Friday, December 27, 2013

Special Needs

That phrase "special needs" is kind of a weird phrase. It is especially interesting when you are parents entering into the world of international adoptions....what special needs are you open to, what does it really mean? When Keith and I were starting the process to adopt from Ghana - I really wanted us to be open to a larger list of special needs, but Keith cut that list down saying something to the effect of "if we had a child...or we brought home our child and then found out about this need ...well..it wouldn't be a big deal we would just deal with it". About 3 months ago we were offered a referral of an 11month old who had a much less severe version of Ulysses' need and we turned him down. Not so much because of the need...although that was honestly part of it...but because we just didn't feel that something. At the time, I thought that was kind of a silly reason. I am not the fall in love at first sight kind of adoptive mama. I went with it though. Now 3 months later, because of something in a video that moved us...we are planning on bringing home a son that literally has two of the big issues we said we were not sure of being able to handle. Every time we tried to talk ourselves out of bringing him home because of worst case scenarios...those scenarios ceased to be scary or barriers at all. No matter how worst case they got. The reason is because he literally feels like our child and we are not scared by his needs we just need to get him home and deal with them. Maybe it is because I spent so much time thinking about it, praying about him and imagining every eventuality before I talked to Keith about him at all. I have always been a bit skeptical of the plethora of child advocacy sites designed to help waiting children find adoptive families. Not in a "I think they are bad" kind of way...but in a "does it really help kids find homes?" kind of way. Now I am just so grateful that the advocacy site we saw Ulysses on took the time and had the heart to advocate for him or we NEVER would have found him. This adoption process has been so different for me and my family in so many different ways and we aren't even done yet. This adoption has rocked my world and made my heart grown like 3 sizes. This is a blessing and I can't wait to get to the next step. Dossier is in Washington, DC right now with the Assistant Stork. Unfortunately, the stork gets vacations too so we won't have it back for another 2 weeks or so! Then as soon as we have our updated I800A approval off to our agency it goes. I think I am being conservative when I hope for a May travel date..we will see though!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

coincidences...

After carefully comparing all dates in our referral info to my blog... on the day that Ulysses was abandonded...Keith and I were at an Adoption Workshop at the UAB International Adoption Clinic.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Tale of brave Ulysses....

I am not sure how well i will explain the way this little boy changed my perspective. On Zeb's birthday, I saw a post on an advocacy site for the little boy up in this picture. It broke my heart...i think it broke a lot of people's hearts. I couldn't get his little face out of mind...especially his smile and joy in a video of him walking. I started imagining him, who he was, what his personality was, what his future could be. Then I started thinking about his needs..what his worst case scenario needs might be and for the first time ever in my life....those kind of needs seemed like no big deal. Literally, I imagined myself caring for this guy in the worst case scenario of his special needs and it was not a big deal. I am a pragmatist and a worst scenario planning type of person. The more amazing part of this story is that while I spent days praying about this and imagining being mom to this little boy....I couldn't even begin to find the words to talk to Keith about it. I knew that there was nothing I could say that could even begin to convey all of what I was feeling...not a thing. Then one night about 6 days after I saw his picture...it just came pouring out. Then another amazing thing happened - Keith asked "What do we have to do next?" By the time I sent an email to our agency, Ulysses' file was under serious consideration by another family. I figured that if someone was seriously considering him...I must have been mistaken. Yet somehow, I couldn't get the idea out of my head that he was going to be our son...it just seemed too real. Three days later, our agency called and asked us if we were still interested. I knew it. We recieved our PA yesterday for Ulysses and our dossier is sitting at the Assistant Stork waiting to get sealed and back to us. We have to wait for our I800A approval to be ammended but hopefully that won't take too long. Our homestudy ammendment reached the USCIS the same day our initial I800A approval was issued....SNAP! Our officer seems very responsive and had us send her an overnight envelope so she could overnight the ammended I800A approval when she gets all the pieces (which we overnighted on Tuesday)! He turns 9 at the end of March and I know there is no real chance of having him home by his birthday, but it would be great to have him home before the onslaught of summer birthdays for the kids we already have! When we started this adoption, our plan was as young as possible with as minor a need as possible...we were thinking a 1 yo boy with a limb difference or cleft lip/palate. Isn't it funny how things turn out! I couldn't be more excited. We are getting ready to send a care package on monday...ok now I couldn't be more excited!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Birthday!

