Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Live & Learn Press

This one is for all you homeschool mommies. Last week at our homeschool support group meeting, we had the owners of Live & Learn come present their idea of Live 'N Learn folders. This is another name for a Lap Book. NOW, before you roll your eyes, groan within and click to read someone else's blog-- STOP!!! I know your pain! I have three boys! I know what it is like to do the dreaded-- P-R-O-J-E-C-T (insert climax music... take your pick). And I also know that I have looked on longingly at the lap book idea wishing if only I could figure out how to make one of those... without having to for-go laundry, dinner and cleaning the house... just so I can create a cool lap book project to go with our latest unit study!

What Live & Learn does is take all the hard work and do it for you. They a) teach you HOW to make these "mini-books" which go INSIDE your folders (e.i. lapbook) that you present your project information on; and b) they have created tons of unit study projects on cd-rom with all the templates for every "mini-book" you would make to go with the study and directions for how to assemble-- DIRECTIONS YOU CAN UNDERSTAND!! AND... they just started working with Apologia Science, and are creating Live 'n Learn notebook "folders" to supplement ALL of Apologia's curriculum. So... for those of you using Apologia Science, you can go to their website, buy the cd rom for your particular series (e.g. Team D. is studying Botony this year) and then have ALL the templates for answering ALL the questions in the form of these "mini-books", attaching them to 3-ring hole punched cardstock and stored in a lovely binder. So, at the end of the study, you will have a great "Lap Book" full of information on your subject, presented in these little "mini-books" that your child created (even if you do all the cutting and s/he does the writing-- or maybe for the littles, you even do the writing as they dictate to you the answers!).

Our first mini-book w/ Botony... pull tabs down-- they have to define "biology" and "botony" on the pull-tabs and give the roots of each

Let's discuss these "mini-books", because that is the heart of what Live & Learn does. Imagine flap books and origami rolled into one. Remember when you were a kid and you folded paper in all those funny ways and wrote 1,2,3,4.. red, yellow, blue, green, then did the little jingle as you manipulated the folded paper "thingy" to find out who you loved? (Rrr.. this is hard when you can't be "hands on"). That is what mini-books are. You fold paper in all different ways and then your child writes information in the flaps, or pull-ups (not the diapers!), or whatever sort of mini-book you made about whatever the topic is s/he is learning. Then, you attach your folded mini-book into a folder, decorate the outside of the folder and voi-la! You have a cool presentation that your kids can be super proud of!

This is the same mini-book with the tabs pulled up so you can see the answers. Isaac(7) did all the cutting and assembly himself-- I helped a little with getting the tabs in their inserts without ripping the paper.

I know, this still seems random and not very well explained. It is sort of a hard idea to explain without being able to give you a visual. My pictures aren't so great, but I tried to give you just an idea-- we just started our Botony folders yesterday. I will continue to post pictures as we make progress. In the meantime, go to their website and check them out! Download some of their free samples, print them out and start folding paper. Once you do that, I think you will get the idea and then the wheels will start turning. The possibilities really are endless!

And the real test??? My boys LOVE IT!!! They made their first little book yesterday and granted, it took a bit more time than I expect it to once we get the hang of what we are doing (I could have done all the cutting for them in advance-- you know, in all my spare time!)... Here is the real clincher for me. They were engaged the ENTIRE time (45 + minutes), they ENJOYED their Botony time (which has been gag before this!), they were SUPER proud of what they had done-- first thing they had to do was show it off to Daddy; AND they DIDN'T EVEN MIND WRITING!!!!

Go check them out: Live & Learn Press

Grace and Peace,

Friday, October 24, 2008

Feel the Love

I'm not sure what is going on in my home exactly... a work of the Lord is all I can guess. My boys have been SO very compassionate and kind to one another over the last several weeks. I mean, don't get me wrong; they are pretty civil to each other on a regular basis. I mean, we have our days, but overall, they get along. But, lately.... well... there is just so much love to go around! This afternoon, Wyatt looked at Sam and said, "Sam, I just love you. You are the best brother ever. Isaac, so are you!" What?? What was that I heard? Oh my. I think that was a "no strings attached" compliment! And such a rich one at that! Hmmm... like I said. God giving us a sweet gift in these last days until Daddy leaves for the big "D".

Speaking of the big "D", this gear up for it is getting, well... exhausting. And the thing is, I don't know how to not have it be exhausting, either. We stay positive, and certainly there is never a shortage of things to do, places to go, games to make, etc. But, no matter what we do or how we spend our time together, there it is. Getting closer. Waiting to happen. I have talked to several friends who have "gone before me" so to speak, and they all say the same thing... getting ready to deploy is the worst part. Once he goes, we can get into a routine and establish some normalcy. Although, in our case, Tony will be gone for almost three weeks, then home for Thanksgiving, then gone for the long haul. Then, of course, we enter into the Holiday season and that is usually void of normalcy. So... maybe come January, I can think about a routine. But...why think that far in advance? What a waste of time :)... I'd rather just enjoy today even if it is a little tiring!

