For most of the last year, J. has been extraordinarily lonely, hardly connecting with anyone his own age–but recently, a few friends from school have introduced themselves, and he also seems to be getting along better with B. and K. (Not all the time, and he doesn’t often get along with them both at the same time, but they’re often watching movies, playing computer games, trying out catch, or playing hide-and-seek.) All this seems to make J. a bit happier with his life.

B. seems to be making some new friends as well–he’s found a couple of kindred spirits at the middle school, and though that doesn’t entirely make up for not seeing his old friends as much as he’d like to, it’s making his transition to the new environment go about as well as it possibly could.  There are rough spots, but it is middle school, after all.

K.’s new friends moved right into the neighborhood.  They’re from a wonderful family a couple of houses down from ours, and though the kids are a bit younger than K., they all seem to get along.  In fact, it may even be good that they’re younger–a lot of K.’s same-age friends are beginning the craziness of the preteen/teen years, and occasionally it’s nice for K. to get away from that drama. Maybe when her new friends enter it, K. will be far enough in that she’ll be able to be the stabilizing influence. We can hope.


Backyard Shed

We’ve been planning to put up a shed in the backyard for a couple of years now–more as a sort of playhouse than anything else, but we also plan to use it to store bicycles.

We finally got our shed (in a giant kit) about a month ago, and bit by bit, we’ve been putting it up.  J. has helped with almost every step of the process, but B. & K. have also done a fair amount of the work.  We got the roof shingled just in time for it to snow last Monday.

It has been fun to work together and has helped our relationships to have a common goal.  We have the last bit of painting to do (as soon as we get a day that’s warm enough with little wind–and there are adults around to supervise).  Then we may need to think of a new family project.  Because working together seems to be good for us.

Six Weeks of School Already

I can’t quite believe it either.  Where has all the time gone?I have only one elementary school student these days.  K enjoys walking to and from the school, sometimes with our new neighbors, and she seems to enjoy school.  K recently helped me a bit with my latest novel–reading and giving comments.  She was very encouraging.  And I also loved it when she said, “Anya hates math?  How can anybody hate math?”

B seems to be enjoying his first year in middle school.  He’s making a few new friends and has joined a puzzle-game club.  (He was invited after designing a digital Rubik’s Cube.) On the whole, the transition has gone better than he feared it would.  Hopefully that will continue.

J is handling school reasonably well, also.  At last count, he had thirty-two of the pride tickets they give kids for working hard, being respectful and helping others at school.  He’s also been doing a lot of work at home to help us put up a bike shed/playhouse in our back yard. (The other kids have helped some, too, but J has been out there as often as it’s not raining, working hard.)

So, all in all, we’re doing pretty well.  In fact, we’re worlds away from where we were this time last year.  It’s refreshing.  (Or would be if we didn’t have such a long ways to go yet.)

One Year

It has been a year since we first brought J. into the US.  Quite the year.  I think we’re all feeling a bit exhausted, but it’s also easy to see that we’ve come a long way.  Sometimes it even seems like J. is happy to be with us.

We haven’t had any pictures in awhile, so here’s a few from recent months.

From the Spring

J & K at the Arvada Kite Festival.
Hiking at Eldorado Canyon









From our trip to pick B & K up from their grandparents:

Feeding the Fish
At the hotel in Kansas City

From our 4th of July Camping Trip

Giant Chess

As you can see, we’ve been managing to have some fun as a family. There are still plenty of tense, angry moments in our home, but we’ve had some good times, too.

J & Tia

Together Again

For the past two-and-a-half weeks, B & K have been visiting family while J and we parents have been home dealing with the unusually warm Denver June.  On the home front we’ve had some not fun business (court; trips to the dentist) and some more fun stuff (skating at Skate City; a trip to Garden of the Gods and to check out Aunt Abby’s quilts in her quilt guild’s show in Monument), but mostly J has been lonely.  He looked almost as glad to see K yesterday as I was, (and he seemed even a little glad to see B).  I don’t know that he’d say the driving was worth it, but maybe he would.

We’re back to driving tomorrow, but yesterday the kids had a blast in the hotel pool, and today we’re going to rent paddle-boats or canoes and get out on a lake with Grandma & Grandpa.  Should be fun, we think.  It sounds like B & K had a very good time visiting grandparents and cousins.  The break from the stress at our house seems to have also been good for them.  But they were very, very glad to see us, and I think they’ll be glad to get home.

So road trip this week for the Hoffs.  And then K’s birthday.  Life is good.