Today is Zeb's birthday! He is a solid little 7yo today. He was really excited to get to spend it with all of his brothers and sisters! Usually, O or Lily, or both are not with us on Thanksgiving...but this year everyone was here. He wanted an ice cream cake...so it was by far the easiest birthday cake I have ever been in charge of! I hope he had a good day. It is so hard to believe he is 7 years old. I watch my other kids grow up, but there is this sense of awe about Zebby getting older. I think it has something to do with all of the amazing changes in my life that happened all around the time of Zeb's arrival. His age is kind of a marker as to when my life became my life if that makes sense! Yes, I know I never posted one thing about our trip to the beach and to Disneyworld...it was great. We went to St Augustine Beach and rented a condo right on the beach..the kids all loved it! Our homeschool field trip reports for all the kids said their favorite part of the trip was "the waves". We saw all kinds of awesome wildlife...starfish, barnacles, mussels, fish, jellyfish, and sand crabs. We went to an Alligator Farm, and went on a tour of Flagler U. At Disneyworld we stayed in the TreeHouse Villa's at Saratoga Springs and it was really super. We were worried we would be really far from the buses, but it was probably the same walk as last year at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. We spent way more money than we had budgetted but we had a really great time. We were there during the food and wine festival at Epcot and very much enjoyed some serious food...my diet has suffered. We came back in time to do the neverending 3 weeks of halloween costumes, parties and candy..a truly terrifying event for my diet! Before we left for Disneyworld I totally fit into a pair of size 4 capri pants I bought the weekend of medical school graduation...one month later I am barely squeezing into my 6jeans..especially after our thanksgiving/zeb birthday feast today. My diet will make a much needed reappearance starting tomorrow and running for 3 weeks...until the Christmas baking armageddon strikes my kitchen...yummmm.

Monday, October 14, 2013

I800 waiting

Well, we finally got that pesky  homestudy done.  We received an email from our placing agency that they had approved our homestudy after about 10 days of reviewing it.  "woohooo..lets get that I800 A in the mail!" I thought to myself optimistically.  Then I got an email from my homestudy agency that told me they requested a couple of changes and one of them was 3 more visits...oh just a little thing when your homestudy agency is 2 1/2 hours away from you! 

We traipsed on up there and did 3 visits in one day and walked away with the homestudy in hand...phewww!

We have the dossier done except for that pesky immigration approval. So I am going to seal everything...county, state, state dept, consulate in about 2 weeks.  Then wait for the I800 approval and seal that bad boy all by itself.

I love how close we are getting to the waiting for referral step.

In the meantime, we are headed to the beach for 4 days and onto Disneyworld.  Our housesitters will have lots of fun with all our cats...but what can you say..it is important to get away and it is important to have someone at the house to keep our kitties comfy!

School is going really, really well with the big kids and pretty good with the little kids...although I will be honest...Ben is a pain in the neck.  Zoe has made huge leaps in her writing..I am super excited about that!  We are going to take some school with us on the road.  I am thinking it is going to be more fun-ish type school.  Logic problems...games...stuff like that.  I need to get that altogether tomorrow.

I have been really busy...hard to believe, I know.  I seriously have never been as busy as I am this year.  I can't even get stressed out about how messy my house is because I can't fit my nervous breakdown into my schedule!  Oh well! 

Just felt like blogging a little since it has taken me 2 months to moderate one comment...You rock Shannon!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Isn't if funny

Isn't it funny how you percieve things a little differently when you know you are expecting a new child...birth or adoption.  The shopping experience is a little different...you can look for clothes that are a new size or gender.  I remember when we thought we were going to be bringing Aaron home the first time, I found the cutest blue sweatjacket with a green airplane on it at Target and totally wanted to get it for the 5 yo little boy for when we picked him up. 
Now I found the cutest freakin boy baby/toddler jumper in the Chasing Fireflies catalog..cute.
Some changes in perspective that are specific to adoption....any picture of any orphanage in the country  you adopting from posted by your placing agency....yeah...these are the pictures you look at on facebook and wonder if you son is maybe one of the babies in the picture.  Nothing like a picture like that on facebook to remind you to get your butt in gear to finish your homestudy paperwork!
Next week is the official Byrne-Cox get your butt in gear and finish your paperwork week...officially.
 
 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Busy 2 weeks

So...yeah it has been over a month since I posted anything because I have been really busy and I am lame! 
I am starting an American Heritage Girls Troop in my area.  I had briefly looked for one for Lily to join at the beginning of last school year but didn't find one...and wasn't to preoccupied by it.  When we went to the Homeschool Convention in Cincinatti last spring, there was a vendor who sold unit studies books and each unit study included the requirements for a merit badge for boysouts and American Heritage Girls and my interest was rekindled.
 
It was actually pretty difficult to get through the chartering process...but we are there and I am not the troop coordinator for AHG Troop KY0012.  Getting this done has really changed our lives...seriously it sounds weird I know.  Finding a charter organization forced us to look at the relationship we had with the church we were going to at the time and we decided we needed to move churches.  Wow...has it been a blessing to find our new church.  Seriously, people...I am in love with our new church.  The first sunday we went, literally the first person we met who showed us around...was a homeschooling mom of 5.  She is now the vice coordinator of the AHG troop, we are in the same Homeschool coop, and to top it off...her awesome mother in law is teaching the quilting class I have been going to.  I am so excited to have a new friend.  Oh yeah...and her husband is an eagle scout who is helping Keith with Cub scouts this year because 2 of their boys are cub age. 
 
