Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I'm going on the Mayflower...

(While many of the school activities we complete as a whole family are primary age, Sunshine participates because several do provide the opportunity for introspection, and I truly appreciate her point of view and contributions to our discussion.)

After spending time reading our books from the library about Thanksgiving, I thought it would be fun to really make my kids think about being a pilgrim on the Mayflower.  We read and discussed what a pilgrim is, and what it might have been like to feel like you had to leave your home and extended family because you were no longer accepted in your current location.  We also discussed what a pilgrim may have packed in their trunk/suitcase for this voyage.  And then the girls set out to make their packing list.  I thought the activity was cute and fun.  They all enjoyed it!

Sunshine was very practical in her list making, sure to include things she treasures but also practical items.  Belle is, evidently, going to bring her flat screen t.v. and telephone...just like what I presume most pilgrims would pack.  ;)

Of course, Punky was most concerned with coloring the paper.  When the girls tried to help her make a packing list she thought that meant she was really going to put her kitty in a suitcase.  That was a little confusing and required some persuasion on our part...since the kitty did not want to be in the suitcase against her will.  :)

And here is the downloadable suitcase insert that reads, 
"I am going on the Mayflower, this is what I will bring:"

Monday, November 14, 2011

11.14.03...Eight years.

We have been talking a lot about National Adoption Month in our home. It obviously means a lot to our family and we want to advocate for adoption. With permission from my daughter, I am sharing a bit more of our story here. Again, I will leave out details that compromise her privacy. I have said it before and will say it a million more times (and hope that other adoptive parents stand by the same philosophy): the details of her story are hers to tell, when and to whom she chooses. 

Eight years ago this morning, I woke up after actually sleeping very little. I woke up feeling hugely pregnant. I woke up excited and nervous. I woke up ready to put something behind me that caused much stress, but also created a family. I didn't give birth that day...not in the literal sense. But after many "labor pains" we celebrated the growth of our family.

 Memorable moments...
*On the way to court, my mom got a speeding ticket. She was just a little excited. Makes me laugh to think about it now, but hey, this was her first grandkid we're talking about!
 *Watching my husband stand up for our family, I was amazed by his strength. I don't know why because I always knew it was there. On days when I'm feeling down, I can think back to that moment and I feel strong, too.
 *Seeing a room full of people ready to celebrate our growing family. Those were the people who stood beside us when we needed them, who supported us though an unconventional process. Those people encouraged us and loved us and reminded us how important this was. People who helped us in ways we didn't know we'd need help when the adventure began. Those are the same people we turn to today if we need support and encouragement.

 The most memorable moment, when the judge finally said those words, finally called her by her full name that matched ours, and we walked out of the courtroom for the last time.

  Happy adoption day to my sweet girl. Happy adoption day to our entire FAMILY!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

11...and a half

The day before Halloween is Sunshine's 1/2 birthday. This year it's 11...and a half. Wow! Time sure has flown! Half birthdays at our house are pretty exciting. First, you get to choose the main meal (mom-made). This year Sunshine chose shrimp pasta and salad. This one is a family fave so nobody complained! Half birthdays are also celebrated with 1/2 of a cake. I happened to have an apple pie ready for the oven, so we baked that and then stuck six candles (because it's been six months since her bday) into 1/2 of the pie. All of the celebrating is topped off with one present...something Mom or Dad know you want and they know you *just can't* wait until your next birthday (or Christmas). For Sunshine, that was a new jacket that she fell in love with. She's our budding fashionista. ;)

Pyramid to Plate

I try really hard to be a thrifty homeschooler. We have a room full of books, but I like to use textbooks as a guide. Our goal has always been that if something happens and our kids have to go back to public school, they will be right where they need to be. I have no doubt that they are well-rounded and could perform well in school. But I stil like to know that I'm meeting their needs. I tried letting them choose subjects to study in science, but we kept studying animals. We learned A LOT about animals, but not much about other topics. :) Starting in late spring, any time I'm in Half Price Books I'll cruise through their homeschooling section. It's really hit or miss, but after a few trips I usually find what I need to cover science and social studies. Last spring I found a science book for Belle, it's on her level and is full of great information. It is also full of great little investigations (hands-on, one for each lesson) and we have had great fun filling her science journal with data and observations. It is a "retired" public school book, so a few things are out of date. But, since it's general life science, it's not too far off base. The one thing we did find was the Food Guide Pyramid. However, even current adoptions are out of date since the government's plate concept is very new. No worries! We modified the book with a little help from some internet-found graphics and voila! Before:

Monday, November 07, 2011

Normalizing a taboo subject (National Adoption Month)

November is National Adoption Month.  I could post a million startling statistics, but the truth is that there are far too many children in this world who are without a family.  A family to love, encourage, nurture and raise them to be the future of this planet.  What can YOU do for this cause...for these children?

Caution:  Soap-box issue ahead!  

When I was a kid, adoption was a hush-hush subject.  Nobody talked about it openly, at least not in my immediate circle.  Making a new friend and then finding out they were adopted was like opening a door to a whole new world of curiosities.  As a teenager, I fantasized about adopting a child:  What would the process be like?  Would I pursue international or domestic adoption?  Would I meet and marry someone who agreed with this desire?  Who knew...?  

In college, I met an amazing man.  I knew from the beginning that he was a special guy.  Fast-forward through a couple years of dating and trying to find our place in the world...we were called to adopt a child.  (I am leaving out details out of respect for my child, who has her own story to tell in her own time.)  It was, by far, the most amazing experience in so many ways.  I have never been through anything that has caused as much personal growth, or inspired more growth in my relationships with others, particularly with my husband.  

Since the adoption was finalized, we have been blessed with 2 biological children.  Our family dynamic is amazing.  Our kids are all ours, treated equally and loved unconditionally.  There has never been a question in our minds or our hearts about the growth of our family.  

Almost everyone has a cause they're passionate about.  I'm passionate about foster care adoption.  It is all about what has impacted each individual's life.  I became an even stronger advocate of foster care adoption when I learned that hundreds of American babies are adopted OUT of the US each year.

About six years ago, this issue was in the news because there were rumors that the government would ratify the international treaty that allowed this to happen so easily.  This change did not occur, and the issue has been pushed to the back burner in recent years.  

There are many reasons why this happens so often (the main reason is outlined in the PEOPLE article linked above), but that it happens at all is astonishing to me.  To read the words, " ...the US is now the fourth largest 'supplier' of babies for adoption to Canada," made my stomach turn.  

This subject obviously runs deep, is emotionally charged, and cannot be fully covered or resolved in my simple blog post.  My only hope to help people become aware of this situation, and most importantly to raise awareness and continue to erase the stigma that surrounds adoption.  

My next Adoption Month post:  Why your joke hurts my feelings, and how I'm learning to overcome.