Babies and Bugs

Standard

So we were able to finish up our third week of homeschool on Friday!  We usually won’t do school on Fridays, but Monday had us away from home for ophthalmologist’s appointments, so we had a make-up day yesterday.  The flexibility that homeschool affords is so nice.  But I will say that the structure it creates is amazing as well.  This is just what we needed.  Less time is wasted, more time is spent together.  There is an incredible level of intentional parenting going on.  I am learning to play and interact more.  We are connecting better.  Attitudes are seeming to be better at times ( although one child is coming to terms with all the changes, and that’s been dicey a few moments).  I know that everybody has their own opinions, and different things work for different families.  But this homeschool business seems to really be for us so far.

I have had to make a few changes.    I was using The Big Picture Bible Timeline for L&S, but it seems to work better for us, if they follow the same schedule as Andi, sans worksheets.  They can still do some of the activities that Andi does (like make a Creation mural), but I found that TBPBT just wasn’t necessary for us.  Also, I had prepared to use Apologia Zoology 1 for our science curriculum.  It didn’t work for us at all.  I was a bit bummed about it, because it is a great curriculum, and I was pretty excited to use it, but it was too much.  I don’t think my four and five year old can grasp lift and drag, or binomial nomenclature.  So we quit.  And now I am so super excited!  I decided to conduct an insect unit with the kids instead.  My kids love finding critters of all sorts.  We can’t walk from the door to the van without somebody looking for roly poly bugs.  So a friend has lent me some Abeka insect cards, another has allowed me to borrow a few insect books, I have pinned like a crazy person on Pinterest, I will get some more books, and I am putting together my own insect study.  I want to do a general insect study for a week or two, then break it down into ants (ANT FARM!), butterflies, grasshoppers, something that I haven’t decided on yet, and spiders (and why they’re NOT insects).  The kids are stoked!

On another note:  The weather was gorgeous today.  Today gave us a fall preview.  I know it will get hot again soon, but today was fall.  It was windy, cool, and overcast.  Perfect.  We spent all day outside doing yard work and catching critters.  All in all, we caught an estimated gazillion millipedes, 3 frogs, one very well camouflaged caterpillar (that somehow escaped….unless his camouflage is better than I think), a giant grasshopper, a mysterious bug,  three snails, a small grasshopper, and a cricket.    Then we bought crickets for the frogs to eat.

Watching the joy in my kids today brought tears to my eyes.  I am so grateful for all that I have.  The lawn mower and a thousand other things are broken, but none of that matters.  What matters is seeing my son throw handfuls of grass into the air exclaiming, “This is the best day ever!” and making clipped grass angels in the backyard.  What matters, is seeing my other son walk in the grass by himself, walk on the trampoline, and walk across the rough patch of cement…none of which he could do before today.  What matters is hearing my daughter read to me about the United States presidents’ pets.  What matters is hearing my other daughter squeal and giggle about the 3 inch long caterpillar inch-worming his way up her arm.

Before Sawyer, Caleb and I went back into the house later in the evening, we stopped to play just a little more.  We have a persimmon tree.  Only thing is–persimmons are nasty.  So what do we do with them? Hit them with a baseball bat, of course! Actually Caleb has a thing with hitting stuff with a baseball bat. He let me have a turn, and now I understand why.  Nothing is more therapeutic or satisfying then when you connect your bat to a piece of fruit, and it is utterly obliterated!  And what’s even better….according to Sawyer, every time I hit one, I got a hundred points!  At one point I had a few hundred points, and Caleb only had a couple of points.  Then Sawyer started deducting Caleb’s for various reasons! When Caleb protested Sawyer replied, “Tough luck, kid.”  He also said that each time someone missed the ball….well, fruit actually.  He tried to hit a persimmon a few times, but the bat is way too big for him.  But he pitched quite a few.  He did well.  Sawyer always amazes me at how well he can throw.  Maybe baseball is in his future.  I tried to enroll him into “soccer ball”, as he calls it, but we missed sign ups by 3 days.  I was worried he would be upset, but he said it was OK, because he really wanted to play basketball instead.

I enjoy my kids so stinkin’ much.  Even when I drag them to the grocery store at bedtime for groceries.  Each time I put an item in the buggy, Lilly scanned it and told me how much I owed her.  At one point, I had to give her three dollars, and I received $100 back in change.  I really like doing business with her.  And from an education stand point, she pretend counted my change each time.

