Thursday, September 30, 2010

Helping others adopt

OK so I LOVE SEEING OTHERS ADOPT!!  This family happens to be the family that helped lead us to Joanna- which makes them extra special!!!!  Their little boy will be home soon- and they need our help!  They have a matching grant-- so if you give a little- it multiplies!!!  How awesome is that?

So what are you waiting for go HERE and donate- Please :)  THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!!!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fun times and a new hair do...

 So sometimes you think what can I do to get the kids having fun together?  To teach them fair play?  To help them learn to get along?  To get them counting, reading, cooperating, and learning to obey rules????
 My suggestion as soon as they are able start buying board games, play with them, and have them play with each other.  Will the argue- YEP!  Will you have to guide and reguide- YEP!!! BUT it is tons of fun.  And teaches good "sportsmanship".  They learn to win and loose gracefully.  I LOVE having loads of games for our kids.  We have bought some for gifts- mostly Christmas because we are big into Christmas gifts that are for everyone.  I have LOTS AND LOTS of great memories as a child playing games with my family!!!  And did I mention it builds great communication skills too!!!
 Here's just some playing pics...yes they are all in pj's it is Saturday night and we just had baths for Sunday- yeah remember our crazy get ready in 15 minutes day?  That one.

 LOVE it that my children bring me flowers!!!!  I am sooo BLESSED beyond words!!!!
 OK so this is a new hairstyle I tried.  I don't think I did very well, but with technique practice I think it will be good.  It is a twist along the head on the sides, but I added in hair which is a bit tricky like you would in a french braid kind of idea. 
 Then in the back I just did 4 "open" twists which means I did it without bunching it with a band first.  That is just my terminology I made up- he he he.....

I love that my Abigail doesn't mind my experiments!  Thanks Abigail!!!!

On a good note we have had lots of interest about Mother Goose, and all sorts of kinds of adoptions- YEAH!!!!!!!  LOVE getting all the e-mails and helping the best we can!!!  So keep them coming.  For those of you wondering- you don't pay us for it :)  So ask away!!!

Also I want to pout a little.  You see I would sooo LOVE to be at Together for Adoption over in TX, but can't.  So I am going to throw a hissy fit and pout :(  Alright I am over 30.....and I shouldn't pout.  Sorry.  But I really would love to be there because a lot of my bloggy friends are going!!!!  Have fun without me.  Maybe I will sit in time out and pout about it more- he he he......or just eat some chocolate :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

And the Announcement Is..........

 Jason & I are the newest consultants for Mother Goose Adoptions!  This is the agency that helped us bring Joanna Faith Wright Home.  YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 Isn't that AWESOME!!!  I mean 6 months ago I was holding this, and now we get the privilege to help others find the child God has for them!
 6 months ago- we made a middle of the morning run to Wal*Mart and bought this outfit for Joanna- A Wish Come True, and NOW WE get the PRIVILEGE to help others in pursuing the dream of adoption!
 6 months ago you would have to scrape Jason off the ceiling after just one look at his precious baby girl and now we get to advocate for children who need homes through Mother Goose Adoptions :)
 So is God calling you to find your bundle of JOY?  Which kind of adoption is best for your family?  Domestic, International, Foster Care???  All have amazing stories, all are God's Will because all are ways to find the over 147 million children in need of homes- A HOME!!!!  (**And we have experience in all 3)
 So ask away.......
 Pray about it.........
 But......whatever you do.....don't let it pass you by.....
 The opportunity to change the World- ONE CHILD AT A TIME!!!!!!!!!!  (he he he or maybe a few children at a time :)

So what are you waiting for?  Ask away- click on our e-mail we are thrilled so many already have.  Now we have an official title of helping others learn about adoption.  What a thrill!!!  What a gift from God to help them discover what God has in store for them.  What a BLESSING to be able to share our experiences and answer questions.  The best part is that it is possible to adopt, and although the road is bumpy- now you can have Real Life Bloggy Friends to help you on that road....every step of the way.

So it doesn't matter whether you have done plenty of adoptions before, or you have no idea where to start, whether you have no children or several, whether you are middle of the road income, or lots of income, whether you are form CA, FL, TX, LA, MN or anywhere in between, whether it has been a while since you have changed a diaper, or you are changing one right now......come one come all.  Let's talk adoption!

