A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Noteworthy Links

Love Without Boundaries is doing a fascinating series on the changing face of Chinese adoptions.
The Changing Face of China's Orphans is the first part
followed by Changing Attitudes
The Adoption of Boys
Domestic Adoption on the Rise
and Birth Defects
I appreciate the chance to learn from people who are in China's orphanages what the realities are, as opposed to what they used to be.  Many people think of adoption from China as healthy baby girls, but it's time to update that idea a bit.

Do you know someone besides me who is adopting?  Please read this blog post on how to support an adoptive family.  I loved it.  I found myself nodding in agreement as I read.  My only minor issue with it is that she refers to the newly adopted child as a baby, and that's not always the case.  Still, her tips are awesome for families adopting any age child.

Adoption Magazine has a piece Age In Adoption that is a reminder I could have used one recent morning!  Instead of berating Hannah for not getting her coat on when I told the kids to get their coats on, I should have acknowledged that her Family Age is only a little over 2 years.  2 year old mess up sometimes.  It's okay.  I need to stop expecting her to be "almost 6" in every way.  They also have a post up with a variety of links for people interested in reading more about adoption and foster care.

The Bergey Bunch is doing a long series on Grace Based Parenting.  Wow.  I started my parenting career as The Law Based Parent, and have devolved into The Lazy Permissive parent over the years.  But grace is not a concept I normally associate with parenting.  This has been a good read for me, and I'm going to encourage my husband to read some of them, too.

This article was very validating for me.  Whatever the opposite of Helicopter Mom is, that's me.  It's not that I'm lazy or that I don't care, it's that I've made the decision to let my kids be kids.  Especially Hannah.  I have to really remind myself not to hover (too much) with her.  Because I don't want to give her the impression that I think she can't do it.  I'm pretty sure she can do anything she sets her mind to.  I'm sorry not everyone sees what I see in her.

My kids are pretty good about understanding that life isn't always "fair" but I found this blog really spoke to ME on a day where I was feeling like the adoption world wasn't fair because I saw another family go zooming past us in pursuit of their child, when we started at the same time.

I've noticed that my blog reading seems to be heavy on adoption and foster care.  I'd love some links for parenting teenagers, if anyone has some to pass on!

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Adoption News & Katie pic

Waiting is hard.  Tiny little pieces of information take on the greatest significance.  Which is why I was so incredibly THRILLED to discover this video in a search.

Taken Christmas 2010.  Katie was 3 months old then, so I thought there was a small chance she would be in the video, but at least I could see more of her facility.

Guess who is on the right side of the tree in orange at 42 seconds?  My baby!  To be honest, it's the nanny that I recognized, lol.

So if you look at this week's Katie picture, you'll recognize the nanny, too.

This picture was taken in May 2012.

Your prayers last week have been heard, thank you!  We learned that we are now OOT (out of translation) which means we should be getting our LOA (letter of approval) in about a month.  Unless Chinese New Year slows things down, which is understandable, since the offices in China close down from Feb. 9-17.  Hopefully, the workers will want to clear their desks and get a big batch done before the holiday, and then they'll come back to work rested and refreshed and ours should be near the top of the stack when they return!  

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Guess what Hannah got measured for this morning?

She picked PINK tubing, of course.  It should be ready in 2.5 months.  We started the process the beginning of November.  After we requested one, they sent a form to Shriners to have her surgeon sign off on it.  They called me a couple of weeks ago to schedule the fitting/measurement appointment (the chair guys aren't at the local therapy site all the time).  November to April is kind of a long time to me, but given that her surgery isn't scheduled yet, and she doesn't even SEE her surgeon until March, I'm sure we'll have the chair in plenty of time before her surgery.

It will also be nice to have for those times when she just can't keep up with the other kids all day, like trips to Six Flags and the fair.

Hannah Photo Shoot

I love playing with Paul's camera.

I'm not very good at it, but I wanted to get a picture of Hannah in her silks to use for her Valentines before she goes back to school.  

 My Chinese American sweetheart.  

I was inspired by the beautiful golden light at the end of the day, but by the time I got Hannah changed and we got outside, I'd missed the light, and the breeze started kicking up a little.

