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.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Drawing Unto Him

I recently came across the opportunity to review Drawing Unto Him, by Jesse Ruffin.  Always up for new art curriculum, I was excited to give it a shot.

One of the first exercises was familiarizing the boys with various art pencils, what they do, how they look on paper.  We were fortunate to already own a nice set of art pencils that my mom gave to Brianna after taking an art class, so we did not have any special expenses, but you can purchase the "drawing kit" with curriculum, pencils, and sketchbook for only $29.95.  If you already have supplies, the most cost effective option would be the PDF version of the curriculum, which you can download to your computer for $14.95.  The book version is $24.95 without supplies.  

What I really like about this book is that it's more than an art program, it's also a Bible study.  Each of the lessons centers around a gospel theme, with scripture reading, application, artistic parallel, and prayer.  Each lesson is several pages long, and can easily be spread out over multiple days.

After learning about "still life" drawings, Eli was inspired to draw the Kleenex box.

In this exercise, we used little boxes on the side of the page to come up with thumbnail sketches of ideas to show that Jesus is the light of the world.  Then we chose one to enlarge in color.

This program is designed for high school students.  My boys were really too young, at 10 and 13, to get the full benefits of this book.  I think Brianna, who is 14, would do really well with it, as she enjoys art, and would be able to work through it on her own.

There are a lot of techniques in this book that were helpful for us to learn, that will transfer well to other future art programs.  I hope that author Jesse Ruffin comes out with a book for younger children.  I think he's onto a neat idea with the combination of art instruction and Bible study.  If you're looking for a high school level art and Bible study curriculum, I hope you'll check out Drawing Unto Him.

You can connect with Drawing Unto Him on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Always On My Mind

Some authors, you leap at the chance to read their latest book.  Susan May Warren is one of those.  Last year, I reviewed It Had To Be You, When I Fall In Love, and Evergreen by her.

Today, I want to share Always on My Mind with you.  As I hoped at the end of the last book, this one is about Raina and Casper.

At the end of It Had To Be You, Casper found out that Raina and his brother Owen had a fling before she met Casper.  Casper didn't handle that well, and took off for the tropics.  Meanwhile, Raina discovers that fling had some long term consequences.

As Always On My Mind opens, we find Raina great with child, living with Caspar and Owen's sister, Grace.  Casper can't get Raina out of his mind and decides to go home.  He shows up on Grace's doorstep, not knowing about the baby, only to find Raina in labor!

Raina pushes Casper away, believing that he feels sorry for her or wants to "fix" her situation, but not that he could love her enough to look past the circumstances.  She relinquishes her baby for adoption, believing it to be the best choice for her baby, and refusing offers of help from the Christiansen family.

One of the things I love about Susan's books is that you get the chance to check back in with characters from earlier in the series.  As Casper and Raina traverse the rocky path to friendship, we get to see what's going on with former couples, like Derek and Ivy, who are expecting a baby, and going through their own troubles.

Lonely, damaged Raina is the perfect prey for Monte, who seems nice at first, but becomes controlling and abusive.

The adoptive parents Raina chose for her baby, Layla, turn up pregnant unexpectedly, and decide to cancel the adoption.  The social worker offers to find another nice family for Layla, but Raina decides to raise her baby on her own.

I enjoyed Always On My Mind, and I'm looking forward to the next book in the series, The Wonder of You, due out this summer!

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Our Short But Full Week

Since Monday was a school holiday, Tuesday I had a dental appointment, and Friday I took the girls to Shriners, we tried to stuff a lot of learning into Wednesday and Thursday.

I printed these cool pages I found online for Katie to be able to make her name out of Duplos.

Brayden came over to play one day.  Katie loves having him here.

And Brayden adores Uncle Jack and Uncle Eli.  He was disappointed they had to work on school work for part of the time he was here.

Using the book Starting Chess, the boys are getting a refresher course on how the game is played.  I love that this is built right into our curriculum.  I never would have thought to include it on my own, since I don't play chess.

This was my stab at Therapy Thursday.  I was having Jack read aloud to me, and he was squirming and fidgeting, so I told him to bring the Balance Board up.  After some tossing a ball back and forth on the balance board, he was ready to work again, and decided to do the page while balancing.

Progress continues to happen with the new room.  The paneling is all up now, as is the trim board that's missing in this picture.  Hopefully, paint will happen soon, and then it will be done!  Josiah is anxious to get moved in, and Paul will be happy to have the extra space in the garage after moving the larger bed in.

Our Home Art Studio project this week was based on the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

I like the 3 dimensional aspect of having the spoons stick up from the paper.