**And yes, feel free to repost this EXCITING NEWS!!!!!  :)  This is something we have been doing for a long time, but now we get to really connect some dots :) & some families.  Thank You God for this wonderful opportunity!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Yeah.....a crazy day

 Soooo....believe when I say I really want to share our exciting news, but we have to do some things before.....really I am sorry.  But to make it up to you I will let you see some more pics, and tell you about our really really really crazy day today.  And for those of you who guessed "puppy chow" - you were right! 
 How cute is this?  OK so today's crazy day.  Let's start off by saying we live 45minutes away from our church.  Literally we live in the middle of NO WHERE! when we go to our 8:30AM service yeah we have to leave by 7:30 to get there go to the bathrooms, and then get in our seats, talk with church family, etc.
 BUT- this week we were also on the worship team which we try to participate at least 1 or 2 times a month, but that depends on our camp retreat schedule too.  So we should have been there around 7:30 which means we should have left at 6:30 to get there on time.  Which means we get up at 5:30....
 Well, this morning I woke up and sat up immediately!  AT 7:06AM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  YIKES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Then I got up, got dressed, got the kids up and told them to get dressed, go potty, and get in the car- ASAP!  We are late.  Believe it or not we were out the door in 15 minutes.  REALLY!  Talk about crazy.

So picture me crawling around our 15 passenger sitting in various children's laps to do our girl's hair.  Yeah- not really pretty, but very true.  Then we totally had pop tarts cold in the car!  Yes, we have pop tarts usually for Jason and I if we need to get out the door quickly for something.  Thankfully we had enough to give them to the kids.  And of course I grabbed my Mountain Dew for my breakfast- yes totally healthy- NOT!  Although there is orange juice in it- seriously look at the label.  I am sure it is just a trace.  :) 

Jason called our worship leader and told her.  I mean no problem Jason was singing a solo and reading scripture, I was doing the congregational prayer.....I mean no biggie right??  You know our church on an average Sunday has 100's of people.  YIKES!!  OOOOPPPSSS!!!!!  So the outcome.....we made it there by 8 am, and ran through part of a song.  And breathed, and then relaxed.  There was nothing else we could do at this point so just chillin' and realizing that God is BIGGER than our mistake.  How did it happen.  Well - I got a new alarm this week, and well you know how it is....and we stayed up talking last night, and Jason forgot to set his alarm.  OOPPSSS!!!

To make it worse for me being on time is a BIG deal!  I am always "preaching" that if I can get there with 8 kids ready to roll- you can be here on time.  To me it is a respect thing.  It is respectful to be on time to the others that are now waiting on you if you are late.  Yeah- eating those words tastes nasty.  :)  But I STILL believe it is IMPORTANT to be on time....just in case some of our summer staff are thinking they are off the hook right now- YOU AREN'T!!!!!!
 Ok ok ok ok- less about that and more on the cutest baby in the world!  Look at that smile, and if you look closely you can see the tip of her first tooth :)  Awwww.........
 And that pastry batter that you see Jason giving to Joanna (not really) above turned into these :)  YUMMY!!!!  I am not sure of the spelling, but they are pastry with chocolate on top and a cream in the middle and they are GREAT!!!
 And of course if you live with my hubby- this is what you get- a big kid at heart!  :)
 And just to apologize once again for yanking your chain even longer............
Does it get any better than this??  NO!

Pray your Sunday wasn't too crazy, and that you were able to worship and focus on Christ on HIS DAY!!!!!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Spontaneous Fun and Big Announcements coming soon!

 So yes if you are my facebook friend- I have already alluded to the post about something that was dropped in our laps by God----  :)  It is something we are excited about, but you will get more details soon.  Sorry...can't be helped.
 So this past week as we were sitting down to eat and were finishing.....Jason says let's make _______
 So he got up and got all the ingredients out....and everyone got to measure at least one thing.....
 Yes this is Andrew's cheeky face. 
 So that is part of our crazy lives.  Part of our home education.  Doing things as and when.  We try to have lots of little spontaneous educational things that happen throughout the week.  Not just textbooks and quizzes.  Those things are ok, but I believe true learning happens when we relax and simply think about life about God in general. 
 So we were just sitting around and before you knew it we were talking about measurements.  Leveling, fractions, mixing, ingredients- what they look and taste like separately and then together.
 They were helping each other, and working together.  YEAH!!!!  Blesses this mommy's heart to see it!
 And my husband well this is how he rolls- fun, family loving, awesome food preparer that he is - enjoys passing that on to the kids and they love it too!  He is great at having all 8 around helping him out.  So glad that they will all know how to cook when they get older a very valuable skill!!! 
 Even the littles got in the action.  Well.....except Joanna- she just hangs out in my arms and looks cute.  It's a hard life you know. 
So just to be silly while you are all chomping at the bit to hear our upcoming news..............what are we making? 

