Saturday, January 31, 2009

Disney On Ice

Tuesday night this past week I took the olders, along with my friend J and her two oldest, to see Disney on Ice. You gotta love $11 tickets!!! :) Olivia was a little disheartened when she told a friend at school that day and her friend said it was babyish, but she didn't let that stop her excitement. :) We brought our own snacks (Sorry, I'm NOT paying $12 for cotton candy!!!), and had a great time!

Some preshow smiles!!! :)

Our "hosts", Mickey and Minnie!!! :)

Excitement abounds as the show starts!!!

The Cars were AWESOME!

Olivia was scared of Ursula during Little Mermaid! :)

And Tink and the fairies finished us up. :)
Lots of fun!!! And some tired kiddos on the way home, they were OUT!

Blog Questions Updated

The more I thought about Jessica's question after I wrote the post last night, the more I thought maybe I really didn't answer it. I gave our situation, but didn't really say WHAT I would tell them or have told them, which I think is more what the question asked. ???

With Olivia we've processed numerous times about why kids in general get into foster care: At this time their parents can't properly care for them for whatever reason. We talk too about what some of those reasons are: drugs, hard life, etc but without going into detail. I try to answer whatever questions she has at an age appropriate level. So, we have talked about some of why she came into care and some of why she is not with her birth mom. She knows that I had wanted to meet her mom and start a relationship with her, but that we didn't know where she was and still don't, so it just hasn't been possible. To go to what Shea asked in the last post on whether or not Olivia's sister is positive, I don't have an answer for that. I don't know. I hope not. I hope that mom was able to care for herself properly during her pregnancy in order to not pass on her HIV to her daughter, but I don't know.

As for Braeden, we also have talked a little about why he was placed in my home, his parents couldn't properly care for him. Whenever I start a story with ... one day a little baby boy was born. His parents weren't able to care for him at that time, so a new family was needed... He jumps up and down and points to me. :) And I have told him that I never got to meet his parents and that I wish I had. We pray for them, and he's good with it. For now. I'm sure it will come up in many different ways over the years as he understands more.

Is that a little better??? I hope so! :)
Friday, January 30, 2009

Blog Questions

Jessica has asked me a question which I'm going to answer in just a sec. Before I do, though, questions are a great idea - if you have a question for me, please feel free to ASK AWAY!!! :) Let's see what kind of questions we get! :)

Here's what Jessica asked: I was wondering how Brayden and Olivia do with Liam having visits with his bio mom. How do you handle that with them. I may have forgotten but I don't believe they have contact with bio parents.

You're right, they don't have contact with bio parents.

For Braeden, he doesn't know his bio parents at all. I got him so young (3 days!!!) that he had visits, but doesn't remember them. For his situation it was unfortunately not safe for us to keep up a relationship. I never even met or saw them actually. From day one I was told not to and for many reasons I can't go into, it was for safety of both Braeden and myself. Braeden is curious. He asks my parents if they knew his dad. And wonders about them. He says he misses them. We talk about them from time to time. But he doesn't truly understand, yet. AND, he doesn't yet know of Liam's visits with him bio mom. That will definately be something we talk about before he joins us on a visit. I'll think he'll be ok.

For Liam's first visit, I took him alone. That way his mom and he and I had time together. She did come with her boyfriend, but that was fine. :) Then this time I brought Olivia who did real well. I had talked to her a little today prior to going. She's one I can't talk to about many things much ahead of time. It's hard to explain but if she may have a hard time with something, she might sabotage it in a way, if it's something exciting she often doesn't sleep well and is miserable, it's just much easier to wait. So we processed some before, and then some after.

With Olivia, I had hoped to have a similar relationship with her birth mom as I'm trying to have with Liam's. Unfortunately, at her next visit the caseworker was going to ask about us sitting down to meet, and it was at that very week that she dropped out of sight. That was in January of 2006. We later found out, in August, that she had had a baby. One week prior to her rights being terminated with regards to Olivia. That's why she dropped out of the picture and unfortunately doesn't have contact with Olivia today. She wanted to hide the fact she was expecting from the state. She did, and yet when they found out, they did nothing. As far as I know, unless she has moved away, that little girl is now 2 1/2 and living with mom.

For her it's complicated. She doesn't really remember her birth mom much. She had moved in with an aunt at 18 months of age. Although she had visits and sort of remembers who her birth mom is, she really remembers her aunt. I continually answer questions or rephrase something she says because she gets it mixed up often and thinks her aunt was/is her bio mom. She doesn't miss her much. It was not a great place, which is why she was moved to my home.

