Monday, January 30, 2012

Let's Celebrate!

Liam's SIX!

I still can't believe it!

For their birthdays, the kids get to choose their own dinners.
And Liam, the unique individual he is, made some unique choices!

He opted for cheese, summer sausage, hot chips, grape soda, and brownies...


Yep, it's official, the chips are HOT!

Make a wish buddy!
(Lovin' the grape soda mouth!)

And then time to open a few gifts!

Thanks for the card and money Great Grandma!

Reading Grammy's card...

And opening her gift!
Grammy, how did you know I wanted the Toy Story garbage dump!?

It was an Imaginext kind of birthday!

The "new to him" space shuttle from Olivia and Braeden...

Lightning McQueen from mom...

And a cuddly tooth fairy pillow bear...
if he ever loses that elusive first tooth!

So glad you had a great birthday Liam!

Birthday Time!

Oh my how you've grown!

My little one.
My youngest child.

You're not so very little any longer.

Buddy, you amaze me with the strength you have.
All that you have gone through in your short life.
And all that you still find strength to smile about.

I'm so blessed to be your mom.

But can't you stay little just a short while longer?

Happy SIXTH birthday little man!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Lessons in Learning

Many times being the mom and teacher I am, I am always wondering how and what I am teaching my kids. Are my three at home learning to be good, young Christian men and women with kind hearts? Are my students at school learning what they'll need to not only survive, but hopefully to succeed and support their families? How can I help Olivia with her struggles in Math? What do I do to hep Braeden understand that although he may not like it, school is important? What will help Liam overcome his many delays in learning?

But oftentimes I forget, or overlook, the lessons I learn from my kids themselves.

Friday was one of those learning days for me.

Liam and Olivia had neurology appointments in Chicago Friday. They weren't until the afternoon, so we stopped by a couple thrift stores in the morning, had lunch, and then went to the hospital. During this time Liam cried and screamed and slept, so I'm very glad we had the day off already! He complained mightily about his ear hurting, oh the joy. We stopped for medicine while we were out which helped some thank goodness.

This year Olivia has begun buying her own clothes. I've taught her over the years all about thrift stores, clearance racks, and buying ahead for the next season. She gets amazed at regular prices and I love seeing the bargain hunter in her emerge! :) As she heads to middle school next year I've told her for a while that we would start this winter with her purchasing her own clothes. I'm going to give her a small stipend twice a year (Feb and Aug) for clothes only and that she could buy a couple "expensive things" or work it out to have bought ahead and from thrift stores as she'd like. Since we were going to the thrift stores Friday I gave her the first stipend a week early. She did AWESOME! She scored some amazing deals! And she came out with two BIG bags of clothes for just under $50. Some of her buys: Aero jeans for $2, an Aero shirt for $2, a LEATHER duster type coat from Wet Seal for 90 CENTS. Awesome! (The sleeves really aren't longer than her hands, not sure why she pulled her hands in. But it is a TAD big and will be great next year!)

Their appointments were good, and I got some information that may be very helpful and enlightening in an area of Olivia we've wondered about for years. Can I just say I LOVE their new Neurologist!!!??? I will post more about that at another time.

On our way home from the appointments, we were headed back to the interstate. Stopped at a light with lots of traffic, a man was walking the "aisle" between cars, holding a sign asking for help or handouts as he was homeless.

As an adult, I find myself skeptical in these situations. Is he REALLY in need? What will the money REALLY be used for? And then at the same time I WANT to give him money. I think of the money we spent at lunch and how we could've made some cheaper choices and shared with him. Or how he could've spent the same on a small bag of groceries. I ponder how my choice to give or not to give affects my kids and teaches them. I wonder if they've even noticed. And yet, I have no cash, so it's really a mute point. I have nothing but a few pennies.

And then Olivia's mouth opens. And I think here it comes, she's going to ask me why I'm not giving him money. But she doesn't. Instead Olivia says, "Mom, can I give him some money?"

Her money. Not her clothing money that she was handed this morning. But the money she earned from her report card. Which she was upset with herself over because her grades weren't the greatest and she didn't get much.

As she digs it out, she says, "I just feel like I've spent so much money on myself today. I need to think of others and spend some to help him."

Ended up that by that time he was WAY far back and the light was changing, so she was unable to give him anything at all. On part of the drive home, Olivia talked on the phone to Grandma. Her conversation consisted of telling Grandma all about her day and then she said, "But there was one really bad thing." and she told of the homeless man and not being able to give him the money like she wanted.

She wasn't questioning his need.

She was SEEING a need and wanting, craving, to meet that need.

She was being God's tool in that moment.

Unfortunately she wasn't able to give him the money, but instead God used her willingness to ask and not question to teach ME. My do I have a lot to learn.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Adoption Update

Some have asked where we're at in the adoption process. Well... let me see if I can fill you in...

This fall when we had some things going on personally I was waiting to be matched with a little one from I had been "ready" to be matched since February but there just hadn't been any new little ones available. God knew what He was doing. (Doesn't He always!?) :) Fall was a very rough time for us, which ended with us grieving the loss of my father.

During that time I contacted my home study and adoption agencies and let them know that I needed to put things "on hold." I could barely function myself while still parenting and trying to keep my job, that to have even thought of adding in a new little was just something I couldn't have wrapped my mind around, let alone something that would have been good for them or us. Ironically not days into our time of turmoil, I had been emailed by my worker about a little one newly available from Not one listing since February, and here was one just listed. It just was not meant to be.

