Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thanksgiving Fun for Preschool!

When homeschooling with preschoolers and toddlers I have found that you have to keep them BUSY!!! Other than an occasional PBS show the boys want to be in the schoolroom with us all day. This can prove to be trying...working with the older ones one on one while keeping the little guys entertained! I of course also want them to be more than entertained, I would love some learning as well!!
Our main curriculum with the younger children is all literature based. We read a story and do related activities. The main curriculum for this is Five in A Row, we also use which is basically a FIAR for other books. This site is AWESOME! I use it weekly for something. As you know once you start reading...children start listening!!
In addition to the lit. studies we do I like to add in lots of hands on activites. Some of the activites are open-ended and more montessori-ish. I try to vary the activities to include fine motor skills, cutting skills, sensory work etc. We use lots of activities from our preschool in a bag. If you have not participated in a activity bag swap, they are great! I will try to post of that another day! Lastly I have discovered the coolest, greatest lady ever...and below you will see some of her super cute preschool printables. Although she seriously has SO much great content on her blog/website that you could spend an entire week there and still not read about it all!
Below you will see some pages from her Thanksgiving Pack!
She has a spot with some fun fall activites and Thanksgiving songs too!
I also use her calender system which is genius! Okay enough about her greatness go on over and check her out yourself!
So here is Lincoln making the letter P (for Pilgrim)out of play-doh! I printed these on cardstock and placed inside a plastic page protector. This is great for the boys as they lack the ability to actually write letters at this point. (BTW the girls cry and fit to do all of the boys activites so after they finish their K & 2nd grade work they "get" to do preschool activites!!) Please disregard all the junk (including Maddies "recyclable art" projects!) in the background! Here is Cam the man working with putting his Mayflower ships in order smallest to largest. Surprisingly enough he had to really work at this skill. I debated even printing this activity out because I assumed he could do it. He got the hang of it fairly quickly but Lincoln is still working really hard on this one! (BTW I printed these on cardstock and laminated them.)
Here Lincoln is tracing the lines from the Pilgrims to the Mayflower. Look at his face he was concentrating SO hard! This one like took him about 10+ minutes!! It was so cute! Due to the number of children we have using these I decided to print these on cardstock and laminate so they can be used over and over with a dry erase marker!
This one that Annie is using is a simple math/counting sheet. Obviously quite easy for Annie but she loved it nonetheless!

Monday, November 8, 2010

...another great note from Natalie!

This is it...can't say it better so just read hers!

Counting the Cost

Here is the question. The real question of adoption. What will it cost you? Yes, it is a loaded question because "cost" in this sense is multi-faceted. Will it cost you money? Yes, whether you adopt from Shelby County, KY or Saigon. Will it cost you pride? Yes. Will your heart pay? For sure. Will it cost you friends, family, acquaintances? It may. Will it cost time? No doubt...... But more than the costs.....COUNT THE GAIN... How will you change, how will you change others, whether you adopt or support adoption, you gain....gain life. Take a look at the costs...our cost.

1) Financial: The main HANG UP. Adoption can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $35,000. Most people who desire to adopt do not have that kind of money laying around, regardless of your yearly gross income. Looking down the barrel at $25,000, as was our case, you start to doubt your financial ability to pay for an adoption, afford a child or another child, make payments on your other responsibilties while raising money, find ideas for fundraising.....but you may doubt God...not openly but in the subconscious place you may not even be able to utter aloud. I admit that I did. JT and I fortunately were able to openly discuss our doubt and had friends who prayed over our doubt.

Gain.....we did gain money...but God showed us His love and grace... As JT now says, "God shows up when ordains something." We fundraised and God provided. He moves in the heart of those around you to support you. So when doubt starts creeping in (and I still remind myself of this), you and I have to remember that if we consume ourselves with doubt, we can not see what is trying to happen before our eyes.

"He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

2) Your Heart: While deciding to adopt, your heart will toss and turn like a third trimester pregnant woman. You will debate, get excited, get discouraged, become on fire, saddened at the state of the will wonder why children have to suffer.... Your heart will definitely Feel the cost while counting the cost. But your heart will be changed, your world will be changed. It will cost you the heartache rought by hours of inner deliberation but will free you to live a life of liberation....You will now know what is beyond your small world.... With that said, the liberation of carries its own cost.... That is where I am now. I KNOW, so now what...what ELSE can I do now that I know AND have adopted. Thus, my heart is still counting the cost, but now I stand affirmed that it is worth it... see pictures below if you don't believe me.