Oh... here is something cool-- The boys and I went to see High School Musical 3 today! Yes. On opening day. I feel so hip. One of their fellow homeschool friends had a birthday and rather than have a party, she opted for us all to go see High School Musical together. It was fun! I have to confess that I never saw the first High School Musical until it was out on video-- for a LONG time; and I have never seen all of High School Musical 2. I have boys. They don't dance around the house to "We're Better Together" (I think that is the name of one of the songs!). But, I'm SOOOO glad that we have friends with girls!! And here is my sad confession. As HUGE CHEESE as it was; I found myself ferclempt more than once. Yes, people. I teared up. I mean, Tony and I are High School Sweethearts, okay! So, stay off my case!! :)

Finally, there are several families traveling this week to pick up their children from Ethiopia. I am going to attempt to link you to them here:

Schmidt Family
Van Wetten Family
Redfern Family

There are others, however, these are the blogs I could find links for. Hopefully they will update their blogs throughout the week.

Take care and have a great weekend, everyone!
Grace and Peace,

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Our days in pictures

Since my last post was so serious, I thought I would let you all see that life still goes on and we even smile a lot during it!! :) Enjoy!

The boys made their snack to look like Smaug the dragon from the Hobbit

Waiting for Grammie and Grampie

Isaac at the beach

On the USS North Carolina

Wyatt the Sailor

This one is my favorite :)

Grace and Peace,

Not for the Faint of Heart

I cannot even begin to tell you what we have been doing the past week or two. Really. It's all a blur. All I know is Time is cruelly racing ahead and somewhere deep inside me I keep screaming, "STOP!!!!!" Tony's work schedule has been so erratic. He is home on weird days and then he is gone for what seems like days at a time; then all the sudden he is home again. But unavailable to go with us to practices or games because he is on-call and must stay within 30 minutes of the hospital. Now he is gone again for the weekend and all the while there is this deep down urge within me to just drop it all and run away. Fast. That sounds so very mature and logical, doesn't it :)?

Two days ago, I learned that another family's baby died of pnemonia in Ethiopia. This is a family whom I was particularly cheering for, since they were holding out so long for a referral for two children under the age of two. With our agency's policy of only adopting sibling groups to families requesting multiples, this referral seemed extremely sweet to me and I was simply thrilled for them. Then, the baby girl got sick and she never recovered. My sorrow over this loss for them is just so raw. And it seems that there is no where to go with this bag of emotion and thoughts. I believe that our agency is doing the best they can to get families moved through court in a timely fashion and limit the amount of time between referral and uniting children with families. The adoption process in Ethiopia is still relatively new (compared to other nations) and more importantly, the number of people adopting from this beautiful country has more than tripled in the past several years. The courts can't keep up. They lack staff and equippment and technology and all the other things that go along with a smooth operating procedure. What am I going to do, shake my fist at them and say, "Shame on you! Pull it together!" No. That will not do. Sadly, the one thing I know to do, I have been finding hard to find the words for... Pray. I know this is my strongest weapon to wield and yet, I seem to just face every time of prayer with this sort of numb, "struck dumb" feeling. I'm counting on that passage of Scripture that says the Holy Spirit will intercede for me when all that comes out are groans not understood by human ears.

There is a conference call this afternoon with our agency. It happens once a month and it is a chance for all of the "waiting families" (those of us done with paper work and waiting for a referral) to ask questions to program director that they may be pondering. I was going to make time to listen in today. Back when I thought maybe we were further up on the list. But, after a little research (which wasn't hard) I saw how far down we really are and now I am over my wondering if we will get a referral in the next couple of months. Besides, the questions I want to ask, she can't answer... "Will this all happen while my husband is gone?", "Is there going to be two children for us?", "Can you please do something about getting our babies home faster before they get too sick and it is too late?"

My apologies if what I just shared was too much. This journey we are on seems to be quite dangerous just at the moment. At least that is how it feels. A dear friend of mine emailed me several months ago and in sharing some of her struggles she said, "Oh, Shari, this thing we call mothering is not for the faint of heart". How poignant. It is a good thing that I was blissfully ignorant back when I began on this path of being a military wife, mother, passionate follower of Christ, etc. I would have certainly known how "faint of heart" I can become, then turned and ran the other way! :)

Grace and Peace,

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What I should be doing...

What I should be doing is planning school for the next two weeks. What I should be doing is rotating, folding and putting away laundry which has piled up from our trip to the beach. What I should be doing is dusting, wiping or cleaning something. What I should be doing... is anything but blogging. But I am, so there you go.