The last 2 weeks have been action packed and very exciting:
 
I was out of town for 2 weeks and got home on Saturday...on
Wedensday Aug 14 we had our home visit,
Friday Aug 16th I had to speak at an assembly for 1st-5th grade girls at the local elementary school  (eek...300 girls in the dinatorium ), friday night we had our first AHG troop board meeting at my house (which was a blast!).
Sat aug 17 was our first day of school with the super awesome new school room and our exciting new sonlight curriculum....it went so smoothly!
Tuesday Aug 20 we had our big general meeting for AHG....
Wed Aug 21, we had a homeschool coop organizational meeting...this is the first year of actual cooperative teaching..I am not involved in any way with starting it or leading it...I just offered a place to meet and there were 33 kids there and 17 adults (and 3 babysitters).  Although I am teaching on the first teaching day...sept 25.  Let me reiterate...there were 33 kids at my house playing in our playroom and outside on the playground.  3 years ago I couldn't find any other homeschoolers anywhere!
Sat Aug 24 we had an adoptive parents of eastern ky potluck. at our house.  I wish we would have had a better turn out...but there was one new family there that I hadn't met before and great couple from church who is interested in adoption.  It was really fun.
Yesterday I headed out of town for a week of locums.
 
My family is supposed to be driving down to hand out with me...but our bus broke....NO!!!!!!! it is being fixed now and probably won't be done tomorrow...bummer!
 
Adoption update....we have only a couple more things to do...I know there is truly no excuse that they aren't done yet...but they aren't:
1.  Keith has to finish his training videos
2. all medical forms for all kids...both the ones that live with us in KY and the one that lives in AL
3.  O needs to do a phone interview with the social worker for the update
I really , really, really want to get the homestudy done so we can start waiting for our I800a...seems like that has been taking 2-3 months which puts us at like in December before we can get our dossier sent.  UGG..why can't I just get things done! haha
 
I have some pictures of our new school room that I posted to FB on the first day of school.  Keith built an amazing table for our school room and it fits everyone perfectly..I love it.  I married a really amazing man...I totally hit the husband jackpot.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Telling kids

Last night after dinner, we decided to tell the kids that we are starting the process to bring home a new brother for them.

We went down to the media room after dinner, the boys sat on the overstuffed loveseat with Keith and I sat on the couch with the girls.  We asked the little kids "how many boys are there in our family?"  They counted and said "4"....and how many girls are in our family?  the counted and said 5.  So I said "Don't you think we should even it up?  Dad and I thought we should have as many boys as girls...at which point Alex starts yelling no girls rule...haha.  Zeb...as if on cue asks "where are we going to get another boy?"

So we headed up to the reading room to our world map and showed everyone where China was.  Then we showed Zeb where Kyrgyzstan was in relation to China.  O asked if  our new son would look like Zeb....and boy was Zeb totally excited.   He was really, really excited to have a matching twin.  Now...matching twin is what Ben calls Violet..."my matching twin, violet".  I am not 100% sure when that started or why...but occasionally Ben includes Lily in the matching twin club.  Sometimes, Zeb and Ben dress totally alike so that Zeb can be Ben's matching twin with clothes.  Zeb was really beside himself with excitement that now everyone was going to have a matching twin.

I think by far, the most excited child was Benjamin.  He started jumping up and down screaming "yeah!  another brother...woohoo!"  3 children ago, when Ben was the baby, I was worried about how he would handle not being the baby anymore....pssshaw...he just loves having brothers and sisters.  He has certainly asked on more than one occassion in the last  2 years when we were going to get more babies..haha. 

Now I get to worry about how Violet will handle not being the baby...of course it is possible she might still be the baby we just don't know yet.  I will worry about it a little bit, but you can just never tell! 

The night went well, although Ben is very impatient and wants to go next week to get a new brother. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Two weeks ago

Two weeks ago, Keith took O to boy scout camp...ok...let's tell the truth...Keith went to Boy scout camp and O happened to be at boy scout camp at the same time in the same place!  Keith loves to go to camp! 
I took the week off and hung out with the kids.  We had a super time.  The house stayed clean, we played..it was a good week.  It was a very good week.  We had lots of rain so we didn't get to swim...which is probably good.

At Sunday night bible study, the speaker discussed 1 Corinthians 12...it is a discussion of spiritual gifts.  It's pretty good.  I went to a Wed night class while the kids were in their VBS (we do wed night vbs for the month of July) and a different elder pulled out the same verse.  After class the man that taught on Sunday night came up to me and said "I didn't know he was talking on that same verse tonight...either you really need it or I do".  So I assumed it was me!

So I really, really, thought about and prayed on this verse.   I came up with a lot of really good applications for it in our life...especially around the house.  What am I good at, what is Keith good at..are we dividing things up around OUR house to maximize on our own gifts?  Well...not really!  Especially with a busy school year with so many more kids to homeschool this year.  Really, really good stuff.  I think that what I "unpacked" from this verse is going to really help us organize, divide and enjoy our lives a lot more.

