Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Disney... Done Differently

Yes, we went to Disney today... BUT not to any of the parks!

We actually resort hopped with the park transportation (buses, boats, and monorails oh my!) and gawked at all of the beautiful and amazing Christmas decorations.  It was a completely FREE day thanks to the rewards cards my mom and I were able to get using points from our Disney credit cards (which we pay off each month!).  We had a great brunch at OHana and got some mementos as well!

Polynesian Resort


Grand Floridian

Contemporary Resort

Wilderness Resort

Unfortunately right after these photos Braeden hit a brick wall and we spent the better part of 20 or so minutes in the hall of the Wilderness in a restraint during which he raged and fought.  Not pretty.  I was very glad that those who passed us glanced and kept going.  No one seemed upset or surprised and I was happy to not have to deal with that on top of him.

We then barely made it back to our car by bus at Downtown Disney (ended up skipping our final resort destination) and I took Braeden to the car to finish calming down while Grandma took the other two to a store to purchase the items we had looked at and decided on earlier in the day.  (No time for ME to shop though, bummer!)

Luckily he was himself again soon after and we were able to rejoin the gang on their way out and still go to see the Lego store before heading back to the house.

Downtown Disney

Back at the house we had a fun time swimming again, this time in warm water! :)  Soon it will be time to hit the hay.  Another great day even with a very rough hour!

Merry Christmas from Florida!

We are staying with Grandma at a rental house in Florida this Christmas.  I'm kind of liking the 70 degrees as opposed to the 17 degrees that we left!

Our tradition on Christmas Eve is to eat at Red Lobster.  Usually we go to church, but since we're out of town we didn't this year.  We still dressed up though! :)

A few surprises on Christmas morning.  Braeden wants an "African" room so he has a start now with some new things...

Liam is all about The Hulk and many of his gifts reflected that!  Hulk Smash!

This was a huge splurge and surprise for a well deserved little girl!  (Or should I say big tween?) :)

We were even able to get in some swimming!

The water was still a bit chilly as the heat was just turned on that morning!

And of course we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus... the whole reason we celebrate in the first place!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas 2012 Here We Come!

Hello?  Grammy?  We're on our way!  We'll meet you at our rental place in Orlando tomorrow!!!  Can't wait to spend Christmas with you and your dog Doobie!

Saturday Favorites

Teacher Gifts

Yes, it may be a bit late for you to give these gifts this year, but you can always plan ahead for next! :)

We had a LOT of teacher gifts to do this year.  14 to be exact.  Plus three bus drivers.  That adds up to a lot of gifts.  And a lot of money... maybe.  But we found some GREAT ideas (on the P of course!) that were super cute, let people knew we thought of them and cared for them, but didn't splurge on the money.

For the bus drivers, we purchased dollar store tins and filled them with cookies.
Three gifts down and about $5 spent.

For Olivia's 7 teachers (middle school) and Braeden's social worker at school, we made such cute gifts!  We bought dollar store whisks.  They were metal and looked great, not cheap.  We filled them with candy cane Kisses, wrapped them in red celophane (which I had), tied them in a ribbon (had), and added a tag in scrapbook papers that said "We WHISK You a Merry KISS-mas".
Eight gifts down and about $12 spent.

For two of Braeden's teachers and two of Liam's teachers (aids and special ed teachers) I purchased dollar store glass jars with a rubber sealing ring, made homemade hot chocolate, and layered that with crushed peppermints and marshmallows.
Four gifts down and about $9 spent.

And for Liam's main teacher, Braeden's main teacher, and Braeden's former teacher, I made the following...

With wooden dollar store clothespins, I covered them with scrapbook paper.  Cut a LONG length of ribbon.  Then with Sculpey I cut out thin stars and stamped letters in them to spell "faith" "hope" "love" in different colors.  I baked those, painted some brown on and wiped it off to keep it in the crevices, and then painted a gloss finish.  Those were glued to the top of the clothespins which were then clipped onto pieces of scrapbook paper.  I purchased red gift boxes (50% off at H.Lobby) and laid the pins inside.  On top I laid the ribbon and then added a card that explained the gift: the clothespins were dressed up for Christmas.  By hanging the ribbon, the clothespins could hang artwork or Christmas cards or pictures.  LOVED these!  (I need to make us a set!!!)

So three more gifts down and about $8 spent!