We drew the bowls and spoons in pencil on watercolor paper, then traced our designs in Sharpie, cut out, glued in place, and painted.

I think it would have been easier to paint then cut, but we would have had to wait for the finished paintings to dry first.

Somebody got a little carried away with the glue!

Miss Katie continues to love dot marker pages.  She recognizes K for Katie everywhere now.  I'm working on introducing the other letters of her name next.

The girls strung heart beads to make Valentine necklaces.  Great fine motor skills practice.  Both girls have "different" hands (Katie has 4 fingernails altogether, Hannah has 8), yet it doesn't slow them down a bit.

Over the long weekend, Sam helped me paint the rest of the castle blocks.

And I managed to find some time in the sewing room.  I made the pink/red striped leggings for Hannah to wear with a red shirt in honor of Valentine's month.

And the reversible pants are for Luke.  Denim on one side, and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? on the other.  Gymboree's Eric Carle line is on clearance, and I got him a cute raglan shirt that will go perfectly with this.  I know I shouldn't make white pants for a 3 year old, but 1) he doesn't crawl, and 2) I figure *when* they get stained, he can wear them denim side out.

Last night's movie was The Sword in the Stone, since the tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table were mentioned in our history lessons recently.  It's amazing how far animation technology has come since then!

We'll continue learning about the Vikings this coming week, and in Science we start The Wonderful Way Babies Are Made.  That should be... interesting.

Linking up with Home to 4 Kiddos and:

For the Display of His Splendor

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Things to Think About Half Way Through the School Year

Since I have kids in public school, private school, and homeschooling, this will apply to everybody.

If your kids go to a school building:
Check out their clothes.  This is the time of year where my kids seem to need a couple more uniform shirts to make it through the week.  Whether they've grown to a new size, or stained the ones it feels like you just bought them, I found myself picking up a couple more polos for Sam at Target recently.

What about shoes?  Too tight?  Too worn?  Lost at school?

Speaking of things getting lost, make the time to go check out the Lost & Found at your child's school.  I'm still sad about the Hello Kitty jacket Hannah lost at school a couple years ago.  Maybe your child has been taking containers in their school lunch, but not bringing them home, and you can find and recover them.  (You may need to check their desk or locker, too!)

How's the lunch box looking?  From time to time, I like to give Hannah's a good swipe with a wet wipe to get some of the ookies out of it.  If yours can go through the dishwasher or the washing machine, how about giving it a bath over the weekend?

One of my kids is on their second backpack this year, because the straps broke just a few weeks into the school year.  This is a good time to help your child clean out the backpack, and see if there's any areas you should reinforce to help it last until summer.

Remember all the supplies you sent in at the beginning of the school year?  Those are mostly used up, lost, or broken at this point.  Your elementary child's teacher would probably really appreciate a quick email saying, "Hey, is there anything the classroom has run out of that I can pick up for you?"  Your older kids may need to re-stock their backpack or locker, too.  Be sure you have binder paper, index cards, etc. on hand for them to do so.

If your kids are homeschooled:
Half way through!  How are the curriculum choices you made for this year working out?  Is there one subject that everyone just dreads every day?  If it's math, there's not much you can do about that.  Kids have to have math in some form.  But if it's any other subject, it might be time to look at ways you can change up how you're teaching it.  If you child struggles with writing, take the pressure off for a while and let them type or dictate their work.  If the social studies or science curriculum you chose has been a flop, maybe it's time to change it up.  Or supplement with interesting books and videos that cover the same materials.

For all school situations:
Now is a good time to start thinking about next school year.  It will be here before we know it!  Our family motto has always been, "Education is a year by year, child by child decision."

First, think about your family situation.  Are you expecting a baby?  In the process of adopting?  Looking at an upcoming move?  These issues will all affect the choices you make for next school year.

Next, evaluate where each child is now.  Is this setting working for this child, socially and academically?  Are they wilting or flourishing?  Is it financially feasible to have them stay where they're at for next year?  Will it work for the rest of the family?  Can you work out a carpool with neighbors/friends?

If something is not working, and you're looking at making a change for next school year, now really is the time to be thinking about it.  Just today, I got an email about 2015-2016 preschool registration at Luke's school.  And the private high school my big kids go to starts registration in February.  Be sure to call and schedule tours and/or testing at the schools you're interested in.

With about 4 months until summer break (for traditional schedule students), it might be time to brainstorm summer plans, too.  I just heard about an aviation based summer camp coming up in June that sounds like a great fit for Eli.  Homeschooled kids might have fun making a summer wish list or helping you plan a summer vacation.