I also got something else out of it.  I was talking to the elder who taught that Wed night class and he was asking me about my family.  We recently started going to a new church about a month ago so we are still kind of a mystery there!  As I was talking about my kids, I realized that I love my children.  Yeah, I know, everyone loves their children...but I really, really, really love having all my children. 

Last August, Keith and I had our 5th anniversary.  Now I am not sure is it paper, or cotton ball or whatever anniversary.  To me, it was the China anniversary.  After a divorce, a couple has to be married 5 years to be eligible to adopt from China.  So in April of 2012, I brought up to Keith that it our China anniversary was coming in August.  The look of horror on his face..yeah...priceless.  So what did I do?  Did I mention it every day and harass him.  Ummm...NO.  I prayed and barely ever mentioned it...I think I brought it up on our marriage cruise and a couple of other times.  Yes, one of those times might have been this April (2013) when I made him go to an online info session....but that's not pushy..right? 

So, Wednesday two weeks ago, as I was standing in the lobby of church talking about how much I loved all my babies...I got a sense of urgency.  So, I took the rest of the week to try to figure out how to talk to Keith about it.

I chickened out 3 times.  3 times I started "the talk" and chickened out.  Finally, last monday I brought it up and he gave the most resounding agreement ever...."you know I am not going to tell you no".  Which is close enough for a yes for me. 

Our application was approved at CCAI last night, our first agency fee and contract went out this morning.  Our homestudy agency is starting their update....we are $3550 dollars lighter this week than we were 2 weeks ago..but we are officially expecting! 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer time P.E.

Violet willone day be a teenager...and she is perfecting her look at pool time

Ben and Zeb think that wearing fairy wings will make them better at baseball.

This is my husband.....it is really the flag on back that pulls the whole look together.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday

We had a good day today.  I was still tired from my week of nights so I took a little nappy-nap!  We still had a very productive day.  Started off with chores and breakfast.  Then the little kids and I played sight word baseball (letter baseball for Violet) ben was the winner with 6 points.  We moved into the kitchen for science.  We are working on water and did a guess if this will float or sink experiment with toothpicks and clay..then made little boats.  Tomorrow we are going to make egg carton sailboats for art.  Today they played with a mega bendaroo set while I took my nap!
Don't anyone freak out...I also cleaned the house today.  It is so nice to have a clean house..it happens so rarely, I don't want to go to bed.  When I wake up tomorrow it will be gone!
I am so excited to have this week off, I love spending the time with the kids.  We have been having really, really good days since we put our schedule into effect.   I feel like Alex and I are really connecting a lot more these last couple of weeks and she is spending a lot of time and energy on learning.  Even though it is not school, she is reading a lot of books and asking to do dreambox.  When i went up to tuck her in tonight, she was hiding under her blanket with a flashlight reading a book.  LOVE IT!

Tomorrow, I am hanging at home again.  Wednesday, Keith and I are heading to Lexington for a dr's appointment and then to Frankfort to try to get birth certificates for Alex and Zoe...we still don't have them because of some logistical things..ie moving after our USCIS approval but before the stinkin' state department issued their immigration visa's.  No family should have to wait 8 months for a visa for their daughters...I'm just sayin.....  

Thursday night I am heading out to get lily from her dad's house and home again on Friday.  I can't wait to get Lily home again.  It is lonely without her!  I am hoping I can get her and Alex's new curriculum here by next week so we can unpack it before everyone heads to camp. 

Off to bed...although I know when I awaken tomorrow morning - my house will be messy again!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

High School and College at the same time?! What!

I was recently directed to a website called Homeschool College USA .  Ummm.....what !!  It is a website that totally educates on how to use cheap and free curriculum and college level testing to design a high school curriculum that can then be transferred into college at the end of high school.  While many schools will take some of the courses they recommend, there are only a couple of regionally accredited colleges that will take an inordinately large number of transfer credits.  WOW.  These "top three" only require a capstone to be done enrolled with their institutions.  That capstone can be completed the summer after "graduating" from high school. 

I have done lots of school.  I loved my experience in undergrad at Smith College, but mostly for the experience, not necessarily the academia.  I worked my hardest and learned the most academically when I was getting my medical school pre-requisites at University of New Orleans.  I didn't have the stress of required general courses..I only took what I needed to take because I already had a degree.

I grew a lot at Smith, but if my kids get their BA or BS the summer after they finish high school, they could do their growing on the mission field, or on a campus only taking the courses they want to take or need to take to get into their masters/doctoral program...or grow while in a master's program.  Maybe they take a couple years off to just work...who knows.  What flexibility they would have!  Dave Ramsay says "The only thing that matters less than your degree, is your pedigree". 

While that website has lots of advice for finding a path to facilitate a college degree, there was also a ton of information about creating High School transcipts and a learning portfolio.  Reading through that section was completely worthwhile even if we decide not to use the college part. 

If you are a homeschooler and haven't seen this website it is pretty cool.  There is so much out there in terms of resources for high school homeschooling that is cheap or free and Homeschool College USA has links to them all!  haha...well maybe not all of them!

