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Friday, January 29, 2010

A New Appreciation...

Boy, do I appreciate teachers more now!

Today was my first day of actually teaching the kids. As much as I was looking forward to it, my stomach was knotting up last night thinking of how their educational fates rest on my shoulders. I kept worrying that I won't teach them everything they need to know, or even more realistically, that I won't be able to handle keeping five kids busy at the same time.

Well, it was definitely tough! I am seriously exhausted. I think I did a pretty good job of keeping the boys' attention and making sure they were busy, but only time will tell. The girls were more difficult. Making sure they were tended to and not just being ignored was a feat.

I like the curriculum a lot. Part of today we went outside and dug for worms. We put them all in a jar with dirt, and in a couple days, we'll check out the tunnels they made. Yippee! If any of you need any of those slimy little buggers, they're sitting on top of our fridge. Maybe we can fry 'em up at the end of our experiment and eat some fried worms. Ok, don't call P.E.T.A. on me. We're gonna let them go in the wild.

I told Superman I expect this first month to be a lot of trial and error. I'll be happy if I can just get into a routine by the end of February.

We spent a little over 3 hours (including recesses and snack) on school today. I guess that's about average? My feet hurt. I don't know how Superman stands up for like 6 hours straight at work.

Overall, I'd say I give today a B+. I guess not too bad for a first day.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bad Choices

It sure would be nice to be able to drop my kids off places without having to worry about what they might do wrong.

We have one child in particular, who, when out of our sight for more than a couple minutes chooses to make poor decisions. I've wondered before if us being strict at home makes him feel like when he gets away, he can breathe. Maybe he feels like he does his best at home and then when he doesn't see us around, he can act how he truly feels.

Today I went to Bible study. Because our two oldest aren't yet signed up for class there, Nana was kind enough to watch them. I figured that since it was just the two of them, it would be pretty easy for her.

When I picked them up, I asked how they did. Nana was nice and said that they did "fine!" But Mr. C made sure to announce (repeatedly) that J-Man wasn't "good." Nana kept saying that no, J-Man did just "fine." She mentioned that she told the boys she would pay them a dollar to rake up some leaves outside. Now, J-Man is not a self-motivated child. At least when it comes to any kind of work. The second he feels like something is a "chore," he wiggles and complains and mopes about it. So I guess Nana had to be on him a bit to keep on task. She specifically asked them not to rake the leaves into the pool, but of course that was like a challenge to him. So he took a leaf, held it over the pool, and said, "Oooh, look what I'm gonna do!" and proceeded to drop the leaf in the pool.

It's mostly just things like that. It's not like he's doing awful morally-wrong things. He's just being immature. And obnoxious. And not a joy to be around. Sigh. I know some of you mothers can sympathize with me; especially you fost-adopt moms.

I'm thankful that I'm homeschooling now so I can maybe get a better idea of what sets J-Man off this way. And maybe be able to discover ways to help him channel those negative choices into something better.

So for those of you with child(ren) like this, what advice to you have? What works? I feel like we've tried many things, but often feel like this child is just dying to make bad choices! He has no forethought of consequences. He knows as soon as he does something wrong that he's gonna be in trouble, but doesn't think about that beforehand. So I wonder--is it immaturity? Or something else?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

This is amazing.

I'm dying for my curriculum to get here. Sunday night I wracked my brain trying to think of activities to do with the kids this week that would keep them busy and entertained, and keep me from going completely out of my mind. I mean, a house full of rambunctious kids with nothing to do can be sheer torture. I was up all night on Sunday freaking out.

But Monday morning came, and then Tuesday, and now Wednesday, and I am seriously in LOVE with this homeschooling thing. Ok, so I really haven't started teaching them yet, but who cares? We've spent an average of an hour a day this week working on academics. Everything else has been fun ventures. The train museum and IKEA were a blast, our trip to the snow today was awesome. We drove 45 minutes for 10 minutes worth of snow time. Seriously. We were there for 10 minutes. Just long enough to fill up a cooler with clean snow to bring home. We made snow ice cream, and added some root beer to it for root beer floats.

Tomorrow, my curriculum gets here. I can't wait! I am so ready to dig in and start teaching these kids some stuff.