What Olivia does have a hard time with is missing her brother. He lived with us for a short time but had SUCH a hard time behaviorally and emotionally he was eventually moved. She misses him like crazy and that bond is what she rages over at times. What she is often confused about. What she wants "fixed." We occasionally revisit the same conversation over and over. She doesn't understand that I can't just get in the car with her and drive her to him. His parents have not shown that they want to continue a relationship. It is so hard to explain to her, because I don't get it myself. It kills me. And it is so hard for her.

So while she did well today and I explain the best and as honestly as I can, she will have a hard time. I'm waiting to see what the next couple days will bring and whether or not she'll join us the next time. Tonight was little silly things from her that were starting to drive me nuts. Questions about where to put her spelling list (umm... the same place it's gone since the beginning of the year!) etc. :) Not fun when it's quite a few in a row. :( But the next two days will be the test.

So, that's where we're at right now. I know this went into a much longer answer than you probably wanted!!! Sorry!!! Hopefully it got to some of what you were looking for? And we play it by ear as we go along! :)

OK, so what other questions do people have???

Birthday Dinners

I love Birthday Dinners! :) Tonight for Liam's birthday we had chocolate hazelnut pancakes, scrambled eggs, and carmel corn for dessert! :) Granted, he didn't actually "pick" these as he's still too young to understand but I chose his faves and he couldn't get enough! :) Of course the caramel corn went first! :)

This morning before he even knew what we were having for dinner tonight, Braeden put in his birthday dinner request (his birthday is next Saturday!). He asked for scrambled eggs, pancakes, grilled cheese, smoothies as a special drink, and chocolate cake for dessert. I was cracking up! But that's what he wants! :)

After work, Olivia, Liam, and I went to a local McDonalds to visit with Liam's bio mom. I was a bit nervous, but it went so incredibly well. This was our second visit and I'm really looking forward to working on and continuing this relationship. I can only imagine how hard it must be for her. I think it's very different from a parent who makes an adoption plan for their child. She didn't chose this. But she is doing incredibly well with it. We share letters and pictures, and now have had two visits. I'm optimistic that this will be a long term relationship and that Liam will be able to grow up knowing who his birth mom is. I haven't said a lot to the kids about the letters and they didn't know about the first visit, so I think today was a little strange for Olivia. I've talked to her about it, but am waiting for some questions of her own past to crop up in the next couple weeks. They usually do occasionally and I'm betting this will get her brain thinking again.

Since we didn't get home until 5:30 and then did our family dinner, we're waiting until tomorrow to do gifts. My friend J and her three girls will also come over for a while tomorrow to do cake and ice cream. :) I'll try to post pictures after that. :) A good day!

Birthday Time

Liam is THREE YEARS old today!

Happy Birthday my little boy!!!

Very soon you will be a forever part of our family. I couldn't be more blessed! I wish you a wonderful birthday!!!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009

3 Weeks Down

Well, 3 weeks under my belt now of my healthy living, and my number of pounds lost are... 9.5! yay! :)
Monday, January 26, 2009


We received an email from the director of the school where my class' pen pals are. This is what he said (no changes made)...

Good Evening,...

We are going to start to taking the pictures Tomorrow 22/1/2009 and will send it together with the letters...

Since we started the Pen Pal Project it had bring more credibility to the school even some of the students who had left for another school are trying to come back...

Thank You very much for your assistance given to us and the school, may God bless you and your children,Good Bye.

I left out some info with the ... but wanted you to see what he had written in what is above. How amazing to see God's provision through a "simple" thing as a pen pal. We had sent some disposable cameras for them to take pictures of their area, and will develop them here and send copies to them. We are extremely excited to see more of their country as well as share more of our area with them. God is so good!!!
Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Random Shots

Here is Liam after one of his "Haircuts by Mommy" :) See why giving him a sucker the first time I cut his hair was NOT a good idea!? Now we wait until after!
More High School Musical Sing It for the Wii.

Most of our school watching part of the inaugeration Tuesday in our gym/cafeteria.

More Weekend Pictures

Liam had a lot of fun with the mirrored closet at my aunt and uncle's house. He also LOVED the cowboy costume they gave him. So did Braeden. And we had some nice sibling rivalry over it! :)

Olivia's favorite thing was their pinball machine. I used to play this when I was her age! :)

Liam made a new best friend over the weekend! The husband of one of my cousins! :)

Braeden loved the huge bear!

Someone already has her mommy, daddy, and grandpa wrapped around her little finger! :)

A new version of Santa and his reindeer...
When we went out for brunch, my uncle gave Braeden the ketchup so he could put some on his eggs. Braeden has an affinity for ketchup thanks to my dad! Little did my uncle realize just how much would get squirted on! Here he is taking a bunch OFF. Notice Braeden's face, he is none too happy!
My cousin and her daughter. She LOVED my camera for some reason and kept making this squinchy nose face whenever I took it out and readied it for a picture! We think it's because of the red light! :) Too funny!
Yay, great memories!

