Friday, October 17, 2014

Adoption update. . . the end of the beginning

Well, it's been a while since we actually updated on the state of our adoption process!  Back in the summer, we had a second fundraiser yard sale but this time we had it at Christian's parents'.  This time, things were a little different. We were a little more prepared since we'd done one sale before and we had more large items than little knick knacky type items.  Christian's parents had friends donate to the sale so they were storing some things for us, we still had some things left over from the last sale, PLUS a number of large items we just couldn't transport to my parents' house the first time around.  I have fantastic relatives in Murrieta (where our sale took place) and they came out a few days before, loaded up their truck with items and took a few things.  It was better for us since we didn't have to rent a truck this time and could keep whatever we made from the sale.

Hanging out in the garage during the sale.

We wound up making a prety good chunk of change at the yard sales went toward the Consultant and our homestudy costs.  A group of AMAZING friends online spent tons of time and money on a online auction for us as well. Amazing people in our lives these days.  Watch for a tshirt fundraiser coming soon. We are also hoping to land a matching grant.  More on that soon. . . 

But the biggest news is WE ARE DONE WITH OUR HOMESTUDY!!!!!!!!!!!  All that paperwork, all those appointments and things to fill out, interviews and the home visit are all DONE.  Just waiting on our adoption profile to get finished up and we are ACTIVE with our Consultant.  Praying for our new little one and his/her birth family.  Whoever they all may be. . . 
"An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break." 

--An ancient Chinese belief

Friday, October 10, 2014

School: Plugging Right Along

So I've gotten a few questions from people about Claire's homeschooling.  Mainly, how it's going and what we are doing. Last year I tried to figure out what the best course of action might be for Claire.  She's smart kid, for sure.  At 3 she knew her letters and sounds so I felt like a preschool curriculum might not be great for her 4th grade year BUT I also knew that I didn't want to push since, in many ways, she really is still a 4 year old.  SO I was told, by numerous homeschoolers to check out the Kindergarten Curriculum put out by My Father World.  I mulled over the decision for a long time and am really glad, so far, we went with this.  It is a SUPER gentle Kindergarten curriculum.  There are worksheets to do but it's definitely not worksheet heavy.  There's a lot of art and coloring and reading stories and going outside.  She loves the Classical Music component, the Cuisinaire rods, the letter activities, the outside activities and I love how she really seems to be absorbing everything.  Our first week we talked about the Sun and the letter S.  We practiced writing it, drawing pictures of things that start with S, learning about the sun and it's light.  The theme was "Jesus is the  Light of the World."

Claire is starting to pick out her own "outfits" in the morning.  99% of the time, we are "doing school" with her wearing some sort of costume she pulls out of her costume trunk. . .

The following unit was the moon and letter L.  She learned about the phases of the moon, wrote the letter M, build a "rocket ship" under the kitchen table and learned that the moon does not have it's own light but reflects the light of the Sun. SO the theme was about how we reflect God's light and "I am the light of the world" because we, like the moon, reflect the light of Jesus.  

Ashlyn likes to get in on the homeschool action. We aren't doing anything formal with her at this point, but she has learned all her letters and likes to point them out when we are out and about town.

We are still attending the Joyful Parenting: Music and Art class at N. OC Continuing Ed.  It's free and two hours every Thursday. We love it. The Thursday class is so well done and gives the girls a chance to be with other kids and me a chance to meet other parents.  Right now the theme is fall so we've done apples and trees and leaves and there is a new letter of the week.  They do circle time, they sing, they dance, free play, eat lunch together and at the end of October they'll be doing a costume parade.  

Walking to "Bear Class" (they always sing a song about a bear at the end of class so the girls call it "Bear Class")

Claire is really starting to meet friends at the group and I love watching is develop with her.  She wants to sit next to certain kids for lunchtime.  Ashlyn is still pretty oblivious but enjoys the other kids and is starting to sit for longer periods in the circle, listening to the story.  Last Spring, I would usually find myself in the hallway of the building with Ashlyn who was overdue for a nap and ready for it all to be over.  Now, she is starting to really "fit in."

"Everything grows and grows. . . babies do. . . animals too. . . everything grows. . . "

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Road Trippin' with Kids!

It's been a couple of weeks but in mid September we were blessed with a new (to us) car.  Our neighbor was selling and Expedition and we went ahead and decided to take the plunge and buy it.  It's a 2003, 130K miles and, thus far, is running great.  We love the extra room in the car, love that we can haul things, love that it represents new members of our family with every empty seat.  On our last family trip to Arrowhead with family, we realized that we REALLY needed another car.  Even with the two we have, plus luggage, it was getting to be, seriously, cramped.  Couple that with our hope to adopt this year or early next year AND our desire to immerse our kids in God's amazing creation on vacations, we needed something bigger. The car dropped into our lap and we got it for a few thousand less than our budget so we have been very happy. 