I really don't know how this happened to me (ok, I know the Lord has everything to do with it). As I've said before, I am NOT a teacher. But experiencing the world through these kids has brought me a whole new appreciation for being involved in their lives.

I am sure I'm going through a honeymoon phase, and in a few weeks I'll be venting and complaining about putting myself in this position.

But for now, I'll enjoy the honeymoon. There may not be warm weather, cool drinks and a sparkling ocean on this honeymoon, but there sure are a heck of a lot of memories being made!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Homeschool Blog and More

I've started a homeschooling blog so I don't have to bore you all with my mundane day-to-day activities. =) Feel free to check it when you want, but it's mostly for my own reference so I can keep a record of everything we do. HERE's the link.

I went to an adoption support group last night at a local church. I am hoping to start a group at our own church in the fall, so I'm gathering as much info as I can. It was really nice to meet with other moms who have been through the process. There were about 10 women there, most of whom adopted through foster care. A few adopted internationally and domestically (private). I loved hearing the different perspectives and how they are working through issues that have come up. One gal just adopted a sibling set of three from India!

I'm trying to figure out how to format this new adoption group. Moms only? Parents only? Parents and kids? I'm leaning toward just moms (with a few annual "family" activities), but what do you think?

Yesterday while the boys were doing some schoolwork, I asked them if they missed their friends at school. Mr. C said, "No, I'll see them at soccer." And J-Man said, "No, I think I act better when I'm not around my friends." Out of the mouths of children. Glad he's noticed the connection!

Monday, January 25, 2010

First Day of Homeschooling

Here are the boys on their last day of school (Friday). As you can see, they were devastated.

Today is the day! I don't have my curriculum yet, so we'll be "officially" starting next Monday, but this week we are doing a few fun things.

This morning we're making Shrinky Dinks (thanks to Amber for tipping me off to these!) and heading to the library to pick up some books about trains. Tomorrow we go to the Train Museum and IKEA (that's educational, right?). Wednesday we're taking a drive up the hill to the snow to gather some snow in a container to come home and make "snow ice cream" with.

We are incorporating a weekly "service project" into our curriculum. It can include anything from raking up someone's leaves to paying for someone's coffee behind us in line, to going to a children's home or homeless shelter to help out. Can you all give me some ideas to put in my "service" arsenal?

If You Live In Kansas, Or Know Someone Who Does...

Could you pop over to my friend's blog HERE? It's so frustrating that someone dropped the ball on this poor girl who aged out of the system.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Movie Date Night

It's been quite awhile since Superman and I had a date night. To be honest, I can't even remember the last date night we had. Sad. Anyway, last night we went to dinner and a movie. What a splurge!

Dinner was great--I had smoked cedar plank salmon...mmm...

By the time we drove the 15 minutes to the restaurant, though, we were pretty much out of things to say. I guess being married almost 12 years and having 5 kids can just zap that ol' vitality out of you. I mean, I love Superman. A lot. And it's good that I do, since we literally just sat sipping our waters and munching on bread for the 40 minutes we waited for our food. We did talk a little politics and economy and we dabbled in some work gripes. But wanna know the best part of being at dinner alone with my hubby? I ate as slowly as I wanted. There was no rushing through a bite so I could tend to arguing children. There was no waters being spilled on me or food being thrown. It was wonderful. As a matter of fact, the people next to us had a baby with them, and I think I actually felt my heart skip a beat when I realized I was alone with my husband at a sit-down restaurant!

Anyhoo, dinner was great. Dessert was even better. You may remember that I've cut refined sugar out of my diet. But I wasn't about to let a rare date night with Superman pass me by without indulging a bit! We shared a piece of divine banana creme pie. Mmmm...

After dinner, we went and saw the movie "To Save A Life." It's a MUST SEE! If you have teenagers, or know teenagers, or even if you were once a teenager, you should see it. It's excellent. I may be a bit biased since we know the people who wrote it, but it really is an excellent flick. Touching, funny and makes you think.

Hope you're all having a great weekend!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

All In!

Who knew? Someone must have known. Was it you? 'Cuz it sure wasn't me!

