Saturday, November 17

National Adoption Day is Close to My Heart

Today is National Adoption Day. It is a great day for the world to recognize the beauty of adoption. Adoption is the gift of bringing love into a life. Personally I don’t feel there is any better day to celebrate in the world than Adoption Day. It is all over Facebook. It is the best media method of spreading the message of the gift of adoption. 

We started our journey when we became foster parents in September of 2005. The adoption of our two gorgeous sibling daughters was final April 9, 2007. It has been an incredible journey in parenthood.
Hey and Myrrh's Adoption, April 9, 2005
Both girls come with their own needs and personalities. You can tell they are siblings because of their needs, but are also very unique in the joy they have for life. The food allergies and learning abilities clearly indicate they are siblings. It hasn’t been an easy path, which in perspective isn’t that far off than the challenges of many parents.  Children in general bring a whole new world to your view.
If it weren’t for my creative daughters I never would have started a craft blog. They have created so many firsts in my life. Hey and Myrrh have molded me into the person I am today. We truly are a family enriched by the experience of each other.

obsessed analyst adopted foster child myrrh
Myrrh on her 6th Birthday
Myrrh is my tender-heart animal obsessed child with a strange interest in the Weird, True and Freaky oddities of life.


Hey is my impulsive defensive hearted child who wants to know everything there is to know about life, but not necessarily direct from me.

obsessed analyst foster adopted daughter Hey
Hey with her Halloween Bear.
Both are the ultimate gifts God has given me, well, other than offering me Salvation. I see how wonderfully and beautifully made God’s creation is all around us through learning with my children.
I knew God called me to serve Him through being a foster/adoptive parent when I was a teenager. He knew I needed the benefit of seeing His grace through the eyes of a child. I have been richly blessed only because He decided I was good enough. Despite my doubts, God decided I was to parent these girls. I have to remind myself daily that He chose me. It is an awesome responsibility. I pray each day that I am worthy of the journey.

 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…" James 1:27 (NIV)  

If you have a heart to assist in meeting the needs of children who don’t have the benefits of a forever family, you can check out information on The James Fund.
“There are many ways you can get involved: pray, give, mobilize your church, or adopt. Once you decide on the path that’s right for you, seek out organizations who offer guidance and support. Your journey will change you (and the orphan and the widow) forever.”

© 2012 All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, September 16

Listening to God - We Are Staying

My last post raised some good questions that I wanted to address.

After much prayer and reflection we know we are supposed to be here in Tucson now. We moved here for many reasons, most importantly because God wanted us here.  Our family has experienced such huge miracles and blessings that we try to work out all things for His glory. Oddly enough, we are confident we are in His will when others tell us we are crazy, shouldn't do something or it doesn't make sense to them.

It makes more sense to move where NASA can have a job. However, it isn't what God wants us to do right now.
Why don’t I return to work? It wouldn’t solve the issue of my husband needing to work. He is a goal oriented person with a work ethic making it hard for him to accept retirement at the age of 41. He is volunteering his time each week, but it isn’t enough for him. Plus, I have grown to enjoy being home and available to my children. Early on, we agreed that I was the one to stay home for the children. 

I have my own employment challenges too. I have a Masters degree and have been out of my field of human resources for 5 years. I would have to return to work full-time.  There are few and far between part-time positions in human resources. I would prefer not to choose work over my children.  Most human resources professionals do not want to supervise someone with 15 years of experience and degrees. I am over educated and lack recent work history.  I respect women who work or return to work after having children. It is a huge balancing act of work and family. I tried it in March of 2008, it wasn't for me. It stressed me out and I missed my girls. 

Then there is bringing the girls back to homeschooling. It was always the goal to make sure they got the attention and instruction they needed to be successful.

Having them in school has been a huge learning experience. I volunteer in their classrooms and see what outside education has done for children. There are second graders who struggle to read. Smart kids who when I sat and read with a small group, they didn't even know how to try and sound out the words. I could see their frustration. I know our local public school is not a long term strategy for us.

Our loan modification came through, finally. With the guidance of a HUD counselor we started the process back in February. In July the bank agreed to let us enter into a 6 month 'trail' modification period, resulting in a lower monthly payment. If we could successfully complete the trial period they would modify our loan. There were no terms for our modification laid out. We had no clue what the end result would be. Although we were only 2 months into our trial period, the bank sent us paperwork to permanently modify the loan. They offered us a lower interest rate. Instead of the 6.25% we were paying, it was modified down to 3.75%. All the terms remained the same, 25 years left on the loan and same remaining principle.  Essentially we got a refinance without any closing costs lowering our monthly payment to be more affordable. We closed this week on the modified loan.
We are selling all the excess things we have accumulated over the last 20 years. Using the money to fund some changes we want to make in the house.

The first big step to show our commitment to sticking it out here was selling all our moving boxes. We have started hanging pictures on the walls. Soon we will be replacing the flooring in our living room, building storage in the garage and putting the drapes/curtains up. We will make this our home again. It feels good and we know it is what is right now.