Ghana Holidays

Here are a couple pictures we were blessed to receive of our class' penpals in Ghana when they received each of the packages we've sent them.

First was a Halloween package. Each student was given an envelope with a letter from their penpal, a few pictures, and a little Halloween trinket. We also sent a bag of candy. Unfortunately I guess it was pretty melted upon arrival! :) They still were overjoyed!

And here they are oggling the table of supplies and toys we were finally able to get mailed to them at Christmas when our school board raised money for shipping...

I think they were trying to figure out what some of the things were! :) I'm so glad they enjoyed them. We are really looking forward to our next set of letters from the kids!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Two Weeks...

It's been two weeks since I've started doing Wii Fit, and shortly after that that I really started watching my eating and trying to eat healthy. And even with the Christmas party this past Saturday, I'm excited to say that I've lost 5.5 pounds!!! :) I'm so excited! I hope that this isn't some "fad" that fades, but rather a start to a healthier lifestyle. (And smaller clothing sizes wouldn't hurt either!!!) LOL :)

Odd Man Out, Small World, and a Special Christmas Gift

The kids and I had a wonderful weekend this past weekend. Saturday we headed about 2 1/2 hours away to where most of my dad's side of our family lives. We had not had an opportunity to "have Christmas" with them, so this was our time together. They had no idea until we were about 20 minutes away and Olivia had finally spotted and read a sign with their town's name on it. There was lots of joyous screaming in our van!!! :) Prior to that, I had told them they could guess and I would confirm or deny their guesses. I heard Florida, Busch Gardens, High School Musical on Ice, a "show", etc. It was too cute! :)

We stayed with my aunt and uncle and had so much fun. Their son (my cousin :) ), was in town with his girlfriend, and their daughter lives in an adjacent town with her husband and the cutest almost one year old girl ever! :) My other aunt and uncle, their two daughters (one with a husband, and one with a boyfriend) also came, along with my Grandma.

We have had Christmas together, usually a week or two before Christmas, ever since I was itty bitty. The only ones not in attendance who were while I was growing up, was my parents and my brother.

The kids (and I!) love them all so very much and it was a lot of fun seeing everyone and spending time with them. A very small world was discovered when I found out that my cousin's girlfriend is actually from, and her parents still live, in the town adjacent to where I currently live! They met where they both live now. Too funny!!! She is so great, and got a good taste of Braeden's activity level... (we're working hard on him "asking" before he starts climbing and flipping on people!!! lol)

So why is it, that I am the oldest cousin of the six of us, and yet I'M the one who's still single!!!??? :) Yet I do have the most kids! :) Three are married, and now the other two have "significant others". Hmmm... Talk about odd man out!!!

Of course on the way there we had the whole "gift" talk. Maybe you don't have that with you're kids??? We talk about gifts, how we always say thank you and give hugs (before looking around for what's next!), how we are grateful for whatever is given (even if it's something we already have so that they don't feel bad), and how Olivia's gifts aren't always the toys they used to be (now that she's getting older). :)

I needn't have worried, though it's good to prepare and remind, because they LOVED everything they were blessed to receive. My one aunt and uncle and family had already sent some wonderful gifts to us while we were in Florida (including the Santa aprons featured in one of the pictures from there!), and my other aunt and uncle spoiled us rotten! The kids especially were excited to get home to play High School Musical Sing It for the Wii! :) Maybe we now have something to rival Mario Kart! :) My Grandma always gives all of us money even though every year we tell her it's NOT necessary and we want her to focus on herself. :)

After most all of the presents were opened, my Grandma stated she had some special gifts to give out. She said that since 5 of the 6 of her grandchildren (my cousins and I) were together and she didn't know when that may happen again, she wanted to give these to us in person. She started with my "boy" cousin. :) He received a pair of cufflinks that had been my dad's dad's. (My Grandma lost her husband while my dad was in high school. She remarried near my birth and that was who I had known as my Grandpa.) He also received a knife whose blade had been hand carved by him while he was in the war. Then she called me to her. She said that her mom had passed her wedding ring down to her, the oldest daughter, to then pass on to her oldest daughter. But she had three boys. SO, she was passing it down to her oldest son's daughter, me. My great-grandmother's wedding ring. Wow. It's gorgeous. I love it. What a special gift I will always cherish.