Still, she's such a good sport.

And she's so very photogenic,

that we got some fun shots anyway.
(Thank you, neighbors, for having a nice front yard, lol.)

I'm sure I'll be able to come up with a Valentine out of one of these.

If you want to take better pictures of your children, please consider signing up for a workshop.  Use our Family ID Code, blessed and our family receives a donation toward our adoption fees.
If you're pretty comfortable behind your lens, maybe you'd consider passing the info along to a friend who is just getting started?  I'd appreciate it!  

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Homeschool Weekly Wrap Up Saudi Arabia week 2

Annaliese got out a cookie decorating kit this week and let the kids "have at it." 

Even though Christmas was a month ago, we're still feeling very festive.

And silly.

Jack, spelling his spelling words with letter tiles.  

Eli finished his 3rd Nanoblock creation, the Space Shuttle he got for Christmas.  
He's now looking forward to starting India next week, when he gets to build the Taj Mahal.  

Brianna helps Jack read a book about penguins.

Eli doing math.

The space shuttle randomly soars through our classroom from time to time.  

Eli and Brianna started a new subject this week: Choosing Good Health.
They regaled me with all sorts of fascinating facts on safety in every imaginable scenario from snakes and poisonous plants to water safety.  I think they like it.  They've both finished the entire first chapter already.  There's only 7 chapters.  

I'm starting to see the light at the end of the school year tunnel.
We've finished more countries than what we have left to go.  
Brianna and Eli are 2/3 of the way through their spelling books.

This week seemed abbreviated, not only due to the holiday Monday, but also because Hannah and I spent half of Thursday at Shriners, and then I had a dental appointment Friday.
I'm actually really impressed with how much we got done, all things considered.  
I have Paul to thank for much of that.  He did school while Hannah and I were gone. 
I really am Greatly Blessed.

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You'd think I'd listen to my own advice, wouldn't you?  Yeah, well, it appears you'd be wrong.  I didn't notice it wasn't working until my son was in tears and I was ready to scream.  Once emotions cooled, I realized that the beauty of homeschooling is that I DON'T HAVE TO pound my triangular child into a square hole.  I need to find a curriculum that works for him, not the other way around.

See, Jack is my special ed student.  He's a bright boy, and very affectionate, sweet and fun.  But he's speech delayed, and he's a horrible speller, partly because he's not a strong reader.  At. All.

Most of the kids went to school, either public or private, for kindergarten.  Jack did not, because I knew he would not have passed the entrance exam for our private school (I know, I know; don't get me started) and I could not bear to send my baby to public school.  I just felt like he wasn't ready yet. I think we did him a disservice by keeping him home.

So much of parenting is guesswork.  We make the best choices we can, based on what we know, how we feel, and outside influences.  I'd read over and over that little boys just aren't ready to sit still and read at 5 years old.  And yet, he's almost 9 now.  Not reading at 8 is different than not reading at 5.  I feel like I've failed him somehow.

All these thoughts and feelings were swirling around my head when I decided to implement some changes in our homeschool.  I decided to switch Jack from Aleks math to A Beka math.  I also realized that although I read aloud to the kids a LOT with our curriculum, Jack doesn't have any sort of reading program this year.  :major headsmack:  HOW did I not notice this??

Oh, he's doing the The Complete Book of Animals as his animal science this year, but because the reading level is 2nd-3rd grade, and he's not quite there yet, we've gotten in the habit of me reading the material TO him.

I started looking online at reading curriculum, and then I stopped myself.  Our school room has EIGHT bookcases in it.  Surely, one could find something appropriate for an emerging reader in this very room!  I went through our impressive stack of readers and sorted them by level.  And Jack and I have been plowing through the Level One books each day since then.

I'm seeing progress.  Tonight's Biscuit book only required a few helps, and many pages required no help at all.  I've also noticed that listening to him read each day helps me to correct his pronunciation.  So far, we haven't had any tears with the new math book he started on Tuesday.  Things are looking better.

I'm glad that homeschooling allows me the chance to see where he's struggling and address it, as opposed to him being swept along with the rest of the class in a traditional school.