2 John 6 (NIV) And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in his love.

Soon we will address the best direction for our girls schooling. One thing at a time.
© 2012 All Rights Reserved.

Friday, August 31

Will We Stay Or Will We Go?

Over the last few weeks I haven’t written. I am at a loss as to where to start, what direction to take my writing or attempt to sum up my emotions. There is so much going on, but yet nothing seems to be going anywhere.

There was a job here in Tucson for my husband, NASA, that seemed perfect. It seemed to line up with his analytical strengths and enjoyment of teaching. We both thought it would be the answer to prayer. He had two written contingent job offers if that specific company received the contract. A few days ago he found out that a company he was not connected to won the contract. The perfect job disappeared. We had put the job out there as a test to whether we should keep trying to stay in Arizona, or move on.
Then NASA got a call from the company who won the contract. They wanted to talk to him. They sent him an application to fill out. It looked like the job may come through after all.  Alas, it was not to be. The original candidate changed his mind and decided to take less money to stay in the job. This back and forth did not help our spirits.

My Hero, retired Captain NASA
NASA has been seeking employment since January. As of March 1st he was officially retired from the U.S. Air Force. He has diligently applied to everything he is remotely qualified. He even tried the $12/hour manual labor route, got an interview, but can’t get hired because he is overqualified. He spent 20 years as one of the best weather forecasters protecting billions of dollars in military assets. He brought Google Earth to the weather field and taught them how to exploit its integration into forecasts. However, there isn’t much call for a meteorologist who doesn’t have math courses like calculus or higher as a part of his BS degree in Professional Aeronautics. A meteorologist who doesn’t know computer programming and doesn’t have the confidence or coordination to work in front of a green screen on television is limited too. The 2 weather technician jobs he applied for and interviewed for paid less than what the cost of living in the area would require, like San Diego.

We aren’t quite sure what to do. We have a rental home in Vegas that will be empty in November. Our housing costs would be $425/month less to live there and wait on the Lord.  

So, I just ask for your prayers that somehow our path will be made clear and God will open the door wide for us to step through and continue to be obedient to Him. Thanks.
Psalm 27:14 Wait for the Lord; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.

There are many great articles to encourage us in our waiting, these two are favorites.
Waiting on the Lord. A study by J. Hampton Keathley, III
This one was sent to me by a friend, so I knew I needed it. The Faithfulness of God by Chuck Smith.

I drafted this post yesterday. Today I am posting it and wanted to share that we now have an answer. We are staying. The only thing that changed was our perspective. God works in interesting ways. I will explain another day.

© 2012 All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, August 2

School Really Is In Full Swing

I have more time to myself these days, but yet I don't seem to get anymore done. Well, some more, but not what I would like. I may just have high expectations.

Days are all structured around the school schedule. I thought bedtime was a pain in the neck in the past, well it hasn't gotten any better. Mornings are now in close competition to bedtime. No matter how early I wake them up, we are always rushing around at the end. We discuss lunch, pick out clothes the night before and backpacks are ready to go. What more could we do? I am considering putting them to bed in their clothes for the next day.

Have you started your school routine yet? Arizona goes back to school early so it is an odd time of year. I always associated school starting after Labor Day. It is still summer, but school has started here. I am finding it hard to reconcile.

Then there is my writer and craft block. All this time seems to have created a total lack of creative thought on my part. I don't even have copy cat in me. I'm hoping it will pass. We have a birthday, Myrrh's, coming so I best get out of my funk soon. I will try to be better at keeping you posted.

© 2012 All Rights Reserved.

Monday, July 16

First Day of School

I am back. It is bittersweet. I took Hey and Myrrh to school today, public school, shocking I know. I was led to homeschooling while living in Vegas. Now, we are playing it by ear, literally.  We are closely listening to what the teachers say about the girls academic skills and special needs. There is a curriculum meeting coming up for the parents. I will definitely be there. I plan on volunteering in the classroom to see how things are first hand.

Hey's counselor strongly suggested we keep Hey in school. The girls physical therapist suggested we seek an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for them both and see if we can establish services for their needs. Their developmental pediatrician told us to seek services whatever way we thought was best. We weighed the opinions of these three professionals and our own experience. The best way to get services is to have your child in public school. It isn't the only way, but the easiest and fastest.

We live in a small school district that is a tight knit community. It is the best school district in the State of Arizona. I already have received an e-mail and a phone call from the school district communicating what to expect for the start of school.

first school day at vail school district

Plus, there is the issues that Hey refuses to learn from me. My thought is that Hey will be in some school at least until all her skills are at the 3rd grade level. Many Christian online courses and the programs I would consider don't start until 3rd grade.

It broke my heart to drop off Myrrh today at 1st grade. She has asked me in the past to always homeschool her. She listens and learns from me, but struggles with many skills she needs at her age. We really need to see if we can get the school to provide the OT for her motor skills. She potentially needs Speech too. I am not sure the school will see it that way since it superficially seems to be an enunciation issue. We shall see.

