Goodbye Ordinary

I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has granted us. Isaiah 63:7

Anybody Out There? October 15, 2010

Filed under: Adoption,Home Schooling,India — Lori @ 10:57 pm

It has been some time since I have written here.  I wouldn’t be surprised if you have all given up on me!  For awhile I was waiting to write hoping that any day I would have good news to share about Levi’s adoption.

Sometimes I am so funny. 

Like I EVER get information when I am promised it.  Why do I always believe them?

I really didn’t want to write another “we are still waiting for news” post.  So, I guess I won’t. 🙂

School is going well.  I wasn’t sure who it would be harder on to get back into our schedule, me or the girls.  It has been good for all of us.  I enjoy getting back into a regular schedule.  It helps me to spend my days in a more worthwhile manner.  I can waste a lot of time in the summer!  The girls did a month long summer school specifically teaching phonics and reading skills.  They both really enjoyed it and it seems like it was helpful in solidifying all the work we have done in the last two years of school on phonics.

Both of the girls are making good progress with their reading.  It is so encouraging to see all the hard work start to pay off. 

A fun thing the girls and I have been doing is a program offered through Sonlight Curriculum called Passport to India.  It is a ten part video diary of a visit to India.  It is meant to teach about the culture and people of India, but with an emphasis on what the Lord in doing to advance the gospel there.  There is a mixture of sadness and hope as you watch.  He is visiting desparately poor people, but there are Christians who are bringing a message of hope through the gospel to the people.  There are slum churches that teach reading and writing and help women to learn to make things to sell so that they can help their families.  There are Children’s Bible Clubs that invite the kids to come and learn scripture and songs and they bring what they are learning back to their families.

This has been so neat to do with the girls.  Kalindi is not surprised by what she sees.  In fact, she will comment on things as we watch – for instance she remembers her mother cooking over a fire similar to what we saw on the video.  Kira really only remembers her life at the orphanage so she does not identify with the kids in the video as much as Kalindi does. 

What they are both learning is that there are people who love Jesus in India and they are telling others about the Savior.  It will take generations to change the poverty and injustice in India.  But, the Lord can change one heart at a time. 

You can donate to Mission India to help fund their various projects.  Mission India exists to equip Indian Christians to take the gospel into their own communities through Adult Literacy Classes, Children’s Bible Clubs, and Church Planter Training.  You can read more about their projects here.  Any donation you make through the Sonlight link will be matched by Sonlight until November 17. 

The slum took a lot of getting used to.  It was absolutely filthy and crowded.  My heart breaks for these people.

 

Out and About October 5, 2009

Filed under: Adoption,Home Schooling,Kid Happenings,Life — Lori @ 10:24 pm

I meant to write a post about our fun trip to the zoo with our home school group on September 25, but things keep pulling on my time and it didn’t get done.

School takes up a good portion of our day, but it is going very well.  We are enjoying our curriculum and the girls are even excited when I pull out the history book – if you can believe that! 🙂

The girls so enjoy their friends in their home school group and everyone was so happy to see each other after a few months of not seeing each other over the summer.

Kira with two of her friends

Kira with two of her friends

It really is the perfect group for the girls.  One of the families recently adopted an older girl from Ethiopia who is a perfect friend for Kalindi.

Kalindi

Kalindi

We were so fortunate to have such great weather the day we were at the zoo.  We had the idea that since school was going there wouldn’t be that many people at the zoo.  Wrong!  I don’t know if it was the fact that it was a beautiful day and the forecast was for a week of rain right after that.  Or, it might have been that the new predator exhibit had just opened a few weeks earlier.  Anyway, it was kind of crowded – especially in the new exhibit.

We did get a look at the lions over people’s heads and thanks to my digital camera and the screen on the back, I could hold it up in the air and still get a photo of them!

New Lions at the Oregon Zoo

New Lions at the Oregon Zoo

Aren’t they amazing!?  There are also some cheetahs and painted dogs – the most successful hunters in Africa.  They say the success rate of lions when they hunt is 30 – 40% and the painted dogs are successful 70-90% of the time!

The Painted Dogs

The Painted Dogs

Of course, we always stop by and see how big Samudra is.  He is just over a year old.

Samudra with his mom, Rose Tu

Samudra with his mom, Rose Tu

Aren’t they so cute:

Don't you just wonder what this conversation was about? :-)

Don't you just wonder what this conversation was about? 🙂

Adoption update:  We received email notification that we have approval from immigration.  This means that we can get the official referral papers for Levi and get those signed and notarized.  I can then take my whole stack of documents to Salem to the Secretary of State for apostilling and then the dossier will be ready to send to India.  This is a very exciting step!  Once we have approval from CARA, the Indian government agency that must approve our paperwork before it goes to court, we will be able to send Levi a photo album of us and a gift to introduce our family and let him know that we are waiting for him.