"Don't say, "I didn't know it!" God can read your mind. He watches each of us and knows our thoughts. And God will pay us back for what we do." Proverbs 24:12 (Contemporary English Version)

3) Who: Who will support you, be your cheerleader, wipe your tears, hold your hand, plan your shower, help fundraise, financially help, plug you in.... PRAY for you? Who will cautiously stand back unsure of their stance waiting to see 'how it goes'? Who secretly condemn your decision without asking you questions, probing your heart and theirs? Who will openly attack your decision, your heart, your future child, your finances to the point of your tears, frustation and possbily crumbling of the relationship? I have been in each of the places...simply because our adoption.... Thankfully I can say the damaged relationships are now in perpetual repair, but it can be a difficult season.....the cost. But Oh the gain. We will never know the hearts that have been changed by our adoption, NOT BY US, but by God using us to adopt. We will never know on this side of heaven if someone straddling the fence decided to move forward
with adoption because of Tedi and our adoption... we will never know if a heart filled with anger and distaste for different races and cultures has been swayed, softened and re-structured. We won't know the gain of others now...we do not need to know but we must remember such gain when we are adding up our cost.

I have struggled with each of these topics deeply and that is the only reason I feel slightly capable to write about these things.

....wise words from Natalie!

We have some friends who adopted a little boy this year. They had a quick whirl-wind adoption and it was all kinda set in motion when Paul met Natalie at a doctors office one morning in July! Her and her husband have a beautiful way with words and so I am going to quite frankly plagerize her blog for a moment (I'm gonna tell her!).

This first post is some heart-wrenching statistics on adoption.

From (pretty consistent with other research)...includes USA foster care system
~Every DAY 5,760 more children become orphans
~Every YEAR 2,102,400 more children become orphans (in Africa alone)
~143,000,0002 Orphans in the world today spend an average of 10 years in an orphanage or foster home
~Approximately 250,000 children are adopted annually, but…
~Every YEAR 14,050,000 children still grow up as orphans and AGE OUT of the system
~Every DAY 38,493 children AGE OUT
~Every 2.2 SECONDS, another orphan child AGES OUT with no family to belong to and no place to call home
~In Ukraine and Russia 10% -15% of children who age out of an orphanage commit suicide before age 18.
60% of the girls are lured into prostitution. 70% of the boys become hardened criminals. Many of these children accept job offers that ultimately result in their being sold as slaves. Millions of girls
are sex slaves today, simply because they were unfortunate enough to grow up as orphans.

Orphan Sunday
(read cautiously)

Today. One day each year that SOME churches and SOME Christians acknowledge the plight of orphans...orphans here in America, usually by circumstances their parents create, rarely death and abroad, often by death, un-education, and lack of resources. Weekly we talk about building funds and AV equipment and our potluck calendar and argue over who is on what committee and what committee should pass what by-law.... But we talk annually, once each year, if we are lucky, about "the least of these."

The question that has been floating in my head, especially of late, is "How I am any different than Tedi?" He was born in Africa in a small village on the Sudan border to a mother with five older children who had lost her husband to a preventable disease. I was born in Somerset, KY to parents, then married, and went home to lead a middle class life. The only difference....we born in different places. I did not deserve more than him....He did not deserve less. But here we were, worlds apart.

When we talk about the "least of these", we must first realize we, indeed, are the least of these. Just as orphans need a family, we need a Savior. What if Jesus had not stepped in for us and saved our lives.... What if? Usually it is difficult to digest the thought of children dying, both physical and emotional deaths, so we turn away, file it in the back of our mental junk drawer.... OR we only talk about it once per year.

As I have written before, I am in a constant state of knowing I can and should do more. Last week in church we sang "Hosana" and one line from the bridge goes... "Break my heart for what breaks yours..." My heart is broken and yet I feel paralyzed by my own inadequacies and inability to do more. I am daily challenging myself to do more.... I NEED to and I MUST.

SOOOO..... What am I doing? What can you do? First, I am mothering a child who WAS adopted. He is now my child. I am standing in the gap for him, defending him, mothering him to love others. Can you adopt.....because chances are if you have found my blog and have read this far, you have something stirring inside of you, aching in your stomach, moving you to step forward..... I am speaking and writing about adoption every time I can. Beth Moore, Russell Moore, David Platt, I am not. But I can do my part. Can you defend the least of these.... I need to do more, that is why I can challenge you. I only hope the small things that I have done and am trying to do are making small changes and examples for those around me.