Homeschooling? Moi? It surely couldn't be. Am I mistaken, or was it just yesterday that I wrote we were thinking (key word being "thinking") about homeschooling?

Hmm...something fishy is going on here. And I think the Lord has something to do with it.

Here I was, casually considering bringing my brood in from public school; figuring I have, oh, at least a few weeks or months until I need to make a decision. And that's true. I mean, there really is no hurry. There's no one pounding on my door telling me to get those kids outta that school. But, strangely (or not?) I laid my fleece before the Lord and barely before I had time to open my eyes from that prayer, He's taken that fleece and flung it over my shoulders.

"Take away any of our hesitations," I say. And what does He do? Well, friends, He takes away our hesitations. And not only that, but today, while at Bible study, the Lord plants in my path 5 different women who are currently homeschooling. I picked their brains like nothing else. (Do I still have stuff in my teeth?)

It's amazing. I mean, really. It's honestly like the Lord has just completely taken over here. Which, I suppose, is a good thing.

So, as I write, I am copying immunization records, birth certificates and my will (just in case I don't make it through). And soon, very soon, I will be a homeschooling mom.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


We have a great school right across the street from us. I mean, for a public school, it's excellent. Their test scores are high, the atmosphere is nice and it's just an all-around good small-town school. No real complaints.

Homeschooling has long been an option for us, though. We've always said that if we ever felt like the public school wasn't meeting the needs of our kids, or if something else came up, we would be open to it. There's a bit of a problem, though. I'm not a teacher. And I don't just mean in the professional sense. Some people are just born to teach (i.e., Superman). They naturally thrive on sharing knowledge with little ones (or big ones). But, it doesn't come naturally to me. I mean, I can do a craft here, or a math workbook there. I can read a book with the kids or have them "read" a book to me. But when it comes to being the sole provider of their education, I have always been more than just a bit intimidated.

But there are things that are very appealing about teaching our kids at home. Mr. C is not being challenged at school. He enjoys his friends, and I know he learns some things at school, but math in particular is a joke. At home, Superman has been working with him, and he's doing basic Algebra. At school, they are literally learning 3-1 = 2 and 2+5 = 7. He's bored. He regularly asks to be homeschooled And J-Man is on the other end of the spectrum. He's not the most "academic" of our kids. He loves music. If he could just sit and listen to music all day, he'd be in heaven. J-Man does fine in school academically, but he definitely has maturity issues and impulse control that needs to be worked on, and in a class of 20 other 5-year-olds, I can't expect his teacher to be giving him the one-on-one attention he needs.

The clincher was yesterday when Mr. C got in a bit of trouble at school. He had a substitute, and he had to pull his card...twice. Which has never happened. He said he wasn't listening to the teacher because she was teaching "stuff I learned in preschool." Of course, that's not an excuse to disrespect his teacher or disrupt the class. I asked him about the other subjects--what does he do during science or history? He must be learning then. He said, "We mostly do math and reading. My teacher does other stuff sometimes, but it's mostly just math and reading." And that got me thinking--that's sad. The standardized tests focus on math and reading, and so that's what is focused on in school. But there are so many other things that I want our kids to learn. And not just academically, but spiritually, emotionally and physically. And so, the topic was brought up again last night at the dinner table.

I just finished reading the book, "The Cross and the Switchblade" and at one point in the book, the author "lays a fleece" before the Lord as Gideon did. So I decided to do just that. I told the Lord if this is something He wants us to do, I would like him to remove any apprehension that I, or Superman, have. (Superman's apprehension stems from his concern that I will get completely burned out if I don't have some designated breaks throughout the week.) I know that doesn't seem like much of a "fleece," but for us to both go forward with this without any hesitation would be a clear answer to my prayer.

So, that's where we stand. I know there are some homeschooling moms who read my blog--if you can give me any advice, please do so! I want to know--how do you avoid burn out? What made you come to the decision of homeschooling?

P.S. I talked to our social worker yesterday and found out we would not be able to adopt again until six months after we finalize with G (which probably won't be until summer), so that can be on the back burner for the time being. =)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

There must be something seriously wrong with me...

