Sunday, July 31, 2011

Halfway up that thermometer...

Paul and I are in awe of what God has done in the last few weeks.  If you notice, our thermometer that's tracking donations is up past halfway tonight!  A sweet, sweet woman in a church back home donated a huge amount to us, and she will be blessed by her Heavenly Father for it... she is the most self-less person I have ever met.  I can think of several other things she should or could have done with that money.  But she didn't.  Thank you, M! Thank you, Jesus!

It is humbling to see the body of Christ working together to love others and give children a home...  to bring our daughter home... blessed, loved, ... 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Tapestry of Grace Year One: Week One highlights

This week we began by studying the ancient Egyptian civilization.  Here are some photo highlights of what the kids did this week.  It was a great week, and I'm amazed at what we accomplished, and all the arts and crafts we did!
Decorating our notebook covers, while pretending to be pirates, for some reason...

K LOVES math... who knew?  

Writing With Ease copywork.

We made Egyptian paddle dolls. This was a big hit, and still is. 

Keeping it real.  The house after school on Wednesday...

L's  note-booking activity after our history readings. 

The obligatory rolling up with toilet paper as a mummy. : )

We made salt maps to learn about geographic terms like cliffs, peninsulas, mountain ranges, deltas, and more.

Then we celebrated finishing our first week of school by having donuts today! :)

And even I learned a few things... 
-Did you know that Egyptians mostly all, men and women alike, shaved their heads and wore wigs due to the extreme heat? 
-Did you know Egyptian farmers trained monkeys to climb up trees and throw down fruit to them?

This was a great week, a much better week than I could have envisioned.  The kids loved it and it went really smoothly.  Loving it....

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How I'm Getting Organized and Planning

Now that L is in first grade, I feel like this home schooling stuff is kicked into serious business. :)  I've got to really be doing a good job, no, a great job... I can't function if I'm not well-organized in things like this.  So I spent a few weeks reading all of the Tapestry materials, looking over the Loom online where they provide helpful hints, assignment charts, extra links, etc.  I devoured my Well-Trained Mind book and took tons of notes.  I'm going to outline the system I came up with implement everything we're doing this year in hopefully the easiest way possible, and stay on top of it all...

1. 9-week planning: I have put together the worksheets, math, phonics, notebooking sheets, student activity pages, maps, and everything for each week in an accordion folder:

 2.  Weekly Planning:  Each week, I pull out the stack of papers for that week from the blue accordion folder and file them by student and by day in another black folder.

3. Daily Planning:  Each evening before school the next day, I pull out the papers for that day and file them either in their work folders, like here: 
 or in their notebooks, depending on what kind of worksheet/paper it is.  (Phonics, math, grammar and writing are work folder material.  Sometimes geography as well.  History, Student Activity sheets, and maps from Tapestry are in their notebooks.)
This is L's "working" notebook.  It contains the work for 1-3 weeks at a time that is complete. 

It also contains his assignment charts that we fill out together.  He gets to decide what days to read which history and literature reading assignments, and which activities to do on which days.  This is the assignment chart from this week. 

It also contains his Tapestry activity pages and maps.  We will also file all completed work for the week in here to keep track off for 1-3 weeks before filing it somewhere else permanently. (I'm still working this part out yet... one binder per subject? A big divided binder per unit?  Can't decided...)

Then I have my Teacher's "working" notebook.  I have our week scheduled into time slots for a daily loose routine on the front page, 
 then weekly assignment charts for both kids behind the first tab, like below. (I made these all in advance while I was putting together the 9-week accordion folder... So each Sunday, I can just print it out and stick it in my binder.)
 The rest is the Tapestry teacher's notes and assignment charts for 3 weeks, the teacher's answer maps, and lapbook instructions, one divider for upcoming projects and supplies I'll need, and any other notes I have.  So far, this system is working really well (three days in, I know...), but I can see it working really well for the entire year.  I think the hours I put in at the front end are paying off.  No scrambling and running around looking for things, no wondering what's going to happen tomorrow... no ripping pages out of a workbook at the last minute.

One other thing I wanted to share is how I set up L's word banks.  I found these tubs at a plastic store here and thought they were perfect!

So far we've only written common noun cards, but this will get more full as the year goes on.  A 3x5 card cut in half is the perfect size for these sections, which is great, because I get two cards out of one! : )

Happy organizing and planning!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Orphanage Closures in Ethiopia

We received sad news today that MOWA, who oversees orphans and adoptions in Ethiopia, is closing or has closed as many as 40 orphanages this week.  This means that any children who came from those orphanages will not be granted letters by MOWA for their court cases to be passed.  Some of these children have already met their would-have-been adoptive parents, and their parents have been to court.  This is a very sad situation for these families.

We will be praying for these families and lifting them up in this difficult time of grief and loss, and praying that God would make a way...

I'm so thankful to say that our agency was not affected at all by these closures.  Thank you, Lord, for your mercy...

In other world adoption news, the State Department posted this week that India is temporarily suspending the acceptance of new dossiers/application for foreign adoptions.  They said India is back logged with cases and hoping to catch up and plan to re-open the end of September.  Again this morning, Paul and I were amazed at how God knows all... if we were still pursuing India we would likely not have our dossier completed, but be getting close, and would not be able to submit it now until at least the end of September... but something tells me it could take longer than they expect to get caught up.  Living here has taught me that they tend to under-estimate these kind of things. : )

So, this morning, we are humbled and thankful to be in the situation we are in, knowing that many families have just received devastating news.  Thankful to the Lord for not choosing us to go through these trials, and praying for strength for those he has chosen to bless with these difficulties...