The only part of this that we haven't totally loved is the new price tag at the gas pump. . . but we knew that with anything we bought, we were looking at a bit of a change in that area.  We did consider, however, how much less I'll be driving now that I'm not working at the school this year and figure it will even out.  I do take the girls places for field trips, playdates etc. but not nearly the miles I was putting on the Honda everyday, back and forth from Placentia.

One the first things we did with the car (like, two days after we bought it) was take it on a serious road trip.  Most of you know by now I'm a BIG believer in doTERRA essential oils.  I bought a ticket to doTERRA's yearly convention and had no idea how I was going to swing going.  I didn't know I'd be on a leave of absence from my job.  I just took a huge leap of faith and grabbed aa ticket.  After discussing options (including leaving the girls and Christian home, leaving just the girls home and trying to get Christian a ticket, etc.) we decided that the girls (specifically Ashlyn) were just too young to leave that long.  So we decided to make it a family road trip.  I would go to convention, Christian would take the girls on daytrips in Salt Lake City.  Several times I questioned the sanity of our decision. . . but it ended up working out fine.
The day before we left, however, I panicked a bit when Claire started showing signs of a runny nose, slight cough and the tell-tale bags under her eyes.  Immediately, I made a roller ball bottle of:
20 drops Oregano
30 drops OnGuard
40 drops Lemon
20 drops Melaleuca
and topped it off with doTERRA's Fractionated Coconut Oil 

Claire INSISTED on taking care of it herself and since I, really do, want to teach her to be a manager of her own health, I taught her to use the roller herself.  She swiped it once on her feet every half hour the day before, and then throughout our drive to Salt Lake.  You know what?  Those oils truly helped her body fight off that infection and we weren't plagued with the illness the rest of the trip.  She got over that cold in two days.  No one else got it.  We swiped Ashlyn's feet as a preventative and then the two of us did the same. Now I use the roller as a "hand sanitizer" when the girls are at Mommy and Me or out and about.

So here's how the trip went:
Wednesday, we took the whole day and drove from the LA/Orange County area to Salt Lake City in one day.  This was something we REALLY thought wouldn't go well and we'd just have to endure this leg.  But it really wasn't bad at all.
A few tips:
1. My mom got the girls a gift bag of snacks, crafts, books etc they could open at our discretion.  For the most part, the girls got a new thing every hour BUT if they were still playing with something or eating something, happily, at the time they were to open another gift, I didn't mention anything.  I knew we had a long drive back as well and figured, whatever they didn't open on the the way to Salt Lake City, they could open on the way home.  This worked out perfectly since at 4 and 2, they really have zero concept of time.
2. Stories on CD.  This is where I, actually, wish we had been more prepared.  I mean, the girls were FINE but listening to the same three Life at the Pond CDs was grating on OUR nerves after a while (remember it was a 12 hour drive with all the bathroom and food stops).
3. Bring music CDs the kids AND adults enjoy. We have a couple cds of kids singing hymns and a couple more of kids singing worship songs infused with classic hymns.  We actually like listening to the CDs.  I also brought along a few Elizabeth Mitchell (folk type songs for kids) that we enjoy as well as some of our own (classical music with nature sounds, jazz albums etc) that the kids like that would pass the hours in the car.  This is what worked for us.  But thinking in terms of what will make the hours go fast was crucial for us.
4. If you subscribe to a kid magazine like Ranger Rick or some other, I suggest bringing every issue you have lying around.  We subscribe to High Five (preschool version of Highlights) and I brought every single one PLUS books.  We did bring the Leap Pad but used it a grand total of 1 hour on the entire trip (there and back).  I fully believe that kids don't *need* this sort of thing and that that can learn a lot from just looking out the window, and doing the above mentioned activities.  Now, I will point out that I don't have kids who get carsick yet.  That would have been a WHOLE other blog post.  But I had the DigestZen ready to go in case of any major issues.
5.  Bring a portable diffuser and pump your kids' and your favorite calming blend during the drive.  Ours happens to be Citrus Bliss (I also use this one in church for the girls).

For the most part, we were pretty good at making potty stops at actual rest stops. . . but this happened twice between driving to Utah and coming home. . .clearly, it didn't bother our children.  I suggest the Baby Bjorn potty for this sort of thing, but I'm sure any plastic travel potty will do just fine ;-)

Finally getting to the motel was a HUGE relief for the kids.  (And for us, for sure).

We brought two Kid's Aerobeds (the BEST for small kids and travel. . . truly) and all the girls bedding so they had some familiar landscape around them when they went to bed.  We rubbed Cedarwood and Serenity on them and put both oils in a diffuser for bedtimes and hotel bedtime went great for us!