All of this remains in the Lord’s hands and we are in submission to His will and timing – knowing that is what is best.

Please pray for Levi as he waits in India.  Pray that he will be healthy and safe.  Pray for his heart to be ready to learn about our family.  Pray that he will be excited when he learns about us.

We have a lot to do to get ready ourselves.  Levi’s future room is still my craft and “catch-all” room.  I need to get that cleared out – find places for everything – and then get furniture for him in there.  It will be a fun process once we get started.  Beginning those preparations will certainly make it all seem more real.

Have a great week!

 

Adoption Progress July 23, 2009

Filed under: Adoption,Faith,Home Schooling — Lori @ 10:28 am

Our home study is in draft form and waiting for approval from Journeys of the Heart.  I have filled out and sent my I-800A (the immigration approval form) and a check for that fee to JOH for them to send in as soon as the home study is approved and signed and notarized by the social worker.  Yeah!  Please pray that this will be done quickly and that it won’t take long for us to get our fingerprint appointment. 

That part shouldn’t be an issue.  At this time, because of the new Hague requirements, the approval after the fingerprinting is what is taking so much time.  This wait has been between two and three months.  This is the wait that we are praying will be shortened.  We cannot send our dossier (packet of paperwork for the Indian courts) to India until we have the official approval from Homeland Security for immigration.  Of course, we pray for all of this in God’s will knowing that His plan is perfect and we rest in that knowledge.

Things you can pray with us for:

1.  Pray that Levi will be safe and healthy and that the Lord will be preparing his heart to be in our family.  Pray also that his heart would be receptive to the Holy Spirit and he would be ready to hear about Jesus!

2.  Pray that God will be in control of all paperwork, all government officials that will touch our paperwork, and the timing of every step along the way.

3.  Pray that I will receive the certified copies of my birth certificate from California.  I sent in the request over a month ago and have not received them back.

3.  Pray that I will be thorough and careful as I put together the dossier so that I do not have to make multiple trips to Salem for apostilling (been there, done that – last time!) and so that there will not be delays caused by me.

4.  Please also pray for our family as we prepare to add another child.  There are educational challenges to meet with Kali and Kira and that will take up quite a lot of my time and energy this year.

5.  Pray with us as we wait – with faith! – to see how the Lord will provide for this adoption.  We have the opportunity to apply for some special needs grants once our home study is approved.  However the Lord chooses to provide, we know that He will do so, not only for the adoption, but for medical expenses once Levi is home.

On the educational front, I am very positive after enlisting the help of my “personal education consultant” and she was able to attend a meeting with me and the psychologist who did Kali’s testing and another psychologist who specializes in child assessment.  She was very pleased with the test results and feels like we can work on Kali’s working memory and processing with some strategies that she has used with other children.  I am SO thankful for Shirley, I could almost cry!  The Lord is so good to have put her in my life many years ago.  The Lord provides all that we need, doesn’t He?

Trusting in our sovereign and righteous God!  Lori

 

Kalindi – Learning June 11, 2009

Filed under: Adoption,Family,Home Schooling,Reading — Lori @ 3:20 pm

I have written before about some educational challenges with the girls and Kalindi in particular.  After home schooling them both for a full year I had a pretty good idea that Kalindi would need some intervention of some kind.  I worked with both the girls on phonics and reading and Kira was doing well, but Kalindi was struggling.

Today Kalindi spent three hours in cognitive testing.  I won’t know the full extent of the assessment until a few weeks from now, but the doctor did say that she had short term memory and processing issues.  Not news to me. 

He also said that he was sure that they would have some ideas to help her.  Yeah!

I have no idea what all will be involved, but I am relieved to know that I am not crazy and that there really is something going on (or not going on) in that brain of hers that is making it harder for her to learn.  She is a smart girl.  I watch her and I can see that she has come up with creative ways to get around her shortcomings.  She can figure out how to get the right answers.  Just think what she will be able to do when we can channel that energy the right way!

I would appreciate your prayers for Kalindi and I as we navigate these waters together.  She and I have had a harder time bonding with each other and I know that our struggles in school have not helped.  I am hoping that she and I working on this together will be good for us.