Best wishes for finishing out the school year strong!

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

ProBar Bites #loveatfirstbite

I mentioned recently that I usually have a "bar" of some sort as my breakfast during homeschool.  I want to share with you these tasty ProBar Bites I've been reviewing.  

I was sent a box of assorted flavors, including Mixed Berry, Chocolate Cherry Cashew, Peanut Butter Crunch, Coconut Almond, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, and Superfruit Greens.  I pretty much expected not to like the Coconut Almond since I'm not a fan of coconut, and I was a little leery of the Superfood Greens flavor, but the rest sounded good.

This is the Mixed Berry.  They're good!  One of the first things I noticed about them was that, unlike many bars, these are SOFT.  I really liked the texture.

ProBar Bites are certified organic snack bars with 190 calories and 10-11 grams of sugar (depending on flavor).  They are gluten free, non-dairy, and contain no soy.

The Superfruit Greens flavor, which I thought sounded a little too healthy, turned out to be not bad at all!

Eli was more than willing to help me out with the Coconut Almond flavor, which smells amazing, but yeah, tastes like coconut, go figure.  Almost his first words to me the next morning were, "Got another one of those coconut bars you need me to take care of for you??"

ProBar Bites are available for $23.88 per 12 pack box.  They offer free shipping on orders over $75.  These are an easy meal or snack on the go.  For me, that means nibbling one while I'm homeschooling the boys in the morning.  But I've also tucked one into my purse for the unexpected "out later than I thought I would be" times when I'm falling apart due to low blood sugar.  These bars would be a good item to keep in the car or in an emergency kit.

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Adoption Stories - linkup

When Paul told me he'd been thinking about adoption in 2008, I was shocked.  We already had more kids than what he'd originally agreed to, and after baby #7, he took steps to insure our family was complete.

Surprise quickly turned to delight, and we had many discussions about what kind of adoption would work best for us.  See The 3 Main Paths to Adoption, for more on making that decision.  We chose foster adoption, and became a licensed foster home in April of 2009.

Right about that time, Sac County laid of literally hundreds of social workers due to budget cuts.  Kids were only coming into care in the direst of circumstances, since there weren't workers to supervise the placements.

We waited and waited.

While we were waiting, I started looking at Heart Gallery photolistings.  I worked my way through every state, looking at the available children, hoping for 1 or 2 little girls younger than Jack, who was 5.  January 26, 2010, I clicked on a link from one of these sites to Rainbow Kids, a site listing not only domestic waiting children, but international ones, as well.

the first picture we saw of Hannah

I plugged in our search criteria, and one of the children whose pictures popped up was Hannah.  Only she was in China.  Oh, and one arm and one leg were a little different.

I showed her to Paul, and he asked questions.  This was a very good sign, because usually when I showed him waiting kids, I got a monosyllabic response or an eye roll.  (The eye roll might have been when I showed him a sibling group of six waiting in Texas.)

We discussed it, prayed about it, talked to other people, and finally decided to go for it.  We changed directions entirely, and ended up in China in November of 2010.

China was amazing, and we hadn't even left yet when we started talking about coming back for a sibling.

Hannah melded into our family seamlessly, and handled everything from surgery to preschool to moving to a new house with her amazing resilience.

At the end of May 2012, we were kicking around the idea of starting another adoption in the fall.  One morning, I awoke to an email from one of the directors of the adoption agency we used with Hannah.  She said she was in China at their new partnership orphanage, and "I think I just met your daughter.  Would you like to see a picture?"  I emailed back, "YES!" and then called Paul to tell him.

June 5, standing in line with Jack for Soaring Over California at Disneyland, I checked my email *one more time* and there she was.

My heart melted.  Who am I kidding?  This picture still melts me.

We went through the talking and thinking and praying again, but it was easier this time, because we were familiar with her special needs already.  This little girl had limb differences similar to Hannah's.  We already had a relationship established with the folks at Shriners, so there weren't as many unknowns this time around.

We decided to jump back in a couple months earlier than planned, and in June of 2013, we found ourselves in a different part of China for Katie.

Katie has also done well with her medical treatments and making a place for herself in our family.  I love to see the different relationships between siblings.  Katie and Josiah are buddies, and of course, Katie and Hannah are very close.

Some of you may be asking at this point, "What about Luke?"  Well, for the purpose of this linkup, I wanted to focus on the happy stories.  I feel like I write about Luke over and over and over, and I'm sure I'll be writing about him some more in other weeks of the linkup, but for today, I'm highlighting the girls' adoption stories.

Linking up with other adoptive families at:

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