Monday, November 23, 2009

Rewarded for Laziness!

Okay, the title is misleading. But I did get a blog award from the amazing Miss Leslie. (and yes, I know it was awhile ago!) I found it somewhat amusing given that most of my posts lately were thefts of the amazing thoughts of others. :) But I'll take what I can get! Thanks Leslie!

Here are the blog award "rules" (and they are very, very strict):

1. Thank the person who awarded me the award, and link that person's blog on my blog. (check)
2. Identify seven things about myself. (see below)
3. Award seven bloggers with the "Kreativ Blogger Award," post links to their blogs, and leave a comment on each of their blogs, to let them know of the honor. I don't really know what a "Kreativ blogger" is, so you can just give it to whoever you like!

Alrighty, seven things about me...

1. I am currently addicted to craft blogs - it is amazing what people come up with! And the best (or worst?) part is that most of the good ones link to OTHER good blogs, so the fun continues! I have spent (wasted?) HOURS jumping from blog to blog to website to website in search of fun things to make. How many projects have I attempted? Sadly, not many. But I have a big list. ;o) My new goal is to now spend more time MAKING the fun things, rather than reading about the fun things made by others!

2. I will admit that I read the Twilight saga. I will admit that I read them all ridiculously quickly (24-48 hours each, give or take) - the books are kind of like candy. Or crack. But I must also admit that I thought the first movie was dreadful and I don't have any big desire to see the new movie, especially since the 2nd book was the worst of the 4. Interestingly, I actually like the books less and less the more time goes by since I finished them. They are kind of like junk food for your mind. Not necessarily a bad thing. But I wouldn't say you are missing much if you don't jump on this Twilight/Twinkie bandwagon.

3. Speaking of Twinkies, I don't like them. To my recollection, the first Twinkie I ever ate was consumed during my freshman year of college. The sole reason was that my roommate discovered I had never eaten one and needed to remedy the situation. It tasted stale. I also have trouble eating many Little Debbie items - the concentrated sugar hurts my teeth. But I luv oatmeal cream pies. They could be the death of me.

4. I am a ridiculous klutz. And Ally takes after me. A lot. Poor kid.

5. Along the same lines as #1 above, I really enjoy sewing. But give me a straight line any day - basic quilts are my favorite because they are easy (although time-consuming). I have pledged to sew some doll clothes (pledged to myself only of course - not stupid enough to promise the kids!). But we shall see. That seems very tedious. And this klutz does not always handle tedious well.

6. For the past several months I have had an on-again-off-again fantasy about homeschooling. It isn't in the cards for us right now for many reasons, and may never be, but I LOVE to read about the experiences of others via books, blogs, whatever. This new-found interest of mine continues to baffle me given my embarrassingly-low patience level, but whatever. It's a fantasy. ;o)

7. I have a deep desire to be ridiculously organized - this is probably the OCD and control freak in me. As a result, I love planners. Love to look at a clean page that can be quickly marked up with appointments and "to-do" items. However, I often have a problem filling up said-planners/calendars. Not because of lack of things to do (!) but because I get lazy on actually following through on my OCD tendencies. Ah well. :) Also, I will publicly admit to writing items on my "to do" list that I have already completed, simply for the satisfaction of crossing them off. Yep, I'm that gal.

Now I get to pass this lovely honor on!

1) The Kladder Adventure - Check out Holly's interesting thoughts on parenting, adoption and everything else! She also has some lovely art and photography of northern Michigan - can't beat it!

2) A Family Without Borders - Although Amanda has been relatively quiet this month as her family adjusts to adding a daughter, I've enjoyed her blog for awhile now and I think she tackles some very worthwhile issues. And seriously - her kids couldn't get much cuter! Be sure to check out this post - truly heart warming.

3) Mt. Hope Chronicles - This is a deviation from my standard adoption and crafty blog reading. Heidi is an interesting homeschooling mom to 3 young boys. And her blog is pretty. And informative. I just started reading it in the last couple of weeks, but I think it will be a regular check-in for me now.

4) A Bushel-and-a-Peck - I have been reading Lisa's blog for quite some time now and have really enjoyed watching it develop, especially over the past year or so. As a mother of
eleven beautiful children, seven by birth and four gifts from Ethiopia, her writing delves into such topics as parenting, attachment, building family memories, homeschooling, HIV awareness and education, and a slew of other interesting and informative topics. Lisa's blog is a can't-miss. Although I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Lisa in person, I have been lucky enough to share several phone conversations and email communication with her and appreciate her mentorship.