This is going to be fun...now I just need a child in high school!  Only 3 more years for Alex and 4 more for Lily! haha.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Our Routine

So in a an attempt to calm down the kids (who officially joined the ranks of completely out of control monsters about a month ago)...we developed a schedule for the day.  I brainstormed with the kids last week and came up with a collaborative list of things we wanted to do during the day.

I took the list of things the kids suggested, tweaked it a little bit and made a nice color coded schedule that is about to be hanging in the dining room.  We started using it last week - almost everyday and this week we followed it almost exactly on Monday and Tuesday.  I noticed a couple of really interesting things....

1.  Alex was about 80% happier (right like I can quantify the 80%...you get what I mean though!) and more joyful during the days we followed the routine.  Yes...yes...I know we knew before we brought our girls home that we needed more routine.  The girls didn't freak out or breakdown from our somewhat unregimented lifestyle so there was never any immediacy to making our routine.   But I could kick myself now for not starting something this regimented years ago!

2.  When I am focussed on following our schedule and getting the educational/fun activities going - I really lose most of my get everything done freak-out ness that I am so famous for in certain circles (ummmm meaning with my husband!). 

Today, our babysitter came and I took a nap when I got home (I am working nights this week),  then Keith and I went out to lunch and ran some errands so we dropped the ball on the schedule.  Alex asked about the activities she missed today....no art time or geography.  Ben was very concerned about missing morning snack.  I think it is pretty sad that it is our biologic son that has a dysfunctional relationship with food!

I am going to head to bed tonight as early as possible so I can get back on the schedule for tomorrow.  It is really, really working out good.  I am so excited to start our full on homeschooling in August! 

This schedule thing works so much better than I thought it would!  Amazingly it has helped me too.  I have more patience with the kids when the kids know what is next and they move on to it with less chaos.  I am able to let go a lot more of the millions of chores I just can't get to in a day.  Historically, I can overlook undone mom chores for a couple of days but it makes me anxious to see the pile of clean laundry I have to put away or the books sitting on the floor that need to be put up.  I get anxious when my house is messy...I just do and with the schedule I can handle it a lot better.  I don't feel that constant underlying anxiety of chores undone.

I know I can't get to everything I have to do in a day....all my chores, all of the things I want to do with my kids.  In the past, without a schedule I think I did more chores and let go of the plans I had of things to do with my kids because it is easier to quantify a chore being done.  I can see that there are no clean clothes sitting on the couch waiting to be put away.  You can't see the hour you missed out on watching you tube videos of the national anthems of the African countries whose flags your kids just drew and colored.  Having a schedule where the intangible is made tangible has really changed my life.   I feel like a better mom!  LOVE the schedule!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Keith's Birthday

My super - haaawwwt husband had another birthday today.  I am so totally lucky to have him as my husband.  He is seriously wonderful.  He is funny, empathetic, serious, really smart, unbelievably  handy and able to fix anything, he loves me and makes me feel like a treasure. 

I wake up everyday and just ooze gratitude for my life and most of that joy is because of my husband and the family he has grown with me.  Nothing is hotter than watching your husband be an amazing father to your kids!  I pray I get to celebrate at least 42 more birthdays with him!

Dance Recital time

Last week was dance recital week.  Lily danced in 5 dances and Zoe had one dance.  I am not one of those moms that think their babies are the best at everything.  I especially am not one of those moms that thinks their daughters are the best dancers!  Lily really likes dancing and I know she loves it.  She is a little ball of energy...and when I say little, I mean little.  She is definitely the smallest girl in her age group.  She got a brand new pixie cut for recital (yes..that's right I fear the ballet bun!).  Seriously, she loves short hair.

I was sooooo surprised at how much Lily has improved with dancing since last year....even since the nutcracker in December.  I used to dance many, many, many years ago and so it is really hard for me to not jump into the perfectionist role...just trying to help you know.  But I managed it again this year! yeah me!

Zoe rocked the 4year old ballet.  I would say if you combined all of the  7 4 year olds and added up all of the dance moves that got danced...it would equal ummmmm 8 and a half actual dance motions.   The girl standing next to Zoe cried out loud with the uber dance mom mascara pouring down her cheeks all through dress rehearsal.   Zoe only looked like a deer in headlights and remembered one part of the dance...go Zoe!  There were 2 shows and the second show was on Zoe's birthday.  She is 5 years old...wow.  I can't believe how fast these kids are growing up.  Seriously!  Wow.

Next year, Zoe is going to do more dancing...ballet, jazz and tap.  Alex is going to start taking dance lessons too.  Lily wants to keep with it next year and little Violet has 2 more years of mommy and me dance...yeah me!  We have an unlimited number of classes our kids can take because we maxed out the cost of classes.  I think maybe we should adopt a couple more kids just for the money we can save on bulk dance lessons! haha...just kidding keith!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Home again..

I made it home early saturday morning.  I did some serious shopping on the way home though...ok not serious...but some.