She then passed out three other rings to my three other cousins. One received her original engagement ring. One her engagement ring to my Grandpa. And one a ring that was to be her 20th year anniversary ring, but my Grandpa passed away a couple months shy of being able to give it to her. They are all gorgeous.
We ate lots (I did well though compared to how I would've been before I started my healthy living "kick"!!!), played our adults only gift game! :), and were up way too late. Everyone left around 11:30! The kids were wiped! But then my aunt, my cousin's girlfriend and I stayed up until WAY late talking!!! OK, so we ate a few things along the way, but not too bad!!! :) And we talked Wii Fit! So that's a plus! :)
The next morning we went out with some of the family for brunch at a great restaurant. Then we packed up and got ready to hit the road. Liam was giving lots of kisses!!! :) (My cousins' daughter.)

And to those who know Braeden but ask if he ever stops... he usually doesn't, but when he does, here is what it looks like... :) He was wiped!

Later that day, mom got the Wii out, we hooked up HSM Sing It, and had a blast! Olivia did SO well! (They score you based on notes and the song being sung - Braeden and I were getting Cs, Olivia got As and Bs!!!) :)

A memorable weekend!!! :)
Thursday, January 15, 2009

Odds and Ends and Adoption Updates!

Hair - My hair is getting longer and longer. I wish I could find a style that was ok and just keep it, but I never do. I always go to a salon, tell them the honest truth (I will NOT take the time to do hair, I won't, never do, it lasts a week and then it's wash, brush, dry - without brushing/styling, and done, period) but it's like they don't believe me. Or maybe they think, hmmm... if I just give her THIS (you fill in the blank) style, THEN she will want to style and take the time to do it. NOT true people! I am telling you the truth! It's not only that I just don't want to, though that is certainly part of it, but I am hair illiterate. I am. It's true. Can't do anything! So, anyway, what I usually do is get it cut, maybe I do like it or love it, but I also have issues with making phone calls. Seriously. It's true. If I do not set up an appt. before I leave the salon, chances are I let my hair grow and grow until I simply can't stand it, then go somewhere else to get my hair cut and start all over again. Vicious cycle isn't it! :) I don't care. Why is it so expensive to even get your hair cut well in the first place? So I decided that since I usually just let it grow, cut it, and grow it again, and since it grows very quickly, I'd put it to some use. As soon as it gets long enough it will be donated to Locks of Love. Yay, a great organization, and a reason to do nothing with my hair! :)

Weekend Plans - This weekend we have big plans! But the kids don't know it yet! :) We're heading to a town about 2 1/2 hours away where most of my dad's side of the family lives. We are having Christmas!!! :) yay! I'm so excited to see everyone! I hope it is a relaxing and fun weekend. I'm sure it will be. I'll wait til we're on our way to let them know, you just never know what could happen before then! :)

Monday - So Monday is Olivia's and my girls' day. We have been planning on hitting a great thrift store, eating at Olive Garden for lunch, then seeing Hotel For Dogs. BUT, after reading about the movie yesterday in my Adoptive Families magazine, I'm not so sure now. Maybe some of you who have or have had foster children could give me some input??? I knew what the commercials show, two kids find an abandoned hotel and all the strays in the world to house there and care for them. Well, I found out more... I guess the two kids are in foster care and have been bounced a bit. They end up with a not nice couple who tells them their dog can't stay. In the process of figuring out what to do, they find the hotel, etc. I guess they do become close to their caseworker and he is proud of them for what they accomplish. They end up finding a great couple who adopt them. BUT, I worry about the memories. I worry about what it could make her think of, the what if's of adoption and foster care. She's still young and already has such a hard time processing what actually happened. Should I take her????????? I just don't know. I've already told her we were going too, so that's a part of it. AHHHH! Why??? :)

School/Work - So most of the districts around us were cancelled today, just too too cold! Some are closed tomorrow as well. Mine, well, kids don't have school tomorrow as it's a teacher institute day, but because of that we DO have to go to work. It's ok by me. We only have to be there from 8-1, they are providing a working lunch for us, and we don't have an extra day added to the end of the year. Sounds good to me! :)

Today - Had a great day, got lots and lots done, and had a fun night with friends. My friend J and her three girls came over, cooked dinner, we ate and talked, then I showed them some of the Wii. We didn't get to do a lot as they couldn't stay real late and we were creating profile for each of them on the Wii Fit, but I showed her what some of the games/workouts/etc were like on it. I can't wait until she comes over and we really get to do it! And no, no video of me hula hooping will be on this blog! Unless of course I end up like the finalists on The Biggest Loser and look so great I won't mind at all! LOL :) It's a possibility, you never know! :)

Liam's adoption update - Well, supposedly, though I still can hardly believe it's true, Liam's bio dad never filed an appeal and termination is FINAL AND COMPLETE! (I still keep waiting for them to call and say they were wrong though!) AND, the subsidy paperwork which is the next step in the process of him being a forever part of our family, is supposedly done as well, and is being sent to my attorney!!!