I am amazed at my kids’ progress in the past three weeks.  We have emerging readers in the house!  And the two youngest are also doing so well with their other subjects.  Andi is impressively remembering things, and she is breezing through most of her curriculum because it is review for her at this point.  I can’t wait to move past that stage and give her a little challenge.

 

First Day of Home School and a Boden Update

Standard

group 2

Well we survived the first day of home school!  Everyone was in a good mood for the most part.  Now Andi is finishing up her English assignment while the little ones nap.

It went well today, but we have a few wrinkles to iron out.  I am still not sure what Andi should be doing while the little ones are doing things with me, and vice versa.  But everyone loved the work, which included, worksheets, morning meeting, memory verse, catechism, Bible study, English, spelling, math–with towers, numbered jumping jacks, numbered spins in the spinny chair, and numbered laps around the house!, reading, coloring and more.  It was good. I think they think I overhyped it a smidge.  Andi is currently alternating being super excited about home school, and super bummed about missing friends at public school. So all you local home school readers…..Wanna have play dates sometime?Andi 3Lilly KSawyer K

I have had a few people ask what we are doing for Boden’s education.  The truth is, we didn’t know what to for a long time.  Today he did some activities on his level–putting blocks into his giraffe toy, playing with his turtle mirror, and he listened to our Bible story.  I was going to start teaching him his colors today with bandanas, but apparently those have scattered to the four winds, never to be seen again.  I will have to buy some more soon.  They have them at Hobby Lobby for about .89 each.  My thought is that I should be able to ask him to find a color, and he will be able to pick the color out of the laid out bandanas.  As far as education goes….He will be going to school. GASP! It sounds harsh to send him and keep the others at home, but I am trying to approach the kids’ education on a child-by-child basis.  Boden was an orphan for 12 1/2 years.  I am so scared to send him to school.  However, our school district has a wonderful special needs/life skills educational co-op with the next town, and I think this solution will work for us.  We should be able to get him in school for only half a day each day. That way he is home the majority of the time to still work on attachment (which is going great!), learn how to be in a family, and learn things that pertain to our family life.  I can’t have him gone eight hours a day.  It wouldn’t work for teaching him and attaching with him, and he just doesn’t have the stamina to put up with a 40 hour week. At least 8 of the 12 years he wasn’t with us was spent with absolutely no stimulation or education or playing or toys or walking at all….that does something to a person.  He is very fast and easily overwhelmed.  Also, he will be receiving PT, OT, and Speech therapy while is at school.  I am so relieved!  We were doing therapy multiple times a week, but the closest place to us was an hour away.  It ran our lives for us. SO this program seems like a great solution.  We are waiting for evaluations =)

BodenBoden2OK this is a combo-post.  So the other thing I wanted to mention was Boden.  He has been home for 9 months and 5 days.  He is growing a lot (Has went up 1.5 shoe sizes, has gained 16 pounds, and grown 3 or 4 inches), he is doing great, and is making tons of progress.  In the mornings, he opens the pantry, brings me the PB for his oatmeal, brings me a banana, throws the peel away, opens and closes the microwave, pushes the start button, opens and closes the microwave when it’s ready, gets me a spoon, and puts the PB up and closes the pantry door and turns the light off. AMAZING! We put him on the potty several times a day, and when he uses it, he likes to flush and close the lid ( that’s better than my bio kids!).  He also hates to chew, but will.  He knows what we are saying for the most part, and follows directions (or chooses not to, thank you very much!).  Boden walks all over the place now.  He paces and practices a lot.  When we first got him home, he had newborn soft and wrinkly feet. Now they have calluses–proof of all that hard work!  He walks with his left leg locked because that knee is out of place, and the orthopedic dr. doesn’t think we can fix it because his patella is misshapen.  Eyes and ears appoinments are coming up.  We have already done a lot of medical work, that I won’t delve into.  After 8 months, he finally decided that he could do patty cake on his own, and he can do signs for “more”, “eat”, “please”, and sometimes “mama”.  He does the motions on his own, but he likes for me to hold his wrists while we do them.  Boden fits into our family so well, it’s like he has always been here.  He loves having a family.  He loves having an Andi as much as he likes having a mama and daddy.  He is starting to follow Lilly and Sawyer around, and he is interested in what they’re doing, but after never playing for 12 years, he still doesn’t know how.  His favorite things are music, vibrations, chocolate, piggy back rides, and currently, Andi’s Skip-it

I guess that’s it. 

A New Adventure

Standard

Tomorrow we finally start a new adventure that I have been tirelessly working on for months now….HOME SCHOOL! 

