Thursday, September 30, 2010

Breaking News!

Just received word we could be traveling in the next 10 days!!!!!

Off to pack!

A father's letter

I'm not sure who to give credit to for this, but it's so beautiful, I had to post it.  It's a letter written by a father to his extended family shortly after he and his wife committed to adopting a little girl from the Ukraine who has been blessed with Down syndrome.  The family has given permission to reproduce, edit, whatever.

Sometimes in life there becomes a moment when you need to make a decision about where life is going to take you, how you are going to impact this world and how you will be able to leave a legacy that long out lives your time here on this earth. As I look back at the last few years of life I can remember a few key moments where either I or Dena and I had to make decisions about what was next and those decisions where going to impact our lives in profound ways. Just like all of you, we have made good decisions when confronted with a fork in the road and we have made bad decisions. I can honestly say that the bad ones really were a result of either me or Dena and I not following the whispers or outright shouts of God to go a certain direction. Of course we ignored or flat out denied Gods way in that moment and we ended up hitting a number of rough patches, that all turned into learning experiences for us, but were non the less difficult.

I say this because Dena and I are about to embark on a new journey in life that we feel is a true calling for us and is centered deep in the heart of what God wants us to do with our lives. Today marks the first official day in our journey to adopt a little girl from the Ukraine named Melanie. Melanie is a gorgeous little 2 year old that has a smile to die for and what seems to be a set of eyes that will light up a room. Melanie also has Down Syndrome and needs some medical care to ensure that she will reach a ripe old age.

Dena and I are not starting this journey without careful consideration and thought about what this process will mean to our family in every way. We have thought through the financial issues, the family integration issues, the potential medical issues, the time issues, the travel issues and the issues related to long term care. Over the past year and a half, we have had the pleasure of talking about this desire with people from church, random strangers we meet at Flea Markets, friends and some of our family. Over the same time period we have also been praying and seeking out Gods voice in this and feel that we are squarely in the core and the center of what God calls us to do with our resources. God calls us so very clearly, in a number of areas of the Bible, to seek first His Kingdom, to care for the widows and orphans and he says that we are only stewards of HIS resources in order to bring healing, grace, peace and undeniable love to a world that is
broken, dark, disgusting and full of hate.

The reason why I am writing this note to you all now is that we are so very excited today about this first step in a very long process that will lead us to Melanie and thus closer to the heart of God. There will be ups and downs along the way we are sure of this. And this is why I am writing this to you today. Over the course of the next year or so, we will be asking for your support in every possible way to help us bring home a little girl that will go into an institution if she is not adopted soon. We will need prayers, we will need ears for listening when we are frustrated, we will need creativity when we are stuck on a problem, we will need encouragement when we are hitting a road block, we will need your feet and hands when we are mobilizing for a fund raiser, we will need your smiles when we get down and we will need your love when we finally bring home a little girl that needs hope.

There are a number of questions that I am sure you all will have over the next few weeks and months as we kick off this journey. And we will be sit and answer as many questions as you have to ask in order to help you understand why we are pursuing this path. Most of the time the answers we give to you will make logical sense and will clearly demonstrate common sense and thinking on our part. But sometimes the answer that we will give you will likely leave you confused or even frustrated. That is because this journey is one that started from a whisper. Not an audible one, but a whisper that came over Dena and I at different times, pushing us if not compelling us to take a gigantic leap of faith in order to make a difference. 

Today, as I look out my window into the blue sky and think about my Grandma Sader and her failing health, I well up with deep emotions because we got where we are today because we feed from the fields that were prepared by our fore fathers and mothers as they stepped out in faith. We drink from a cup that is given to us by those that gave up ownership in what they had and believed that they were simply entrusted with resources as a means to bless others. And because of these sacrifices and love that have been laid down before us, we today begin a journey that started a year and a half ago with a humbling and honest question that my Grandma Sader likely asked thousands of times in her life: "Father, how can you work through me today to bring a little more heaven to earth?"

We believe down to our core that we can only do this with the help and encouragement of you as family, with the love and support from our church and friends and clearly with the help of our God. With that being said, I wanted to leave you with a verse from 1 Timothy 6-17-19 that will serve as our inspirational verse through this next year as we work to bring Melanie home: 

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, SO THAT THEY MAY TAKE HOLD OF THE LIFE THAT IS TRULY LIFE!"