If you could pray for me?  I'm starting to write down ideas for next school year.  Obviously nothing set in stone yet, as the dynamics will be very different around here.  But I would ask that you pray God will guide our family as we make choices about who will go to school, where they will go, and what materials we will use here at home next year.  With Annaliese graduating high school, Hannah graduating kindergarten, and Katie's arrival, it's hard to foresee what will work best for everyone.  Thank you.

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Friday, January 25, 2013

LID and Katie picture

This week's picture is not a particularly great shot.  This is one of the photos we received with her referral, and I have no idea when it was taken.

Waiting parents tend to analyze all the background details in their child's photos.  You make observations and inferences.

I look at this picture, and I'm happy to see TOYS.  We didn't see toys when we visited Hannah's orphanage.  I wonder how much of this is due to Half The Sky working at Katie's orphanage.  I've read that kids at orphanages where Half The Sky has programs are usually more on track developmentally and have fewer sensory issues.

Particularly in light of some bad things coming out about one facility in another part of China, I am glad to see that she is in a good place.  Our agency was at Katie's orphanage in May, and I trust them.

Speaking of our agency, I was informed on Wednesday that our dosser was logged in on 1/15!  We have our LID, so now we move on to waiting for our LOA, which is Letter Of Approval, after China has reviewed all our documents.  We may or may not hear when our dossier is out of translation.  Please pray for quick and accurate translation, and a speedy LOA.  The time for this step ranges anywhere from 11 to 90 days right now, with no rhyme or reason as to why some take longer than others.  Hannah's LOA came at 35 days, so I'm trying to not think about it until that point.
Lilypie Waiting to Adopt tickers

The one plus about not hearing about our LID until a week after it happens is that we get a little "boost" at the beginning of our LOA wait.  Instead of starting from day 1, we started from day 8.  I made this ticker for Katie's page so it's easy to see how long we've been waiting.  See, PAPs (prospective adoptive parents) have a tendency to obsess a little.  So it's not uncommon for people to share, "We got LOA today!  Day 27!" and then everyone who is still waiting at less than 27 days thinks, "Hey, that's early!  Ours could come soon!" and everyone who's waited longer than 27 days thinks, "Man!  Why can't they process these things in the order they're received?  Oh well, that's one more file out of the way."

While we wait for the next steps, we're saving and fundraising for the next fees.  In addition to travel costs, we make a final payment of 1,904 to our agency prior to travel.  We have applied for a grant to cover a portion of this, so please pray that we will be selected as a grant recipient.  We just got a $19 check from our Just Love Coffee page.  Coffee might make a good gift for your Valentine, don't you think?  :)

I'm anxiously awaiting Chinese New Year so we can send a package to Katie and hopefully receive new pictures in return!  I want to see that my girl is still doing okay.  I hope they're letting her hair grow.  

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Valentine sewing and Martin Luther King Jr Day playing

Sweet sisters!  

I'm so proud of myself.  I found this fabric in the sewing room when I was looking for something else (which I never did find, lol), and thought, "I should make the girls Valentine shirts!"

And I actually did it!

They were finished a whole month before Valentine's Day, but I just had them wear them to get a picture on Monday.  

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was "holiday routine" for us.  

That's a term borrowed from the firehouse.  

It was also a beautiful sunny day.  
(yes, my child is riding his bike down the stairs, why do you ask?)

It was also a beautiful sunny day. 
(even the couch potato-iest of us came out to enjoy it)

We've missed those days lately.  

We had a cold snap that left the windshield coated in ice every morning when we left to take the teens to school.

So it was nice to see the sun again.    

And it was nice to play with the neighbor kids, too.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

Since I'm in my 15th year of homeschooling, I tend to think I've seen/heard/read most of what's out there.  After being asked to review The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, I've realized there is always something new to learn.  Insight and encouragement abound in this 120 page publication.

Even the cover brings new ideas to mind!  The January issue of The Old Schoolhouse shows a picture of an old schoolhouse on the front, and inside asks it's readers to submit photos of other old schoolhouses.  Well, we happen to have one right here in town!  I think a field trip with cameras is in order soon.  I recently tried to give the kids a photo essay project and they weren't able to complete it on their own.  Maybe we should start smaller and go shoot the schoolhouse and then compare photos on the computer and discuss light, perspective, etc.  See what I mean?  All this, from a little cover explanation.

