjda Solemn and ready to sing. KJ Dell’Antonia sent from my iPhone

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One Sparkly Day

One Sparkly Day Originally uploaded by kjda

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Sorry, Kid, This Time It’s Indisputable

Circs, tonight, allowed/required me to take Rory and Sam to dinner, then to Sam’s hockey practice. Rory had a chicken and cheese quesadilla, which she has had before and liked, and continued to like until she saw that with my soup, I had been given chips. I offered her the chips, not thinking much of it, but now she would not eat the quesadilla. We didn’t have much time, and I didn’t really care, but it’s important to note for […]

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Bye Bye Nintendo, Day 2

Actually the title’s an exaggeration. I decried no Nintendo except on weekends (in an amount and at times to be determined by me) and asked my babysitter to impose something similar when they’re with her (often at her house, with her kids) and she went with maybe when they’re there in the evenings. So far, so good–we’ve had more outdoor play, more make-believe and more card-playing and puzzles already. It’s a relief to me just not to have to constantly […]

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That Limited, Rare, Desirable Commodity: Me.

Cross-posted at No Hands But Ours (a great site to find information and community for “special needs” China adoption). It has been a rough trip, these last six or seven months, and there were times when I thought I’d never look at Rory and feel just unadulterated happiness. I thought I’d always see the shadow of the things I had trouble with–the way her arrival changed our family, the way it affected my relationship with the other kids, the fear […]

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Modern Fun

Modern Fun Originally uploaded by kjda KJ Dell’Antonia sent from my iPhone

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Yellers Anonymous

Hi, My name is KJ, and I’m addicted to yelling. It’s been 10 days since I last yelled at any of my children. I should probably remind you that I spent 8 of those 10 days traveling with only Rob and Sam, which scarcely occasioned any yelling. In fact that’s really what prompted this. I went 8 days without yelling. 8 days. And while obviously traveling through Stockholm and Amsterdam was very very good, living without yelling was also very […]

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One Year.

Yep, it’s been a year. Actually, as of this writing (I suspect it may take a while to finish and post this) it’s been one year and 3 days. And I have not written the traditional anniversary web post. I believe, based on what I’ve read and seen, that it should be addressed to Rory, should include a lovely list of all the ways she’s grown and changed in the past year and all the ways she’s made our lives […]

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Problem for Creative Students: Save Your School

Newsweek just published a report by Po Bronson and Ashley Merriman on the “Creativity Crisis.” For the first time since creativity testing was developed, scores in the U.S. are dropping. No one knows why (although television and video games are given the inevitable mention), and why isn’t the authors’ focus: instead, they set out to figure out what schools and parents could do to nurture creativity in kids. It’s a persuasive piece, and from my position as a privileged parent […]

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Could Schools Alone Protect Afghanistan’s Women?

Time magazine’s cover for the week of Aug. 9 shows a young woman, Aisha, who had her ears and nose cut off by the Taliban for fleeing an abusive husband. Time managing editor Richard Stengal says Aisha “wants the world to see the effect a Taliban resurgence would have on the women of Afghanistan, many of whom have flourished in the past few years.” No Westerner, seeing this picture, could want anything but to promote an Afghanistan in which this […]

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Then we hung it up

Then we hung it up Originally uploaded by kjda I think I have these backwards.. KJ Dell’Antonia sent from my iPhone — KJ Dell’Antonia www.kjdellantonia.com 917-647-6600 Contributing Editor, Kiwi Magazine Read me on Slate’s XXFactor blog www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/xxfactor and Babble’s Strollerderby blogs.babble.com/strollerderby/ Twitter.com/kjda

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Caterpillar Poop

Caterpillar Poop Originally uploaded by kjda It’s not a new cuss phrase. It’s what we do around here in playdates. These are our caterpillars. We found them last Friday. They were all the size of that tiny one. We put them in jars, because that is what you do here in late fall; if no one in your family is not in some way involved with the life cycle of the Monarch, then you are not having a full Upper […]