That is what this mission is all about. Going and meeting God where he is, in the dirty, dingy and broken orphanages of the Ukraine so that we can find and hold onto life that is truly life!

We love you all and look forward to answering any questions you have. Again, we can't do this without your love and support.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wrapping up our Week

Since this blog originally began as a home education journal, I never had any intentions of going public, we are going back to our roots.  I need a more formal way of tracking our progress.  We are linking up with Jen and making this a weekly tradition.

This week we began our nature study and nature journals.

I've been wanting to add in a more formal nature study to our agenda, and Barb at Handbook of Nature Study has created just the curriculum.

We studied Geese, and found out that they are very intelligent birds, who knew?  We did some sketching, and a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting geese and ducks.  The kids made some really great observations.  We now enjoy these critters more than we have in the past.  This study made them more interesting and less of a nuisance.

Exploring the little stream behind our house.  In costume of course.  

Also, spent some time at a local park observing Geese.

We made little caterpillar pals out of felt and beads. 

Owen's pretty good with a needle and thread.

The 3 R's this week:


Saxon Math 4 lessons - accuracy improving!
Reading: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Spelling - Phonetic Zoo


Saxon Math 4 Lessons
Reading: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Spelling - Phonetic Zoo

Calendar Math - Began memorizing the addition tables.  1's this week.
Reading - McGuffy Reader Primer
Listening to:  Mr. Poppers Penguins on the Kindle, and to Daddy read "The happy Hollisters and the Haunted House Mystery" 
Loving Lego's these days, lots of construction going on around here.  

Resources we used:

Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock

Genesis through Deuteronomy & ancient Egypt: A Family Study Handbook  for History, Geography, and Bible

Things They Said:

Owen:  "If I was a leaf, I would not fall off my tree."  (I believe that!  He won't get out of our bed!)

Great quote:

‘Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you ought to set up a life you don’t need to escape from.’ - Seth Godin

Have a Great Weekend!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

10 Surprising Things

Ok, since both my sister, and Patty, from Reasons for Chocolate both tagged me for this , I will try to come up with 10 surprising things about me.  Thanks ladies!

1.  I hate talking on the phone, in fact I get anxious when I think about a phone call I need to make.  Often I have to plan out what I'm going to say before I make the call.  Sad, I know!  Luckily, my husband understands this about me and will often offer to make calls for me.

 I finally figured out how to text about a year ago, and it has saved my life, I love to text!

2.  I love the adventure of moving into a new house.  In the 13 years that we have been married, we have owned 6 different houses.  We have been in our current home for 4 years, a record for sure.  Although I love being so close to family, and can't even fathom packing right now, I have the itch to move again.  My dream house is a big white/yellow farm house with big red barns, a garden, and chickens in the yard.  Maybe someday.

3.  I'm a total introvert, but I love being around extroverts, they bring me out of my shell.

4.  I love horses.  I think every young girl has horse fever at some point, but my wishes came true.  When the horse farm that I was taking lessons went up for sale, my parents bought it and we moved in!  It was a wonderful experience.  I learned so much, and pitched a lot of pooh!  I can still smell the sweet smells of horses and hay, and still hear the sounds of the horses in their stalls through my bedroom window on warm summer nights.  I have many, many fond memories of working in the barn with my Dad.  I know we both miss it.  I'm pretty sure if my dream house becomes a reality, my Dad will move in.  I would totally be OK with that!

5.  I traded my horse for my husband.  Sometimes I wonder if I made the right choice.  Just kidding honey, I know marrying you was a smart move.  Horses don't do laundry. :)

6.  I love to paint, and have an artistic side.  It just doesn't come out too often these days!  I had the best art teacher in High School, he is an accomplished watercolor artist and was very inspiring.  Maybe someday I will have a studio in that big white farm house.

7.  When I was young, I thought I was going to be a lawyer, I wasn't sure I ever wanted to have kids.  I'm glad that God had bigger plans for me than I had for myself.  The though if missing out on all I have experienced as a mother, and all the treasured memories my children have given me, takes my breath away.

8.  I'm absent minded and often forgetful when it comes to dates, appointments, and schedules.  Somewhere I'm missing the gene that makes most women good at these things.  I have to have calendars and reminders everywhere, and even then I still forget things!  Is it sad that I often rely on my children to help me remember things?