Blog posts coming soon to this blog......the differences between domestic, international, and foster care/adoptions, more crazy young children homeschooling happenings, our big announcement of course, and many random fun happenings of our fun crazy family :) 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Joanna is 6 months today!!!!!!

WOW - How does this happen?  How is it that one day you get a phone call that a child is born....less than 48 hours later meet your new daughter....and then suddenly she is 6 months old already?

We usually don't do anything fancy with half birthdays or anything.  I think it has to do with so many birthdays and adoption days as it is...hmmm....  but today- our precious baby girl.  Our gift that healed our hearts that were broken and wounded is six months old.

So to review for those who may not have followed our blog that long here is Joanna's story part 1, Joanna's story part 2,  and then we have Joanna's story part 3.  What a whirlwind of events that took our breath away!

If you would have told me December of 2009 when our world started crumbling and falling apart that I would not be traveling to Ethiopia to pick up our daughter Naomi.  I would have said that is crazy!  If you would  have said that experiencing our total meltdown in January/February would have happened....I would have said no way.  BUT it did.  You can of course go check out my posts from those months, but our world crashed  in a BIG WAY!!!!

We were greeted home from our trip to go visit Jason's family in England of last year with a letter from uscis stating that we didn't earn enough income.  When our social worker asked them about it stating- we just got home from England (HELLO), and we were approved last year.  The reply- well I guess that must have been a mistake.  A MISTAKE???  What???  Yeah, so they said that even though part of our compensation is that we have housing, all utilities, and insurance provided by our employer here at the camp in addition to our salary.  That was not good enough.

We called, we wrote letters, we had others write letters on our behalf, we sent in documents proving our savings, our pension, everything and anything.  We were desperate.  You see we were matched with a beautiful waiting child in September!  Hello!!!!  We were her parents....and we needed to get over to pick her up- and should have no later than January of this year.  YES- it is still very emotional for me to think about at times.

THEN.........NOTHING!  Nothing has still happened uscis was "supposed" to let us know around the 6 month mark about their final decision- wanna guess what we have received- yep you are smart NOTHING!

Our whole WORLD CRASHED!!!!!!!!!!!  ..........crickets, crickets, crickets.........chirp chirp chirp............

Then ..........this happened.  Out of the blue for real you have to scroll back up and read the posts- the MIRACLE that God dropped in our laps was so still blows my mind away!!!!!
This precious baby girl with all the cuteness, fun, and giggles......
The sweetest baby girl in the whole world and yes I am biased and don't care.  Was given to us.  A TRUE GIFT FROM GOD!!!!  Our healing happened - even though I still think uscis is wrong- he he opinion.  We couldn't have asked for more!  She is the chunk of baby pie cuteness that we has come into our lives and brought more than we could have imagined.

***What happened to our Naomi.  Well that is not her name- that is what we were going to name her.  She is happy, healthy, and totally loved!!!  We are sooo grateful that her journey did not leave her as an orphan, but that she has a beautiful family to call her own.

And now for a recap on how stunningly beautiful Joanna is......
A ride we may not have seen....a ride we may not have originally wanted to be on......a ride we did not expect.....a ride that we really had no clue about.......THANK GOD HE MAKES ALL THINGS NEW!  That he heals the broken hearted.  That HE LOVES US SO MUCH that HE GAVE US this beautiful child to call ......Joanna.

Now just to make you laugh - her nicknames are.....Joanna Bobanna (you know that anna manna, bobanna, song), cutie pie wootie, sugar plum, sugar bear, and probably many other cutsie names.

This girl even has her own chant.  Rappy type thing- goes like this- Jooooooanna, Joanna, Joanna,  you're a cute girly your hair is very very curly.  You are the cutest little patootie I like to squeeze your little tiny bootie.  Go baby go baby go, go baby go baby's your birthday, eat some cake now, have some ice cream.......   (and anything else our kids make up at the end :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My thoughts on my children's birth families

I know there are many people out there that really struggle with "how to handle the birth family".  If you have read anything on adoption there are many, many, many opinions.  So I thought I would share some of mine as our family has now 4 "extended families". 