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Free Range Children

Free Range Children Originally uploaded by kjda I keep waiting for someone to come tell me to make them get off, but no one has. KJ Dell’Antonia sent from my iPhone —

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Woe Is Me

I am sick, sick with a sinus infection. This means I can be upright and go about my daily business, of course, without expecting or needing much additional consideration from anyone–after all, it’s only a sinus infection! And I’m on antibiotics! So really, I should be able to cook dinner, and carve pumpkins, and everything else, just right on schedule. And I have. But oh, I am miserable…my ears haven’t popped, except for an occasional brief interval driving up our […]

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Intently working

Intently working Originally uploaded by kjda KJ Dell’Antonia sent from my iPhone

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Thank You Santa

Thank You Santa Originally uploaded by kjda All their own idea. Once in a while (if Sam is around) they’re just sweet. KJ Dell’Antonia sent from my iPhone —

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Homework

How much is too much homework in fourth grade? I don’t know. Maybe any homework is too much. But it does seem to me that school is the place to work in groups and receive instruction, but reading and actual writing and math drilling, and studying to take in the things you learned–those are things you really have to do at home. I’ve come around to homework. It’s fine. What’s not fine is how long it takes Sam to DO […]

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I Don’t Wanna Hafta

I’m grumpy. I have no good reason to be grumpy, exactly. I just spent three nights–THREE–with just Sam at a hockey tournament, where I cooked nothing, cleaned little (our room was knee hockey headquarters for a while, so some cleaning was necessary) and put up with very little in the way of whining or complaint. (They lost. Lots. But we expected to, it was in MA and while we here in Hanover take our hockey way too seriously, we look […]

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Hello New York!

Hello New York! Originally uploaded by kjda KJ Dell’Antonia sent from my iPhone –

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Oops

Oops Originally uploaded by kjda Apparently, some time in the past few weeks I missed a memo from the school. KJ Dell’Antonia sent from my iPhone

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I Am a Purple T-Shirt

If I was trying to punish him for not telling me he needed a purple shirt, I failed miserably. (Happily, I wasn’t.) Because apparently it was a big hit.

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The All-Lily All-Year School Work Review

Do you, at the end of the school year, when all the binders and the art and the whatnot come home in the various bags, do anything appropriate with them? I’m trying to make sure that Sam and Lily understand that their school work is VERY IMPORTANT to us. But those piles have been sitting in the hall for weeks. So this weekend I piled them up on the dining room table, and tonight Lily seized on hers and sat […]

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The Pattern Trap

I’ve been re-reading some old blog and journal entries from our first weeks home with Rory. Mostly, I’m seeing how amazingly far we’ve come (and how painful it was to get there). But then there was this, taken from an incident just two months after we came home from China. (Because of her foster home, Rory spoke some basic English when she first arrived.) I decided to make Rice Krispie Treats with Wyatt. I read Rory a book first. When […]

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Get Up! Get Up!

It really bothers my children to see me sit on the sofa. This may be because for many years, I did not have any opportunity to sit down. I kept us so busy that we were rarely home, in part because I was a little afraid to be alone with all of these kids, who might want me to play Candyland. I hate Candyland. And then when we were home, it was all very active. We were baking! We were […]

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Snot and the Yogi

I really don’t think we talk enough about snot. That’s by way of a warning that if you don’t actually WANT to talk about snot, I highly recommend you head over to Motherlode (http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/), where I am not writing about snot, and I would love to see you (I am particularly proud of today’s post: http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/12/putting-down-the-ipad-so-my-kids-can-see-me-read/ ). But this is about snot. After a week and a half of no exercise, thanks to the kind of sinus infection that causes […]

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Panic!

Panic! Originally uploaded by kjda

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Who Needs a Nutcracker

Who Needs a Nutcracker Originally uploaded by kjda Apparently not us. The blurs are rocks. My kids have gone prehistoric on me.