Monday, July 25, 2011

On Pins and Needles

We are sensing that our referral is coming any day.  Our agency uses a private Yahoo group for families to communicate with each other.  They send out regular Family Progress Reports, detailing who's where in the process.  It was easy for an obsessive person like me to look at the report just before we got on it and see what families were there and make a list.  As the reports come out and families get their referrals, I've been ticking them off.  So on Saturday, the only other family that was on the list before us accepted their referral.  From what we can tell... we're next or close to next.

Every time I stop and think about that I will see her face soon... that I will see that email in my inbox... that I will read her name and how old she is and her general health... I get such butterflies.  The anticipation is so. much. fun.  I cannot wait to see her face!  I wish it would hurry up and come...

But at the same time, we've been able to just go on with our life the past few months and wait patiently...  Once we have her face and her name and begin to know her and treasure her, I think this waiting will begin to be much, much harder.  I realized today that if I get to see her face this week, it will be close to Christmas before I get to kiss it.  And it will be March or April before I get to carry her home for good.  That's a really long time.  I've spent six months separated from Paul when we were engaged, and it is really difficult.  Oh, this sweet little baby will not even be able to send me an email to let me know how she's doing! : )  I'll just have to wait for other traveling families to post pictures and hope I get a glimpse of her in them...

And the waiting continues...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

2011-2012 Curriculum Choices

This year, I have one first grader, and one kindergartener.  Last year, we didn't do much besides Phonics, Math, Handwriting, and Geography with L for kindergarten.  But this year, we're busting out the big guns and starting Tapestry of Grace, Year 1.  I canNOT wait to get started! Here's the rest of what we're doing for L's first grade year by subject:

Grammar: First Language Lessons by Peace Hill Press
Writing: Writing With Ease (Peace Hill Press) and Writing Aids (Tapestry of Grace) (They're totally different and we'll do a little of each
Phonics/Reading/Spelling: Sing, Spell, Read, and Write Grand Tour I and II
Math: Math-U-See Alpha
Music/Piano: Music for Little Mozarts Beginner Piano series
Science: Doing our own thing, 20 weeks of Animal Kingdom, 10 weeks of human body, 6 weeks of plant kingdom
History/Geography/Bible/Literature: Tapestry of Grace Year One
Art: Artistic Pursuits and a few "Come Look With Me" books

K's Kindergarten:
Phonics/Reading: Sing, Spell, Read and Write On Track and then Raceway
Math: Math-U-See Primer
Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears My Printing Book

I'm hoping that she'll be interested and will participate in our Tapestry activities with us, and sit in on science as well.  She'll be required to start piano this year as well, using the same thing as L.  We'll do it all together.

Looking forward to getting all this good stuff started on Monday!  I'm just about ready and organized!

New School Year, New Blog

So I'm a faithful apple customer.  I've had mobile me for a year and love it.  I loved the easiness of publishing our family website, and that it was different from the blogging world.

To my great distress, apple is discontinuing mobile me and will no longer have an avenue for publishing iWeb websites free.  Ugh.

So, I'm joining the rest of the world and switching things over here.

I'm also planning to use this as a documentary of our learning at home this year.  I am so excited about the curriculum we're using, and have been in full planning mode for a few weeks now.  (I'm hoping that a lot of effort on the front end will yield easy weeks throughout the year...).  We're planning to start our studies on Monday, and my goal is to do a weekly blog report on what we've done.  We'll see if that happens. : )

Hope to see you around my new cyber-space home! 

Friday, July 8, 2011

I'm Just a Pawn...

This week, I received an email from a long ago brief acquaintance.  This man had come from the US to Delhi to adopt his daughter.  He was here for weeks on end trying to get it finished.  His wife was at home giving birth to their third child, another girl.  He came to our house for Thanksgiving dinner.  This was all three years ago. 
His wife wrote this week telling me she had just had their fifth child, and he was scheduled to come back to India next month to pick up their sixth, an Indian boy.  She wanted recommendations on where he could stay this time. 
I admit, I was shocked to hear they had five kids, and were adopting from India, and a boy at that.  This is the second family I’ve heard of in the last month who is adopting from India.  Both are using the same agency.  An agency I’d never heard of.
This has thrown me for a mental loop.  I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around it.  I spent two years researching adoption from India. I looked at the CARA list of approved agencies to work in India so.many.times.  I googled, inquired, looked at agency reviews.  I NEVER saw the name of this agency anywhere.  I don’t remember ever hearing about them until last month.  On top of that, everyone we ever talked to said “Don’t adopt out of Delhi. It takes forever.”  This agency works with an orphanage in Delhi.  Everything I heard is contradicted in this one agency. 
I could NOT figure out how I never ran across it before.  How every thing seemed to lead to a closed door, and if I’d just heard of this place or seen it online, how different things might be right now.  
And, WHY did I listen to an agency that told us we shouldn’t adopt from India when I had a really bad opinion of them based on our communication, and felt like they didn’t know what they were doing?  Why did I believe them, listen to their advice, and change the course of our life based on it?  Why?
And then I realized the only way this could have happened is that God went to great lengths to keep me from finding it.  He took incredible measures to turn our eyes away from India and point them to Ethiopia.
Confession: I have felt for the last few months that we’re adopting from Ethiopia because we could not adopt from India.  By default.  
Yesterday, I realized that it is NOT by default.  It is totally by His Design.  How else can these last six months be explained?  I cannot come up with another conclusion.
And it’s very surreal to look back at the last six months and all the decisions I’ve felt like we made and realize that we really didn’t have a thing to do with it, we were just following the path that was already marked out for us to get to Ethiopia.  And it gives me such an indescribable peace and trust in seeing that God has aimed this arrow so intentionally in this direction, and at a specific child...  who is in Ethiopia... not India...  tears...
“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”  Proverbs 19:21