With healing and grieving dissipating and everything leveling out once again, I've resumed discussion with my two agencies regarding taking up the process to adopt again. BUT... there have been new developments within, and they are making it almost impossible to adopt as a single parent unless the child is much older and has been waiting a while. - Let me say here that I obviously have a love for older children adoption, there is nothing wrong with that and I am not opposed to that - BUT my agency I am working with does not allow out of birth order adoptions, which means any I adopt must be under Liam's age, and there just aren't many in that realm unless they have significant physical disabilities which I wouldn't be able to tackle working full time. - There is still not a certified "no" to singles, but it looks like I could potentially be trying for a match, having a picture of a little one, falling in love with a little one, and the matching committee could very well, and most likely would, come back with a "no." I can't afford that; not in money, but especially not in emotional investment. And that's most likely what would have happened had we gone forward with that little one this fall.

So... with a heavy heart I turn away from Those of you who have been with me since I began this journey know that this is now the second country I have worked to adopt from and been turned away from... all due to being single. It's frustrating. The first was a very short lived process, with little investment, but We've checked out library books and studied the culture... I've read my own books and followed numerous blogs, reading back over travel to this glorious place... I've spent TIME and MONEY... a year and a half and thousands of dollars to be exact... and it's frustrating...

So... where we're at... well... my adoption agency has only two other options being a single parent... One is Russia, and with that comes a total of three trips lasting between 18 and 25 days total... something I just can't do as a single mom who works full time... and one other country... BUT, their site states that adopting from this other country means you can have no more than two adopted children ( no biological children ), and I obviously have three. My worker is currently checking into the possibility that they could get a waiver for this requirement. IF SO, then I am going to go forward with this country and hopefully most of my money put toward can be transferred to the new program. IF NOT, then I'm not sure I'm getting anywhere with the money I've invested and I will be updating my home study to be prepared in the case of a possible domestic adoption situation at some point. (NOTHING is in the works, just wanting to be ready in case).

Please join us in prayer. The kids ask almost daily when we are getting a new sister. They pray for their sister. They have been so excited for so very long, as we all have.
Sunday, January 15, 2012

Winter Fun... Finally

The kids have waited and waited for what finally fell from the sky Thursday night... SNOW!

They were thrilled beyond words and just could NOT wait to get out and PLAY.

Thursday night they played in our backyard,
Friday we had appointments and by the time we got home it was dark,
so Saturday was our day to SLED!

Braeden got to try out his new snowboard from Grandma... and did SO well!

Liam and Olivia shared the saucer as our tube sled was needing air
but the valve was frozen and I couldn't open it!

They had a great time and it looks like we'll be headed back today!

A fun winter's day... a long time coming!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

First Semester Down... Where We're At...

Some of you may be wondering what has happened with Braeden this school year. (Or maybe not!) :)

We had a VERY rough year last year... trying to find the "right" med to help his ADHD and yet keep the kind, crazy, loving, book hungry boy we knew, well, it was a nightmare basically.

Summer went very well, we got a new doctor, and things were looking up. But I was very worried still about school.

So at the beginning of this school year I created the Mondo Behavior Plan at home.

And we're now halfway through the school year, so I thought I'd shoot out an update.

Things are going well. Extremely well. So well that I hate to even post this for fear I'm going to eat my words. :)

We had a few really ROUGH weeks somewhat toward the beginning. BUT, those weeks, as I look back now, were the EXACT weeks that I was under some EXTREME stress and worry and was basically in crisis mode. As much as I worked on NOT letting the kids know there was anything going on, I am SURE Braeden picked up on the stress. He had to have. There is no other explanation. Because once that stress began to dissipate... his stickers started appearing on our chart once again. Amazing. (insert sarcasm). :)

Our mudroom is a great place to be. Awesome to look at how well things are going.

I took these pics last week and should have probably waited because I had forgotten to erase the puzzle piece portion and he has added three more stickers to his chart.

He's been weaned off almost all of the incentives. He completed two puzzles and we stopped doing those. We've stopped choosing a card after getting five stickers. I've also stopped giving him the money, although I haven't actually erased that yet and he doesn't realize it. Hopefully I can wean that without it being a big deal. The one he does NOT let me forget is spending the night in mom's room if he gets a blue! In fact he's there as I type. He LOVES that incentive which just cracks me up! FREE! I love it! Things really are going so very well!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

2011 In Review

January 2011
Started the year with snow a plenty for lots of sledding... which we still have yet to see this time around...

February 2011
Saw lots of work on compiling our dossier to be prepared for a match to a little girl from Hong Kong... here we were trying to get a good family photo (as you can tell it had to be redone)... :)

March 2011
Used my spring break to redo Olivia's room into a "girl's" room in preparation for our adoption (which is still underway and we're unsure at this point how it will play out)...

April 2011
Spent Easter with some very special family and friends...

May 2011
Had fun catching toads...

June 2011
Took Olivia to NYC for her special mom/daughter 10 year trip...

July 2011
Spent the 4th of July in FL...

August 2011
Soccer was fully underway with Olivia and Liam on teams this year...

September 2011
We spent a day at Great America with special friends...

October 2011
While also grieving Grandpa's death...

November 2011
Spent Veteran's Day doing 11 things for under $11...

December 2011
Lots of fun with friends... and looking forward to a wonderful 2012!

Happy New Year!

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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