I just have to add that I have been reading the book, “The Connected Child” by Dr. Karyn Purvis and it is excellent!  If you have an adopted child – or as she puts it, a “child from a hard place” – you will be doing yourself a favor to read this book. 

There are also videos of her speaking at a church that are great to watch (especially the discipline one) no matter if your child is adopted or not!  (You have to scroll down the page a bit to get to the video portion.)  I think combining Dr. Purvis’ discipline ideas with the very Biblical advice of Ginger Plowman in “Don’t Make Me Count to Three” will make for a perfect game plan for the girls – and soon a little rambunctious boy as well!

 

What We Have Been Up To….May May 28, 2009

Filed under: Adoption,Family,Home Schooling,Kid Happenings,Kids — Lori @ 11:41 am

My energy level lately has been pretty low.  This time of year my allergies sap my energy and I feel like I am walking around in a fog!  There are days I wake up that way and it is hard to do anything beyond what really NEEDS to be done in a day.  I am always saying that one of the things I am looking forward to about heaven and my new body is NO ALLERGIES!

We celebrated Kira’s seventh birthday on Sunday, May 3.  She chose hamburgers for her dinner (I threw in hot dogs as well).  Actually, both the girls ended up having hot dogs which was their first time having them.  They liked them. 🙂

Our Birthday Girl

Our Birthday Girl

We had family and friends who are family at the party.

The Cousins

The Cousins

She got a princess cake – chocolate!  Yeah!

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The girls have been taking swimming lessons the whole month of May.  More on swimming later.

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There was Mother’s Day at my Mom’s house:

Great Grandma Helen and her great grandkids!

Great Grandma Helen and her great grandkids!

Kira got to have a second birthday (is that something Hobbits do?) with our homeschool group:

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We had an “Oregon City” outing with special friends:

In front of the McLoughlin House

In front of the McLoughlin House

We also had family and friends over for Memorial weekend for a shish-kabob barbeque – you should have heard the attempts at repeating that word!  I don’t have great pictures of that day since I forget to do much photo taking when I am in charge of the activity!

Kevin has been working hard getting a fence put in on the back of our yard.  We have wanted to get to this project for a long time and it feels good to have it almost done.  The girls have helped out as well.  They love to be Daddy’s helper.  I’ll post yard pictures when we get it finished.  I am happy with how it is turning out.  It has been a lot of work, but very rewarding.

Another thing going on around here is getting paperwork together to start on our adoption.  Brings back memories!  That will keep me busy for a couple of months at least.  I do remember how good it feels when you have it all done and sent off! 

The girls are excited about their brother in India.  It has been fun to listen to them pray for him and to tell others about him coming.  It will be interesting to see how they react when it actually happens. 🙂 

Spring/Summer has officially hit.  Not only is the weather getting nice, but I am starting to hear, “Do we have to do school today?”  I swear there is a kid manual that is handed out at birth to every child in every country.  They all know the same lines because there wasn’t anybody around here to teach the girls that one!

 

Our Busy Week March 20, 2009

Filed under: Family,Home Schooling,Kid Happenings,Life — Lori @ 1:28 pm

img_7906I wanted to post about all the fun (and some not so fun) adventures of the past week beginning with Sunday, 3/15.  On Sunday, we got together with my parents, grandma, and my sister’s family to celebrate three March birthdays.  It was a really fun day and we were all thankful that my nephew Nate asked for Grandpa’s famous smoked pork ribs for his dinner choice!  Yummm!  Mom got her favorite salad – the one with mandarin oranges, candied almonds, and avocados.  I am not sure what Dad (Grandpa) got in recognition of his birthday as far as the meal was concerned so I had made him some orange chocolate chip cookies that were just for him.  Dad loves all things orange flavored.  🙂

The cake was pretty funny because my sister had accidentally written the wrong date on the Costco cake order sheet and said she would be picking it up the next Saturday – ha – so they wrote the birthday message to everyone on a St. Patrick’s Day cake that was already made up.  Too funny.

 

Here is a photo of the generations of girls – from my Grandma Helen, my Mom, I am missing (taking the photo – I am NEVER in pictures because I always have the camera!), Kelsey and the girls.

img_7884I love my Grandma!  She is 91 – can you believe that?  She not only looks great and is in good health for her age, but she is a sharp cookie as well.  I am so blessed to have her living so close so my girls can spend time with her often.

On Monday, the girls had dentist appointments.    They weren’t too thrilled about it and there was a lot of talk in the car about that dreaded flouride treatment and how they try to fool you about it by saying it will taste like something good. 🙂  They said Kira had a couple of very small cavities which she ended up getting filled on Tuesday.  She was pretty good for that procedure and was lucky in that they were so small, they were able to do it without a shot of anesthetic so that was good.  She told me she cried a very little bit because she was “worried”. 

