Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Camping in the backyard!

Jim and the kids camped out in the backyard last weekend, they have been waiting for some warm weather to try out the "new" tent that Santa brought. They had a great time. We are slowly building up to actually going on a camping trip. I love the idea of camping, just not sure if I will actually love sleeping outside and everything that goes into pulling off a camping weekend for a family of 5. Sleeping on the ground does not sound comfortable, and I'm afraid I am a bit of a campsite snob. I don't want to camp on the side of the highway. I want to be in a beautiful, peaceful setting without the pools and arcades. Easy to find in Vermont, not so much here. So we will keep things small scale for now, and see where this goes. The jury is still out on how serious this family is about camping. If we decide this is the way we want to see America, then I'm thinking an RV might be the compromise we are looking for.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Today I understand why...

so many people say that adoption is not for the faint of heart. I can almost see why many people don't go for it, or give up shortly into the process. Today I'm feeling like we are never going to bring our baby home. Our homestudy has taken so long, it's still not done. This is supposed to be the easiest part of the process! Well if that is the case, then I can't imagine what we are in store for next. I understand that the agencies want to be thorough (we are adopting from a hague accredited country and that makes the process more complex) and we don't want any surprises down the road, but good grief!

Maybe I'm just tired from working 20 hours over the weekend, I'm not feeling very positive today. I know it will all be worth it when Ben is home, but right now that day seems very far away.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Happy birthday to the best Father and Husband! We are honored to be the most important people in your life, we want you to know that you are the most important person in ours! We love you!

Madeline, Marney, Owen, Ben, and Me

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Jen and I went to a talk last night given by Dr. James MacDonald of Communicating Partners. Dr. MacDonald has been working with children who have speech delays, particularly those with autism or Down syndrome. Here is the link to his website, he has put tons of info there.

His approach is to simplify and slow down, we are overstimulating our kids, and expecting too much too soon. It was so refreshing to hear an expert say, become your child's play partner, meet them where they are at, and then slowly give them the next level. Be silly, be spontaneous, make it more fun for both of you. Dr. MacDonald said, after all the goal of social interactions is to make a connection, not just convey information.

My head is just swimming with everything that was discussed last night, my poor writing skills do not do him justice! His approach applies to all parents, not just to those of children with special needs. Take some time to check out his website.

Monday, June 15, 2009

An inspiring story...

Check this out!

Thank You!

Our garage sale was a success! Thank you to everyone who donated or shopped, or both! We raised $519!!! That money is going to go toward the filing of our I-800 form. The fee is $670 plus $80/each for finger printing. This form goes to the INS and is used to determine our eligibility to adopt a child from outside the US. We just need our finalized homestudy, then we can send off the I-800.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

This is why....

we are not afraid.

What is Down syndrome?

This is from the NADS: What Down syndrome is....

Down syndrome is a genetic condition that causes delays in physical and intellectual development. It occurs in approximately one in every 800 live births. Individuals with Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46. It is the most frequently occurring chromosomal disorder. Down syndrome is not related to race, nationality, religion or socioeconomic status. The most important fact to know about individuals with Down syndrome is that they are more like others than they are different.

Down syndrome is usually caused by an error in cell division called nondisjunction. It is not known why this occurs. However, it is known that the error occurs at conception and is not related to anything the mother did during pregnancy. It has been known for some time that the incidence of Down syndrome increases with advancing maternal age. However, 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age.

It is important to remember that while children and adults with Down syndrome experience developmental delays, they also have many talents and gifts and should be given the opportunity and encouragement to develop them.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Private Sponsorship Link

Our private sponsorship link on Reece's Rainbow is up and running. Check it out! You can see a picture of Ben there! It is an old one, he looks to be about 3-4 months, but cut as a button! He is almost 11 months now and has lot's more hair and long eyelashes! I'm still not allowed to post any pictures :(

A little bit about why we homeschool

It must be all this planning for the next school year, because I keep thinking about what finally made us decide that homeschooling was the right choice for us. The more I educated myself about homeschooling, the more convinced I was that it could work. It was a certain article from the Michigan Department of Education very similar to this one, that finally sealed the deal.