Now, this however is a bone of contention with me. As I told the newest caseworker, number 3 or 4 I think, with both Braeden and Olivia's adoptions I was shown the subsidy prior to seeing it with the lawyer, or at the very least had input on it prior to it being completed. This way I could make sure that the medical past issues, development, etc was all a part of it. He is brand new to this case, and the person doing the subsidy I've never even spoken to. I really don't want to make an appt, sit down with my lawyer, go over the subsidy, find out things I know should be in it are not, have to send it back to the agency, then make another appt with the lawyer, etc... when I could bypass the first appt. by having some input. When I mentioned these concerns, the caseworker said "he'd talk to the supervisor and see" And I have yet to hear back from him (It's been a few days now.) Yuck! I'll be so glad when Liam's adoption is final and I'm completely separated from this agency. :(

BUT, the subisdy issue aside, I am incredibly excited and it feels too good to be true that Liam will most likely be a forever part of our family by summer!!!! I CAN'T WAIT!!! :)
Wednesday, January 14, 2009

This Just In...

NO SCHOOL/WORK TOMORROW! :) I'll be happy and enjoy the time off! :)

A Hopeful and Prayerful Heart

I was at a workshop most of the day today, and the "blizzard" outside continued, but many of my thoughts drifted to Abby. Her badge has been on the sidebar of my blog for a while, and I keep up with Abby and her family through both Facebook and their blog. Abby begins the scariest part of her leukemia fight today. Made even more difficult by some recent news of a genetic variation making this part of her battle even more important. Please join me in praying for her and her family through this difficult time.

Snow and Baths

Yes, I know, those two things don't go together... but I have two short blog posts to meld into one!

We have snow. LOTS of snow!!! Many schools around us were closing early today, of course not ours! :) BUT, tomorrow is supposed to be in the NEGATIVE 30s with the wind chill!!! And considering our district has a high population of walkers/bus riders, it's very possible we could have a day off tomorrow. Usually I love snow days. This year, not as much. I have big plans for summer, and was hoping to start those as soon as possible once we were out. This is taking some of those days away. :( Oh well. I'm definately waiting to firm up plans / reservations until winter is leaving though! :)

And baths. The boys LOVE baths. :) Braeden is STARTING to be a "NO, not bath time" kid, but not really strong in that yet, which is good. Tonight I captured some great pictures during their bath time to share with you...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Braeden's Night Out

We found a new sitter! :)

She babysat once prior to Christmas break for Braeden's Christmas program, and tonight was her second night. She hasn't watched Braeden yet, so I'm still praying for that. :) Instead of hiring her for once a week like we were doing at the beginning of the year with our last sitter, she's going to come every other week. We'll see if that helps Braeden not be quite so crazy with the sitter while I'm gone if it's not "his night".

Since Monday is a day off of school/work for Olivia and I, we are going to have a "girl's day" that day, so tonight was Braeden's night. I had mentioned to Braeden's teacher that I had thought about taking him to a Barber Shop, but was unsure of where to go, and she recommended one only a few blocks from our house which I didn't even know of. We started our night there tonight and I LOVED it!!! It's just a small barber shop, three chairs, and the three guys were sitting in them when we came in. I introduced us and told them Braeden's teacher had recommended their shop and that it was his first time getting it cut (by a pro!). They were GREAT!!! So nice! And I loved the signs posted that said "No Swearing" :) LOL

Even funnier, I've had a week of interesting talks with Olivia. She has unfortunately been hearing more about the birds and the bees than what I knew in 6th grade, and she's in second! It's been quite a struggle for me to know what to do and how to handle it. I don't want to be a parent who "forbids" her from seeing certain friends, but that's certainly how I'm feeling. What a HUGE drawback from public school! Anyway, these guys were talking about how kids today know and talk about so much that they didn't even think of until they were in Junior High, and what was appropriate on tv (not much!), etc!

It was so neat to hear others who share similar thoughts and views. God was completely working through this time, and in a way I never would have anticipated, I LOVE that about Him! I have visions (I tend to get carried away sometimes!) of us going there every two weeks, and them getting to know Braeden and becoming sort of role models and mentors. He could really use that! Not only a good male role model, which not being married would definately be beneficial, but also a black male role model. They could talk to him about things that I could never pretend to understand. Especially the prejudice that still exists in this world.