Since we are homeschooling a gaggle this next year, we have graduated from the dining room table.  As it is, Keith's projects take up most of the table...protractors, mechanical pencils, magazines and all things 11 x 17.  My ingenious hubby is building us a super school table.  The super sturdy base is built and the top is put together, but it isn't finished yet...sanding, staining.  Apparently, lots of sanding is on the horizon.  Anyway, on the way home I found some great chairs at target on sale.  Yeah. 

The chairs are now all together in the reading room...not in the way at all (sarcasm).  The school room is going to be in the library upstairs and I can't wait until the table is done and everything is ready to throw upstairs.  I am really excited about the new school year.  Of course, we have lots of summer to make it through first and the kids are out of control!

Today, I had a long talk with all of the kids about the insanity in our house as of late.  We decided that we literally have too much free time on our hands.  The kids want to make a daily schedule of things to do so that they don't end up with nothing to do but get into trouble.  So, a schedule we have concocted.  We also made new chore charts today so the kids could earn some extra money.  Well, we talked about them and I bought all the supplies for them, but they didn't actually get made yet.  

Perhaps I better go do that! haha.  Or maybe I should work on the 6 loads of laundry I have done in the last 48 hours.

Today, I did feel like a pretty good mom.  The kids and I  sat at the table and talked about scheduling the day, worked on chore charts.  Then the girls and I baked cookies and chocolate cake. I was good, patient mom for that activity...yeah me!  I think today was a good mom day because I think today was a day my children felt like they had a voice.  It seems like so often my parenting is all about following the rules, getting places and getting though our list of things to get done.  It is nice when I feel like the kids have really talked to me. 

I gave Lily the bag I made and she has been carrying her new purse everywhere.  It look freakin' adorable on her.  She throws it over her head like a messenger bag.  The girls and I are going to make that bag for an art project later in the summer.  I am going to let all the girls pick out material to make their own. 

Oh...Violet has started praying and it is so unbelievably cute...at evening bible study she bows her head and says  "thank you god, amen".  At dinner tonight she said  "thank you God dinner, amen".  Adorable.  Oh and equally adorable is Benjamin who prayed tonight "Thank you God for Violet, I love love love Violet, thank you, amen".  Usually Ben thanks God for his yellow blanket, violet and me...but tonight it was all about the little sister! haha. 

My big family is such a big blessing!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Just dance 4

video
Just watching it makes me tired! 

Summer


I had so much fun adding the pictures of my tote bag...I thought I would upload pictures of our first hot summer day.  We are having some animal crackers under a beach umbrella in the back yard......Summer.  Not quite hot enough for the pool....yet!

Sew....what's new...

 It has been so long since I put a picture on my blog I don't even know how to do it!

I got a sewing machine for mother's day.  It has literally been 15 years since I have sewn anything.  The last thing I made was a halter top out of dukes of hazard sheets I bought at Thrift City (what's up NOLA!)

No, I don't have a picture of that halter top...but I wish I did!

This week I was out of town and I brought my new sewing machine and a book of projects....meet my first project...I call it polka dot shoulder tote with striped lining....ooh it could be reversible too, I suppose! haha.

I wanted to find some sewing projects I could figure out and then do projects with the kids. 






I was starting to get worried the first night when it took me almost 2 hours to remember how to load up my bobbin and thread the machine...but I think it turned out ok!

Totes, pillows, stuffed animals and wrap around skirts here I come...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Homeschooling

About 2 weeks ago we made the plunge.  For the last 3 years we have been homeschooling Lilianna..and only Lily.  Two weeks ago we pulled the babies out of Wesley Christian and decided to homeschool them too.  I am so excited about it and let me tell you why.

1.  I am the world's most selfish mom and now I get to see my babies so many more hours of the day!  Yes that is right...I like my kids and I like hanging out with them.  Even though they drive me banana's on a pretty regular basis.  My babies will be babies for about 2 years...then they will toddle around for another 2 years, then they will be big kids for about 3 years...then they are acting older than stated age for a couple of years...tweens for a couple of years, teen agers and then gone.  Well, you know what I mean.  They are grown ups and as cuddly as my babies are...a 17 year old Ben is not going to crawl onto my lap with his yellow blanket and hug me no matter how many times I make him promise at 4yo that he will still do that when he is 17.   This time is precious and I want every possible minute to spend that time with my babies before it is gone.  Yes I said I was selfish!  In addition to wanting every minute, I want that time to be quality time...not overtired, worn out from school, finish your homework, rush around to extra curricular activities  grumpy kids only time.  I want that time to be well rested, learning, engaging, mind/heart/soul present and participating time.  Yes, that's right I want quanitity and quality time with my kids and school can't have that time with my babies...I get it!  Yes, I said I was selfish.

