Friday, August 28, 2009


Owen is really into K'nex and Legos right now. Did you know that K'nex has educational sets? Your student can learn about simple machines and building structures hands on. They are mostly aimed at 3rd thru 8th grade. They also have a whole section on homeschool resources and lesson plans. Cool! These will definitely be added to his Christmas list.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Nature Walk

Love Owen's face here. Slightly grossed out, but fascinated by this fat caterpillar.
Seems a little late in the year for Mrs. Mallard to be having babies.

Madeline, my city girl. "Is there something in my hair?"

Jim took the kids for a nature walk behind our house. It's always an adventure when they all walk out the door together. Jim comes home with great pictures.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

We are approved!

Yeah! Our approval from the USCIS arrived! We are officially approved to adopt 1 child from Armenia.

So today I am going to spend the day going through our dossier via e-mail with our agency. Could take several days in fact. I'm hoping to be able to get everything apostilled next week and in the mail.

Praying things will go quickly after that. BBH! (Bring Ben Home! Jim started signing his e-mails with the BBH thing, and it has become our family mantra. It is our reminder that everything is for Ben right now. Everything from sacrificing material wishes in order to save money for our Bring Ben Home fund, to extra time, stress and energy spent on adoption "stuff." It's all worth it because we know it is all to BBH!)

The kids have been so awesome through everything. They have emptied their piggy banks into our BBH fund jar (without being asked), have not batted an eye at shopping at garage sales vs. the mall, and have come up with small ways around the house to save money. They too are focused on bringing Ben home. It has been such an unexpected blessing for our family. They have always been kind and compassionate kids, but now they are truly learning what it means to put some one else's needs before their own. I think we are all feeling so much richer for not being tied down to material wants and "needs." There is a sense of freedom that goes along with it.

God is doing amazing work in this family! We are humbled and grateful.

Friday, August 21, 2009

My Favorite Patients are Crabby Old Men...

This poem makes me sad, I pray I never lose my compassion for these vulnerable people. I fear that we as a nation already have.

Crabby Old Man

What do you see nurses? ...What do you see?
What are you thinking......when you're looking at me?
A crabby old man,.....not very wise,
Uncertain of habit ........with faraway eyes?

Who dribbles his food.......and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice .....'I do wish you'd try!'
Who seems not to notice ....the things that you do.
And forever is losing .............. A sock or shoe?

Who, resisting or not...........lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding ... The long day to fill?
Is that what you're thinking?.......Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes,'re not looking at me.

I'll tell you who I am ......... As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of Ten.......with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters .........who love one another

A young boy of Sixteen ..with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now..........a lover he'll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows........that I promised to keep.

At Twenty-Five, now ........ I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide ....And a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty ........... My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other ....... With ties that should last.

At Forty, my young sons ....have grown and are gone,
But my woman's beside see I don't mourn.
At Fifty, once more, ......... Babies play 'round my knee,
Again, we know children ........ My loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me ...... My wife is now dead.
I look at the future ............I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing......young of their own.
And I think of the years...... And the love that I've known.

I'm now an old man.........and nature is cruel.
'Tis jest to make old age .......look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles..........grace and vigor, depart.
There is now a stone........where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass ..... A young guy still dwells,
And now and again battered heart swells.
I remember the joys..............I remember the pain.
And I'm loving and over again.

I think of the years ..all too few......gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact........that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people and see..
Not a crabby old man.....Look closer....see........ME!!

Hanging in the lobby of the hospital where I work is a sign that says, "The face of God is before me always." I don't know who said it (Mother Theresa maybe) but I think of it often as I go about my work. It helps make the difficult tasks less difficult, and the small things more important. It helps me remember that we are all God's children, and we all deserve to be taken care of as if we are Him, right up until the end.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Peer Orientation

I've said this before, but because it is so true, everyday I hear or see something that confirms that our decision to homeschool is the best one for our family. Usually they are small things, but the one I came across yesterday blew my mind.

***I'm not trying to say that the only way to parent successfully is to homeschool, nor am I saying that your kids cannot have friends. I'm just saying that this is the only way that makes sense to us. I just would not be good at staying connected to my kids or giving them the guidance they need if they were gone most of the time. I always felt like everything that we worked hard on at home was undone at school, we were constantly starting from ground zero. This book has given me some insight as to why this was happening. As for your kids friends, choose them carefully (yes you can choose their friends), they are having a bigger influence than you know. Homeschooling is not perfect, it has it's down falls, but for the most part it works for us. Basically I will have no one to blame but myself if my kids do not turn out to be contributing members of society, the rest of you can blame their friends! ***

The book is called "Hold On to Your Kids" by Gordon Neufeld, Ph.D., and Gabor Mate, M.D. In it the authors describe a phenomenon that is happening to our kids right now. It is called peer orientation. Kids today are more attached to their peers than they are to their parents.

What's the problem you say? Well, tons. First of all it is why parenting has become so much more difficult these days. Our great grandparents didn't need a manual to raise their kids, they had kids that respected authority, were compliant, and eager to please most of the time. Now parenting books fill a whole section at the book store, I have visited it often.