I think there must be some weird genetic abnormality in me. It seems that every time we get settled into things, I start itching to add a kid to our family. What the heck is wrong with me? I am sure that not more than a month ago I was consistently saying, "Nope, no more for us! Five is plenty! There's no more room in our car!"

Ok, so G is almost 15 months old now. She's at that incredibly fun age when she gains this big personality, while running around in this teeny tiny body.

I don't have any desire for a baby. Frankly, I don't care for the baby phase. Some people just can't get enough of those cute, cuddly bundles of joy, but I much prefer toddlerhood. There's something about kids when they start interacting with you and giggling while running away from you that I just think is so freakin' adorable.

Now, I don't think I need to point out that we already have FIVE kids. All ages six and under. In one house. We don't even have any seats left in our van. There's no more room! And what would adding another kid do to the quality of life of our other sprouts? But then, what would adding another kid to our family do for that ONE KID? room in car. Really, no room at our table...we don't even really have room for G once she's done with her high chair. Our time is already divided by 5 with our kids.

But then again, these are all things the Lord can remedy. Who am I to say that He won't provide for us if we go out on a limb for him? As a matter of fact, I know for *sure* He will.

Now, this could all be crazy talk. I could just be going through a phase. Or maybe I'm not. Maybe the Lord is softening my heart for a reason. Or maybe not. I think I need something blatant. I just need someone to ring our doorbell and say, "Here, I have this little toddler boy...will you take him?"

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


The day after Christmas, we decided to live on the edge and drive out to Idaho to see my brother and his family. It was quite the adventure, being that we only stayed there 1.5 days, and drove 9 hours out and 10.5 hours back. But, it was fully worth it!

On the way home, we went through Reno, Nevada. It's a mini-metropolis of hotels, casinos, and other sundry businesses. As we drove through, we talked to the kids about all the casinos. Superman explained what gambling was. He broke it down like this: "If I told you to give me $20, and if you could guess a correct number between 1 and 1 million, I would give you $40. If you got it wrong, though, I would get to keep your $20."

The kids all seemed to get that. Well, I don't know about N...she was licking the sticky lollipop residue off her fingers. And G, well, she was chewing on leftover french fries and bits of old food from her car seat. But, I digress.

The boys all seemed to be intrigued with this "gambling" concept. Mr. C, especially. He kept asking all sorts of questions and saying, "What a rip off!" and, "Why would anyone give their money away??" We continued on home, feeling very productive after such a great conversation.

Fast forward to last night. The boys are all watching a cartoon in M-Dog's room. Mr. C comes running in to the family room and exclaims, "Daddy! The t.v. just told us we should go gobbling!" To which I said, "What? Gobbling? What does that mean?" Mr. C says, "You know. They were telling us to put all our money is some machine so they could take it all! They were telling us to go gobbling!"

Ha. The things kids say. It's like when I was growing up and always thought grilled cheese was GIRL cheese. I think I was like 13 before I realized it was grilled.

And the winner is...

Congratulations, Anna!

And thanks to everyone who participated!! Anna, you can e-mail me your mailing address by clicking on the link in my profile. I'll get your book out to you as soon as I hear from you!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Anymore Takers for the Giveaway? And a Few Other Things.

I can't believe there are only 3 of you gals interested in this book! I know there are more of you out there. Last chance--I'm doing the drawing tomorrow! In case you missed it, HERE'S the link.

I had an incredible Saturday with my friend Amber. Superman was a superhero for Christmas, and gave me a gift certificate to a Spa. But the clincher--it wasn't just for me, but for a *friend*, too! It was probably the only time he's ever been able to surprise me with something...somehow I always end up finding out. Amber has never had a massage before, but she was a willing participant. We both got facials and massages and felt completely pampered for a few hours. We topped our morning off with lunch at a local Cafe that made me feel oh, so gourmet. Sorry about the picture quality...I think the lady taking the picture was trying to see just how much she could move her hand around and still have the picture turn out.