5) Better Than Good - I've been following Andrea's beautiful family for awhile now and enjoy her candid and uplifting honesty. As someone that has been putting more energy and thought into my faith-life lately, I really enjoy Andrea's sincere posts about her faith exploration, as well as other topics.

6) The Return of Idealism - Marissa's adjusted the privacy settings on her blog recently (for good reason!) but I'm hoping she may eventually change her mind some day and make it public again. She tackles some deep issues with great thought and frankness and I always enjoy her updates. :o)

7) Destination Desta - Mandie's blog has gained significance for me in the last year because she is now the mother of two good friends of Selam! Selam loves to check in and see how her friends T and K are doing. Mandie has also generously tackled the AAI Holiday Gift project, raising funds to bring the kids at Layla House (where Selam lived) a wonderful Christmas holiday. Check it out!

Back into the world of blogging. Knocking on wood, we are all healthy and doing well. I have lots of updates I need to do, especially on the topic of education, but that will have to wait for another day.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I'm out.

This whole posting-every-day-thing...

Seriously - what was I thinking???

Poor Hana has been home sick since Sunday. Today we finally went to the doctor (they've been telling everyone to stay home so I listened!).


Strep throat AND influenza (probably H1N1).

Come on people.

The ironic thing is that I have all these post topics floating around in my head... and no energy to write them! Someday... until then....

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Orphan Sunday

This year I happened to share my birthday with a meaningful event - Orphan Sunday. Orphan Sunday is a great time to "Defend the cause of the fatherless..." Isaiah 1:17. Due to other plans, we did not attend an event or specifically acknowledge it this year. However, I think it is a great example of the many people that are working to raise awareness for the 132 million orphans world-wide. (2008 UNICEF)

There is still much need and awareness is more than half the battle. Keep these children in your hearts this week.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

When you just can't take another "but mom..."

... at bedtime.

I found this great post via Mary at Owlhaven. Don't we moms (and dads) all feel like this sometimes. I know I do. Work all day, come home to homework and activities and bathes and whatever. Get the kids to bed to squeeze in some chores (and maybe relax). Wake up and do it all over again.

Why is it so hard to take a few moments for an extra cuddle? To hear another story about recess? To answer, yet again, how many more days until we see grandma? Why is it that so often those questions make me cringe a bit, feeling that desperation to close the door?

They are growing up so fast. And yet, some days it is hard.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Birthdays and Getting Involved in Adoption

Thanks to a tip from a little bird, I'm still going strong on a post each day. ;o) Here's another quick one while I have a moment.

First a little shout-out to my family. My big brother's birthday was Wednesday and my wonderful mom's is today! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love you guys and miss you.

Second, I ran across a post I really liked via Shell's blog. So, being me, I'll steal it. :) Basically, the author talks about how many people are called to support the ministry of adoption, but aren't in a place where they can adopt themselves. I hadn't really thought about it the way he puts it, but I think he makes some great points.

When people find out we have adopted, it is not uncommon to hear "Adoption? I've thought about that" or "I've always wanted to do that" or "maybe someday". First, many of those people probably would be wonderful adoptive parents, but may not take the leap. I hope they do. :) Secondly, there are many reasons why people that are moved by the message of adoption just can't do it. Whether it is finances or the way other extrinsic factors are moving their lives, sometimes that isn't the best place to bring a new child in. But there are other ways for people to participate and to support adoption.

Really, Randy says it far better than me. He makes some great points and it's worth the read. Check his post out here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Who Am I Kidding?

I can't post every day! As Selam would say, "It is impossible!" (it's really funny when she says that by the way).

So we'll see if I can find other ways to hit the 30 posts in 30 days. :) But don't expect too much substance! :)
But here is a quote I like:

"Other people and things can stop you temporarily.

You're the only one who can do it permanently."

~Zig Ziglar~

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Happy (Belated) Halloween!

Not quite sure what Hana was paranoid about (?),
but everyone seemed to enjoy the night! :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Older Internationally Adopted Children and Education

Damn my blogging every day promise! Adoption-related no less!