His hair looked so GREAT!!! He's such a little man! :)

After his haircut, we went bowling. We tried this one other time and they were closed for a private gathering, but tonight we were lucky. He had a blast! I haven't bowled in years. It was fun. (And I somehow got four strikes in the second game!) :)

We then left to go to dinner at Culver's - love it! (PS I did NOT get a turtle sundae even though I really debated on it!) On our way there I thanked him for spending time with me and Braeden said, "My pleasure!" :)

He then talked about his hair and said, "I don't even look like Braeden. Braeden is gone. I look like my big brother." (his brother is being raised by a friend of mine and we get to see them a few times a year. He really does look so much like him!) :)
Monday, January 12, 2009

Healthy Living

Since my parents surprised me with the Wii Fit for Christmas, I have fallen in love with it! It was NOT hooked up in FL since the warning inside the package stated that anyone in the room could potentially see your weight and BMI! :) LOL I figured that would be good to try at home... by myself!!! :)

So it was hooked up and ready on Tuesday, and I've used it every night since. I do a lot of the strength training, and also enjoy some of the aerobics and balance games. My favorite I think is Hula Hooping!! (Brandi, you were right!) Olivia tried it and couldn't get the circle hip swing for the life of her, bless her heart, it was too funny! :) Braeden and Olivia both had Wii Fit scores in the thirties!! It asked them both if they had trouble walking! :) They just didn't get how to do the balance "game" which is part of the age measurement. But both had healthy weight BMIs. (We won't discuss mine!) BUT, my Wii Fit age the first time I tried it was 30, and considering I'm 38, that was pretty good!

I also got these great books while in Florida called "Eat This, Not That". I have three, one focused on restaurants, one on supermarkets, and one on kids' foods. They are great. They basically say, if you're going to go to McDonalds, then here are some healthy options and here are some things you do NOT want to get, or if you're going to buy ice cream at the store, lean toward these, not these. Some of the "not that's" are really surprising. The books run down tops in each of the categories. More than that, and what I have really gotten out of them, they talk a lot about nutrition. Something I just have never learned. I've learned much through these books.

I am really hoping that with these helps, and a program my school district is beginning called "Fit and Fine in '09", that I can really begin to seriously work on my weight. It's just not good. I have always been overweight, and I know I HATED how much I weighed when I was 25 or so, but looking back at the pictures and such from then, I would give ANYTHING to be that now!

I'm hoping that this is the change I need.

So, last night I made a GREAT dinner, and it was so incredibly healthy. I've been eating more pitas lately, much better than bread. I took two pitas and split them down the "pocket" to make four round "crusts." Then I diced three small tomatoes and chopped them with my Pampered Chef food chopper. I added a tablespoon of ketchup, three grated baby carrots (great way to "hide" veggies), basil, and oregano, then spread it on the crusts. On that I put browned ground turkey, and I shredded mozzerella for the top. Baked at 350, and they were some of the best "pizzas" ever!!! We also had steamed broccoli and apple slices. Liam and I LOVED the pizzas, Braeden was psyched out by the pieces of tomato and decided he couldn't like it, but ate LOTS of broccoli, and Olivia liked it all. I was so proud!

Here's to a healthy '09!!!
Tuesday, January 06, 2009

My Class Project and a Blessing!

I know I don't talk about my work/school much on here. For those who don't know, I teach special education. My first 5 years I taught 5th grade self-contained. I loved it!!! I was then moved (not by choice) to the Junior High. I met some great friends whom I worked with there, and enjoyed seeing some of the kids I had taught when they had been in fifth, but I hated it there. Many reasons, but mostly I just really got into teaching to make a difference. Having kids, especially special ed kids, only 42 minutes a day, you don't really get to know them. I loved teaching my class all day, with all the little times in between "teaching" where you really get to know the kids. It's almost like for some of them you are earning "the right" to teach them. I find so many have negative views of adults and teachers. To get past that and encourage their motivation to WANT to learn and understand WHY it's important, that is when you really start seeing improvements. Last year I was able to move back to my past school, which I LOVE! I now teach more of a life skills class with kids who have more severe learning disabilities. My kiddos are in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade. Most cannot tie their shoes, some don't know all the alphabet, most can't read. BUT, the kids I had last year. AMAZING progress!!! They are reading! They are WANTING to learn! They are doing SO GREAT!!! :)

The first quarter of this school year I had a student teacher. My first. And she was great, did an excellent job. Which left me lots of time on my hands staying out of the classroom to give her as much time there as possible. So I was left to find ideas and projects and other fun things to use later in the year. While I was searching, I came across a way to have pen pals. What a lost art!

I thought it would be great for my kids, give them a real purpose in writing and learn about another area/culture/place. I found a school in Ghana, Africa!! I teamed up with another class with a teacher who is just amazing. She is GREAT with technology and is just always going. Has such great ideas. Etc. At Halloween we took the time to share what the holiday was like here, and sent a package to them with a little something for each pen pal, and some bags of candy. We really didn't think much about it, we were just sending a package. As Christmas neared, we had a guest speaker who had been in Ghana for a time over the summer come and share what the country and culture was like and show us pictures. She talked about the kids there not having writing utensils, etc. And we planned a Christmas care package.