2.  Guess what...some parents might find this hard to believe....but kids like to spend time with their parents.  A week ago (roughly), Ben said that he wanted to be an Engineer when he grew up so that he could help Daddy with all his work.  That is a huge change for Ben who was pretty sure he wanted to be Captain America when he grew up.  He had stuck with Captain America for almost a year...then out of the blue he is going to help Daddy when he grows up.  Zebby infomed me recently that he and Daddy do all the work around the house (an opinion that may have been added to by daddy...I'm just sayin...aaahemm..).  Zeb just wants to spend time with us and soak up everything we do.  He always wants to help me fold clothes and clean and he constantly follows Keith around to help in anyway he can.  Zebby desperately wants to learn how to be a grown up and he wants to soak up Keith's character and learn how to become a man.  It was Zeb's spongelike behavior that was the tipping point for me.
I love my husband and I have often said that I want all of my children (especially the boys) to grow up to be just like Keith.  Who I think is totally and mindblowing-ly awesome.  How can my babies grow up to be like Keith if the only time they see us is when they are mindnumbingly exhausted and we are taskmasters with to do lists or chauffeurs. 

3.  Don't even get me started about the skewed priorities of classrooms where being quiet and following the rules is more important than unbridled enthusiasm and joy of learning.  I have been slightly radicalized by John Taylor Gatto's books which I read recently. 

Keith is building a special homeschooling table we are going to put up in the library and he has been getting lots of help from the kids.

Next year we are going almost 100% Sonlight for Zeb, Zoe, and Ben we will be using Core B..it is the core we bought when we first tried to homeschool Alex and failed! haha...we ordered consumables for everyone already and are ready to go.  We haven't gotten our math program yet...the kids are doing dreambox (which is totally awesome) and I think we are going to do Singapore math with Miquon math thrown in for good measure...MR engineer dad wants to emphasize math in our curriculum...not a bad idea.  We have lots of critical thinking company fun books and will work on cub scout belt loops etc.

Lily is going to have a full sonlight curriculum next year too..we will be doing core F with Singapore math and critical thinking company stuff...love the mindbenders, balance benders, math detective etc...it is great.  We are also going to do unit studies with American Heritage Girl badges.  I also plan on Lily doing some of the read alouds for the little kids.

Oh yea...I  just finished giving Lily the 4th grade Iowa Test from Seton Hall Testing...they send you the test, you give it, send it back and they post the results on your online account.  It was much easier than I thought it would be.  I had thought about driving everyone down to greenville to test at the BJU testing center...but this was sooo easy.  I am probably going to just do testing at the end of the school year for everyone.

We will either be insane by the December or.....oh wait we already are insane...mwahahaha!

Gotcha moments

Ok..first of all, I know it has been like 3 months since I actually posted something.  I am turning over a new leaf....really...I mean it.
I so LOVE looking back at my posts and pictures over the last gulp...7 years...yes.  That's right...I started this blog 7 years ago.
I especially love looking back at the really important moments.  I am currently all alone in a hotel in Alabama and just finished watching a short marathon (no pun intended...wait for it....) of the Little Couple.  I don't have tv at home and don't really follow any reality shows....so imagine my surprise when I find a reality show of a couple in the meat of an adoption from China...love it.   It was like a little gift to me from the reality show "man".  I snuggled up on my bed, ate a ton of M and M's and got into the adoptive mommy zone!
The show is basically leading up to the big Gotcha.
So, of course, I start thinking about my own Gotcha's and first meetings.  I very clearly remember the first meeting of Zoe, Alex, and Zeb.  I am also pretty clear with Zoe and Alex's Gotcha.  But Zeb's gotcha is kind of a haze.  Maybe because I am getting senile, or I was really tired or maybe it was because I was kind of in a daze and confused like the entire time we were at the babyhouse!

There were people dressing, redressing Zeb I didn't know for sure if he was coming with us or staying one more day and then we were leaving with him.  It seemed way more surreal than when we adopted the girls.  Maybe it was because he was a baby.  I remember thinking at the time of picking Zebby up that it felt like I just signed this big book and went home with a baby.  Yes...I know ...what about the previous 9 months of paperwork, hoops, travelling and a ton of fees etc...but when the moment came - you sign a book and take a baby.  Very surreal.

Zebby is such a hilarious big boy who just soaks up our love.  He is usually so darn sweet and I just can't get enough of him. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

monthly update?

I have been a little sick the last 2 weeks....I have been working night shift and every night I feel so terrible I am pretty sure I am going to die in the call room and noone would find me for days. Thankfully, that hasn't happened. I have one more night.  I am going to make it! woohoo

Keith is out of town today picking up more playground equipment and then we are on money lockdown. 

Lily pretty much got the week off of school because I was too sick to even put her schoolwork together for this week.  I warned her we were going to have to push hard next week, I don't think she is going to be very happy next week! haha.

I have been looking for some testing sites for Lilianna to do some testing at the end of the year.  I am not sure if anyone at all reads my blog anymore...since I only haphazardly post once a month...but if there are any homeschool mommies out there that have some sort of standardized testing regimen they do on their own...I would love to hear about it.  I could take Lil to the BJU testing center.  I am thinking about doing it for her to start getting experience taking real standardized tests.   I mean, if she is going to get kicked out of a testing center we should probably do it before SAT's and ACT's!