I know right now some of you are thinking- I could never adopt because I would have to "share" my child.  That thought used to scare me.  Since adoption was the only way we would ever have children....we didn't have a choice.  If you would have asked me how I would feel about our child's birth family when we first started our journey....I would tell you honestly- not sure....scared, wondering how that would work, how to explain it to our children as they grow, where do they fit in the picture, how do we include them, how do we talk about it....and at least a million more questions as well.

So although I think it would literally take a whole book to explain all that I have learned, and discovered I will try to post at least some thoughts. 

Since we started adopting through the foster care system first that is where I will start.  The thought of having 2 visits with the biological family of our child for a LONG time was daunting to say the least.  I mean what do you say to them.  You have read the reports on why your child is with you.  So you know what has happened for that child to be removed from their first family.  So how does that make you feel? 

I have to say I used to think it would make me angry.  That is before we felt God move in our hearts to stir up a compassion that you can't describe other than GOD.  The birth mother of three of our children was the first connection we began several years ago.  Getting to see her- we were nervous, but knew that God would be our strength and wisdom.  We were shocked to find that really she was a sweet person.  She wasn't mean to us.  Nor did she hate us.  Of course I have to say it helps that we made it clear that we were not the ones taking her child away.  That we would work with foster care to do what was needed for her to be reunited. 

That connected us- instead of dividing us.  Throughout the many years we ended up having constant contact.  *Because before we adopted Abigail...Andrew was born...and before we adopted Andrew....Matthew was born :).  We really felt we had a relationship.  Not one of pity, but one that we understood her background.  How she herself grew up in the "system".  How she really didn't have anyone to help her out. 

The same became true with the family connection for Joshua, Sarah, & Elizabeth.  In fact our social workers were shocked that we were allowed to hold the "newest baby" while we met up for court.  How we talked with the birth family throughout the waiting for court.  How we gave pictures, and even invited them to our home. 

You see we allowed God to take away our hatred for what had been done to our children and replace it with His love.  To replace any thoughts of grudges and replace it with compassion for All of HIS CHILDREN.  When you think about what adoption involves you come to the conclusion that God is the story maker.  Without the birth family....there is no child.  THANK GOD our birth families chose to have their children! 

If you allow HIM to work through whatever situation comes along you will find yourself in a situation of knowing that not only did HE CREATE this precious life you now get to call son or daughter, but HE also CREATED the birth family of your child.  This is a connection not to be taken lightly.  It is one to celebrate.

For those of you who are fearful of this.  Know that this fear is not from God.  That is just the world talking.  That God created us to have such a compassion for our brothers and sisters that we would do anything for anyone.  That is how we think of it.  We are simply taking care of and bringing up our children for God.  Not for man or for the birth family, or for anyone else, but God.  God has brought us "extended families" through our children to pray for, encourage, and to show God to.  That is our job as adoptive parents.   

Now would I have felt this way in the beginning- NOPE.  But when we allow God to show us HIS plans and not ours.  When we see our children asking questions about who carried them for 9 months, who brought them into the world, who loved them - irregardless of the situation trust me they loved them. 

If this is a fear you have that is holding you back......ask God to take that fear away.  To lay it at HIS feet.  To trust HIM for the answers you may not know or understand.  To give you a compassion for people that HE will place into your life.  It is one of the biggest miracles you would never expect to find.  And just think you will have many more people in your life to love and pray for as well. 

***Just a note to say that I know not all situations are safe for there to be an ongoing relationship.  I know that there are many children that don't know their biological families, and that struggle with that.  I have to say the one thing that would make us sad is if we would adopt a child in the future that we couldn't have at least some kind of relationship with. 

More to come on this........feel free to ask questions and leave suggestions.  I love hearing from you!!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

What Curriculum do I use?

That is a LOADED question for me...and there is no real answer...but I will try.

Oops how do you rotate pics?  Oh well.  For math we use Math U See, plastic clocks, change, manipulatives- Math u See has them and they work great for us, we also use other bits- whatever it takes for our kids to "get a concept" across.

For Bible curriculum- these are a couple of things we use- Who's Who is a great book I picked up at a Christian Book store I like it because it goes through most of the main characters of scripture, and places of the Bible.  One problem that I didn't know until we bought it- they mention millions of years.  YES - we are creationists.  So my tip is - you can still use it, but TELL YOUR CHILDREN TRUTH.  That is what we have done, and other than one mention we haven't found anything else.  To make a point we took black sharpie and wrote the truth in the book.  Kids liked it.

