slide show

Monday, April 29, 2013

Classical Conversations Ceremony

The kiddos are officially finished their first year of Classical Conversations!  Although our homeschool year is certainly not over (we'll be doing some schooling through the summer - Angel is overjoyed about that, ha!), I cannot believe that CC Cycle 1 has come to an end.  We celebrated with a year end ceremony this evening.  It was raining on the kids (and my camera), so this was a "ya get what ya get" photo op.  I am so incredibly proud of my littles and all they have accomplished this school year.  I am even more excited about what our next homeschool year will bring - the fun is just beginning.  I'm feeling so blessed to have the special privilege to school them at home, what an honor!

Below is a small snippet of the almost-15-minute Timeline Song the kids worked hard at memorizing this school year.  It includes 161 world events, starting at Creation and going through 9/11.  Because of its length, the kids performed the song from Creation to Jesus Christ, and they did a great job!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A sweet message

Coffee is an important part of my day.  When we did the Daniel Fast in November, there were hours that went by when I thought about the day I could drink coffee again.  My love affair with coffee is pretty serious.  On that note, I make a double cappuccino to take with me for our LAST Classical Conversations co-op day this week.  What a beautiful little surprise to see this heart in my foam before I stirred.  I showed Angel and she agreed that I had to snap a picture.  It was a sweet message to start the day off.  It's the little things, right?

Friday, April 19, 2013

She said it

Apparently she listens to me more than I think.
Out of the blue, in the middle of her ramblings today, she said it.
She said, "China.  China Mommy!"
In disbelief, I asked her if she had said "China Mommy," and she nodded yes.
So I walked her into her bedroom with her, pointed to the picture of her foster mama and asked, "Who's that?"
She looked at me, smiled, and answered, "Mommy.  China Mommy."
I really had no idea that she paid attention to the before-bed rocking chair talks I had with her (or more with myself).
Even though her verbal language is still newly developing,
she obviously listens to me, understands, and retains A LOT.
At two years old, she is wise beyond her years.
She will have so many thoughts to process as she grows up.
And I am honored to be able to help her through whatever may come.
God has given me such a gift in her and I love being her mama.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


This is what reading time looked like at our house yesterday during Sunshine's nap time.  They both picked a new Barefoot Book and dug right in.  The Monster Stories series is bit easier than Angel's reading level, but she loved reading it and was able to just about finish up the book in one sitting.  This particular story was a tale from South Africa!  Lovebug had fun listening to Tales of Wisdom & Wonder on CD while following along.  His favorite was "the monkey one" (his words) - a story from Haiti.

I caught a glimpse of them reading together, and just had to grab my camera. So very sweet!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Egg painting

I am finally getting around to blogging our egg painting adventures.  Better late than never, right?  So yes, we actually painted our Easter eggs this year.  It was quite a messy endeavor, but the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves regardless.  All three of my treasures just love all things creative, so this was a non-traditional way to have fun with Easter eggs.  Sunshine was covered in red paint afterward, and her little hands stayed dyed like that for several days!  They all had colorful hands for a few days, but she had the worst of it.  Creating with reckless abandon?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

It feels good to be heard

Almost two years ago, we took Sunshine to her first cleft clinic day.  It was a very long day (smack dab in the middle of nap time, mind you) filled with seeing lots of doctors who poked and prodded my child ... the child who had only been home from China for a month and had already been through more trauma than a lot of kids will experience in their whole lifetime ... the child who didn't truly trust her parents yet.  The last doctor we saw that day (after hours of being shuffled around) was the ENT.  At that point, Sunshine was starving, sleep deprived, traumatized, and just plain mad.  Totally understandable, I would have been mad too.  As I forcefully held Sunshine down while she was kicking and screaming, the ENT looked into her ears and told us she couldn't see anything because of the wax build-up.  She then said she'd need to clean out her ears to get a good look.

That's about the time I put the brakes on.  I didn't even know what "cleaning out her ears" would entail, but I knew it was going to be too traumatic for my girl.  Very much against the ENT's judgment, I told her that we would not be cleaning out her ears right then.  I just knew it was too much.  She had already been through so much that day, and let's face it, Sunshine. didn't. trust. me.  Annoyed and frustrated with me, the ENT reluctantly agreed and said that it could be done while she was under general anesthesia before the tubes were placed.  That sounded like a much better idea to me.  My mama bear claws retracted and I turned back into my "normal" mostly-pleasant self.