During the next few days, I attended doTERRA's convention and Christian took the girls and various outings and did school with Claire in the hotel room.
Let me tell you.  I was in love with doTERRA and their oils before convention but, man.  What a classy company.  I love the way they source their oils, their transparency with their Wellness Advocates and the public and their impact on the economies they source and distill their oils from.  I am even more impressed with the team of SERIOUS scientists on board with this company.  I, now, understand why I've been able to get off my asthma meds, Christian has been able to manage his RLS, my girls can sleep better and sit in church for periods of time and focus on the Word (more on that in another post).  The care and the integrity is amazing.  I'll tell you.  I'd NEVER EVER thought I'd be doing what I am doing now.  I've been allergic to MLMs since I was little. But I have to spread the word.  And, shoot, if it brings my family a little income and, maybe soon, replaces my income I lost when I quit working at the school, awesome.  I get to teach classes about what I love and share what has SO impaced our family and not feel slimy about it in the least since I know, first hand, how amazing it all is.  BTW, did I mention I was one of 18,000 people there?  That we filled up the Enegry Solutions Arena for General Sessions (Utah Jazz Arena). Yeah. What a great week for me.

Christian, however, had a slightly different week.  Although we were able to meet up for dinner one night at an upline's evening event that they let me bring Christian and the girls to, for the most part, he spent the daytime with the girls going on outings and napping at the motel while I learned all kinds of great information. First stop was Utah's Hogle Zoo.   Besides Christian commenting that it was really odd to the the only male with kids there by himself that day during a weekday, he said it was a good size zoo and that he and the girls had a great experience there.

Trip to the zoo ended with ice cream which is always a plus for both girls. 

That night, the girls and Christian got to come with me to a dinner party for our doTERRA team.  It was really nice to have been there and that they let them come.  The girls did great with all those adults and, ironically, it was held at Discovery Gateway, the Children's Museum Christian brought the girls to the following morning.
Super blurry but you get the idea. . . 
Now, both the girls and Christian gave RAVE reviews of the Discovery Gateway.  Amazing place.  Claire kept saying she wanted to go back even after we were back in CA.  
Two thumbs up, Salt Lake City. 

One of my favorite stories was of the ladies Christian and the girls met a breakfast at the motel.  These two were at the convention from Japan.  Claire told them their mommy was at an "oils class" the ladies, who were already enamoured with the girls, got very excited and wanted to take pictures with the "Oil Babies!"  

Our trip home was uneventful.  I had to skip out of the final session of the convention so we could get on the road after lunchtime.  We stopped in Mesquete, Nevada on Saturday night.
Ashlyn coloring before bedtime. 
The next morning we headed out and made it back to Chino (after having breakfast at the Casino we stayed at) at around 4 or so.

Although, at stop at the Mad Greek in Baker is always a must when coming back to Southern CA from Nevada.
Good to be home but after that experience, I'm ready for more road trip with this family!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

You might be a California homeschooler if. . .

You might be a California homeschooler if...

You attempt to make raisins in your backyard in October. . . and succeed because it's 90 degrees outside. 

Or if your kid goes outside in the mid-morning to check out her shadow. . . and you get to tell her all about it. . .
Or you feel like you should by stock in Hobby Lobby or Michael's because you are going through art supplies life CRAZY and you might as well get a few dollars back. . .
You make salt dough . . .

so you can add a homemade sundial (complete with pencil for checking the time) to your backyard collection of odd things you may find in the backyard of a homeschooler. . .
Or you bake cookies in the middle of the day in order to do a sensory letter activity. . . and wind up baking your preschooler's whole name. :-)

All this to say, the first few weeks of homeschooling Claire have gone great!  She loves activities, loves art, loves reading, and does pretty well with her introductory math assignments.  She doesn't love handwriting. Yet. Daddy teaches her one day a week while I work as a tutor/teacher at a homeschool group and we are all learning how best to teach her and Ashlyn (who sometimes joins in). But we are blessed to be able to do this this year.  Taking it one week at a time.

Game Nights

I just needed to make a quick shout out blog post to this group of crazies.  There is a group of 8 of us who all still get together, roughly, once a month for game night.  As of right now, the kids outnumber us by one (and a couple of us have indicated that probably won't be the end of it).  The group made it to our house last event and a good time was had by all.  I love my "computer friends," I really, really do. But am blessed to have these people who we have a history with, who share our faith and who have kids whom I'm so glad my kids get to grow up around.

Yeah.  It's good.  Sometimes goofy (like when all the guys get together to play Star Trek Catan. . . yeah, not going there) but good.