Quotes like this one here, gave me a hmm moment, "The most effective forms of parent involvement are those, which engage parents in working directly with their children on learning activities at home."3

The article goes on to outline the type of involvement that has been proven to work best, 6 items to be specific.

1. Establish a daily family routine.
2. Monitor out-of-school activities.
3. Model the value of learning, self-discipline, and hard work.
4. Express high but realistic expectations for achievement.
5. Encourage children's development/ progress in school.
6. Encourage reading, writing, and discussions among family members.

Sure sounds like a responsible homeschool family to me!

I just found it very difficult to be as involved in my child education as I should be in the public school setting.

The bottom line was that homeschooling has allowed us to be hands on involved with our kids education and has been a much more efficient use of our time. We are all happier, the kids are thriving, and not once this year have I discovered at 8:15am (bus arrives at 8:30) that they actually did have homework!

Monday, June 8, 2009

How we are financing this adoption

One of the biggest obstacles to adoption for most families is financing. When they hear that it will cost between $20,000 & $50,ooo for domestic infant or international adoption they are often discouraged from the get go. Fostering/Fostercare adoption is an excellent option, it is much less expensive, sometime even free. It is however, equally time consuming/frustrating either way.

There are lot's of resources and ideas on the web to help. There are grants you can apply for, low interest loans, and fundraising ideas. Some people borrow against their 401K and pay themselves back over time with interest. Did you know the adoption tax credit is up to 11,380.00? You can use it over 5 years if you need to. Some people take a second job until their child comes home. Can you trade in your car for a decent used option? There are lots of ways to find the money if you are motivated enough.

So far we have, cut way back on our spending. Asking ourselves is this item a need or a want? Is a new pair of pants really going to impact my life, or can I use that money for something that will?

I have started using coupons, this is probably a no brainer for some, but I has always thought that it is just too much trouble and too time consuming. Really it's not. It was an exciting day for me when I realized that Meijers (and most other stores) double coupons up to 50 cents! Sad, I know.

I work part time, odd hours and weekends, so one of us is always home. All the money I earn is now being saved toward Ben.

Jim traded in his nice, but really not necessary car (a Volvo wagon that we bought used), in for a nice more practical option. This put a good chunk of cash in our savings account. We decided long ago that it was not worth the big payments to lease or buy a new car. Sorry Detroit, but buying a new car off the lot is a terrible financial decision. They depreciate the moment you drive off the lot. We started buying used cars with cash, or paying them off quickly. Its a good feeling to have no car payments, and not be locked into a vehicle that you can't get out from under in a pinch. Our pride obviously evaporated long ago, we don't make decisions based on what other people might think.

Jim may also be taking a second job at least until Ben comes home.

We are having a garage sale. Cleaning out clutter and accepting generous donations from our wonderful neighbors, family, and friends.

Basically we are doing whatever it takes to bring our new little guy home, and saving money has become a fun new challenge!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Garage sale prep

Preparations are under way for our garage sale/fund raiser. Many people have been very generous, and we are very grateful! Hopefully we will have a good turn out. The kids are planning a lemonade stand and possibly a bake sale. Its been fun to see them so involved. The girls are making lists of things they will need to do and get. I will post some pictures of the big day.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Planning for 2009-2010 School Year

Having an awesome sister like mine is like having a personal secretary and best friend all in one. My sister not only fields multiple "best friend" type phone calls a day from me, she keeps me on schedule. She often reminds me to plan ahead, as I am not a planner by nature. I'm more of a "fly by the seat of my pants" kind of girl. ;) Apparently it's time to be planning our 2009-2010 school year, already! So here is our tentative curriculum plan (I still need to figure out some kind of science program for the girls):

Madeline (10 - 5th grade!)