Now let me be clear, I do not advocate routinely denying medical procedures for children.  But in that moment, at that exact time, I knew in my heart that "cleaning out her ears" was just not in Sunshine's best interest and it was up to me to say so.  Almost two years later, I still believe that was the right decision.  Sunshine went onto have her ears cleaned and tubes placed under general anesthesia without complication, and it all worked out just fine.

So fast-forward to yesterday, Sunshine had an ENT check-up.  It was "standard procedure" - just to check her hearing, and decide whether she'd need another set of tubes.  I'm happy to report that she's on the lower end of "normal" for hearing and that because her speech is coming along so well, they don't see any need for another set of tubes right now!  She did need to have her ears cleaned though (something about Asian ear wax and those tiny ear canals makes them difficult to keep clean at home).  I agreed and made some off-the-cuff comment about it being totally different two years later.

And that's when the ENT had a lightbulb moment ... she said, "Ahhhh, you're that mom.  You know, I have to tell you ... ever since you said what you said, I've stopped requiring newly adopted kids to have their ears cleaned.  You really stuck with me, and what you said makes a lot of sense."  A big smile came across my face knowing that my decision had been validated.  Mamas really do know best and we are our children's best advocates.  Sunshine then went on to have her ears cleaned out yesterday, sans trauma.  It sure does feels good to be heard.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Barefoot Books and a GIVEAWAY!

I recently learned about a company called Barefoot Books from my sweet friend Kelly, and just knew I needed to be a part of it.  Barefoot Books is an independent multicultural publisher of children's books for ages birth to adult, and oh my the illustrations are exquisite!  The books capture the beauty and wonder of childhood, and give children the opportunity to explore other cultures, our planet, and themselves. The books are geared toward sparking a child's imagination, making time for make believe and letting imaginations run wild and free.  Barefoot Books has a strong focus on literacy and learning - to support learning and make it fun!

As a homeschooling mama, I am so excited to use these high-quality books to help instill a love of reading in my children!  Barefoot Books speaks to my heart because of the whimsical illustrations and multicultural tales.  And as an Independent Ambassador for Barefoot Books, I will participate in community events, fairs, and festivals.  I will also be organizing book fairs and fundraisers for schools, organizations, and adoption funds.  I promise I will not be asking you to host a home party, although if you need a gift or a few new books for your family, please head on over to My Marketplace, Baltimore Barefoot Books, to look around.  I can guarantee that you'll find many products to fit your needs, and I can ship your order if you aren't local!

To kick off my new venture, I am offering three bestselling Barefoot Books in a giveaway for FREE!  They add up to a $40 value: The Gigantic TurnipThe Barefoot Books World Atlas, and The Animal Boogie (includes a CD!).

To enter, head on over to the Facebook page - all you need to do is "like" the page, and enter the giveaway!  No blog comments, easy peasy!  I'll keep everyone posted on special offers, sales, reviews, and new titles :-)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Nature vs. Nurture

Sometimes as I rock Sunshine to bed at night, I think about her first mother. I mostly grieve for all that she will not have the privilege of experiencing with our special girl. I wonder what she is doing now and if she thinks of our daughter. I wonder if she knows how loved Sunshine is and what a true blessing she is to our family. I wonder if she knows how honored I am to be her mama. I wonder if she is curious about her personality, and the cool little person she is growing into.

A few nights ago as we rocked and I was singing You Are My Sunshine, Sunshine started singing along. She’s been singing with me off-and-on for several months now, and it is just the sweetest thing a mama could hear from her speech-delayed baby! But it got me wondering about her first mother a little bit more. Did she like to sing? Does Sunshine sing along with me because her first mother was musically inclined? Or is it simply because I’ve been singing to her for almost two years? Is Sunshine’s feisty, sugar and spice personality a product of her environment or is her first mother the same way? Is she silly because she learned from her older brother or was her first mother also silly? Do they have the same desire to help others? The same keep-trying-till-I-get-it attitude? Are they both observant and careful or did Sunshine learn to be that way because of her life experiences? Is Sunshine loving and affectionate and sweet because we love her in a similar way? Or is it because her first mother was sweet and loving and caring as well? Maybe it’s nature. Maybe it’s nurture. I can’t help but wonder what parts of her personality were decided while still in her first mother’s belly. It’s a part of my daughter’s history that I just don’t know, and is unfortunately unknown in many adoptions.