The articles contained were quite varied.  It seemed there was a little bit of every area of curriculum addressed, although math and drama were heavily represented in this issue.  Also included were brief comparisons of several different math programs, articles on art, drama, foreign languages, math, the Constitution, transportation, and so on.  In addition, there were articles on many other things such as homeschooling expenses, family stories, and Christian life.  There was something written about every phase of homeschooling, from preschool to high school.

The article on the cost of homeschooling was a timely one for me, as just last week, I started listing all the materials I want to use next year, and researching costs for each.  There are times when I wish we could do this enrichment or get that bonus game/fun hands on learning item, but this article reminded me that the amount you spend on homeschooling does not equate to the quality of the results.

Another thing I appreciated was being encouraged in my Christian walk.  One quote I particularly took to heart was "If you're not ready to forgive someone, bake them a cake."  --meaning, do it whether you want to or not.  So many times I'm driven by my feelings, and I need to just obey.  Easier said than done!

The advertisements were interesting and relevant.  I found myself clicking a couple of them out of curiosity.  I found companies I had never heard of.

One of the pieces was about planes and flight.  Eli happens to be obsessed with aircraft these days, so I picked up a couple ideas for him to research from that.

I'm grateful for the chance to participate with the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  I feel the time I spent reading The Old Schoolhouse Magazine was worthwhile, and left me refreshed as a homeschooling mom.  For those who prefer a print version, the annual print issue is available here:  http://schoolhouseteachers.com/print-issue/

Since The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is not only FREE, but also available as a FREE app at www.TOSApps.com, I encourage every homeschool family to check out this publication and see if it inspires you, too.  

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Homeschool Weekly Wrap Up - Saudi Arabia

Jack worked with Daddy on some engineering skills this week, as they made the latest installment (for our family, anyway) in the LEGO Creator series of buildings.

Brianna and Hannah sorting a bucket of beads.

Pipe cleaners and letter beads is a great way to do spelling words.

Note to self:  It's hard to photograph something over a bright window!
This is our Around The World bulletin board set.  We've been adding characters as we learn about the different countries.  I looked on Amazon, but I think they've updated it to a slightly different one now.  We've had this set for years.  I did an around the world unit study with Zachary, Annaliese, Josiah, and Samuel when they were little.

This week we started Saudi Arabia.

The perfect time for Eli to present his Germany project, right?
In his defense, he was waiting for Josiah to help him with part of it, and that just happened recently.

The kids also played Mancala from our Kenya weeks a few extra times this week.
We've had the game for ages, but since it's an African game, I had them pull it out and play.  It's always fun to see their renewed interest in an old favorite.  

A new country means research, 


and flags.

Flags are a favorite around here.

I've recently been thinking that we need a set of Unit Blocks for Hannah and Katie to play with.
But after Eli made this sword-high tower, and played with these blocks for a couple days straight, I realized:

1) I underestimated who would use a nice set of blocks around here
2) maybe we can make do with the blocks we have, at least for now

Single-origin chocolate from Ecuador.
Chocolate is a great motivator for learning, who knew?

Brianna has been the driving force behind getting the boys to do their packets so they can eat the next bar.  

She managed to get them through TWO countries this week.  
I guess I'll be printing up the next few packets for them over the weekend!

Personally, I think we're venturing into the "tastes like dirt" realm of dark chocolate at 70, but the kids are still impressed with it.  Tanzania, the last country at the bottom of the box, is 73, so we'll see if they like that one or not.  

My big boy will be going "wheels up" soon on his 3rd overseas deployment.
I'm not worried, per se, but I would appreciate your prayers for him as he adjusts to new surroundings.  I'm excited that he gets to see a new country this time.  And I'm hopeful that communication home will be a little better from there than when he was in the Middle East.

Since the teens are off on Monday, and Hannah is still off-track, we are taking Monday as a holiday, too.  We did part of Monday's work today, since we were done with this week.  I love the freedom of setting our own schedule in homeschooling!
Have a lovely 3 day weekend!

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