Gifts: 17
Cost: $34

Not too shabby!  (I wish I had pics of the whisks... so cute!  And the rest too!  But I forgot!) :(
Friday, December 21, 2012

She's Growing Up...

Some of you who "pinterest" often have most likely seen the pin claiming to pin for later as a way to explain Santa to your children.  Yes, we "do" Santa in our home.  Many do, many don't, just a personal "thing" and we do.  BUT... we also stress the reason for Christmas... that it's not about Santa... that our Savior Jesus was born and we are celebrating His birth.  We make him a birthday cake and sing and remind one another of the specialness.
But, we do Santa, and we've had our "Elf on the Shelf" for four years now.  And my kids wholeheartedly take part in that little bit of "magic".  Just like the Tooth Fairy.  And the Easter Bunny. Sue me.

And even at age 11, Olivia swears she's seen our elf Tom move.  She was thrilled when Santa sent her a video (Thanks Portable North Pole!) telling her she was on the nice list this year! (Because last year she was on the NAUGHTY list!  So funny!  And it worked like a charm to even out some kinks in behavior we had been having!)  And she's in 6th grade this year.  And has asked a few times questions that led me to believe she was having some doubts, although I think Braeden is my bigger skeptic.  And I also know kids she's in school with and the fact that most of them "know."

I've never outright lied to the kids. When I've been asked a question I've turned it back to them and have asked them what they thought and it was left at that.  But I knew the time was drawing near.

So this past weekend I decided to "break it" to Olivia.  Because she's 11.  Because most kids her age don't believe and do know the "truth."  And partly too because I have had this blog post "pinned" for over a year and knew it was just what I needed to help in divulging this important information, on my time, in my way, without her hearing it from others first.

And I took the letter that I pinned and tweaked it and made it my own.  I typed and worked and thought and printed. And here's what I gave to my daughter...

Dear Olivia,

Lately, from time to time, you have asked me a very important question.  Oh, it’s been said in different ways, but it all leads back to the same question: “Do you move Tom?” (our elf)  “Are you Santa?”

I know you’ve wanted the answer to this question for a long time, and I’ve had to give it careful thought to know just what to say.
 The answer is no.  I am not Santa. There is no one Santa.

I am the person who fills your stockings with presents, though. I also choose and wrap the presents under the tree that are labeled ‘From Santa’, the same way my mom did for me, and the same way her mom did for her. 
I imagine you will someday do this for your children, and I know you will love seeing them run down the stairs on Christmas morning. You will love seeing them sit under the tree, their small faces lit with Christmas lights as they view all the extra presents that arrived there overnight.

This won’t make you Santa, though.

Santa is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can’t see or touch.  

It’s a big job, and it’s an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents and in your family, in your faith. You’ll also need to believe in things you can’t measure or even hold in your hand. Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments.

Santa is a teacher, and I have been his student, and now you know the secret of how he gets down all those chimneys on Christmas Eve: he has help from all the people whose hearts he’s filled with joy.
 With full hearts, people like me take our turns helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible.  

All because a little baby was born on this day so very long ago.  A little baby whom we all need to believe in, because HE is our Savior.  A little baby who saves us and our world day after day.

So, no. I am not Santa. Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. I’m on his team, and now you are, too.

I love you and I always will.


Remember that this note holds words just for you.  This is not something you should be talking about to your brothers or to other children.  That is for their parents to discuss with them! :) 

She took it so well, with grace and love and the intention that it held.  Of course she's always known Christmas is about God and Jesus coming to Earth for us, so it's not like this news "ruins" Christmas in the least little bit.  I think she loves being "in on it" and keeping the magic alive for the boys, too.  The other night we went out to eat because Santa would be there and Liam  hadn't yet seen him this year (Braeden won't go by him).  Olivia looked at me as if to say, "Ha ha, I KNOW."  So cute!

So, yes we "DO" Santa...

But we also know who rules our Christmas!  And we'll be singing Happy Birthday real soon!
Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Prayer

Max Lucado's prayer from yesterday... speaks volumes...

Dear Jesus,

It's a good thing you
were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.

These killings, Lord. These children, Lord. Innocence violated. Raw evil demonstrated.

The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?

Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod's jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence.

Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.

Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won't you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.

This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.

Your Children

Saturday Favorites... not today

It's put on hold for the week.

I just can't get the images and thoughts of yesterday from my mind as I'm sure many of you can't either. 