So here’s the back story: I used to be one of the people who swore they were not equipped with the knowledge or patience enough to educate their children at home.  That home school was never done right…that public school was the only way to go. Hahaha! I think my former self is rolling in my proverbial grave!  Then I thought, “Well, maybe I could do this…but what if I screw my kids up?! What if I don’t know what to do?” So I heard of this amazing home school co-op in our area, and I was instantly convinced that is was the answer I was looking for. Only one little word held us up–policy. The policy at co-op is that a family needs to home school alone for a year if their kids are coming from public school. Oh the humanity! Oh the tears! I think for a couple of days I went through all the stages of grief (how many are there? Like 47?).  What was I to do? Put them in public school and give up because I didn’t have the accountability and support that I thought I needed? Uh no.  Not this mama.  I got over it, realized it wasn’t personal, respected their policy (and hope to try co-op in a few years!).  I also realized that I was looking for a safety net, and was relying on outside help to get me through this new endeavor, when I should have been seeking out God’s plan for us. I am thankful that He shut that door for the time being so that we could move forward. And then realized that there was a lot of Godly home school moms who were veterans at this, and I set to gleaning wisdom from them. One mom that lives across the country from me, that I’ve never actually met, has been invaluable to my experience.( I love my Taylor Tots!!)

Getting so much advice, looking through curriculum, deciding what my home school philosophy (fancy, huh?) should be….was OVER. WHELM. ING.  I fretted, and lost sleep, and cried….But months and several hundred dollars later  I figured out how I want to operate, how my kids learn and function best, and found curriculum. 

Tomorrow is the big day. I am giddy. And a little sick to my stomach! I want to remember all of this, and honestly share with you our victories, hard times, and everything in between.  I don’t know if any of you are interested, but I will be glad to go back and read.  I would love some encouraging comments and nice words.  Criticism, not so much.  I am tired of answering the “Why?” question and trying to defend our decision. We’re home schooling because. That’s the answer I’m giving now =)

So for anyone interested, here’s our curriculum: 
Andi is in third grade, operating at an advanced level.  She will be doing the following:  Saxon Math 4/5, Apologia Exploring Creation with Zoology 1, Phonetic Zoo, Shurley English 2 (but she swears she knows it all already =/), Veritas Genesis through Joshua. For Literature, we are doing a comprehensive study of all the Chronicles of Narnia Books.  For History, we are studying biographies, and are reading through the stack of “Who Was…” biography books.  ( I wanted to survive this year, and felt like adding in a legit history curriculum might have done me in for year one! Andi is third grade and the babies are in K, so I thought this would be an OK thing to do…and it is…because we home school!). We will also be sprinkling in some home making skills and journaling.

Lilly and Sawyer will be in Kindergarten. (Side note: Sawyer is 4.  He is already pretty good at letter recognition/sounds,  CVC words, and number concepts, so I am making it easier on myself and starting him with Lilly, who is 5.  I have found ways to teach him out of the seat, in a hands-on way, and will make allowances for his age and gender.  If there are two math work sheets, he may just do one. I do also understand that he may progress a little slower than Lilly). This is what they’re up to this year:  Saxon K Math,  Apologia Exploring Creation with Zoology 1, The Big Picture Bible Timeline, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons(I hope this goes by quickly, then I would like to use Saxon K Phonics…you got Saxon K Phonics I can buy? Let me know!) They have supplemental worksheets and activities, and their curriculum includes learning great things like calendars, patterns, tangrams, and memory verses and catechism questions and lots more.

 

1896779_10204264400357548_6459396646833682331_n

So that’s it.  I will try to keep you all updated, as I know you are all waiting with bated breath. Pray for us and wish us luck. I hope we survive!!!

5 Months Home

Standard

We have spent the past 5 months (and two days!) with our precious new addition.  Boden “Heath” is doing so well, and is making progress at every turn.  Just since November he has gained 10 pounds, is figuring out drinking from a straw, he is feeding himself (very messily :)), He is taking lots of steps on his own, and is able to focus on things and people so much more than when he got here.  He loves music, bouncing, chocolate, kisses and hugs, being outside, and having a brother and sisters.  I absolutely love getting to know our new son, and discovering his personality as it slowly unfolds.  My firstborn has hit the ground running with her older little brother.  She is amazing, and her heart and compassion never fails to…well, amaze me.  She made the comment a few weeks ago that she could help people like Boden as a job when she is older.  Man, I love that girl.  The youngest two are doing great, too.  They are so close to starting to read, and they soak everything in around them.  I love my kids.  I love watching them, listening to them….seeing their eyelashes, or ringlets….everything about my kids has me absolutely in love.  Everyday I am so thankful to God for his good gifts to me.  I don’t deserve any of it.  None.