Myrrh did benefit from meeting her teacher and seeing her classroom last week. Once she saw that it was a fascinating classroom she wanted to give it a try. Her teacher seemed very nice. She remembered her this morning too. I just pray that Myrrh's tender heart doesn't get wounded. She is so sensitive to what others think. Hey is sensitive too, but she keeps her heart well guarded.

Yes, I am justifying why we are sending our girls to the local elementary school in our neighborhood. Although NASA and I have a peace about it, we want others to know it wasn't an easy decision. One goal is that as soon as NASA has a job and we have an IEP for Hey, we will start shopping faith based schools that can accomodate her needs.

In the meantime, I have to watch that I don't waste this school time alone. I have many projects I haven't had time to do and this is a great opportunity to do them.

© 2012 All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, July 10

Taking a Short Break!

I am trying to be as "Hands Free" as possible this week. I am taking the lead from Hands Free Mama. Her blog has really awakened me to the lost moments of childhood due to my distractions.

Hands Free Mama blog
Best Mom Blog Ever!
My girls will be starting school on Monday. Once they are in school, it will be hectic, but we will have a set schedule. We work much better with a strict schedule. Although, we spent many weeks of the summer in camps or VBS, there were plenty of days to seek opportunities for fun. I do look forward to a consistent schedule week after week. It will provide better organization, but I will mourn what we didn't have time to do before the start of school.

I will only be online after they are in bed, or before they wake up. That is only enough time to check e-mails and Facebook. I won't be able to blog anytime soon. It will be after July 17th for sure.

Have a great summer break. If you have children or not, enjoy the moments you have with other people. Focus on relationships without distractions.

© 2012 All Rights Reserved.

Monday, July 2

Busy Trying to Bond

We have less than two weeks before Hey starts school. Wow, the summer flew by. She was out of school for 7 weeks. Somedays it seemed to drag on, others flew by. I am trying to learn to spend more focused positive attention with her, but it isn't easy. I don't have much in common with Hey. She likes details about things, the science, how things work and the why of everything. I could care less about things and the science of it. I only want to know about it, find its worth, buy it for less and own it. As long as it works I don't care why or how.

Other than crafts there are not many things we do together. We can watch tv together, but I don't think that counts. We are not comfortable cuddling on the couch for more than 2 minutes. She is restless, fidgets constantly and digs her bones into my flesh. I like to read to her, but she gets bored with that quickly. She is the same with games. I don't know what to do or how to relate to this child other than crafts?

flower craft
Doing a fun dollar store craft together.
Hey loves physical activity like biking, running around, and anything that involves movement. That isn't my strength. Being outside is not comfortable for me. I can't stand being outside in the hot sun more than 10 minutes at a time. Between my skin and my allergies, I just consider myself allergic to being outside. I endure going to the park with my children purely for their sake and sanity in our home. However, the park is out anytime it is windy or over 95 degrees, so that is about 6 months out of the year. Thank goodness NASA is an outdoorsman!

Hey sees how much easier it is for Myrrh and I to spend time together. It is effortless. We can cuddle, play in Myrrh's imaginary world of animals, go shopping without buying anything, read a ton of books, and just talk. Well, Myrrh does most of the talking, I try and keep up with listening. Hey is smart she sees the difference in our relationships. She translates that to my loving her less. It breaks my heart to know she doesn't feel loved sometimes. How do parents handle it between siblings with different personalities? I only have two different children. I can't imagine, 3 or more.
I am afraid that school won't help us relate more either. Praying that somehow I can find ways to let Hey know that I value her, she is loved and worth receiving my positive attention.

© 2012 All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, June 16

Raising a Challenging Child

I have thought about this post for way to long. It is time to just get it out there. Many children, like my daughter Hey, with challenging behavior, can tell you all about the rules and why their behavior was inappropriate, but this knowledge doesn’t help them. My beautiful daughter was diagnosed at 3 yrs. old with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) as well as several developmental disorders issues and learning disabilities abilities. With professional help, we are still trying to figure out if Hey's behavior is still RAD related or something different.
Hey had a very hard start in this world when her biological parents were homeless, drug users and not emotionally able to handle a newborn. More than likely Hey has a problem with impulse control not only from inherited disabilities abilities, but also because of her prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol, severe neglect, as well as damage to her frontal lobe, which controls inhibitions and judgment.

If you are interested in the difference in neurological development of traumatized children, Dr. Bruce Perry has done some great research and has published a great book, The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook--What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing.

Trauma effect on a child's brain

When we adopted Hey at 22 months old, we were told she seemed to be well bonded to us since she made great eye contact and was so well behaved in preschool. The problem is Hey’s behavior with us at home where she can relax and be herself. She shows no respect for our authority and always pushes to the limits. She overreacts to minor things and shows little to no reaction to what you may think is hurtful or traumatic. She is a drama queen most of the time.