Math- Saxon 6/5
Latin- Latina Christiana Level 1
History & Geography- Winter Promise American Story 1
(includes: arts & crafts, notebooking, timelines)
Language Arts- Winter Promise LA5
(includes:writing paragraphs, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, reading, handwriting)
Piano lessons

Marney (8 - 3rd grade)

Math- Saxon 3
Latin- Latina Christiana Level 1
History & Geography- Winter Promise American Story 1
Language Arts- Winter Promise LA3
(includes: grammar, spelling, vocabulary, reading, handwriting, writing)
Swim Club
Piano lessons

Owen (5 - K)

Math- Saxon 1
Latin- Listen in on the girls lesson and help them when they get stuck!
History & Geography- Winter Promise American Story 1
Phonics- Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading
Science- Bubbles, Rainbows, and Worms by Sam Ed Brown
Tae Kwon Do

I definitely need to do all the prep work I can now since I will be finishing my last semester of nursing school this fall, trying to work a little in between all this, and oh yeah, traveling half way across the world at some point to bring home our new son!

Thank Jen! One of these days I'll send you away on a vacation, it must be exhausting being my sister!

Great Website!

This is a great website for special needs teaching materials. The free printables are very cool. Print them on cardstock for extra durability.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Reece's Rainbow

Rainbow Kids is the website that led us to Ben, which then led us to Reece's Rainbow.
Check out the awesome work they are doing there! You can sponsor a waiting child or a waiting family if you are feeling pulled to do something, but adoption is not for you. Most families do not decide to adopt because they have extra money sitting around. They are answering a call and having faith that God will provide the means. But don't think they are just sitting around waiting for money to fall from the sky, they are serious fund raisers! They are doing garage sales, tuperware parties, you name, they are working on it! Please help them if you can!

Piano Recital

The girls piano recital was very nice, all the students have been working hard. This was Madeline's first recital since she started taking lessons, she was a little nervous. Marney however is an old pro, this being her 4th recital and all. She gave lots of unsolicited advice to her big sister! They both did a great job, way to go girls!

Homestudy Headache

We started the homestudy process on March 5, 2008. Here we are 3 months later, and it is still not complete! Part of it is our fault, we started out thinking we wanted to do a domestic adoption, but when we found out it was very unlikely to work out for us this way, we switched to international. We are on a waiting list through the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati for an infant, along with about 150 other families! Which I think is so amazing, that there are so many families waiting for one of these angels! That also means that the chances of us being chosen are slim. So, we decided not to sit here and wait, when there are children in other countries waiting for a family. The homestudy is apparently quite different for international adoptions, especially for a Hague accredited country like Armenia. Our education requirements and paperwork load increased quite a bit. Who ever said adoption is not for the faint of heart was right!

We are hoping to get our rough draft in the next couple of days, my goal is to have our I-800 in Saturday mornings mail. A copy of the homestudy must accompany this form that gets sent to US immigration.

I am trying to remind myself that we are on Gods time here, and we can only do what we can on our end, the rest is out of our hands. There must be a good reason for these delays that I just can't see right now. But, I also can't help thinking about the little guy waiting for us.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Leap of Faith

We have been thinking about adoption for quite a while. (When I say we here, I actually mean me.) Specifically we have been thinking about adopting a child with Down syndrome. I can't explain why, but I have felt for a very long time that I would one day be the mother of a child with DS. They are beautiful people with a great deal to offer this world. I prayed about it for a long time, and occasionally it would come up in conversations between Jim and I. He has been reluctant, he usually is very wary of new and different things. I didn't beg, or push anything on him, I just kept praying. Life went on.

We are very busy with and fulfilled by the family that we have created together. We have 3 wonderful kids. It's not that anything is missing, or there is a hole to fill. It's the fact that we are a strong family with a lot to offer, and want to be the family that a child out there is waiting for. There are so many children out there waiting, especially those with special needs.

It 's not particularly fashionable to raise a child with special needs these days. We live in a world where everyone wants the best of everything, an upgrade. Raising kids has become a competitive sport. Your child must walk sooner, talk sooner, read sooner than your friends child. Parents and kids are under so much pressure to be perfect. So I'm pretty sure people will think we are crazy for even considering this.

I'm still not sure what exactly changed Jim's mind and made him want this as much as I do but, day, he finally said YES!!!!

And so our journey begins. Follow along with us!