I've been thinking of going back to school for my master's degree in marriage and family therapy for about four or five years now. I recently decided to take a leap and go for it. Superman seemed compliant, but not necessarily excited. I made plans, ordered transcripts, started filling out the application. But Superman informed me a few days ago that he's not completely on board. I'd say he probably has like the top half of his body on board, but his legs dangling off. I'm totally ready, completely stoked to be working toward a goal. But if Superman isn't 100% behind me, there's no way I can do it. So, I guess I wait. I hope he'll be on board before I'm too old and can no longer see anymore, but who knows. Sometimes being in a partnership is tough.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


This may not be all that exciting to many of you, but I was thrilled to find THIS resource online for practicing name writing. As a matter of fact, you can type in any word, and it will create a practice worksheet for kids. I love it!

And while I'm on the topic of Web sites, what are a few of your favorites for kids?

I have a few:

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Giveaway For Families!

Ok, so you may remember that as part of my 2010 goals I want to do a family devotional every week night. We went to the Christian bookstore and picked up this little gem. And can I just say it has been so much fun! It's great for elementary-age kids. There's one page for each day of the year, with discussion questions to boot. I love it!

And because I love it so much and want to share a great family activity with all of you, I'm giving one of these books away!

Here are the rules:

1. Leave a comment here telling me why YOU would like a devotional for your family (or why you would like to give this as a gift to someone).
2. Post a link to my blog on your blog (or if you don't have a blog, just tell me that).
3. I'll pick the winner next week!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How Adoption Changed My Views--Part 2

When we had Mr. C, he was perfect. Or at least, perfect in our sight. He was a typical first, early walker, constantly stimulated. We had nothing else to do but shower our boy with love and attention, read to him constantly, do puzzles with him, and help him grow his brain. Being that Superman is a teacher, he had half the year off to spend with our firstborn. I think we crammed more stimulation into that first year than in all the ensuing years combined.

Right before Mr. C turned one year old, J-Man was placed with us. Suddenly, spending unending amounts of time interacting with Mr. C became close to impossible. And I felt pretty guilty for it.

I realized when we got J-Man that he didn't get that same running start that Mr. C did. He had already been in 3 foster homes in his near-six months of life. He had been hospitalized for pneumonia and RSV and had never had anyone sit down and read to him or wrestle with him. And there was an obvious difference between where he was developmentally at 6 months, and where Mr. C had been at 6 months.

And when M-Dog and N came to us, it was even more apparent. They had been removed from their birth parents when M-Dog was 2 years, and N was 5 weeks. They went on to three foster homes before the Lord planted us on their front step. And as I've said before, M-Dog was three by that time. And he didn't speak. So much vital time had passed, and those so-important first few years were thrown by the wayside, never to be had again. N was 13 months when we got her, and was still crawling, only saying "mama" and just behind in general.

Thankfully, we got G at six weeks. She was still young, and had only been in one foster home, so her transition to our home was simple.

So this is what I've learned:

1. It's nearly impossible (or maybe even impossible) to give all our children the same level of undivided attention that our firstborn received.

2. Children adopted out of foster care almost always come with baggage. But, the baggage is so worth carrying. Because seeing your child blossom from the child he or she was into the child he or she is becoming is one of the most rewarding experiences. Ever.

3. I can't expect the same responses and growth out of each of our children. Of course, this would apply if we only had biological children as well, but I believe it's more pronounced in adopted children. These kids each have their own story, their own challenges, their own pains, and their own triumphs. Their pasts have shaped who they are, and I have to flexibly work around those nuances and parent them individually instead of as a group.

It's hard to admit, but there have been times (usually the challenging times), when I have thought to myself, "Man, it would have been so much easier to just have our own biological kids." I know that sounds really bad. I know that every child is unique, and who knows what future children of ours would have turned out like. But, at least I would know where they come from, you know? At least I would know that they were provided for, loved, and given the best I could give them. I won't lie, it's hard to be an adoptive parent. But as I've said before, it's also one of the most amazing adventures.

And it's a perfect illustration of the way our Lord "adopts" us, despite our histories. Despite our shortcomings and failures, He loves us perfectly. And I am so confident that when He sees us blossom, it makes Him giddy with excitement.

Happy Birthday to J-Man!

Yesterday our second-born turned six. SIX! I always feel like it takes forever for him to turn each age. I guess that's because he and Mr. C are only 6 months apart, so I feel like he should already be the same age as Mr. C. Did that make any sense?

