Saturday, December 12, 2009

Winter Promise Fun!

This year we are using a literature based program called WinterPromise, we are really enjoying all the rich books we are reading. The kids will beg me to read another chapter over and over, and I must admit that I enjoy the stories as much as the children!!
Along with the books there is a timeline that is done notebooking style, crafts (usually several each week to choose from) and various other hands-on projects. Above the children made little pouches decorated with their own designs.
Here is Madelyn's 3D map of Jamestown.

The kids made leather pouches similar to those the native Americans would have stored items in. Madelyn had to make hers a purse!

Well I don't believe I will ever be able catch up on our advent progress!! The computer being gone for a week has just put me too much behind! So i think I will just have to update a much as I can!
If you are on my facebook you already have seen the pics of Madelyn. She played a munchkin in the hip-hop version of The Wizard of Oz......Oz the Musical! It was a hilarious musical, if it is coming to a city near you...go see it!! So with the show over and no more practices...we will have a bit more time to finish up our Christmas activities!!
One day with our advent activities we made Christmas cards for the family.

Another days craft was making tissue paper votive holders. Lincoln was even able to participate in this activity very easily, so I encourage you to try this one with even your littlest tykes!!
I bought these little glass containers at Hobby Lobby for 99 cents. They were with the candle making supplies. Cut up tissue paper squares and any other designs for instance if there are snowmen on your tissue paper cut them out for an actual design. Pour glue on a paper plate and add water. They paint the glass with glue, add tissue, cover with glue...repeat. Coat it really well when complete.

One Year Ago Today....

was one of the saddest days of our lives. It was the first court date we had for the boys in Ethiopia. We received an email at about 8am saying we had not passed, and it had been rescheduled for Januaury. While we knew it was a possibility to not pass court the first time it was still so heartbreaking.
To know your boys need your arms to hold them, to know your boys need your hands to wipe their tears, to know your boys need your food to fill their tummies, to know your boys need a warm bed, to know your boys need a bath...their first bath, to know your boys are a continent away and there is NOTHING you can do about it.....and worse than that a single sheet of paper is what stands in the way of giving them all of those things. It is the saddest, emptiest, helpless, brokenest I have ever felt.

I write this a year later. Our boys are home. They have full bellies. They love their bath time! They have lots of arms to hold them and hands to wipe away tears. The waiting time now seems like a faint dream. It seems like these boys have been here since the day they were born.
I hope if you are in the process you will be encouraged that during the hardest times in this process you will grow closer to your spouse and most of all closer to your Lord!
They WILL come home and there even be days you dread making another meal and giving another bath.....and that is when the wait will seem like a distant memory!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Day 4

Today we totally skipped our advent activities today because it was a full,full day!
After our school work we headed to the United Ministries for a service project.
Carson helped out in the food pantry stocking shelves.
The littles went downstairs and sang Christmas carols to the residents in the adult day care. Then they made crafts with the residents and helped decorate the Christmas trees.

The older kids went to church for kids night in. They played games, ate pizza and made a ton of crafts!

Advent Day 3

So sorry these are so late...we had a lovely computer crash last week!!

We attended our co-op Christmas party in the afternoon and the kiddos made a couple ornaments each and decorated and ate a cookie! Next we moved on to Christmas carols and games!
(pictures to come...)

At home for advent we made a blessings container (decorated oatmeal container). We each put in a slip of paper with how God has blessed our family. It was awesome to hear Carson say God blessed us by giving us Camden and Lincoln, Annie and Maddie said each other, Camden broke my heart when he said "My Bikea and my grandpa in Africa" (his Bikea is his birth mom).

Bible verses: Isaiah 42:1,5,6 Isaiah 60:1-3,19-22
Word to know: Light
Music, craft, family activity: Co-op Christmas party & blessings container

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ethiopian Ornaments....