 

 

On Wednesday, we met some friends at the zoo.  We had planned this date a few weeks ago so we were all pleasantly surprised and happy that the weather was perfect.  It was sunny and not cold (you can’t really ask for warm right now!) and there was hardly anyone there.  We had a great time.  The girls enjoyed being together.  They are all from India – Kalindi and Kira were good friends with one of the girls who just recently came home with her family.  They have had fun renewing that friendship.

img_7908We also went out to a wonderful Indian buffet lunch which the girls really enjoyed and then shopped at an Indian grocery. 

After that, we went to McDonalds and ordered a drink and the girls ran around on the play area while the other mom and I talked.  It was a great day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I love this picture of the girls reaching out to “touch” the sea lion swimming by.  They are so beautiful and graceful in the water.  I could sit there and watch them all day long.

One thing I am always struck by when I am at the zoo is God’s creativity and skill in creating all the various animals – and his occasional sense of humor! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

img_7961On Thursday we had our monthly home school craft group.  The girls have enjoyed this so much.  We meet at my wonderfully creative and energetic friend Thelma’s house with four to five other families.  There are 8 – 10 girls that come in the age range of four to 10.  Kalindi is the oldest and was so happy when her new friend E came in November from Ethiopia.  Kalindi enjoys having a friend her age.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The girls made brightly colored tissue paper flowers and they also planted seeds so that they can grow some flowers to plant at home. 

Thelma made a special lunch of beef vegetable soup, PB & J sandwiches, meat and cheese rolls ups and home made rolls.  She also made a special dessert of chocolate pudding, crushed oreo cookies and gummy worms to go along with her theme.  It was pretty funny watching the girls dig for the worms. 🙂

 

 

 

 

That pretty much catches you up on our week.  I was thankful for a Friday with nothing on the schedule – all except taking Kevin to the doctor today because his back was bothering him.  He woke up on Thursday so bad that he could hardly walk.  It was the same today so I took him in.  The doctor thinks it is muscular – good news – so he is taking a muscle relaxant and Aleve for pain.  Hopefully that will do the trick.  He just stopped by to say he was going to lay down because he couldn’t keep his eyes open – the muscle relaxer is doing its thing!  He hurt his back doing the dishes for me.  It was pretty funny telling the doctor what happened and he told Kevin that he better not be doing that anymore!

Have a great weekend!  Lori

 

Home Schooling and the Older Adopted Child February 10, 2009

Filed under: Adoption,Home Schooling,Kids — Lori @ 11:39 pm

I thought I would take some time to explain what our typical school week looks like.  Home schooling the girls has been like starting with preschool/kindergarten age kids – but without the immersion in English most kids get their first four years of life!

I began home schooling Kelsey when she was starting second grade.  I was not one of those moms who always knew I wanted to home school.  I thought about it, talked with other home school moms about it, but was afraid to do it.  I guess I bought the lie that you couldn’t teach your own kids if you weren’t a licensed teacher or the other lie that they will miss out on all this great social interaction if they don’t go to school.  I am not saying that home schooling is the ONLY way you should educate your children – just that you can do it without being a licensed teacher and there are many ways to socialize your children.

What led me to try home schooling was the high cost of private school.  It is funny how God gets you where He wants you to be.  Even when we decided to try Kelsey at home for second grade I was not sure the experiment would last longer than that year.  Because I was so insecure about my ability to home school I had Grant at the private school for kindergarten that year.  I thought I could concentrate on Kelsey and figure out how to school her while Grant was being taken care of. 

Another decision I made with Kelsey was to use all the curriculum that they used at the school she had attended.  That turned out to be a bad decision because the curriculum was not made to be used with one child in a home setting, but with a classroom.  Even though the year was not the best experience we could have had I did start to feel like home schooling was what God was calling me to do with both Kelsey and Grant.

To make a very long story short, after years of navigating my way through teaching my children at home, I could look back and see a hundred reasons why it was what I was supposed to do.  God always knows best.

Now as I work with the girls I see how much I learned over the years and how it prepared me to teach them.  Back when I first started home schooling I talked with friends and found out what they did, I looked at different curriculum and did as much research on different methods as I could.  To be honest, it took me awhile to figure out what worked best for my kids (and me!) and the same things weren’t necessarily best for both of them.  When Grant was in third grade he was diagnosed with some learning disabilities.  I had struggled with teaching him to read for years.  I had tried many things, but finally found a wonderful tutor who helped us to have Grant tested and then worked with him for two years after that.  I learned so much from her through that time and I am blessed to call her a friend and to be able to still call her and pick her brain for ideas for teaching the girls.