9.  I have middle child syndrome.  I'm not proud, but I am who I am.  I can't believe how much of that is true!  Now I know why I crave a flexible schedule, and married a last born!

10.  I thank God everyday for my Mom and my sister.  Even though I sometimes have a funny way of showing it, I hope they know how much I love them.

Ok, now I'm supposed to tag 5 people, but I don't have 5 blogging friends, only 3, and two of them tagged me, so that leaves Amanda at I'm Still Clay.  Tag, you're it!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Ben update!

Folks, I think we have a charmer on our hands!

(Ben 2 years old)

It sounds like he is doing very well.  :)

Apparently he is a favorite at the orphanage with the staff, the other children, and families that come to visit. 

His crawl is hilarious!  He does this bear crawl thing, and he is fast!

Here we thought he would be this calm, sweet, docile baby.  Wrong!

He is all toddler, and he is busy! 

He is trying to stand every chance he gets.  The boy wants to walk.

Wait, just a little longer buddy, can you do that for Mommy?

Also, they say he loves the water.  They have taken him swimming and apparently he is so active they gave him his own little pool!

Is that good or bad?  What does that mean?

Sounds like we have lots of smiles, laughs, and lots of falling into bed exhausted days to look forward to! 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A field trip of dreams

When these kids are not inside learning, they are outside, in costume, playing pioneers.  Yes, we're sure the neighbors whisper.  Anyway, a field trip to a "real" pioneer settlement, feeds their hunger to learn more, and sparks their imaginations even further.  

Carding wool is hard work.

My baby in jail.

My other baby will not just sit there and take this injustice, she's breaking out.  

We felt at home in the one room school house.  Only, I don't dress like this teacher.  Yet.

The two family wigwam was an especially fun place to play.  I'm pretty sure we could have walked away and the kids would not have noticed.  At least not until they got hungry.  

A snack break for these two.  "Hey Owen, pretend we're drinking!"

Inside the cutest log cabin ever.  Grandpa, the only thing Marney wants for Christmas is a little log cabin in our back yard.  She promises she will never ask for anything else, ever again.

So cute, what little girl would not spend all day playing here?

Oh, Grandpa?  We want this garden too.  That's all, we promise.  The cabin, the garden, and the barn.  Did I mention the barn?  So. Cute.

Find your way through the bean tunnel.

This covered wagon "went to town" several times today, got stuck in the mud, hijacked by bandits, and hauled feed.  The Mom's were exhausted by this time, but the kids?  Their imagination, never tires.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First week of school

School officially began at our house last Tuesday.  We were excited to get started.  Here are the highlights of our first week.  

My students :)

The girls hard a work.  The new desks are working wonderfully.  Grandma wants them.  She said she is going to come over and wrap Christmas presents on them.  I hadn't even thought of using them for that.  

We made lemon scones.  Madeline got creative and put jelly on the inside of hers.  Yum.  That girl is full of good ideas, really, she'll be the first one to tell you so.

Owen worked on his dexterity.  Just look at the concentration.

Marney too.

In the oven they go.

Yummy, fresh out of the oven lunch.

This week was a little light on the academics, but heavy on relearning the rhythm of our home education routine.   We concentrated on Math, phonics, spelling, and reading.  More importantly we concentrated on rebuilding relationships that have been neglected or taken for granted due to the business of life.  Our hearts and attitudes have been hardened, we needed to relearn how to treat each other gently.  

Home education allows us the time to do this.

I'll slowly be adding in the heavier subjects like writing, and lighter subjects like nature study, religious ed, and art and music appreciation over the next few week.  We will also be enjoying more field trips, and special little moments I have planned.  Special moments like we had today, making root beer floats and watching a movie together to wrap up our day.    

We are loving life right now, and feeling very blessed.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Quinoa, my new favorite super-food

"Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is not a grain; it is actually a seed and related to the spinach family. When cooked, quinoa is light, fluffy, slightly crunchy and subtly flavored. It actually cooks and tastes like a grain, making it an excellent replacement for grains that are difficult to digest or feed candida (a systemic fungal infection)."


Read the entire article here.

Benefit include:  High in protein (complete), it's a prebiotic!, stabilizes blood sugar, and helps control high blood pressure, high in fiber, a whole grain that's easy to digest.