I LOVE finding items with Africa especially Ethiopia on them....I also LOVE,LOVE personalized items.....but do you know what I love even more than those two ?!?!?
Helping a family bring home two little ones from Ethiopia!!!
Check out these precious ornaments that friends of ours are handpainting to raise money for their adoption! You can check out their blog here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Day 2

Day 2:
Reflection: Jesus is the Light of the World: What does this mean to you? John 8:12
How can be we be lights?
Activity: Help mommy hang lights around the house.
Read Bible Verses: Isaiah 11:1-5, Jeremiah 23:5-6, Isaiah 53:1-6
Word to Know: Righteousness
Books-Several Christmas stories
Music-Choir practice for Christmas program

Countdown to Christmas Day 1

Yesterday we began our advent activities. I pulled activities from several sources and the kids are really enjoying this part of our day. It is adding a good hour to our school day, but is so worth it! I pulled most of these ideas from Marcy, she is always a wealth of information so stop by her blog today! I am pairing parts of her list with a fun little book called Keeping CHRIST in Christmas for Kids by Donna and Nick Medendorp. Last but not least I ordered the Symbols of Christmas from Hands of a Child.

Day 1:
Activity: Making our advent countdown tree with green paint and kids hands! They always love paint on the hands! Each day we wil cover up each hand with an ornament, so by Christmas we will have a decorated tree!!
Reflection: Discussed "What is everlasting life?"
John 6:47 1Peter 2:24 John 3:16
Read Bible verses: Psalm 62 1-5, Isaiah 26:3, Isaiah 40:28-31, Hebrews 10:23
Word To Know: prophecy
Family Gift: Veggie Tales St.Nick

Carson puts the tree on day 1!
Lincoln was evidently quite bored with our activities!!

The "littles" watching the Veggie Tales St.Nick video. Funny thing is Carson originally said he was too old for this movie and has now watched it 3 times! The kids are so sad that St.Nicks parents died....they will not stop talking about it. It has really opened up good questions for the holidays. I asked Madelyn if she could tell me why the story of St. Nick and the giving of gifts are are all around the same time as Jesus' birthday. She answered with "Because when God sent his Son he sent us a gift, it was a perfect gift.We can't give perfect gifts, but we can still give the best gifts we can and that makes God happy!"
I loved her answer !

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

All She Wants For Christmas Is Her Two Front Teeth

Madelyn's other front tooth was knocked out when she was only 2, (trying to trapeze on her canopy bed!). Four years later she has finally lost the other one! It was wiggling for days. Mommy absolutely cannot stand a loose tooth, I want to pull them or wiggle them or tie string on them. Carson is such a sissy he never lets me have much fun, I eventually put him in a headlock and yank them! Well Madelyn is such a trooper she let me try everything! She has pulled all of her other teeth herslef so I thought it was daddy's turn, so Madelyn let him and boom it was gone!
I logged onto Utube and showed her some videos of the "All I Want For Christmas...." and so then she sang it for Paul and I we were rolling...the line "sither Shusy thitting on a thisle"...LOVE IT!!

Week in Chicago!

Daddy's friend Mike that he grew up with is in the military and is stationed in Japan. He was home for a visit so we headed up to Chicago to visit with him. Pauls sister still lives there so we also squeezed in a visit with the fam!! We spent one day with the friends (no pics ) having lots of fun eating and playing Pictionary (GIRLS RULE!!). We always have a blast with Pet and Mandy, Mike and Natalie and the 9 kiddos!! Too bad we are not closer to Chicago...or Japan!!
We spent one day in the city at the Shedd aquarium (now Camden wants a dolphin for Christmas!) and we spent lots of time eating all of daddy's favorite foods from the city!!

Camden's First Haircut!