As parents who strive to be the best, we have been trained and practice parenting models: 1, 2, 3 Magic and Love & Logic. Chances of it actually working go out the window most of the time, when you have a child with impulse control issues. When you can’t find the one thing to help her make better choices, it takes an incredible amount of patience. She has no toys in her room. Many times she decides that loosing privileges, things or going places are not as important as her being in control and getting what she wants.

Temper Tantrum of Challenging Child
How do you teach a child impulse control? I read a nice blog on how to practice self control in order for a young child to learn it.  It sounds great, but I think that is the best way to teach a somewhat regular child. Hey’s rage, aggression and outbursts are far from normal at home. The worst is after a day where she has been at school, hanging with friends or being out in public. She seems to be okay and holding it together, then when she is relaxed and comfortable, Hey lets it all out. The poor behavior and choices when exhausted can be common for many children, but I cannot stress the degree she takes it up to. Unless you live with a raging child, you don’t truly know. I have found the people who understand best are parents with RAD or autistic children. Interesting enough all of the developmental disorders issues and learning disabilities my daughter has are on the autism spectrum. Yet, she is not autistic. 
We are told to rehearse scenarios, practice difficult situations and predict triggers. It can be exhausting trying to figure out how to prevent the outbursts, temper tantrums, rage, and consequences of a bad decision. It doesn’t help when you are in public and Hey doesn’t realize other people can hear and see her.  People look at you as if you are the reason for your child’s poor behavior. I understand; I used to think the same thing before I had children. My mother and I were at a mall in Vegas once where I had to put Hey over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes to take her to the car to leave. We were a long walk from the car and at the age of 5 Hey was 50 inches tall and weighed more than 50 lbs. She was kicking, screaming, shouting about what a horrible person I was and other mean things kids say when they have been told ‘No’.  I think people thought I might be abducting her, but I kept saying out loud, “I said no, I am your mother and I love you no matter how bad you act.”
Then there are Hey’s trust issues. How do you get a child to trust you, especially when the child’s brain is wired to not trust and has impulse control issues? 
Hey doesn’t believe what I tell her. She tests whatever I say. For example, while looking at her Cinderella snow globe she asked me if it was water that allows the sparkles/glitter float in it. I told her, off the top of my head, it was probably some sort of water like liquid that probably had some chemical in it to suspend the particles in it better than just water alone. She asked if I was sure it wasn’t just water. I told her I was sure and since we can’t open it up to check I could google it to verify, but first I had to go to the bathroom. When I returned to the room the Cinderella snow globe was broken open on the carpet. She said it was an accident that it slipped and that indeed it was not just water because it did not taste or smell like water.

Hey being herself at home.
 She is like a teenager or adult with trust issues. She never can take your word for something. She has to check and verify. When I warned her to stay away from the hot curling iron, she touches it ‘by accident’. She has done that twice. She has burned her hand on the stove twice too. She has run into traffic as well. If I say “stop”, unless she can see the danger for herself, she won’t listen. This can be annoying in an adult (I do it myself sometimes), can you imagine it in a 7 year old?
After 16 sessions with her new therapist here in Tucson, her therapist asked me if she is always so condescending. I thought, “It took only 16 sessions to let her guard down, does that mean she is getting better?” 
This is the summer of discovering our children’s gifts and talents so that we know where to invest our time and effort for extracurricular activities for the school year. This past week Hey was in theater workshops for the week. She spent 4 hours each day learning how to be an actor in a live theater production. Clearly her ability to hold it together and knowing how to act in public is becoming her talent. She had her lines for the play memorized by the second day. She projected her voice during the performance like a real pro. She made some better choices when we told her attending her acting workshops each day were optional. We may have found the thing that has meaning to her. She may never be famous, but if it helps her channel her inner Drama Queen, I will do what we can to continue to foster her talent.
I am thankful for Hey being in our family. She has made me a better parent, learning that I need to trust other people more, stop being so selfish and still need to move away from serving my own self interest and instead serve others. I am reminded that God decided we were good enough to be Hey’s parents. He allowed us to adopt her into our family just as He adopted me, a greatly flawed individual, into His kingdom. I am humbled and reminded daily of the forgiveness God gives me for my sins. I can only hope and pray that Hey grows to trust God as she has taught us to trust Him.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." Philippians 2:3-4

© 2012 All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, June 6

Can't Go Out and Play

I just spent the time my children were in Vacation Bible School (VBS) cleaning out their rooms of any remnants of toys. They didn’t have much since they only would clean up the ones they wanted to keep. It was enough to keep them happy and busy.

Bedroom before the clean out.
Well, now those are all gone too. That is what happens if you choose to leave your socks, shoes and toys in my living room and talk back with disrespect. After you have gone to bed, things will disappear. This had been going on for years since my husband and I did a parenting class in Love and Logic. 

The way I like my living room to look before bedtime.