Our ancestors also had a back up system, a support group of sorts, if you were not with your parents and you stepped out of line, you can bet that either a trusted adult corrected you or your Mother would find out about it. A certain high school principle I had comes to mind here, he knew everything that was going on both in and out of school. If you were seen smoking up town after school, you can be sure you would be in his office the next day hearing about it. We have lost this as a society, we no longer take personal responsibility for our kids, we are leaving it up to them. This is having severe consequences, childhood suicide is on the rise, bullying and school violence are a normal occurrence, in general our society is becoming less safe.

Do you find yourself wondering why your kids will not listen to you? Why you must constantly bribe, threaten, and punish them. Do they roll their eyes at you, withdraw to their bedrooms, or prefer to be with their friends? Do you feel like a failure as a parent? Are you thinking that you are just not good at parenting, that other people are just better at it than you are?

Well it's not about finding the right parenting skill or style, it's all about power. Todays parents have lost the power to parent.

Since about WWII that power has shifted from adults to peer groups. As our society has become more "sophisticated," as parents spend more and more time away from home, and children are put in day care at earlier ages, we are losing our grip on our kids.

The book describes attachment as polar or magnetic. When you are strongly drawn to or attached to one thing, you repel another. When you fall in love with someone new, suddenly your ex seems repulsive. You can't be securely attached to two different things at the same time. So if your kids are attached (meaning their needs are being met) by their friends, then they can only reject you. It is human nature, a survival instinct. They want to be attached to you, you are just not available for whatever reason.

So how can we fix this? I'll keep reading and let you know!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hi Yah!

Owen started Tae Kwon Do yesterday, and loved it! I think he is finally found his "thing." He has been reluctant to try anything new, did not care for soccer, and has no interest in t-ball. I think he was also glad that for once the girls had to wait for him! He looked so handsome in his uniform! :)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

File folder activities

I spent a little time today making these file folder activities for the kids. Mostly for Owen (and eventually Ben). Just needed a few extra activities to keep him busy while I am working with the girls. They are very inexpensive and easy to make. I used resources from Homeschool share a website full of great (free!) ideas. They recommend laminating them, but I think I will skip this step since I do not have a laminating machine, and am trying to be very frugal these days.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tie Dyeing Fun!

The kids (and the Mom's)had fun with this project! I'll post pictures of the results later.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Little Bit About Armenia

Armenia is situated at a cultural, historical, and religious intersection and located at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, in the southern Transcaucasus. The country spans 29,743 square kilometers (11,490 square miles, about the size of Belgium or Maryland) of mountainous terrain centered around the Ararat Valley, the heart of the Armenian nation since biblical times. Ancient geographers called the Armenian Highlands the "Island of Mountains" or the "Rooftop of Asia Minor." In fact, the average altitude of the country is over a mile high, at about 1800 meters above sea level. Presently, the country is landlocked and has no navigable waterways, in contrast to Historic Armenia, which at its height under King Tigran the Great, stretched from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea and was more than ten times the current size of the present day Republic. Armenia has borders with Georgia to the north, with Turkey to the west and south, with Azerbaijan to the east and southwest, and with Iran to the south. Looming above the Yerevan skyline as an ominous reminder to its glorious past and as a beacon to a future of hope rises majestic Mount Ararat. Located southwest of the capital Yerevan in present day Turkey, Mount Ararat dominates the national landscape, psyche and character. Mount Aragats, the highest point within the Republic's boundaries (4090 meters at its summit) is a hiker's less explored paradise.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Great Attachment Resources!

Thanks K and Jen for passing along these great attachment resources for adoptive parents. Can't wait to implement these techniques with Ben! We practiced attachment parenting with our current kiddos, so much of this will come easily to us, but there is a big difference between a newborn and an 18 month old! It's great to know that Ben will need lots of the same attention that a newborn needs, we are looking forward to that stage again.... bottles, rocking, singing, reading, bath time. All the things that Mommy's do for their new babies, and all the things that babies without Mommy's miss out on and desperately need.

The second site has some modified songs and nursery rhymes. :) Cute!

Rock a bye baby, in the treetop,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
And Mommy will catch you, cradle and all.


There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children she knew just what to do.
She gave them some broth. She gave them some bread.
She gave hugs and kisses and tucked them in bed.

(These reinforce "I'm your Mommy, I will always take care of you.")




Thursday, August 6, 2009

God sets the lonely in familes...

Adoption video.

Blackberry pie

My friend made this yummy pie from the berries we picked. She and her mother-in-law have put up over 50 jars of jam this year, we were lucky enough to be given a few jars, yum!

Owen's (our in-house food critic) opinion of the pie: "Mmmm, this stuff tastes juicy and good."
Our compliments to the pastry chef.


Our good friends took us blackberry picking on their families property in Ohio. We had a great time, and picked lot's of beautiful berries. Thanks for a great day!

School Begins

My beautiful students.
How lucky am I!

Madeline - 5th grade
Owen - Kindergarten
Marney - 3rd grade

As we begin a new year, we are anticipating all the exciting new things we will be learning about together.

" We're not trying to do "School at Home." We're trying to do homeschool. These are two entirely different propositions. We're not trying to replicate the time, style or content of the classroom. Rather we're trying to cultivate a lifestyle of learning in which learning takes place from morning until bedtime 7 days each week. The "formal" portion of each teaching day is just the tip of the iceburg. "
--Steve and Jane Lambert ( Five In A Row )