The hair! Paul and I said before the boys were even home that we would let their hair be longer or I guess the appropriate term would be a "fro"! We love it and we think it is precious. Lincoln has a good curl and is doing really well...Cam's on the other hand...not so much! His curls are different and it was more boxy than Linc's. Carson recently got a cut and Camden has been asking for a cut, so it was time!!
His first American haircut!!
I wonder what the process has been like in the orphanage because he did very well, but at the same time was a bit timid and nervous (not a normal trait of Camdens!!).
We had been told about an African barber shop in J-town, so we headed out! As I peeked in the door I got the weird look from all of the men waiting like "lady your in the wrong spot"! So I go in and snuggle my white self among all the black men waiting annd black barbers. Who I am sure were all just giggling inside!! When Camden's turn came he jumped up into the seat.
With his big knotted up afro getting bigger and bigger as the barber picked it out, I was sinking lower and lower into my seat! So then I figured I would cut some of the tension as I announce to the entire shop "I am pulling the mommy card and taking out my camera because this is his first haricut". At that point I started taking pictures and had small talk with a couple of the men...wheww tensions relieved!!
Back to Camden...he did great, sat as still as a mouse. When it was over he ran to me and held me for dear life, so I think he was more nervous than he was letting on! He loves his new cut and is showing everyone, telling them "I no cry when my hair cut little"!!
So withour further!

He looks older in these pictures, but in person he looks about 1 year younger!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mommy/Annastyn/Camden Date Night

With the cold weather that hit us we had to head to The Mall to my favorite store...Children's Place. It was mostly Annie that needed to try on the pants so I decided to make it a date night for us. Then my sweetie pie inssited that Camden join we had a triple date!
We spent the first couple of hours in the store and then we headed to get "chicken and fries". The lady at the counter asked if they were both mine with a weird expression, I think she even surprised herself because she then ran over and handed each of the kids a stuffed cow!!
On the way out of the mall we stopped by a photo booth and the kids hammed it up for some precious pics! It was a great night of fun, laughter and comments like " You are the best big brother in the world!" and " we need to hold hands Camden and skip like this..." and "Annie is my family in America" times I tell ya!!
I do want to point out that it is a great testament to the good that comes out of "twining" through adoption. They are becoming closer every day!

Here is pic of Annie and I before we left! photograph by Camden
Here is Camden and myself. Photograph by Annastyn

The kids dancing! Photograph by mommy

In their matching tee-s that I bought last January!! Linc has one that says "Little Brother"!!

The ever powerful hugs...part love, part meanies!!! hehe

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sorry guys I have tried and tried to upload pics with no luck.
So when I have pics I might have words too!! hehe

Wednesday, August 26, 2009, fun, fun!!

I guess it is that time again, to explore the world of vaccines! I stopped vaccines when Annie was about 1 year old. I just had a gut instinct about those 18 month shots and just stopped..cold turkey on all the kids. I have researched SO much about these shots. The hardest part of this information gathering process is that when you look at information the positions are extremely left or right and nearly nothing in the middle. I feel like I am in the middle or at least the 60/40 mark. I think some of the older vaccines that have been around for years are important to get and are worth the risk....I feel like some are just silly (why get a vaccine that can cause death rather than the Z-pack to treat the illness)...and then I think some are down right dangerous and too new to administer.
I also think that our children are "recommended" triple what we got as children, meanwhile cases of ADD, ADHD, allergies, asthma, SIDS, Shaken baby, learning disorders etc seem to have tripled...ironic huh! So you might find the occasional post on a vaccines....because now that the adoption is over...I may have to time to dwelve into this area again!
I do not want any haters please ..however if you have had experiences on either side please share. EX. Your child was helped from a vaccine or contracted the disease through the vaccine or did not get the vaccine and contracted the disease.
`thanks Bethany :)

Vaccines - Know the Hidden Dangers

by MT from The Bon Bon Gazette

As parents we bring our children into the world and obligate ourselves to protect them. Vaccinations: a necessity to keep your child healthy and to provide immunity against life-threatening illness. Or, so we are taught and are told to believe.

But, could these same vaccines cause our children to be sick, or even die?
Sadly, yes.

I write this from the standpoint of a mother. A mother of a child who has been hurt by the shots that I trusted him to receive at the hand of a respected pediatrician. I was a first time mother who listened to my doctor and didn't ask questions. My son received a total of 8 shots over 2 visits shortly after his first birthday. After returning home from his well-visit where he received a cocktail of shots including the then Thimerosal containing MMR (this was in 2001) he wailed in his Pack 'n Play crib and began to bang his head repeatedly on the top rail. He had never done this before and it scared me. When I lifted him out of the crib he was hot and feverish - the crying did not stop. He had trouble breathing and we took him to the ER where they gave him breathing treatments and told us he had "reactive airway disease" or Asthma. He proceeded on a path of always being sick. He stopped babbling and did not develop speech the way that a child his age should. What happened to the words he already had? We had his hearing tested and it came back fine. My child who had been otherwise healthy, hitting milestones as a baby should - slipped away. He later was diagnosed with PDD-NOS.