I know that as I continued my day as a teacher yesterday, as some of us staff spoke of this tragedy and about our practices and disaster drills, we were thinking "How should we change what we do in practicing. How can we tighten security? How can we protect these children we are given charge of day after day after day?"

And as I texted my own kindergartener's teacher to be sure he was safe and sound, how many other parents were wondering if theirs was and then finding out they weren't.

To then find out that not only did this tragedy happen in the US, but at almost the same time in China, where guns are outlawed, a group of 22 children were attacked at knife point outside their school.  

It's not about the guns.

It's about a world that desperately needs Jesus.  

So today I will hold my children tight.  I will prepare for Christmas, for Jesus.  And I will think of ways to explain to an 8 and 11 year old who may have questions, just why oh why such horrible things have to happen in our crazy world.
Saturday, December 08, 2012

Saturday Favorites

Do you have an Elf on the shelf? 
Well, we do and let me tell you "Tom" has been acting awfully daring of late!  (I think Pinterest may be to blame!?)

Tom comes the day after Thanksgiving to our home and leaves on Christmas Eve.

During the night he flies back to the North Pole to talk to Santa and let him know what's been going on in the our household.  This often makes for much better behavior during this month! :)

Then in the morning he returns, but shows up in a new location and it's up to the kids to find him.  They can't touch him though or his magic will leave!

On one of the first few days we spotted him in the bathroom.  I think the blindfold was for Olivia's benefit because just before he came back she was talking about how it's "awkward" when he shows up in the bathroom and she has to shower with him in there!

I apologize for two of these pictures but can't figure out how to format them better.  :(

Olivia was beside herself that he got into HER candy jar and was eating her pack of reeces pieces!

After they awoke to Tom ziplining through mom's room (they had BOTH been sleeping in my room that night!) this was their reaction!  I LOVE how Braeden clapped his hand to his head, priceless!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Bad, Bad Blogger

I know... I owe you a huge apology!  I promise I will update soon.  I think it's because in a way I have so much to say and not sure where to begin and in a way with some updates I don't want to "Ginx" things.

Here's our week this week...

Tuesday: After school Pediatrician appt for Liam to begin to look at ADD and whether or not to start down the path of medically trying to help his focus in school.  In the classroom amidst the noise and students his learning presents as "he can't do it" (counting, one to one correspondence, letter tracing, etc) BUT if an assistant takes him to the library or somewhere with no other people, sounds, etc and has him do the exact same assignment, he can do it and usually perfectly.  I am so NOT a proponent of medicating children, but as a teacher I've seen students where it makes a night and day difference in their learning.  So... we'll see.  I need to talk with his neurologist as well and find out what would conflict or work well with the meds he's already on and do some labs and we'll go from there.

Wednesday: Morning Dr appt with Liam's ENT.  A 6 month check up following his tubes.  Ears are looking good so we scheduled a 1 year follow up in June.

Thursday:  Christmas program at Braeden's school in the afternoon.  I am 99% sure he won't perform in it, but at least I'll be there for him and will get to see him in his environment.  I just wish it had been a different week since I already had two half days this week. :(
And then after school...
Vision appts for both Liam and Olivia.  Olivia got glasses this summer, BUT she had to go twice to the eye doctor before they gave her a script as she was hard to test.  Because of that, they wanted her in glasses for a bit and then asked that she return to be tested again with the glasses.  Liam failed his eye exam which was perfect timing because his resource teacher and myself had both been wondering if he was having some vision issues which were playing into his learning deficits.  He can write/trace letters and numbers that are "straight" lined, but anything with curves is a no go.  So we'll see how that plays out tomorrow.

Friday: Neurology appts in the afternoon for both Liam and Olivia.  Olivia was weaned off of her seizure medications this past summer and has done great, no issues whatsoever.  I wasn't too worried since she hadn't had one seizure since beginning meds more than four years prior, but there's always that doubt.  So I think this will most likely be a final appt for her.  At our last appt this summer they had talked about starting to wean Liam off of his meds if he didn't have any more seizures/issues between then and now.  BUT when they weaned Olivia they first did one final EEG and they haven't scheduled one for Liam, plus he has had multiple issues over the years with his seizures, the last of which was two summers ago when they got really bad before adding his second med.  SO... if they suggest weaning again I'm going to be VERY worried.  Seizures are NO FUN. :(

(I'll be glad when this week is over... and I will watch much more carefully in the future and not allow so much to happen all at once!)

Last weekend...

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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