I recently made this recipe, yummy!  Other ideas here, and here.

Be sure to rise in cold water before using, and it's probably best to soak before using.  Explanation and recipe I want to try next here.

From Alison @ Wholesome Goodness:
*NOTE: The very best way to prepare quinoa is by soaking it overnight.  Soaking grains improves your digestion and mineral absorption.  This helpful step is a breeze as long as you know what you’ll be preparing for dinner 12 to 24 hours in advance (hence the beauty of menu planning).  Just quickly rinse your quinoa, place it in a bowl, add water to cover it by an inch or so, and add a splash of kefir, yogurt, or raw apple cider vinegar.  (These additions will provide probiotics to start “pre-digesting” your food, as well as an acid environment to break down the phytates, a substance in all grains that inhibits mineral absorption.)  Cover the bowl with a towel and set aside to soak for 12 to 24 hours.  I just pop it onto the top of my fridge right before going to bed.  When you’re ready to cook your quinoa, drain and rinse it.  Then follow the cooking instructions above, reducing the water to 1 to 1 1/2 cups, since the grain absorbs so much moisture while soaking.  Warning: soaking your quinoa overnight results in a slightly creamier final product, so if you’re looking for a tabbouleh-like texture, skip this step. 

Friday, September 3, 2010

Third Times a Charm

Shhh!  Yogurt incubating.

After two failed attempts, I finally produced a successful batch of homemade yogurt.  Yum!  I combined two methods.  I heated the yogurt following these instructions here.  Then cooled for 3 hours, and finished the process using SouleMamas method for incubating the cultures using a heating pad for 8-10 hours.

Sure it takes a little time, but it's not hard, and it saves so much money.  Most of it can be done while you sleep!

We mix in fruit, honey, and sometimes granola.  The kids choose their own combinations.

Also, I have been busy making homemade breads, and hamburger buns, to go along with our homemade meals.

Since cutting back my hours at work I have been enjoying cooking healthy meals from scratch for my family, soaking our grains, just slowing down in general.  I am getting back to the most important things in life, caring for and nurturing my family. 

 Things both they and I have missed these past few crazy years.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Adoption Update :)

Tuesday we received notice from the USCIS, that we were granted provisional approval to adopt Ben.  Basically they are saying that he looks like a good match for our family.  (Duh!)  This means that our paperwork is now sent to the US Embassy in Armenia where we will apply for a visa so Ben can enter the US and the Article 5 is generated.  Once we have the Article 5, we can schedule our court date!

So, it looks like we should be making our first trip in 4-5 weeks!  Finally this dream is becoming reality.  Exciting and slightly scary at the same time.  Time to think about packing (what does one wear in Armenia? ), child care arrangements while Jim and I are gone (substitute teacher as well!),  making sure we take all necessary paperwork, and making travel arrangements.  Lot's of expenses coming up....

*Thank goodness for Jen's packing list to use as a resource!

So, just when we felt we had a handle on the financial side of this adoption, we received a fee increase notice from our agency!!!  Ugh!  $2,000 more we need to come up with.  Fabulous.

He'll be worth every dime, but why oh why must it be so expensive!?!

We will not let this dampen our excitement.  Armenia here we come!  We just might not be able to get back home.

Speaking of excitement, there was a great article in this months edition of Adoptive Families magazine about how much difference there is in the level of excitement between the announcement of a pregnancy, and the announcement of an adoption.  Dramatic difference.  I can't link to the article yet, but I will.  Basically it said that when a pregnancy is announced, there are squeals of delight, and offers of baby showers.  When an adoption is announced, well, let's just say, the response is more along the lines of, "Oh, really?"  "How nice" or "good luck with that."

I'm not feeling sorry for myself at all here, we have received lot's of support for the most part, and truly I don't care what others think.  Also, I experienced the pregnancy excitement thing 3 times, and while that too gets less exciting to others the more times you make that announcement, it's still more exciting that the dreaded "adoption" announcement.  I'm not sad for myself, I'm sad for those first time adoptive Mom's who have first struggled with infertility, and now have to deal with others who think adoption is less special, less miraculous, a second choice.  They spend their wait explaining their choice to others, and educating those around them.

Why does adoption have to be so expensive, and so full of heartbreak?