My son has Autism. I believe it was triggered by all the shots he received. Too many shots, packed with toxins were too much for his fragile immune system to handle.

Our story is not all that unique. More than hundreds... thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of parents of children with Autism will recount similar histories. The rate of Autism is 1 in 150 children or 1 in 94 boys. In my state (New Jersey) it is 1 in 60 boys and 1 in 94 children. New Jersey also mandates more vaccines than any other state.

But, haven't the studies shown that the MMR is not linked to Autism? Hasn't Thimerosal been removed from vaccines? Depending on who you ask, the answer is Yes or No, or even Maybe. Trace Amounts = Yes.

Sadly, mercury is not the only neurotoxin or "problem" with vaccines.

They may have removed thimerosal (they claim) from vaccines but other neurotoxins (i.e. aluminum) remain [and thimerosal in some still]. The number of vaccines for children has also increased, drastically. In the past when kids got 10 shots, not they get more than 30! With that we have also seen a rise in other auto-immune and neurological related disorders. More children with autism, asthma, severe food allergies, irritable bowel, ADHD, sensory processing disorder, "failure to thrive",.. the list goes on. More infant deaths than ever from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and SBS (shaken baby syndrome).

Related to Vaccines? I say, Yes.

Before you do any vaccinating, do your homework.

Educate yourself on the risks and hidden dangers

What I am saying is this:

Vaccines are not without risks. Kids are getting sick, hurt, and even dying. My personal stance is not anti-vaccination. I believe in vaccination choice. The right for parents to decide whether to vaccinate or not, all/none/or some.

Educate before you Vaccinate.

This is America, there should be no forced vaccination here.

To learn more about the author and vaccines visit The Bon Bon Gazette

I have to thank Mary Tara for taking the time to put this together for my blog, and here's a little more of her story....

So, for all of us who may not know, tell us a little about what autism is exactly.
Autism is a neuro-developmental disability that affects 1 in 150 children. It is a spectrum disorder meaning the symptoms and characteristics present themselves in a variety of ways ranging from mild to more severe. Diagnoses on the Autism spectrum include: Autistic Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder- NOS (not otherwise specified), Aspergers Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, and childhood disintegrative disorder. Characteristics of someone with autism often include: difficulty in communicating, poor eye contact, self-stimulating (ex. flapping or spinning), sensory processing issues. However, it is important to know that Autism is not a "one size fits all" disorder - it is exactly the opposite from that. Two children with the same diagnosis may behave and function completely opposite from each other.

So when was it that you realized that the problems your son was experiencing were a result of the vaccine?
My son was developing typically until he received shots after his 1st year well visit. He got very ill after receiving the shots and then proceeded to miss milestones (he even lost the language he did have). I asked my doctor if his illness was related to his shots, of course they told me no. By 2 years old when he was clearly not hitting the milestones he should have we had him in Early Intervention services receiving therapy. I tried to believe what the doctors told me - that it wasn't related to shots, but the more and more I talked to other parents and did research for myself I could see that my gut was correct.

Tell us what was going through your head when you realized this.
Anger, Guilt, Blame. I was mad that my son wasn't getting the childhood that I envisioned and would likely not have the future we would have hoped for him. I blamed the doctor, the shots, and myself. I was packed with guilt for letting them poison my son and hurt his brain.
I felt it was my fault. It made me depressed but at the same time I knew that I needed to snap out of it, get over it, and get to helping my son. I couldn't and wouldn't sit around and have a pity party for myself because that would get my son nowhere.