I am blessed that the church we attended today focused on orphan care. They intend to move forward and pursue orphan care, here and abroad, as an important facet of their ministry. And I intend to be involved in this ministry. Will you start a ministry at your church? Will you get involved?

I can not change the WORLD, but we have changed the world for ONE. More importantly, this ONE has changed our world and our world perspective..... Will you cause change and be changed?

Okay more to come....

Orphan Awareness

I think we hear the word orphan and it doesn't truly register.
It is said so often and even times callously.
Even by those who have a heart for the orphan. We hear it daily, we talk about it daily and we read about it daily.
In the beginning of the adoption process it was quite honestly often about us here in America. What age child would be best for the biological children?
What gender of child did Paul and I feel more drawn to?
How would the sleeping arrangements work out best?
How would we do with the language barrier?
Would we love this child as much as the biological children?
What about extended family and friends?
What if the child had significant medical problems?
Could we afford to put two more children through college?

THEN.....we opened an email to this:

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, I think they underestimated!
This frail, sick, malnourished little package said it all!
It was not about us! It was not about college or bedroom quilts or what so and so thought about having an African in the family! It was not about who was oldest or who was going to be "twined". It was not about the cost of the adoption or which carseat to order....

It was about an ORPHAN, a little boy with no daddy. A little boy with a momma so sick and frail herself she could not even hold him. A little boy so hungry he would have died within days had the orphanage not taken him in immediately and fed him. A little boy with legs so weak he could not walk at 1 1/2 years old. A little boy so full of parasites that he was most likely in constant pain. A little boy so disconnected he would not even cry, only silent tears would roll down his little cheeks.
This was ORPHAN awareness.......

True awareness of what an orphan is and what is needed of us.
They need food....not designer clothing.
They need love....not a DisneyWorld vacation.
They need a home....not entrance to an ivy league school.

So you know the rest of our story. We took that sick frail little guy with no personality, no confidence, no charisma and with food and love and yes, even a Disney World vacation we gave that little ORPHAN all of those things and so much more! He lights up every room he enters, he has a twinkle in his eye and honestly always has a grin smeared across his face!
With God's love and mercy that ORPHAN in the above picture is now this:

So let's remember the orphan and let's remember what can be done with the grace of God when we "look after the orphans and widows" according to his scriptures.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Temporary Schoolroom

I know I have been a bit MIA lately mostly because I am having extreme difficulty uploading pictures. I am sure it is a "me" problem and not blogger...but if anyone has any advice please let me know! They get to the uploading stage and never any further.
Back to the subject. This has been our most trying year of homeschooling yet. And my schoolroom is a big source of the issue!
Reason #1-More kiddos! Carson in 4th, Maddie in 2nd, Annie in K, Cam in Pre-K, Linc in Preschool.
Reason #2-Less space. We are in temporary house while we build, so at the moment we are in a house nearly a third of the size of the old house. The laundry also goes in and out of this area. Did I mention more smaller get the idea!
Reason #3-Random weirdness. In our schoolroom we have 1 outlet (we had to move in before it was even finished). So no pencil sharpener, no computer set up...right now the CD player wins the outlet battle but pretty sure it will lose over to the heater once it gets cold!
Reason#4 -Since the move I have been extremely disorganized (some due to the above, some due to me being ME!)

So today I planned to get my schoolroom re-organized from the mess that had accumulated from the beginning of the school year. I even stopped and bought Toy Story 3 for the kiddos to watch while I worked on it. Well of course they were already in bed asleep before I was able to start!
I must add that I have a true, true friend who challenged me to post the pics tonight. That type of dare really does motivate me! So here it is at 3:16am!!
Keep in mind this is a partially finished basement with concrete floors, and un-painted drywall! So excuse some of the ugliness!
Below are my shelfs from Target (white and the stackable blue and red ones).
Hanging are my Pottery Barn mobiles (ABC's & Solar System)
The table on the left is Carson's desk with workboxes under it.
To the right is Lincolns table with his "montessori-ish" activities in the colored trays.
The door to the right is my laundry room.
The clear Show-Off totes on the top of the while shelves are my fav. containers and they hold all of my preschool in a bag, mah in a bag, and reading in a bag activities! LOVE these!!
Here you can see the desks for the middle three children. Between their desks are their workboxes. You can see Annies measurement man behind her desk! To the middle you can see solar system canvas we made!

So there it is clean ready for tomorrow,now I better get to bed so I am ready too!!