The next book is one of 4 little books.  It is a great book for building up the creation story.  Letting your children know why you believe what you believe.  It is a collation of children's questions answered about creation.  HIGHLY recommend- you can get them at
Again these two are fantastic resources The Journey Through Bible Lands has great pics of what things looked like in Bible Times.  Got it at Bible Book Store.
Kid's Guide to God's Creation- again- Christian Book store, but this is a great science resource as well :)
Obviously THE MOST IMPORTANT TEXT YOU CAN TEACH YOUR CHILDREN!!!!  We often use the Bible in science, math, history, language, spelling, EVERYTHING!!!  Works for me, and it connects our children to the scriptures for all answers- and for all subjects. 
History & Geography- well we use a lot of stuff.  We have a book about the states, flash cards of the states, lots of regular books of historic people, the main curriculum we use though right now is Ancient Civilizations & the Bible.  It has scriptures you discuss each week with hands on activities. 
Along with massive maps of the world, the US, England, etc. on the wall, books about London's history, the kings and queens, etc.  To me there is nothing better than showing them real history- like our trip to England last year was fantastic, taking them to National parks and talking about how it used to be, seeing old cabins, cooking over a fire, Little House on The Prairie, anything to excite them about what life used to be like.  And anything that can give them a glance at people from the Bible.  We are also using a series of books that have short bios in them of 10 Girls that Changed the World/ 10 Boys that Changed the World- and there are 5 titles on boys 5 on girls.  Our kids love them!!!!  They are all about average people and missionaries that changed the world for God!!!
OK so for language- yep again a lot of different things.  We have Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons- which we love.  Right Brain Phonics- which is great for the struggling readers- yep have those.  Turbo Reader which is great for readers that are just needing more practice especially on certain types of words, etc.  We have flashcards of all kinds in this home for math, letters, numbers, shapes, colors- you name it!  Sequential Spelling is GREAT!  We also just go through the Dictionary - with words to learn for vocab.  Along with First Language Lessons & Writing with Ease.  These are both basic ways to start your children off in Language.  Of course we throw in those books you get at the store to have them practice a lot as well.  We also have writing practice daily- where they journal, copy from books, do their spelling words, etc.
If there is one thing that I totally RECOMMEND from my list it is a science curriculum we have from Answers in Genesis!!!!!  WE LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!  LOTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!  It has the whole range of science for elem, middle, and high school!  The lessons are set up that you start with World of Plants and work through the books.  In each lesson there is a beginner, intermediate, and advanced section.  There are plenty of hands on - EASY activities that come on disc :)  Lots of color!!!!

We also do lots of fun activities with bubbles, electric snap kits our kids have gotten for gifts, etc.  How to make Home Made Toys book, Bath Tub Science, Little Hands- creative nature crafts, etc.

Love the Zoo, Aquarium, & Museum Guides!!!!  These are guides for going to the Zoo, Aquarium and Museum and seeing it all from BIBLICAL perspective!!  AMEN!  Science and the Bible series also fantastic because it has independent cool things you can do at home explains the theories behind it, and the science.  All of these are from Answers In Genesis!  A wonderful ministry that has a museum as well near Cincinnati OH- actually technically in KY.  If you live anywhere near here or are traveling past it- GO!!!  If you have questions about how does science and Bible go together?  GO HERE!!!  They have hundreds of articles on loads of questions that I have all the time!  AMAZING!!!!!!!!

As well as if you are looking for a fun web for your kids to look at with science- go here!!!!  It is Answers In Genesis page Just For Kids!  They have activities, mini videos, coloring pages, fun facts and pics of all kinds of animals, amazingly wonderful answers for those tough questions your kids ask you.  Can't say enough great things about them!!!

OK so enough ramblings for now.  We also use Jumpstart K, 1, & 2 on the computer for computer time.  For those in 3rd and above we use Switched On Schoolhouse.  Which we love as well.  But I insist on having one on one, and group times with our children.  I want them to have fun on the computer and learn how to use the computer and do learning there, but I LOVE the contact with them.  He he he - the reason we homeschool.  So there is a real mish mash right there.  We have drawers full of school things, games, and books, we have literally 100's and 100's of books!!!!  I really try to do as much reading about anything and everything as possible with them.

More on my real philosophy on homeschooling later.......which may explain a lot :)

So what do you use?  I love to hear other ideas, websites, etc.  :)  So if you homeschool- let me know what are your favorite curriculums, books????