So what did you do from there?
I don't even really remember those months after the diagnosis. It truly is a blur. I think like most mothers when their child gets diagnosed - I proceeded fast forward in every direction to make sure that my son had every therapy service in place for school and home. We had a lot of doctor's appointments and therapy sessions. My door was a revolving door of therapists coming to help Alex and I remember thinking during that time about how I'd completely lost any sense of privacy for myself but that privacy was no longer my priority. My priority is/was my child.

So, from your research, what have you concluded is a possible reason for some kids' negative reactions to the vaccines and not for others? I subscribe to the belief that genetics pre-loads the gun and environment pulls the trigger. I believe my son's immune system was not great and he got too many shots that were loaded up with too many toxins for his brain and body to handle. In the Hannah Poling case, they were able to show that her Autism developed after receiving shots which "aggravated a pre-existing mitochondrial condition".

And what lifestlye changes has your family made to help your son's autism? The biggest thing we have done is to put my son onto a special gluten and casein free diet - essentially no wheat and no dairy. You may have heard about it from Jenny McCarthy, but parents with autistic children have been 'onto' this diet for years. It doesn't work for all kids with autism, and there is a alot of debate in the community about it. It also takes a lot of commitment and can be costly - not every can do it but I am a firm believer in giving it a try. I struggled with doing the diet in the past too but when my son was 6, we were able to put him fully onto the diet. Everyone noticed a change in him immediately - relatives, teachers, neighbors. I don't need any convincing now about the gfcf diet, it has made a huge difference in my son's life. Looking at cleaning up his diet and what that did - it made me pursue a greener approach for the entire family. I try to get organic foods as much as possible and use household products that are non-toxic. I'm very mindful about what goes into my kids bodies.

Do you have hope that your son will ever be cured? I have hope that my son will live a happy, healthy, rewarding life. I do not believe that he will be "cured", there isn't a "cookie-cutter" cure for Autism, though I do know many people who have been able to reverse Autism though DAN! protocol (biomedical practices).

Hello Kittie Mama shares the joys and struggles of her life at The Bon Bon Gazette.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It is about that time......

So this year we are trying a new curriculum....we have always used a literature approach to learning. I love this method of learning, the children actually digging into stories to learn about topics. The past two years we used Five in a Row and used for lit units using classic childrens books. While I have loved using these, there is alot of work that goes into organizing the year, finding the book, printing the goodies for the lessons etc.
Knowing this year was going to be a bit different with 5 kiddos in the classroom and the fact that Carson is getting older and needs a bit more "beef"....I decided to find a lit based curriculum that is laid out day by day for me!

I have decided on Winter Promise and the themed unit we have chosen is Amercian Story 1. This will cover our geography, history, social studies, Bible and reading. We have chosen our own grammar, spelling, math and science to add to it.

I am very excited to try this method of opening a binder and doing todays blocked off activities. The other great thing is that it is a 4 day a week curriculum so that leaves meour extra day for co-op!! So I will let you guys know how it goes later this fall!

Our other curriculum choices for 09/10 are:
Grammar-First Language Lessons
Handwriting- Handwriting without Tears
Art- How Great Thou Art
Science-Apologia Astronomy
(Co-op classes will be Apologia Astronomy, karate, Sign Language, Little House)

Madelyn (1st)-
Grammar-First Language Lessons
Math - MAth-U-See
HAndwriting - Handwriting without Tears
Art-How Great Thou Art
Science - Apologia Astronomy
Phonics - Explode the Code
Reading - 100 Lessons
Spelling - Dolch SIght Words
(Co-op classes karate, sign language, Animals in Their Worlds, PE)

Annie 4 years old
MISC. - ABC units
Rod & Staff K program
Handwriting without Tears

Handwriting without Tears
ABC Units

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Product Review!

I am excited to share with everyone a great new family owned business. The Clark family has developed a great site where they share inspiration, ideas, organizational tips and more! You can access it here! One of the first products they are offering are file folder games. My family was able to try these products and we LOVE them!