School’s Out

J, B & K all did exceptionally well in their classes this term.  Now they’re back home, adjusting to the largely unstructured time of break.  For the most part we’ve done OK, but the house is a bit of a mess, and sometimes we get on each other’s nerves.  It helps that it’s warm enough now that the kids can sleep out in their tents if they want to.

J is busy working on his garden and doing a bit of cooking.  He’s doing some better with his English, but we should probably try to get him into a class or something.

B has decided he can live with our new chore system (which is good, since he didn’t really have a choice about that.)  He’s doing something I don’t entirely understand with his Minecraft server, and he and his sister are working together to write and illustrate a digital choose your own adventure book.  It seems to be a bit slow getting started, but they’re working on it diligently.  He and K. are looking forward to hanging out with grandparents for a few weeks starting this coming Wednesday.

K is dancing as a princess doll in her ballet studio’s production of Coppelia this weekend, so we’ve been super busy with rehearsals and costumes and refreshment table cookies and all that.  The late nights are exhausting, but K really enjoys the performing and all that comes with it (especially the makeup, which I’m finally figuring out.)

I’ll miss my younger two while they’re gone, but I hope they get a good chance to rest and have adults pay lots of attention to them.  I hope also that our time with J is good here at home, and that the trip out to pick the younger two up isn’t too difficult for anyone.


We seem to be more settled into a routine.  Big, violent explosions are less frequent (we had one the day before Easter, but that was the first in a while, and it hasn’t been repeated.)  It’s nice to get back into gardening season.  J. has jumped the gun a bit with some beans and cucumbers, but it’s warm enough that they still might not fall prey to frost.

Our boys have found something they like to do together.  It’s playing computer games, but the time together seems to be helping them improve their relationship.

Other news:  J. is now going to a full day of school, and seems to be doing OK with it.  He’s had a bit of trouble with some other kids, but it’s middle school, so that’s kind of par for the course, I’m afraid.

B. has begun a family newsletter.  I think his fourth or fifth one comes out tomorrow.  He’s also involved in a tech club in school, which seems to be helping him be a bit more comfortable away from home.

K. is in the midst of rehearsals for Copelia, the ballet her studio is performing June 3 and 4.  At school she’s glad to be done with Parcc testing.

As the school year winds down, we’re trying to figure out what exactly we want to do for the summer.  B. & K. will be visiting grandparents for a bit, but we don’t have any other very firm plans.

Spring Break

is almost over.  I am now ready for a break of my own.  I’m a bit concerned about how we’ll handle the summer.

We had some good times this week, though. We got to see some extended family, spent some time horseback riding (J. & K. both want to know when we’re going again); and did a bit of rock scrambling near Estes Park.  The kids saw a museum or two.  The younger two are now thoroughly ready to return to school.  J. is less excited about that, but I think he’ll like returning to a more regular routine, even if he’s not thrilled with what that routine is.

We’ve made it through the week without any major meltdowns–unless you count me falling apart on my husband Thursday morning.  But I’ve managed to pull myself mostly back together, and we’re looking forward to a new week.

Doggy Comes Home

Tia came back to our house last Friday. Grandma Pookie and Papa Buzz, brought her on their way into town for Spring Break (Sorry to take them so far out of reach when you’ve got a household of sick kids, Pete & Sarah). The grandparents stayed for a bit before going down to my sister’s, but the dog is here to stay. She seems to remember us, and is happy to be around her people again. J and K are very glad she’s back. They’ve been looking forward to her return for weeks, and they are lavishing lots of attention on her. Even B seems glad she’s around and has played a couple of games with her.

This is possible because J has managed to control his temper well enough for the past month that we believe it’s safe for the dog to return, so that’s all to the good. Sometimes it still feels like we’re living on an active volcano at our house, but the eruptions are becoming less frequent and less violent.

We’ve got some fun Spring Break plans (time with grandparents and cousins, kites, horses, Casa Bonita), so we’re hoping this week goes fairly smoothly.

Steady Progress

We’ve had another fairly uneventful week.  (Yay!)  Last weekend was a bit rough because I took a much needed break away from the house.  (Read a couple of novels, took a bubble bath, got some work done)  The kids had some trouble with my being gone, and they’ve been clingy all week, but we had no major crises.

In other news, K. has made it into her school talent show (5 on Thursday, I believe); B. is creating a couple of computer programs, one of which simulates a ball rolling over hills, and J. has put together a rope swing on the tree in the backyard.  I’m not sure how well the tree will hold up, so we might need to build more of a playground kind of thing, but for now, he and K. are enjoying it quite a bit.