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Delicious Nutritious Chocolate Cereal Pretzel Mix Part 1 of 4

Delicious Nutritious Chocolate Cereal Pretzel Mix Part 1 Originally uploaded by kjda You know you want some. I just made TONS. My special gift to me. Recipe below. KJ

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Behind the Scenes at Motherlode: Sam’s Sugared Cranberries

I refer to this recipe in a post on Wednesday, November 21, 2012–and I’m packing them up for the trip to Fairfax County/DC right now. Sam’s Sugared Cranberries 1 lb fresh cranberries, picked over 2 cups sugar 2 cups superfine sugar, for rolling Make simple syrup: combine 2 cups sugar with 2 cups boiling water and stir until sugar is dissolved. Let cool. (Let COOL. LET COOL. If you pour it over the cranberries now, they will burst.) Divide cranberries […]

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Use It Up, Wear It Out: why we should quit saving stuff for later

So I bought these charcoal exfoliating wipes at Sephora. They’re really quite fantastic. One side cleans, and the other is all nubbly and exfoliating (thus the name). I’m delighted with them. I’m trying to fade a brown spot on the side of my face, and I think they will speed the process along. There is only one problem. I used one yesterday. And I used one tonight. And there are only 25 in the package. So there are only 23 […]

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One-Day Writers Retreat, an Incoherent Series of Thoughts Thereupon.

I’m in Durham, North Carolina with my husband, who’s here for some meetings. One day doesn’t seem like much, but since my high school carpool fell through my writing days have been a shortened mess–I HAVE a babysitter to pick my kids up from school, but she is but one human and there are two schools, not close to each other, letting out at the same time. It occurs to me as I write this that I could probably find […]

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#AmWriting’s Tax Tips for Writers Download

Episode 39 of the #AmWriting podcast was all about taxes for writers. Jess stunned me with her organization and then laid out a plan to follow for 2017, and we dished about getting things together and organizing our deductions and whatnot for 2016. To go with it, Jess made a Tax Tips for Writers download, and then I lined it all up so that you guys can get it. Just sign up here, and our Tax Tips for Writers download […]

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School transition bringing out your child’s more challenging side? Slow down, give in, let things go.

It’s happening again. Every year, just as school starts, we find ourselves in a place I thought we’d left behind. The kids on edge, constantly provoking, teasing and pushing one another’s buttons. One child’s skin so thin she might burst. Tantrums, oddities and tics return. What’s up? You’d think something big was going on and—oh. Yeah. School’s started. A new teacher. A new grade. New expectations and old ones that have never been easy. It’s a challenging time for all […]

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Why You Need a ‘Buy It Later’ Button

This is from my weekly email. Normally, I like to have the email essay go only to subscribers, but I had so many requests to share this that I posted it here. If you’d like to get my weekly short essays on How to Be a Happier Parent (even when I’m not), you should subscribe! It’s free and fun and usually cheerful. Except for that one time with the car thing.) Here’s what we did last week: swapped rooms. One […]

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Happier Family Travel: Tech Hasn’t Changed Road Trips as Much as You’d Think

For our family vacation this summer, we drove, with another family, from Phoenix to Las Vegas, hitting assorted national parks and forests and monuments along the way. The trip itself was spectacular, and if you haven’t done it, I recommend it. The road trip aspect of our travels was spectacular too, in a whole different way. It’s been a long time since we’ve packed the four kids into the car and driven for hours through spectacular scenery. They’re older (17, […]

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Sometimes Happier, Sometimes …

If you had your crystal ball handy yesterday, and chose to peek in at me and my three younger kids around 3:30, you would have judged us all pretty harshly. One was on the floor, surrounded by a mess of their own making, kicking another, who was nastily mocking the mess and the sibling and anything else. Another was wildly defending some earlier transgression. As for me, I was yelling mightily at anyone in sight. They were horrible people, all […]

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Resources

I've got Ten Mantras for Happier Parents (based on the research for my book, How to Be a Happier Parent). They've worked for me—want to try them?

Hi, I’m KJ. Can I send you something?