Lately, my oldest daughter, Hey, has decided there is nothing she can lose that will make her decide to clean anything up. When we would get to this point in the past she would miss out on the opportunity to go to a birthday party, swimming, shopping , movie, a craft, video games, or go to a friend’s house. After a time or two of missing out on those things, she would improve for weeks. I’m not a real stickler about their rooms being clean either. I do require that there be a path to get to their bed so we can read to them, sing and pray together at bedtime. I request that the toys be picked up if they don’t want them to get stepped on. If they choose not to then they take the risk of it being broken. It seems her and her sister needed a reminder about the living room being a clean zone before bedtime.

Right now the girls are going to VBS and having Hey stay home was not a choice I was willing to offer. She is only gone from 8:30 AM to noon, so that is just enough time for me to recharge for the test rest of the day.

Bedroom after the clean out.
Let’s see if the missing toys will help the children get better attitudes. Myrrh still has a few stuffed animals. Hey does have her pillow pets. All their books and educational items are left. I am wondering if just having those items will still give them a respect for making better choices. They will still have access to the craft room. We shall see how it plays out. I am confident it will work for Myrrh since all of her horses are gone. Myrrh will be asking right away what she can do to earn things back. Hey cares much less about things.

I guess if it comes down to it, if Hey can’t pull it together, then I can suck it up and stay home with her a day doing nothing. So for now, Hey cannot go out and play. Maybe the next day though.

© 2012 All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, May 29

Things I Wish I’d Known Before…

I really would like to know that products are being discontinued before I run out of them. This has been a long running issue in my life. I get set on something that works well and makes my life easier, then BAM it is off the market. I remember the first time it happened, it was very traumatic. The lipstick, it didn’t dry my lips out, make them peel or wear off to fast. Next it was my favorite bra. I did find another bra and when it was discontinued I was able to go online and buy a dozen in two different sizes, but that was 10 years ago. I did the same thing when my favorite underwear disappeared from the stores. I am down to my last few and they are getting worn out. I have others, but they just are not as good or worthy of future purchasing.

Look the pillowcase matches the shower curtain below.

There have been shower curtains, rugs and sheet sets that wear out before the coordinating soap dish, toothbrush holder, bedspread and curtains. Thank goodness that went out of style.
Evidence of the 90's bathroom decor and my daughter caught in the act of playing with my favorite foundation primer.

My dermatologist got me hooked on recommendations and now I have to change, same thing with my hairdresser. There were facial cleansers, moisturizers, shampoos, conditioners, mousse, sculpting gel, foundation and primer too, just gone. Once I find a product I am not allergic to and works great, I become a loyal consumer. It doesn’t matter if they are economy products or luxury brands, everything at some point is reformulated or discontinued. If I had unlimited resources, well if it didn’t expire too, I would buy a warehouse full of the things I love. Shhhh, I have been known to use products beyond the listed expiration date.

It is the same with some television shows I watched the first season or more, and it gets canceled. If I had known there wouldn’t be closure or a tidy ending I never would have started watching it. It is okay to take shows off the air if the show ties up loose ends. Otherwise conclusion episodes for cancelled shows should be mandatory and written into the contract with the network.

Change happens in life, but some changes just seem ridiculous and create way to much unnecessary work for adapting.

© 2012 All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, May 12

Another Day of Bows

My oldest daughter has been invited to a birthday party of one of her classmates. We don't really have the resources to buy a present that I would feel comfortable giving. I am trying something new. I have until May 19th to see if I can pull it off to my satisfaction. I decided to follow directions and make some corker bows. I didn't realize how time consuming it could be. First I used dowels that were to large so the spirals were to loose. So I used skewers from our grill tools to get a tighter spiral. They worked great, but I only had four of them.

The mail arrived while I was lamenting about my lack of choices. My Mom, Grandma, comes through. She sends us boxes of clothes or supplies I request on a fairly regular basis. She rocks. She sent me 1/4 inch dowels that were perfect. I was able to make more that had the right spiral tightness.

I made some different combinations of the 3/8 inch grosgrain ribbon. It takes 25 minutes in the oven for the wet ribbon to get the twist. Add on twisting it onto the dowel and taking it off then the time to heat seal the ends it is quite the project. I wish I knew some shortcuts. The end results are fairly nice.  I spent 6 hours making 6 bows and 2 hair clips. I would like a better return on my time. I can see why bows like this cost $8-10. If I ever see any for less than $8, then I know they are a real steal since they are so labor intensive.

I do have two favorites that I will have to make again since I will want my daughters to get a chance to wear them. I also think I will look in their closet to see what I can specifically coordinate with a dress or outfit.

Now I have to figure out what to do with all the 5/8 inch ribbon. I will have to watch more You Tube videos. Feel free to make suggestions.