Keith had a cubscout sleepover at our house on Fri night.  I had to sneak out in the middle of the night to go the er because I felt so terrible.  It was a great time!  haha.  Seriously, I think the kids all had fun.  I wish I could have helped out more..but I was sick!  One of the families there was a homeschooling family...apparently not by choice.  They had just started so I was very excited...probably too excited to answer questions they had and offer things I had seen in my last 3 years of homeschooling. 

This last week we decided to try emeals.  We ended up spending our entire monthly grocery budget on one weeks worth of meals.  I guess we must eat like college students.  I couldn't believe how much money we spent on one week.  The up side is that the recipes have all been really good.  I think we might drop out the side dishes and only make the main dishes and add in some cheap rice and noodles.  All of the reviews were like "we saved ton of money"...I can't imagine what they were eating before?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Little things I don't want to forget

Ben at the inflatable jumping party place....."I want to jump on the trainflatable"

Violet's first knock knock joke to Lily
V "knock knock"
L "who's there"
V "cookie"
L "cookie who"
V "cookie down cookie down"

....you probably had to be there to really appreciate it

Benjamin and I were sitting in a full dance etc parent seating area while he read aloud his k4 reader.  I was sitting there pretty proud because he was rocking it and I looked like a totally together mom...when Ben grabs his crotch and says in his ultra loud ben voice...."My PEN*S HURT  I have to pee".  At least he went to the bathroom and didn't proceed to pee on himself.  I just laughed and pretended to be amused by him instead of mortified.
Oh the pitfalls of using anatomically correct names with a 2 year old.

Violet has started really eating table food and last week demanded chicken and dumplins by screaming "chicken dumpl" and stomping her right foot on the ground.  Finally a child that loves spicy food and mashed potatoes...unbelievable.

Chapel this week, I realized that Zeb is getting old.  Now at a very mature 6yo, he is not overjoyed and excited to see Keith and me at chapel.  Ben and Zoe light up and wave at us and Z just nods in acknowledgement....although I suspect his is lighting up on the inside!  Just love those kids!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

snowy sunday

We had a lot of snow here this week and weekend.  I have been working nights for the last week and today starts a 2 week vacation for me.  I just got home from work about 30 minutes ago and I am really enjoying my day.

The drive home was beautiful...everything is covered in snow...the mountains, trees, rocks...it is very pretty.  my house was warm and clean...I cleaned on Friday because Keith had company on Saturday and the house is still somewhat clean...yeah.  The girls are playing in the game room...drawing in an usborne fashion drawing book.  The boys are watching transformers...yes the cartoon series from the 80's/90's.  Keith made pancakes for breakfast so I am devouring the leftovers.  It is a totallay relaxing day. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Lazy me

OK not really lazy, just overwhelmed.  I keep thinking that it is going to ease up a little bit.  It is easing up in all reality.  Violet is getting much better at sleeping...no not all night ...but she will fall asleep in her bed around 930 and sleep until around 315.  She drinks a bottle and then back to sleep until 7-ish.  It's not too terrible.

We have a really good couple of weeks with Lily's school.  I started stapling together packets of grammar and math assignments together and having her work on them all week...so she finishes them by the end of the week.  I used them in addition to the other assignments in her workbox.  She has been getting a ton of work done.  We have also had the opportunity to meet up with some other local homeschoolers for the first time ever and Lily had a pretty good time.  We went to a field trip at the local science center and then on another day had a science day where there were  6 differenct experiment tables.  One of them was on pulmonary mechanics and it was all wrong...so I just quietly asked lily to be nice and play along, but that it is not correct.  I am still not exactly sure what her experiment was trying to do...i think she got the experiment set up wrong and then tried to make pulmonary mechanics fit the experiment...I don't know!

It snowed today and all the kids were playing out in the snow when I got home from work (on the night shift right now).  I Love coming home and seeing all the kids playing outside.  I think it is awesome...rain or shine!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Reminder of sad

For some reason, the last couple of weeks, Zeb has been asking about Aaron.  I have carefully explained that Aaron won't be coming home to our family because of problems we don't have any control over.  Regardless, Zeb has been asking to see pictures of him.  So, I showed him some of the pictures I have on the computer.

One of the pictures I pulled up was from 2008....a picture that was taken when Aaron recieved our first care package that had some toys and a stuffed animal with our family picture on a little frame that the stuffed animal was holding.  The picture is him holding a ball and a woman pointing at the picture talking to him.

Whenever I see that picture I always wonder what the woman is saying as she is pointing to our picture.  I pray...literally pray that she is not saying anything about us being his new family or anything that would have giving this little 5yo hope that could have been crushed in the lat 4 years.

If the world were fair, he would have been home before he turned 6yo.  As we all know, there is nothing fair in life. 

To be honest, I rarely think of Aaron.  I never actually met him, and I worked hard with all of our adoptions to try to not get too emotionally attached to referral pictures...you just don't know what is going to happen in international adoption.  But this one picture, the picture of him looking at our family picture....it really breaks my heart. 

Karyn Purvis Insights and Gifts - sharing power