Tony's parents and brother flew in last Thursday to spend some time with us before he leaves to go across the big pond. We rented a beach house on Ocean Isle and spend Friday - Monday at the beach. It was a really wonderful weekend, though I blinked and it was over. I ran my last really hard, long run before my race next month-- 22 miles up and down the island. The best part about running at the beach is laying in the water after the run!! I had my best recovery ever-- duh. I ran 22 miles, walked straight out to the ocean and sat down in the waves. Then after stretching and re-fueling, I spent the rest of the day sitting, laying and playing on the sand or in the water. No coming home and doing laundry, vacuuming, running kids to games, practices, etc. Just resting. It was good. :)

The other thing that was fun was having my middle child teach me how to "skin board". My brother-in-law rented a skin board from the local surf shop and taught Isaac what it is all about. He, in-turn taught me and we had fun. I'm NOT good at skin boarding, but that is okay. It was just fun to have Isaac teach me something new :). We also all had fun riding the waves on our boogie boards-- another new experience for me. Tony tried to teach me that one. I caught a couple good ones. Also very fun.

Wyatt enjoyed spending time talking all things military with Grandpa. On the way home we stopped by the USS North Carolina and took a tour. We have been on this great battleship before, but it was all new to Tony's parents. His dad is a HUGE military history guru, so there was much to discover together.

On the adoption front, there have been some big changes in our agency. The director of the ET program-- who also happens to be our family coordinator-- is moving with her family to Ethiopia to handle our adoptions from that end. So much has to happen once a family gets a referral, in order to make it possible for us to be united with our little ones. It is a complicated, slow process, often met with mess-ups and potholes along the way. Hopefully, by her moving to Addis and working for each family from that end, the entire process from referral to travel will go more smoothly, with less turmoil in between.
The other big news is that that AWAA increased its Ethiopia Program Fees. And here is my sad admission-- I haven't even taken the new fee schedule and compared it side by side to the old schedule. It's not that I don't care. Especially, because I believe that the reasons given were valid and ultimately, I believe that God will provide. Now, having made that "great statement of faith"... here is my confession. All I care about now, is the fact that we are getting closer to referral and now all the sudden, I am getting antsy. This really irritates me, because I was doing so well, for so long and not at all thinking about getting "the call". I assumed it was so far off and things were going so slow, that we wouldn't get the call for many more months. And, I think that is probably still true, but for some reason, after that last referral and the new "estimated" time frames for referral, I am rattled. I know there are lots of people in front of us, but I don't really know how many or what they are requesting. I don't want to spend lots of time on the chat group trying to figure it out, but still... I wonder. I especially wonder if all this will come down the line while Tony is gone. I put in an email to our coordinator asking these "wonderings" and, of course, she didn't respond. She is too busy, and we obviously aren't close enough to the top of the list to warrent a response.

So... I think I had better start finding something else I should be doing, instead of sitting on this computer blogging :)...

Grace and Peace,

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

More Referrals coming down the pipes!

This morning I woke up to a very happy Yahoo Group Post. More families are receiving referrals and the most recent referral came to a family not far in front of us-- for a sibling group!!! This is encouraging to me, since we would love nothing more than to bring home more than one child. I just don't know what the Lord has in store for Team Dragovich, but I trust Him and know that He is working in and through all things. He sees deeper than the surface and His wisdom is greater and higher than anything I can imagine.

In the meantime, we continue to be wrapped up in fall sports. It seems that on any given night, we are at a game, practice and sometimes both! Many nights Tony and I are in "divide and conquer" mode-- one at soccer, one at baseball. There is no way I could do this without him home, and I seem to keep reminding everyone that come Spring, Team D. will be choosing ONE sport and sticking with it. I can't say that I regret letting them choose this time, though. It is wonderful to see them excelling in their chosen sport and gaining confidence with each practice and game. Most importantly, Tony is enjoying every minute of getting his boys to their events and watching them intently as they learn to throw, catch, dribble, pass and make plays. So, who am I to drudge through this season like it is a chore and not a joy? Besides, after October, it is over, then we will all be scratching our heads and wondering what we should do with all our extra time :).

I think I am turning out to be somewhat of a "sub-par" blogger. There are many days that something happens and I think, "That was funny! I should blog about that!" And then, the day is over, I am exhausted and I decide that the three people who read don't care that much anyway :). I am probably wrong, because, if I have only three blog stalkers, then they are my most faithful following and they DO care-- so, sorry!!!

Okay, that was a random side-note, but oh well. At least I have a window of blog time now! Yeah! So, that is all I have. We are still pretty far out in the wait process, unless a LOT more sibling groups come AWAA's way and then who knows, maybe we will get a referral sooner than we think? Or, maybe the family that received the referral was just a perfect match for this sibling group and AWAA knew that and made the match. I may just look into this one. Hmmm...

My love to all of you who read, whether I know you personally, or not!
Grace and Peace,