© 2012 All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, May 9

Adoption Day Everyday

Our oldest daughter’s birthday is in June, long after school is out for summer. In her classroom they get to celebrate each child’s birthday when the parent sends in a cake and/or surprises for the whole class. My daughter wanted so desperately to celebrate her birthday with her class. I suggested we celebrate her Adoption Day instead since that is in April. Well that day fell during Spring Break, the day after Easter this year. It didn’t get the fanfare she would have loved. We got busy with appointments and the things of life. She never forgot. Finally we went out to the dollar store and gathered some things for her classmates and got the cupcake liners. We made the cupcakes and it is all ready to go to school. Her adoption celebration with her classmates will be one month after the actual date. I thought I would give her this letter in her book bag to read. I wonder what she will think?

The Original Celebration - April 9, 2007
May 9, 2012

Dear Hey,
I may not have been there to hold you when you were first born, but I wanted to be. God was holding you for me. I may have missed your very first smile, but God saw it. I may have not been able to feed, clothe or comfort you when you needed it, but God brought you through the neglect to be with me. I would have loved to have kept you safe, but know that God did.

Now you are in our family. We received you into our home to feed, clothe and comfort you. I sang and rocked you to sleep. I wanted to hold you all the time. You wanted to explore the world. We watched you smile, walk and play. You came to our home as a foster child. We were a temporary family protecting you until your birth family could figure out what to do. Your birth parents saw how much we cared for you and could keep you safe. They let you go so that we could have you be in our family forever. I wanted to be your Mom. We chose you as our child to be adopted into our family. We chose to bring you along our journey of worshiping and honoring God with our family. I am grateful to God for giving me the privilege of being your Mom. Thank you for being our little girl. We adore you and will always love you as if we were there from the day you were born.
The world officially recognized our choice to adopt you and have you be a part of our family along with your sister on April 9, 2007. No matter what day it maybe today, I celebrate your adoption everyday you are safe with us. Every day is adoption day for us.

Your Mom

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." Psalm 139:13-16 

© 2012 All Rights Reserved.

Monday, April 30

Crafting Crocodiles for the Child

I never intended for my blog to be all about arts and crafts. This being my third craft post though doesn't really qualify it as such. Plus, I mostly leave the crafts to friends, especially one great friend who does a fabulous blog that I like. I will say it again, to remind myself, I am not a craft person. I really do not like doing crafts. I have fallen into it because I homeschool my daughter AND want to save money. My youngest daughter loves to do arts and crafts. [My oldest daughter, 6 years old, does too, but she is in a private school for now.] In fact it is the only way I can get her to learn some things. Twice a week I start out the night before or in the morning asking her what art or craft she would like to do. She always picks some sort of animal. Lately it is related to an animal she has interacted with on Sim Animals Africa, or watched on the Wild Kratz or Go, Diego Go. We then Google whatever animal she chooses and look at the images that come up. She picks the craft based on what she likes, supplies we have and if I think we can manage it.
Feeling ambitious today.
Today it was crocodiles, which included looking at alligator crafts. We learned a couple crocodile facts, then I had her practice writing her small “c” and “r” letters. I tried to incorporate some math with measuring out the size of paper, skip counting googly eyes, etc… but she caught on to it and started to zone out on me. Since working on fine motor skills is very important for her abilities I figured that cutting, painting, and applying glue was good enough. Plus, do you realize how much skill it takes to locate two matching googly eyes from a large spaghetti jar full of eyes? You have to match color, size, and features since there are some with colored eyes, pupils, and eyelashes.
The handprint crocodiles were an easy concept, but to make it really cool you have to do Spock’s Vulcan Salute and bend your thumb to your index finger. It is a great motor skill for a little one, let alone an adult.

She painted a paper plate blue too since she thinks we can make a blue alligator out of it. I haven’t decided how we are going to execute that final product yet.

The paper bag crocodiles really are a sign that I am getting a bit more artistic when it comes to creating crafts. I didn’t find a paper bag crocodile craft online. I saw paper towel ones and ones made with little 3 oz. paper cups, but nothing with a paper bag. I am learning you can make almost anything with a paper bag. I figured I would start with the bag and some of my scrapbook paper just like I used for the zebra and lions we did. I love scrapbook paper. It feeds my desire for perfection.
The scrapbook paper I use all the time for our animal crafts.
After I did all the alligator paper on the bag, I envisioned what I needed to do, not knowing if it would really work. I had to use some card stock paper on the inside to make it stronger. I did one staple in the center of the open end of the bag to create the head shape.

Did you know that crocodiles cannot stick out their tongues? We thought that was a cool thing to know so we included a pink tongue inside the paper bag alligator. Personally, I think the finished product came out really well.

I found the clothespin alligators online. They seemed easy, but after painting and 3 hours of crafts, my daughter actually got burnt out.

I wonder what we will do next time. Does anyone know of a curriculum that revolves around just animals or is all arts and crafts based? I would love to find one. I may need to find unit studies on each animal to create my own curriculum that can incorporate arts and crafts. The thing that I found was that there weren’t many animal unit studies that were isolated to one animal. I found unit studies that were of cats, dogs and horses. The rest were more about categories like sea creatures, farm animals, amphibians, reptiles, jungle, etc… She would like very specific animals, like mountain lions.  If anyone knows of a good source or has ideas, please let me know.  