Each student (about 30 total) brought in a few dollars and we walked to Big Lots (a block away) to purchase pencils, coloring books, etc for our pals. We boxed it up and took it to the office to be sent off. Well. Hmmmmm... Now we wonder what happened with our Halloween package, because this one (about twice the size) was going to cost over $400 to ship!!!!!!!! What!? We just really didn't think it would be near that! :) Our principal is great and said no problem, he'd help cover it. But the other teacher and I balked and said that it was silly to spend that much on a package which cost less than $100!

So, we were going to give the packages to Toys For Tots and explained to the kids who were great about it. That was the day before our ice day, two days before I left for FL. That night, the other teacher received phone calls from 4 of her student's parents. Saying they would love to help raise the money to send the package. One was a school board member who said she could easily raise it and wanted to help. The teacher contacted DHL who said they'd ship it for $275 and in the time it took for her to call the school board member back, she had already raised OVER that amount!

I just found all this out today. During this time, the teacher was in email contact with the head of the school we write to. In one of his emails, he tried to explain to her the impact of our Halloween package. He said that all school activities ceased and every child in the school received at least one piece of candy and were overjoyed with happiness! Wow! Our Christmas package was supposed to be there the 29th, but the school was closed until today so we are thinking DHL wasn't able to deliver it until now. We CANNOT WAIT to hear about this package! I hope they are able to take a couple pictures to send our way! How amazing!

One of the students in my friend's class said, "Miss S, isn't it amazing that people were able to bless us so that we could bless others!?" That's what it's about.

Funnies Revisted

Braeden has had a couple hilarious dialogues lately.

On New Year's Eve the kids went to bed at 8. Braeden was up for a while coming out and procrastinating. I think he finally fell asleep around 9. I went to bed at 10:00 (I know, what kind of New Year's is that!? LOL). When I went in, Braeden was on the floor instead of on the air mattress, so I picked him up and laid him back in bed. Woke him up. He got up and started walking out of the room and I asked him, "Braeden, where are you going."

Braeden shrugged his shoulders and said, "I'm going to get some breakfast." He thought it was morning already! :) It took both Grandma and I too finally convince him that no, it was night. :)

Today, after hearing about the change to 2009 yesterday at school/day care, Braeden was so funny. Olivia said something about it being 2009 now, and Braeden was ADAMENT that no, today was now 2010! :) We could NOT convince him differently!
Sunday, January 04, 2009

Safe and Sound

We made it home...finally! Usually I make the trip all in one shot, about 21-24 hours depending on stops. It's better with the big van actually because of the great big tank of gas. :) Less stopping at night while they're sleeping! :)

We made it down with no problem and made great time.

BUT, I was EXHAUSTED last night. Starting about 8:30, all I could think of was pulling into a hotel for the night to SLEEP. :) So, we did. I had called my parents to let them know I'd be stopping about 10:00 (it was 9:20). My dad didn't think there would be much for a while since we were in the "mountains" at that time, but we hit the next ramp for hotels at 10:00 on the dot! The kids were asleep as soon as they hit the pillow. BUT, they were up at 5:45 Central Time where we were, because it was actually 6:45 Florida time which is what we were still running on. I'm worried about tomorrow morning!!! :)

And I'm so not looking forward to going to work tomorrow. Not because of work, but my living room is crying out to me from under piles of stuff needing to be put away. It makes me nuts to have it like that! :) Oh well... we'll manage!

And I was extremely blessed tonight to receive an email from a blog reader to send along some of her children's clothes which are upcoming sizes for Olivia and Braeden!!! That email comes within days of deciding to really cut back spending and rely more on God. I've seen Him provide for us in wonderful and fun ways this past year, and know that I need to rely on Him even more. I'm so excited to see where He is going to lead in 2009!
Saturday, January 03, 2009

On Our Way Home

Well, the van is packed and though we're probably not READY to go, we will be heading out in another hour or so. On our way back to IL. :) Please pray for a safe drive, cooperative weather, and a pleasant car atmosphere. :) See you in IL!!!
Friday, January 02, 2009

As Promised... Only Olivia! :)

A little Mario Kart to top off the morning and get the day started right! :)

At lunchtime before the kids' naps we went to Chuck E. Cheese. It was a bit crazy! Olivia had fun dancing in front of the "blue screen."

Tonight we headed to a mall to shop a bit ( I have a whole post brewing in my head about how Gymbucks are EVIL! LOL ) and eat dinner. This is a funny wall poster they had with footprints in front showing you where to stand for your "shot." :)

The carousel at the mall before we headed home...
Thursday, January 01, 2009

Random Vacation Shots

Here are a bunch of random shots I haven't used yet but I loved, and the stories behind some of them! :) Enjoy!