Kalindi and Kira knew very little English when they came home.  They could recite the alphabet, but did not recognize hardly any of the letters.  They could count, but did not recognize most of their numbers larger than ten.  They came home in February 2008 and all I did to start with was to play some simple card games with them, an alphabet game, read picture books to them, and used flash cards with pictures and words to teach vocabulary.  I found out that they were great at memory card games and could put together pretty advanced puzzles.  I had wooden shapes and pictures where you use the shapes to fill in the picture.  They both could do very advanced ones easily.

With those activities I learned a lot about them and we worked on language and got to know each other.  I decided that we would take it easy and start in schooling full scale in the fall, which we did.

I saw how important phonics was in teaching my son to read so I knew I really needed to start with a good phonics program.  We started the year working with the 70 phonograms in the Spaulding Writing Road to Reading program.  I made a mistake in the beginning thinking that I needed them to know all the phonograms before I moved on.  After realizing that they weren’t translating the sounds they were learning when they saw them in another context I talked with my “personal education consultant” 🙂 and she gave me some great ideas.

My friend had experience teaching older kids in Mozambique (she has literally done it ALL) how to read English and knew some of the issues I was coming up against first hand.  She told me that I needed to expose them to the letters and sounds in as many different ways as possible.  So, now we do this weekly schedule for reading/phonics:

Every day – Adventures in Phonics (Christian Liberty Press – Level A) we do a couple of workbook pages, working together so that they are hearing the short vowel sounds as they work.  We read the word lists and stories in the phonics reader that goes with the workbook.  We do two pages in book 1 of Explode the Code.  We do them together as they are not yet able to read and do it on their own.  I also bought the Noah Webster’s Reading Handbook put out by Christian Liberty Press for each of the girls.  I am teaching them to use it to look up letter sounds if they get stuck.  For instance on the page in the workbook when they need to fill in what short vowel completes the word they can look in the handbook and see the vowel and the word/picture that illustrates what that vowel sound is.

Monday/Wednesday – I dictate the phonograms and they write them in their notebook. 

Tuesday/Thursday – We use letter tiles and I have them find the letters to spell words.  Some days we spell words from the word list in the phonics reader, other times we do word families, some days we do sight words from a list I have.  I usually have them find the tiles to spell the word and then write it in their notebook.

I see Kira making great progress with reading.  She is catching on so quickly and remembers the letter sounds and words.  Kalindi struggles a bit, but is doing well.  Kalindi went to school for three years in India.  Unfortunately, the government schools in India do not have a high level of education.  They teach memorization, copying and recitation, but there is very little application.  I think the years of non-learning have given her bad habits.  She sometimes has trouble keeping her focus and has a lack of self esteem.  I think another problem for her is stress.  She worries when she thinks she can’t do something.  I try to have the girls read to me separately because Kalindi was noticing that her younger sister was having an easier time and that was demoralizing to her. 

The girls have made so much progress this year.  When we began the year they could not count to 20 correctly.  They can now count to 100 accurately, count by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s.  They are learning about place value (ones, tens, hundreds), they are learning to tell time and about money.  Their grasp of speaking English is amazing.  I can’t believe how far they have come in a year.  In addition to reading, we do Math U See.  They have finished the Primer and just began the Alpha book.  They really needed the good foundation that this curriculum provides.  They are doing great with math.  We also do some different Building Thinking Skills activities every day or a page in a book that teaches sequencing. 

At this point, I am keeping school fairly simple.  We do Bible every day in addition to my reading aloud.  We are reading Despereaux right now.  I also have them work on Rosetta Stone English on the computer and let them play phonics/reading games online every now and then.  We usually begin school about 9:00 a.m. and are done by noon.  Some days go better than others.  But, all in all, it goes really well and I am enjoying myself immensely.  I feel like I am better equipped to teach the girls than I was when I first began teaching Kelsey and Grant.  I struggle with patience, but aren’t I lucky that I get to work on that every day? ha ha

I apologize for that getting so long!  I know that a few people read the blog who have recently adopted or are going to be bringing kids home soon and thought it might help to hear what we do.  I know I always like to get ideas from others and then figure out how to best adapt it into our situation.  I hope I can be of some help to someone starting out.  Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.  I do not have all the answers.  Thanks for reading!

Lori

 

 
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