Time for lab….there she blows!

Who hasn’t seen or made one of these before?!  It’s the quintessential science fair project. I thought it would be an easy way to kick off our summer science camp here at the Hiking household.

Want to make your own in less than 10 minutes?  It’s easy!  Take a mason jar and surround it with some play-do to make it look like a volcano.  Fill the jar with water, 6 drops of dish soap and 1 tablespoon of baking soda.  When everyone is in place, start pouring the vinegar into the jar and watch your volcano blow!  You can add food coloring to the water to make it even more fun.

Learning concepts:

1. I took the opportunity to introduce what a volcano is.  I used videos of real volcanoes online to show the kids.  We talked about mountains vs. volcanoes, etc.

2. I introduced the concept of acids and bases (it’s never too early to start using real scientific terminology–really!).  We talked about which compound is the base (baking soda) and which is an acid (vinegar, or acetic acid) and what happens when they mix (bubbles!  also known as carbon dioxide).

3.  Then I related it to real life, i.e. why we use baking soda to make a cake or bread (think about those bubbles!).

I will repeat this experiment several more times before moving on to the next one.  Kids at this age need to see it over and over again for it to make any sense.  Even if the science is lost along the way, it is still a pretty fun experience for mama and kiddos of all ages.

tip a canoe

On the way to the river this weekend we saw a sign that said “tip your driver, not your canoe.” Well, we did both.

On Saturday we took Big Brother for his first canoe trip on the River. He loved it and has been saying “fun canoe” ever since, despite the fact that we did something we’ve never done before with the kids–we tipped the canoe over! We all fell in. The boys are totally fine. I, on the other hand, have a sprained ankle, busted knee and injured leg from being thrown against the rocky bottom as I held big Brother up out of the water. hubby broke his thumb keeping Little Man up.

It was totally our fault. We didn’t have our weight evenly distributed and when we hit some rapids, over we went. Luckily the water was only waist deep and the boys were wearing life jackets, so all was well. I thought Big Brother would be scared afterwards, but he wasn’t. In fact, he did so awesome and had such a great time that we were totally shocked!! He must be our son, hahaha 😉 The rest of the trip was uneventful and very enjoyable. Everyone had a wonderful time on what turned into a 5+ hour trip on the water. Well, never a dull moment is a good thing…right?











Hope everyone is having a fun, safe Memorial Day!!

You know you’re a mom

when the waitress at the Vietnamese restaurant pulls a monkey out of your hair. I’ll give you one guess as to who was responsible…..and I’ll give you a hint, he was sitting next to me at dinner:


If you want to see these two little boys eat more than a grown man, just take them to our favorite Vietnamese place. River is serious about his spring rolls, fish sauce and pho. This was Avi’s first time and he also seems to have an affinity for fish sauce ;). Both boys left very happy. Of course, dessert was nice, too:


Stay tuned, Avi is getting ready to experience another big “first”!

The countdown

At the end of the month, we’re going unplugged. No more Internet, no more tv. I will still try to post from time to time, but it will be sporadic depending on when I have Internet access. I love using my blog as a journal, so that won’t change, I just might have to be creative about getting my thoughts posted to all of you! I have decided that after the adoption is finalized in July/August, I will go back and make some of my posts public in order to help any others out there that may be looking for information regarding adoption, etc. If you would like me to delete any of your comments on these posts, feel free to let me know. I will warn you before I make any previously-private post public.

But before that time, I’m going to try and purge all the photos and thoughts I have. Warning-I have weeks worth of cruddy cell phone pics to share ;-). You’re welcome.

So what would you see if you could visit with us for a day?

Creepy crawlies…


Muddy, wet boys….



Hanging objects galore…





A messy house….



Two happy, loved little boys….






And look who put his shoes on all by himself!!


My house is a wreck. I’m never caught up on laundry. I rarely have time to take a shower on most days. But my boys know they are loved and they know mommy will play with them whenever they ask. They know that trips to the park and backyard adventures are a common occurrence, not a special occasion. There are many days when I don’t get it right and there are some days when I feel defeated and frustrated and I know the kids can sense it. But at the end of each day, whether good or bad, fun or lazy, I am so thankful for my boys and so grateful for this time I get to spend with them. Not each day is exciting or action packed, but each day is very special to me.