We were  hesitant when we started this process.  We didn’t know what the implications would be for our family.  I will say that there have been some tough times the past few months.  We are learning to be Boden’s parents, and he is learning how to be in a family.  But this has been easier than we first believed it would be.  Boden fits right in with us, and we have hit a new normal….a much slower-paced normal, but normal nonetheless =)  Boden was napping the other day, and the three bios were helping with dinner, and it occurred to me that I don’t remember what it was like before he came along.  It kind of makes me want to thumb my nose at the naysayers that were out there….even people who seemed supportive to our face, and went around to everyone else talking like we were crazy.  I could say, “Nana Nana Boo Boo…..we didn’t ‘bite off more than we can chew’, and we are absolutely in love with this sweet boy.” I could say that…but I won’t ;)

Boden has had several trips to different doctors.  His heart is completely normal, all blood tests are normal ( with the exception of slightly low calcium), he had oral surgery today, he is starting PT/OT very soon and speech to follow, among some other things.

We have had big changes, and it set the ball in motion for more possible changes.  If you pray for our family, could you keep us in your prayers?  Change is hard, but sometimes necessary; and there quite a few that we will be making in the near future, Lord willing.

Sorry that I stink so bad at blogging.  And I am sorry there are no pictures. I haven’t figured that out yet, and all my pictures are on my phone.  Just take my word for it–Boden is precious and beautiful…and so are all my other kiddos….and so is my hubby =)

 

Rememberance

Standard

I sit here, trying to write something poetic or eloquent, and I feel like I can’t write anything to do the lost children of Eastern European orphanages any justice. So I guess just bear with me while I barrel my way through this.

There are hundreds of thousands of special needs children given up to the state in Eastern Europe and other countries.  For whatever reason, be it a culture of unnacceptance or genuine fear/concern for their children, parents are handing over their children to be raised in unloving, harsh, animalistic conditions.  At a certain point–usually around age 6–the children that haven’t been adopted are transferred to older institutions and orphanages.  Of those kids, if their disabilities have prevented them from sitting up on their own, they are doomed to a life in a laying down room. 

A laying down room is just what it sounds like.  These babies are sentenced to a life in a crib–if you could call it a life.  Cries are ignored, children lie in their own waste, they are barely fed…..this goes on until their muscles atrophy, their poor bodies stiffen, and they die.  (Conditions are so bad in these rooms, that outsiders are rarely allowed to enter.) They live their whole lives in a crib until they die. Unless they are adopted. Few are.

This brings us to today.  In an Eastern European mental institution, where my son, Boden Heath lives out his days, there was a little boy named Hanson.  Hanson was in a laying down room, and he was lost to this world until he passed away.  His body was likely carried out and buried in a grave at the institution, and it was like he never existed.  But today we remember him. 

An extraordinary man in Canada has advocated for Hanson while Hanson was still alive, donating money, goods for fundraisers, praying for him.  This precious man has put together a High Requiem mass in honor of Hanson.  Not only that, but the other Lost Boys of Heath’s institution are being honored and prayed for as well. 

We were not able to be there, but we remembered these boys here in TX.  We are so grateful that everyone has included Boden Heath in this vigil.  Please remember the kids that are still waiting for families to find them.  I have posted a candle to my Facebook wall, but in this moment, I can’t figure out how to put one on my blog, so I hope this tribute of sorts is enough. 

Please pray that Boden Heath will remain safe as we tirelessly work towards him.  We have received our USCIS (immigration) approval, and it will be sent to his country soon. That’s it. Then we wait for an appointment date to find his file, so we can have permission to visit with him.  We are so close!

Sorry I am such a bad blogger.  Things around here have been crazy busy.  I have a feeling it won’t calm down anytime soon.  Thanks for all your support!

 

Mehgan

Brett

Standard

 

 

This is Brett.  Brett is one of tens of thousands of lost, abandoned, and forgotten children in Eastern Europe.  He has a very special story.  You see, when I say abandoned, I mean he was in every sense of the word abandoned.

When Brett was found the day he was born–August 23, 2001–he was found in a field.  Left to die.  He was found with bug bites covering his entire body, hypothermic, unresponsive, and his tiny newborn body was in shock.  He was taken to the hospital, treated, and he recovered.  The stranger who stumbled across him saved his life.  But saved it for what?