© 2012 All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, April 24

I Surprise Myself

Since my oldest daughter goes to school now, she loses hair clips all the time. She is growing out a short layered pixie style hairdo that she wanted about 1 1/2 years ago.  Growing out super short layers is no easy task. Her hair is always in her eyes. In order to keep some of it out of the way for school she wears barrettes, bobby pins, and/or hair clips. They seem to disappear as fast as I can buy them. I got most of them at the dollar store, but it was adding up. 

Then there is my other daughter who is growing out her hair, thank goodness not layers. I put her hair up in a ponytail most of the time. She would prefer I braid it or do something fancy. The fanciest thing I can do is a basic Topsy Tail and/or put a bow in her hair. Yes, I have an original Topsy Tail tool from 1992. I still haven’t used it to its full potential. 

I am hair challenged. I grew up with a curling iron in my hand. I can curl the heck out of any hair, but can’t braid or anything else to save my life. Actually I can braid embroidery floss. I used to make braided bracelets all the time when I was young. Which reminds me, do you remember the bubble gumwrappers that you could fold and make into bracelets? I found out recently that making those is doing origami. Who knew? 

My point in all of that is that I can braid, but have a hard time with hair and don’t have the patience to do it on a live wiggly child. 
Anywho, I know that God has a sense of humor by blessing us with two little girls that have gorgeous features that are best displayed with their hair out of the way. People tell me, “it is easy, just keep trying and you will get it.” I guess I shouldn’t say I can’t do it, it is more like I can’t do it well enough, so I don’t like it. Heck I have a hard enough time just trying to get a part straight. I can’t do jig jag parts either. I see absolutely adorable hairdos on other little girls that I couldn’t dream of doing. 
What, did these people have Barbie head dolls to practice on all the time? I wasn’t really a doll kind of girl. I preferred Barbie’s camper instead of her. I liked to play card games, puzzles, house, tea parties with stuffed animals, color, and read. When I did get a doll, I tried to use my Mom’s curling iron on it. It was the biggest smelly mess ever. I have a memory of that smell, it was awful.

Hair after the playground.
I have decided that no matter what the girls’ hair may look like, a nice hair clip or bow detracts from the mess. So if the hair clips or bows are pretty and/or unique enough no one will notice the messy hair. Do you think that is a good strategy? 

Hence my latest project: making hair accessories. It is less expensive than even the dollar store. Plus I have put an order into Grandma to please send supplies. Also, I have an amazing friend who does awesome crafts that is going to make me some bows too. I figured we can never have too many hair accessories with two active little girls!

You Tube has been a tremendous help. I never would have known how to do anything without You Tube. See my latest creations, not bad for a very awkward crafter in training. Now if I could just figure out how to stop burning my fingers. I swear I end up with more glue all over my fingers too than on the craft item. I keep something (plate or paper towel) by me to keep all the peeled glue in until I am ready to throw it away. Making these I went through 3 glue sticks. I did all these in one afternoon and evening which I won’t do that again. I think craft sessions need to be less than 3 hours.

If I keep up creating all these craft items I may have to take back my declaration that I am not a “craft person”. I think I have at least called a truce about my hating crafts. Maybe I can inspire others to do crafts for the sake of the children. Well, it helps our budget too since we have a much lower income now. 

Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

© 2012 All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, April 7

Getting Connected Takes Time

First Day of School
After much thought, prayer and reflection, we have sent our oldest daughter, who will be 7 years old in June, back to school. She will not be homeschooled for the next 6 weeks. We found a small private Christian school here that follows the Carden Method of teaching which seems somewhat similar to the Charlotte Mason philosophy. As a 1st grade student, she started March 26, 2012 as one of 14 students in the kindergarten/1st grade class. Next year she may go again where the class is an integrated class of 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade students. I think it is a good way for her to be taught at her developmental stage, not based on her age. She can excel in her strengths and get the assistance she needs for her weaker areas. It sounds awesome in theory. We shall see how it is in practice. I think we are doing what is best for her now. So far, she loves going.
Our children have to learn to share, take turns, wait for what they want and realize that other people have needs and moods, too. We felt we were failing at providing those lessons homeschooling our oldest. This daughter of ours has some mental health issues and learning abilities that have made her a challenging child for me to parent, let alone teach. She needs structure, discipline, and role models to facilitate her learning. Our child can't expect always to have people around her who understand her or cater to her every wish.  She is beyond strong willed and like me in many ways. We seem experts at pushing each other’s buttons. She frustrates me and I frustrate her. She drains and depletes our energy as parents. Most of the time, it has little to do with homeschool. In Vegas, we had a babysitter who would come at least once a week and play and do crafts with the children while I did errands and shopping. This allowed me enough time to recharge. Now our daughter is watching too much television and doing too many video and computer games so that we can try to regroup and recharge.