Okay, lets start with why before these products I steered away from file folder games. I had been introduced the the "old school" black and white reproducibles. So the process went a bit like this...make copies....color pages....cut laminate....cut again....well that process gets VERY lengthy around the coloring stage!! So until the Integritas file folder games we only had 3 of the others that were ever completed!!! My other problem was that ALL of the games in that book were for children of one particular age. We know that in homeschooling or even as parents working with children after school that we need multiple age/level games.

So why do I LOVE these file folder games???
1.)Very cute designs...all of the artwork is hand drawn by the creator...a past art teacher!
2.)Interesting ideas...some are board game style, some are matching, etc...each.
3.)They are already colored for you!!! And it gets better! They are colored in a light watercolor effect so when you print them it doesn't feel like you are emptying your print cartridge!!
4.) If you have a concept that your child needs help with or simply enjoys can request a special designed folder made just for your needs!!! For instance a friends son needed help with multiplication and loves football....and he now has a Touchdown Multiplication file folder game!

We decided to spend an afternoon at the park and I pulled over one child at a time to do the file folder game for his/her level. This was a great idea by the way because the other children were more than busy playing so we got one on one time!

Here is Lincoln (2 years) just playing with the Seasons Change file folder....he is not there quite yet!
Annie is the one who tried out the Seasons Change game for "real". She loved it! You dress up the fox in the clothing for each she enjoyed putting on his raincoat and hat and putting an umbrella in his hand..picture paperdolls that teach!!

If you sign up for the email newsletter you can receive a file folder game for FREE!!
Oh and did I mention that the games are very reasonable and can be delivered directly to your email or you can purchase the entire collection for one one low price all on a CD!!?
Stay tuned for the reviews of the other games coming soon!

FYI:I did laminate our folders and the pieces at our local teacher resource center so they are more durable.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

10 months ago....

..... Susan (our adoption agent) emailed these pictures to us! I cannot even remember my feelings that day! I will say it is now weird to look at pictures of the boys "there"....because it feels like they have always been "here". I promise you if are considering adoption or are on the adoption road but still a bit unsure of how the feelings will work out..that God has that taken care of! I truly believe he puts a feeling in your heart for "your" child...just the same as when you give birth and look into their eyes and know they are yours.

I do specifically remember looking at Yishake in this picture and thinking he looks like Paul...short, big forehead and curly hair!!!LOL I also remember that sneaky little grin on his face and thinking "Oh yeah he is a Maynard!!".
Wow..only 10 months ago!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Holiday World

Little Lincoln was afraid of most everything in the "world" pun intended!!hehe
He made it on the antique cars and the little canoe ride and that was about it! He was even afraid of cotton candy!! But I guess you can tell by this picture below that he does like ice cream! He had it under his neck, in his hair...ugh !! (I chuckle thinking what Kate of Jon & Kate would have done hehe!!) He had it so long that the cone was a elastic-ish substance! He kept shoving it in and gagging, until I explained to him we could throw it away and he smiled really big! Carson acting silly!
Wildly enough the boys were not afraid of good ole' Santa...they bear hugged him. Looks like if we visit Disney again we have 2 moe character hogs!!

Carson and Madelyn plan our route through the park!

I am so old because taking these pics makes me nauseous and can you believe little ol' Maddee is just hanging out with her hands in the air!?!

Oops just noticed the half dressed woman in the background...but I love this pic of Maddee in mid jump!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The School Room

If you can only imagine...the school room is usually not very presentable from August through May!!! So here is a quick shot of a neat and tidy school room! Below is the cluttered but organized closet! Here is our little reading area. This area is usually used by Annie when she is done with her school work but wants to stay with us in the room.

These are my lovely shelves from Target! The top little cubbies have all of my FIAR books in groups, BFIAR, FIAR vol 1, vol2 makes them very easy to locate!

The black wall is chalkboard paint..I love it! We school together at the table but the little desk is great for sending one of the children off for independent work. I love my solar system mobile from Pottery will be great for our Apologia Astronomy we are studying this year! I also have a small childrens table that has the mini tv on it for Math-U-See for the older two.

Want to see more schoolrooms?? Visit the Sweetman Schoolhouse or the C-family Classroom or how about the Britt Classroom!?! So let's see your rooms!!!