Oftentimes, I take it for granted that Sunshine just is who she is. I don’t think about the parts of her that her first mother gave her. She is just “Sunshine” to me on most days. There are sometimes when I see her do something that I know, without a doubt, she learned from our family ... things she does that have her big brother or big sister written all over them. It’s undeniable. “Oh, she got that from Lovebug,” I can easily say. But I just don’t know about many of the other traits. I’ll probably never have answers to these questions, but it doesn’t stop me from wondering. And it shouldn’t stop me from celebrating what may have come from her first mother. Even though I may not know the exact traits that she gave Sunshine, they are no less important. And I love her first mother for giving them to her. Sunshine is growing into a miraculous, inspiring little girl partly because of “nature” and partly because of “nurture.” What a beautiful thing that is to witness.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

STUCK and a Giveaway!

If you are in the adoption community, you have probably heard of the new documentary called "STUCK" that has been showing all over the U.S.  It's "a new, award-winning documentary film that reveals the deeply personal, real-life stories of children and parents navigating a roller coaster of bureaucracy on their journeys through the international adoption system, each filled with hope, elation - and sometimes heartbreak."  Words won't do the documentary justice, so please click on the link below to view the trailer!

Oh and here's the GIVEAWAY part!  The producers of STUCK have given me TWO FREE TICKETS to give to one of my readers for a screening!  Go check out the screening schedule to find out if they are coming to your area.  If you'd like to enter the giveaway for TWO FREE TICKETS, go "like" their Facebook page and then come back and leave a comment telling my why you'd like to see STUCK!  One entry per person.  The deadline for entry into the giveaway is April 10th at midnight - you have one week to win!

UPDATE - The winner of the giveaway is KAREN WELLS!!  Congratulations Karen!!  I used to randomly draw a winner:

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Bread & Beans

Bread & Beans Center services hungry and homeless people in the Baltimore area - they provide hundreds of lunches five days a week and offer an array of other services.  They are truly reaching out to "the least of these" in many substantial ways.  They are in the process of expanding their center and starting April 1st, their kitchen is closed for renovations for 2 months.  They reached out to the community to help provide the meals they would be unable to put together during that time.  Our small group happily accepted the task for one day - we were in charge of gathering supplies and assembling 100 bag lunches.  This included a meat & cheese sandwich, a fruit, a drink, and a sweet treat.  We did this at our house, and then a sweet friend delivered all 100 lunches to the Bread & Beans Center.

It sounded a little overwhelming and expensive, but wow, God sure provided for us.  Bagel Works provided the bread (leftovers from the day that weren't used and would have been thrown out otherwise), Red Brick Station donated ALL of the meat and cheese (that is over 20 lbs of turkey and 5 lbs of cheese, people!), and Chic-Fil-A donated mustard and mayo packets.  And then our small group filled in the rest, providing fruit, juice boxes, yummy homemade treats, and paper bags.

We had a few assembly lines going while a few of us drew love notes on the outsides of the bags.  This was a perfect service project for the kids to be involved in, and it made an impact.  Angel said at one point, "Mom, this is so cool!  I can't believe we're doing this!"  Almost brought tears to my eyes!!  It was a beautiful night and we were finished in 30 minutes!  100 bag lunches created and stuffed in 30 minutes.  So super cool.  We had a fun time serving together, and it was amazing to see how many businesses were willing to help out.  We also heard from many other people that they wished they had known so they could have gotten involved too!

And that's why I wrote this big long blog post, as well as snapped a few pictures ... if you are local and interested in covering some of the bag lunches, Bread & Beans NEEDS your helps!  They have most of the April dates covered but still have quite a few May dates to take care of.  Will you please consider serving them in this way?  I promise it's fun and rewarding, and the kids will love it!  You only need to get several families together and make some phone calls to make it a true success.  Email Kathleen at for more information about available dates!