I need you to understand

Our son (Big Brother) is still learning the meaning of family. He does not understand the family concept nor does he care to belong to one. That is why he is asking you to hold him and hug him, and asking to “go with you.” He is shopping for a new mommy/daddy/caretaker. If he had developed a relationship with you over the last several years, sitting in your lap or hanging in your arms would be fine. But he hardly knows anyone other than myself, Hubby and Little Man! As it is, he is choosing to get close to people he just met, but afraid to get close to his own family. That is why we cannot allow him to sit on your lap or be held in your arms. He needs to learn that mommy and daddy are safe to love and love deeply. Otherwise, he will continue believing that people are replaceable; nobody is really worth caring for deeply. If we do not take extreme measures now, ultimately he will not be able to form any meaningful attachment or relationship with any human being.

Even though you may not fully understand the ramifications of prolonged institutionalization and attachment disorders, we hope you will respect our wishes.

Since he has only been in our family 4 months, and he is immature emotionally and mentally, he needs the rules and supervision of a 18 month-2 year old. It would not be fair to treat him like a 4 year old since he fails with the responsibilities of that age. This is why I keep him so close, give him so much structure, and take a firm stance on the issues that matter deeply. As he matures, he will need less structure. I will be more than pleased to reduce the structure then, since it is a lot of work for me. I need everyone to understand the above whether you are a family member, friend or acquaintance.

Adapted from “Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today’s Parents.” By Deborah D. Gray

I spy

with my little eye…

SOME HUGE VICTORIES around our house this week.

First, Avi is doing so much better.  He is still coughing and wheezzing a bit, but overall much better.  The bad news is that River caught whatever it is on Wednesday.  River also has respiratory issues, but we were able to avoid the ER with a visit to his doctor.  Whew.  They are both recovering and I am still trying to get caught up on a weeks worth of missed sleep.

Secondly, don’t miss the post I just wrote about River!  I feel like I’ve only been blogging about Avi lately.  River is growing and learning so much I just can’t keep up with him!!!  I need to start posting more videos of him, I don’t want to look back and forget about this fun time in his life. 

OK, back to the post at hand. I’m not even sure where to begin, but the last week has brought some incredible progress with some of our “Avi issues” as we like to call them.  Why don’t I do a list before I lose my train of thought and start going off on a tangent??

  • Ever since last Sunday, Avi has kept asking “I want hold you” at meal times and other times throughout the day.  Love it!  He wants me to hold him a lot more and especially as he is eating.  That is a huge change.
  • This evening we put away all the toys and closed the playroom so that Avi would have to spend time with us in the living room.  I had the radio on and Avi came up to me and said “I want dance [with] mommy.”  Melt my heart.  We danced until I was about to pass out!
  • Avi has started imitating things.  This morning he was imitating the way Jim was sitting and the way that Jim had his hands propped up against his face.  Then he even copied him as Jim yawned and stretched.  Later in the day, Avi did something even bigger….he got down on all four legs and pretended to be a dog and even barked.  Ya’ll–that’s HUGEH U G E ! !  I almost cried.  This is the first time he’s really imitated us or anything else.  It was so wonderful to see him “play.”
  • Avi notices other people now.  River sneezed and he said “bless you.”  I yawned and Avi said “Mommy yawn…tired.”  Again, HUGE!!  The first signs of empathy!!!!!!!
  • Avi’s favorite things to do now (besides hanging things) is “play puzzles” and play “I spy” with his books.  He asks to do this all day long!  He will sit for an hour and work on puzzles or read books as long as I am there with him.  Again, you guessed it, huge.  This is a child that could only play with balloons or hang things a week ago…and who couldn’t sit still long enough to read a short book.  Wow.  See the video below!
  • Avi can now recognize his colors and almost all the letters of the alphabet.  He can also count up to ten objects accurately.  He is very capable of learning!
  • We are currently working on self-care skills.  Avi still cannot put on/take off clothes or shoes in most cases.  We are working slowly on it.  He is learning to put his sandals on and to pull his pajama pants off and on.  He can now take a T-shirt off without help. It is coming along slowly due to his poor motor skills. Potty training has been cancelled for now.  It was too stressful for all of us. 

So what can I conclude from the above?  The same as what the professionals say…once the area in the brain where attachment and bonding “turns on,” other developmental areas of the brain can then “turn on” too.  It literally is like someone came in the middle of the night last week and tinkered with his brain and a light went on.  Maybe it’s just the miracle of prayer, too.  Whatever it is, I am thankful.  So very, very thankful.  All I wanted to know  is that we are making progress and it turns out that we are.  I know there is a mountain to climb, I selfishly just needed to get a view of the summit to keep me from veering off path.

“If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.” -Buddhist Proverb