Anyhoo, I made a yummy batch of homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast. We told J-Man he gets $100 for his birthday, and can use that for a party, going out to eat, a present, or whatever else he wanted. But, he had to stay in the budget. He chose a present. J-Man has been asking for a skateboard ramp for a few years now, and he decided now was the time.

So while he was at school, I went gallivanting around town trying to track down a ramp. Who knew it would be so difficult? I finally found one at Sport Chalet.

For dinner, I made J-Man's favorite, homemade pizza. But alas, dinner came, and J-Man sat down to eat, but just stared at his food. This from the boy who the day before ate a double-double (animal style), french fries and a chocolate shake and came home and asked for a snack. So, we knew something was wrong. I asked if he was feeling all right, and he said he had a sore throat. My poor little pizza sat uneaten on his plate, and our fun plans for NuYo were postponed. But, that's ok. It was kind of nice to just relax on the couch.

So, we'll have to do NuYo another night.

But, happy birthday to our boy!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How Adoption Changed My Views--Part 1

I used to be ignorant. I don't know, maybe it was just naive. It's amazing how a person can have a certain world view, and suddenly be exposed to something that completely alters that.

It's like growing up. As a teenager, the world revolved around me. I mean, doesn't it revolve around every teenager? I didn't realize it at the time, but I was a bit narcissistic (sorry, mom). I thought I pretty much knew everything. But then, I got older. And, as the saying goes, I got wiser. It's weird. I mean, it seems that the older I get, it's like the Lord peels back layers in front of my eyes, and I suddenly see things differently. My tastes even change.

As a kid, I couldn't stand coffee. As a grown up, I revel in the smell of the stuff brewing, and fully enjoy the experience of drinking a cup now and then.
As a kid, I thought most healthy food was, well, disgusting. As a grown up, I find it exhilarating to find healthy alternatives to what I might already be eating.
As a kid, I would consistently ask my mom, "What's for dinner?" and would consistently get the answer, "Food." It would drive me nuts. I vowed I would never repeat those words to my children. As a grown up, I use that same response almost every day.
As a kid, I thought my world was the world. Then I {semi} grew up and went to Honduras on a 6-week mission trip. And my eyes were opened. I started to see glimpses of the real world. My problems and obstacles didn't seem quite so bad anymore.

The list goes on and on.

Before adoption, I knew I would never support medicating any of my children. Surely when a child misbehaves or is overly rambunctious, it is because the parent is failing in some way. Surely, right?

But now I am not so black and white. It's not a yes or no answer. It's not something that is the same for everyone across the board. Don't get me wrong--I have no intention of medicating any of our children at this time. But there are children in our little family who have opened my eyes to the possibility that maybe, just maybe I don't have all the answers. And I am open to doing whatever is best for our children. And I don't think anyone can fully understand that until they have experienced what we have. Of course, it doesn't only apply to adopted children. It can apply to anyone.

I know there is a stigma attached to medications. I know there are many, many people strongly opposed. And I was one of them. But I know there are many out there who know just what I mean when I say this: Until you have experienced a child who challenges the fibers of your very being in ways you never even thought possible, you really can't fully comprehend the choice.

So adoption has changed my views on medication. It's changed my views on much more.

More on that tomorrow!

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Goals

Our boys celebrated a New York new year last night and went to bed at 9:00 our time. Here they are chowin' on some chips and salsa:

I'm not huge on New Year's Resolutions, but I do enjoy me some goals. I like to give myself challenges throughout the year to give myself something to work toward.

This year I have a few goals to work on:

Spiritual: Family devotionals every week night. Superman usually does a "quiet time" with the kids every couple days, but I'd like to see that more consistent. Right now the kids are assigned days to pray at meals (Monday is Mr. C, Tuesday is J-Man, etc), so on their days they'll also pick what Bible story we are going to focus on in the evening.

Physical: Finish running a 5K in under 27 minutes, and finish a 10K in under 55 minutes.

Life in general: Start writing letters again. I mean, e-mail is great and all, but there's something exhilarating about getting an unexpected note in the mail. My goal is to send out 2 letters per month.

So, do you make goals?
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