I actually have a few posts floating around in my head, but I'm too tired to make much sense. So continue reading at your own risk. ;o)

So, this evening, Mark and I actually scored a sitter (wonderful neighbor!) and we both made it to all 4 of the older kids' conferences. It was a whirlwind! But all in all very good. The kids are progressing very well and I'm proud of them.

The conferences got me thinking about education generally and, more specifically, education for "older" internationally adopted children. This topic probably deserves several posts and more thought than my befuddled mind can muster right now. But here's what I got.

Education decisions are very tough. Older children adopted from other countries come with a range of life experiences and educational backgrounds. There are the obvious challenges of English as a second (or possibly third or fourth) language, but that goes deeper than most people realize. Well, at least more than I realized. Until we started the adoption process, I did not know that language acquisition actually begins in the womb. So that even children adopted as infants from non-English speaking countries have ground to make up as their language develops. Obviously things can be trickier with older children...

Yep, I'm rambling. :o)

At the beginning of the summer, we met with Selam's principal to begin to determine a proper grade placement for her. At the time, we didn't know much about her education level, nor did we know her exact age (although we were guessing closer to 11 at that time). Anyways, we were hoping she would be in 5th grade, but we figured we would wait and see when she got home. Once she did get home, we arranged a meeting with the principal and the school counselor to discuss options. At that point, we now knew that Selam had been to school consistently in Ethiopia and then at the orphanage. She would have been in 7th grade in Ethiopia (and age-wise) in the U.S., but we knew that we couldn't throw her into the pits of junior high.

My gut told me she should be in 5th grade. That would give her 2 years in the 5/6 school and give her a little wiggle room to get settled in. I knew it wasn't ideal as far as age, but age just isn't the only determination. But I received resistance from the school. Basically, they did the math and realized that if we put her in 5th grade, she would be 20 years old when she graduated. They did not force us, but they really guided us toward 6th grade.

She's been trying so hard and has had such a good attitude. But 6th grade is hard! Even though she is speaking so well, she's reading at about a 1st grade level. How can you do 6th grade ... anything (?) when reading at a 1st grade level.

So we just got home from conferences. There was lots of gushing about how sweet she is, how hard she's working, how she's so amazing. (This is all true by the way, and fun to hear). We talked about things that we need the teachers to do that we can stay in the loop and provide support at home. Fortunately, her teacher was very receptive and we were able to brainstorm some ideas.

But I asked my big question. And I was not overly pleased with the answer.

I asked what the school expected from Selam in order to pass the 6th grade. What was the answer? They don't know. They have some discussing to do and will get back to us in January.

Do you know what I think that means? I think they must have had completely unrealistic expectations of her. They didn't listen to anything we said back in August. And now they are talking about what we might do if we do hold her back.

And I'm sad for her. She will totally understand what is being done. And even if it's for the best, she has a lot of pride and it will not be easy to accept.

And I'm frustrated. I'm frustrated at the school and their (apparently) ridiculous expectations. And I'm frustrated with myself. Because I should have stood up for my child. And even if we had still chosen to go with sixth grade, at least I would know that I put every effort into determining if that was the right fit.

What does education really come down to for any of our children - but especially our older internationally adopted children? We need to be our children's biggest advocates. Not sure where things will go from here, but we aren't throwing in the towel. ;o) It's only November.

And yes, I need to go to bed!

Monday, November 2, 2009

November is National Adoption Month

Whoo hoo!

November is national adoption month and is also National Blog Posting Month where bloggers challenge each other to post every day this month. Given my recent track record, this would be quite a task.


Given the two themes together, I'd love to get an adoption-related post up daily. But I make no promises. ;o)

We are now on Day 2 of November. What a good day to think about adoption generally. What are your thoughts? Concerns? Perceptions and misperceptions?

Awareness is step one. :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Enjoying Fall

Okay, well, the camera with our Halloween photos has a dead battery, so I'll just share a couple of recent photos of the kids - carving pumpkins, cider mill with friends and who knows what else...

Kids carving. Not sure why Abi looks like a demon and Grace looks like a pirate, but ah well. :o) You will not find Ally in these photos because she would have NOTHING to do with the pumpkin guts. Abi wasn't thrilled either, but Aunt Julie kept him busy. ;o)
Finished products!

Family movie night.

Cider Mill Fun

Hana's getting tall!

Ally and Abi cheesin' it up.

More photos to come! :)