When we lived in Vegas, we had a great support system that made life as parents of a challenging child manageable. She had friends she could model and I had friends that listened. We had resources that supported us as parents and homeschooling. There was a homeschool gymnastics program that was a reasonable cost. There was ballet, roller skating, ice skating, regular and consistent park days. There were field trips at least monthly, if not more. There were choices and plenty of times we could get out of the house to learn along with other students and parents. The homeschool community in Vegas is phenomenal. We didn’t realize how awesome it was until we came somewhere that is not as unified a community. There are individuals (like Elissa Wahl), churches and groups in Vegas that have made it their mission to reach out and support parents as homeschoolers. It was never easy teaching my oldest daughter as a parent, but she learned and I stayed sane. There was relative peace in the home.

There was no peace here.  Everything was becoming more and more of a struggle. Little to nothing was being accomplished. We were not functioning well as a family. We felt like failures as parents despite prayers and our best effort. Adding schooling onto being responsible and loving parents was not happening. Even with my husband being home and available to assist in anything we needed, it hadn’t gotten any better. In fact, I think it got worse.  We barely could get through a dinner devotion. 14 hours a day of trying to be patient, calm and collected while our child of chaos raged about us became too much. Tensions were high and the explosions were the only consistent things. If we didn’t have therapy (PT and psychotherapy) twice a week, I think I would be in a straight jacket.

It really isn’t about schooling so much as it is that we want to be better parents all around. We feel we cannot be the loving role models and parents our children need 24/7 with little to no breaks. Our energy was drained and depleted after just a few hours each day. Now with her being away at school we are only dealing with 4-5 hours of some chaotic behavior during the week. It has been refreshing. I deeply admire those parents who live with children with autism and other abilities. We are still trying to figure out how to do it all. We hope to be ‘good enough’ parents, helping each of our children to fully develop into the person God intended them to be.

I am still homeschooling my youngest, a kindergartner. I will be able to reach out to more homeschoolers and friends over the coming months to establish the support system we need. I'm learning again that it takes time to establish relationships in a community and having our daughter in a good school for now really helps. 

Saturday, March 24

We Maybe On Hoarders Soon

We still are not moved into this house to the level I would like. In fact when I look at certain areas of our home, I think, “This is how hoarders start.” It usually takes us 3-4 months to move into a place. Back in January I posted that we were 75% there. Well it hasn't changed. You would think that after 14 moves in 20 years we would have it down to a system. We do not. I swear it is more chaos each time because we keep adding people and lots of things each time. The goal is for there not to be a single box in the house that isn’t put away for storage or in a closet serving some purpose. The next goal is for at least one car in the garage, if not both. We usually have both cars parked in the garage by the 1st year. 

Corner of 1 Bedroom
Today, I conquered more of the kid’s clothes. I swear it is a weekly battle. I put all the winter clothes in storage bins. I put Spring/Summer outfits together for my youngest. Her sense of style and mine are not compatible. She will wear what she likes and the top and bottom don’t have to even come close to resembling a match. It goes against who I am and it is not the one thing I can compromise.  So she can pick whatever outfit she wants out of the vast array of choices matched up in her closet. I have saved all those hangers to make it possible to keep a two piece outfit together. She now has 21 outfits hanging in her closet. I did leave some odd shirts in her dresser drawers along with some very neutral bottoms that could make any combination of ensembles. It didn’t make sense to have empty dresser drawers. Underwear, socks and PJs only take up so much room.
Corner of a 2nd Bedroom

My oldest also has at least 25 different outfits she can coordinate on her own hanging in her closet or in her dresser drawers. I still need to go through all their socks. Although they have 10 inches in height difference, they are only 1 shoe size away from each other. There are still socks in their dresser that they wore 4 shoe sizes ago. I think I will look up what crafts we can do this week with old socks.

I have got to make some time later today for going through all my clothes and shoes. Access to the correct season of clothes and shoes would be an improvement. I really don’t need my fleece in my dresser drawers and boots out front in my closet. I have been hesitating to make the switch because I haven’t found time to get a pedicure. I need a pedicure so I can start wearing my slides and sandals which are still in a box.  I can’t wear capris until I can wear my slides and sandals. It is a ridiculous predicament. The start of Spring for me is a pedicure and I just haven’t found the time to go. I’m thinking it needs to be a priority this week.
How embarrasing. I have some work to do today!
If I get my clothes sorted through along with my dresser and closet cleared out, then I can get rid of more boxes.  Sigh… I must have a serious shopping problem, otherwise how do I accumulate all this stuff? It will be good to purge all my larger sizes too. It will reinforce that I can never go back.

Hopefully the garage won't look like this much longer.
Now, maybe next weekend, before it gets to hot my husband and I can tackle the garage. Speaking of tackle, I need to run up stairs a few more time, I had a Kit Kat last night while watching a movie.