Our first morning here we went to Krispy Kreme for a special breakfast. Liam was loving the donuts, to say the least!!! :)

For some reason, I don't have as many of Olivia (maybe because the boys do more things that are just funny/off the wall!) so my goal today is to capture her image as much as possible, but here's one of her opening a Hannah Montana doll. (which she hasn't touched since this photo) :(

Liam's new buddy, now named Marley, which Grandma and Grandpa went overboard with! :)

Liam pretending to be Santa at a deli we went to (great free cheesecake if you order a complete meal!)

An early birthday gift from the grandparents for Liam (3 on the 30!)

Braeden at a mall play area. He was near me and I saw a woman just kind of watching him. I was thinking, "Oh no, what did he do???" She followed him with her eyes as he basically crawled (he was on all fours being a gorilla - he's obsessed with Donkey Kong right now from Mario Kart!), over to me. I was cringing inside wondering what she was doing. She asked me, "Is he yours?" I said, "Yes" thinking, WHAT HAPPENED? And she proceeded to say, "He is such a nice and polite boy!" :) So nice to hear!

Olivia ice skating at the mall near my parent's home.

New Aprons sent from my aunt and uncle!

Liam playing with Grandpa's hat. Though I've never actually seen Grandpa wear this...hmmmm...

Once Upon a Toy at Downtown Disney with Brandi and her kiddos. Brandi got to talking to a ?manager about adoption. I joined in and we discussed foster/adoption and single parenting. Then she brought out sets of My Little Pony stuff for the kids to play with and sent another employee to get sets of Mr. Potato Head things for the boys to play with. The two of them sat with our kids and we played there for at least 30minutes, it was priceless!

Brandi and kids at the aligator in front of Rainforest while we were looking for the new Dinosaur restaurant to meet up with our other blogging friend and her family.

Our friend Anne and her son. I finally captured him! :) He likes to turn his head and not get a photo! :)

Braeden and the onion which came out of a very large onion ring at Olivia's favorite restaurant - IHOP!

Two more from swimming

Braeden's Donkey Kong pose!

My mom and I took Liam to a great Mongolian grill. You pile your bowl full of raw meat and tons of veggies and hand it over for them to do up on the grill for you with whatever sauce you choose. It's wonderful, but not really for Olivia and Braeden, so Grandpa took them to a nearby McD's which had a great playplace!!! :) Liam loved the chopsticks!

Brandi... this one is all for you!!! (They are hitting the trash today!)

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About Me

I am a single mom to four amazing kids; each of whom just happen to have been adopted. The first three were adopted through foster care, and we just completed an international adoption from Haiti. Our family has grown through adoption and I am all the more blessed to know each of my children. I worship a mighty God, teach Special Ed, love bargains, and am inspired by Pinterest... come along with us for the ride!

Olivia - 14

Olivia - 14

Braeden - 11

Braeden - 11

Liam - 9

Liam - 9

Macy - 5

Macy - 5

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What you should know about HIV

-HIV can NOT be spread through casual/household contact. HIV is not spread through hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing toys, sneezing, coughing, sharing food, sharing drinks, bathing, swimming or any other casual way. It has been proven that HIV and AIDS can only be spread through sexual contact, birth, breastfeeding and blood to blood contact (such as sharing needles). - HIV is now considered a chronic but manageable disease. With treatment, people who are HIV+ can live indefinitely without developing AIDS and can live long and full lives. - People who are HIV+ deserve to be treated with love, respect, support and acceptance as all people do. Additional information on transmission of HIV can be found on the Center for Disease Control website:

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Orphan Crisis

• 147 million orphans in the world
• 50 million orphans in Africa 
• Every 14 seconds a child is orphaned by AIDS
• 16,000,000 have been orphaned by AIDS
• Every week, AIDS claims as many lives as American fatalities in the Vietnam War
• 854 million people do not have enough to eat
• Malnutrition is associated with the deaths of 5 million children under the age of five
• Every 2 seconds an orphan dies from malnutrition

Hence the title of my blog

Little Did I Know

Little did I know that the road would be so rocky
Little did I know that the trip would take so long
Little did I know that my heart could hurt so much
Little did I know that God is never wrong

Little did I know that love could be so powerful
Little did I know that a dream so far could go
Little did I know that God would place the right ones
Little did I know that my heart, so large, could grow

Little did I know that a dream has it’s own timing
Little did I know that this day would finally come
Little did I know that four souls would be sent to guide me
Little did I know that they would choose to call me mom

But God knew all along and He had a plan to follow
God knew all along that my dream would soon come true
God knew all along that we five should be together
God knew all along that I’d share it all with you