Brett is currently living his life in a mental institution because he has Down Syndrome.  He is spending his days neglected, hungry, and alone…..not too unlike how he was found when he was born.  This can’t be all that there is for him. 

Brett’s life is precious.  All of these orphans’ lives are.  Today we scream at the top of our lungs for someone too look his way and notice him.

There is so much movement on Reece’s Rainbow lately. People are being led to adopt these children. More people are feeling compelled to donate to these childrens’ grants.  Maybe God saved Brett for such a time as this.  Maybe it is his time to be found.  To be noticed.  To be brought home.

Maybe he was saved for you.

Brett needs a home.  He needs money in his grant.  Maybe a family isn’t stepping forward for him because the financial aspect of adopting is so daunting.  Right now he has a grant of over $2500.  The Reece’s Rainbow community is so awesome, that the money will come.  Don’t let the money be a deterrent.

Brett can communicate non verbally, he is flexible, and doesn’t seem to be aggressive.  He would make a loving, wonderful son. 

If he doesn’t find a home, Brett will live out his days in a warehouse built for boys, and then he will die the same way he came into this world–alone. 

Pray for Brett. Donate to Brett’s grant on Reece’s Rainbow.  Look at Brett and remember him as you go about your daily life.  Open your home and heart  to Brett. 

http://reecesrainbow.org/1146/brett-b-396

 

 

Moving Along

Standard

For those of you watching and following our journey, we have had some progress lately!

Last weekend we held a garage sale, and were able to raise over $800! I just want to give a huge THANK YOU to those of you who donated items to us, and those who came to shop.  I have also been working on seven foot rulers that I sell as growth charts. I ended up having 9 orders for those, and I’m putting one in an auction.

PROGRESS:  Last week I was able to wire my money to the RR  facilitation team.  This week we have started our online adoption training, my draft for my home study will be submitted, I have gotten proof of mortgage/homeownership, our copies of marriage licenses, and got my car inspected (not that I need that for my adoption, but it’s progress!).  I also got my first 8 forms notorized and apostilled, and they are headed to Eastern Europe at the end of the week!!!

Thursday we are going to apply for our passports. I was going to do that last Thursday, but I have a gigantic fever blister on my lip. It’s still there, but I am trying not to be too vain because I really need to get it done.  On a side note, when I had my C-sections with all three of my biological kiddos, I got fever blisters each and every time.  I told Caleb I knew Heath was mine, because he was giving me fever blisters too! haha

I am wondering though, if anybody struggles with the same feelings that I do.  Feel free to let me know if you do, so I don’t feel like a nut!

I want to spend every wakeful minute working on the adoption, and probably could because there’s so much to do. But I’m a full time mom to three and a house keeper.  At the moment, I feel like I’m neglectful of my kids, and my house is a wreck! I am pulled so many directions, that there are times when I just sit down and cry for a minute.  I did stop yesterday and play outside and ride bikes with the kids.  It was so refreshing.  I guess I’m not sure exactly where my main priority is or should be.  Heath is my kid, too, and I need to do everything in my power to bring him home. We’re working through it, and we’ll all be OK.

I will say this. The online adoption training is making me anxious. Thanks a lot, social worker, for making us do it even though our country doesn’t require it! At age twelve, apparently the brain prunes itself, and that has me concerned that Heath is going to be harder to break through to.  Has his brain lost all the connections that it needs to connect with us and new experiences? Please pray for my poor baby and that his mind will be ready to handle us and his big changes, and that we will be there before too much longer.

Also pray for Caleb and me.  We have always and still do have such an incredible, extraordinary relationship. We are fiercely devoted to each other, and loving each other has always been easy.  I am constantly conscious of amount of love I have for him, and it never ceases to amaze me.  And I see that love for me reflected in his honey colored eyes (he looks at me differently than everyone else.).  When we started this process, our friends–who are in country now–advised us to not lose each other through all the paperwork and red tape.  I halfway thought he was crazy, but I understand now. With our three kids, housework, the broken lawnmower, and his long crazy hours, I feel like I don’t see much of him. We miss each other. And there are times when he is home, and we’re not busy,  that I am so stressed out, that I find my self biting his head off about silly things, or we just pass smooth out–haha!  Pray that we don’t lose each other….and maybe that we can have a date night before too long =)  We are still us. We are still good. We are just caught in a whirlwind.

Thank you all for your prayers. Thank you for loving our Heath, and thank you for loving us.  It is so amazing at the support system that we have through RR. All of you mean so much to me.  Y’all are a special kind of people.

Mehgan