Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Strange Questions About Homeschooling and Adoption

This is my response to many blessings blog hop.

It sometimes amazes me the questions people ask or statements they make!  I try to ignore the rudeness of some of the questions I get.  My skin is pretty thick from years of sticking out like a sore thumb ~ born cross-eyed, learning challenges in school, epilepsy as a child, having my first child years earlier than the norm, raising special needs kids and homeschooling ~ yep, I've always been different.  I try to take each question or statement as an educational moment for everyone involved.  That's what life is, right, an education? 

1) Do you think everyone should homeschool?  No, especially not the folks who cry when their kids come home for summer break or the folks who say they would rather kill themselves than stay home with their kids!  On the other hand, some homeschoolers say staying home with their kids is perfect and wonderful and great every minute.  I would have to disagree.  I LOVE being home with my kids, BUT it is hard sometimes.  Those days go much more easily if you love learning and teaching and are truly committed to this lifestyle.

2) Are you going to homeschool forever?  Um, I would love to, but the kids are going to have to graduate someday.  I must admit that I worry sometimes about what I will do when the kids are grown up.  Maybe, I will open that homeschool store or giant homeschool resource center that lives in my daydreams.  Okay, maybe I will homeschool forever.  (LOL)

3) Do you get snow days?  No, snow days are winter science days.  We do, however, get days off for "Mom is going crazy because the house is so messy".  Of course, that doesn't mean the day is OFF -- it means everyone gets to pitch in to clean up.

4) Does your family go on vacations? Well, that would depend on whom in my family you asked.  My oldest says, "We go on overnight, educational field trips".  He said that with delight in his voice.  I would say that we go on vacations like everyone else, but we tend to see everything in life as a learning opportunity, so we are naturally drawn to museums, zoos and historical sites.

5) Will you homeschool my child or (addressed to my kids) will your Mom homeschool me?  My kids and I get this more often than you might think. Some people are serious.  What a nice compliment.  We love to have people over for special homeschool events.

Our next five questions are in regards to adoption. Many of them are rude and shocking.

6) How much did you pay for them?  No one ever asks what the out of pocket costs of childbirth are after insurance!  However, I try to answer their curiosity in case they think adoption is too expensive.  We adopted through foster care so the cost was zero dollars.  In fact, our children came with a small monthly allowance to help offset their medical care because of their special needs.

7) Did you have a hard time finding white kids to adopt?  My jaw drops every time someone asks me this question.  My husband and I were raised in a large metropolitan area which was a melting pot of races and blended families. The truth is, we never thought much about race.  We were much more concerned with how young a child we could get.  We wanted a baby and they said that was very rare.  We did state that we would be willing to take special needs if it would increase our chances of getting a baby.  Tom Sawyer was the very first child DSS called us about on our very first day of being licensed.  He was two days old and very special needs.  His biological sister came along a few months later when she was 20 months old.  It just so happens that they are white.

8) Did you know your kids were special needs before adopting them and, if so, why did you do it?  I get this from strangers on down to people who we see on a regular basis and know our kids.  I am never sure if this is to suggest that we wanted to be saints or that we are just plain crazy.  The truth is, we knew they were special needs before they entered our home.  We did it because we wanted to grow our family and we knew we felt capable of caring for special children.  Yes, I do feel crazy some days.  No, I never do anything to be seen as a saint, nor do I qualify as a saint in any way. 

9) Why didn't you give them back (when you got pregnant with your "own" or realized "how" special needs they were)?  Shockingly, we have gotten this from all walks of life, including one of my husband's relatives.  The answer is ~ They were ours from the moment they were placed in our arms.  They may have been foster kids for 2 years in our home, but they were ours ~ forever, for always, no matter what.  People do not assume that we would give away the children that grew in my womb because of special needs.  Why should we give away the children who had grown in our hearts?  I can't help but wonder what is behind the thought process of people asking such a question.  I can only assume they don't consider adopted children as being equal to children born from my body!

10) How do you do it?  One day at a time!  We don't expect perfection or to get it all done.  No one is getting it all done!!  We just strive for love, peace, learning, fun, full stomachs and a good night's sleep as many days as possible.  Life is a journey.  We concentrate on the moments of our lives instead of the end goal.

These questions are response to many blessings blog hop.

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pirate Camp

Tom Sawyer had a fantastic time at Pirate Day Camp.  They did so many things and he learned lots of new skills.  They started with solid wood blocks and made guns (using all sorts of tools that he had never used before).  They also learned some of the basics of Aerial Arts.  Tom Sawyer learned how to swing like a sailor on ropes and do simple flips on ropes.  They painted lots of tiny pirate figurines and set up elaborate battle scenes.  All of the children talked about gun safety and how to handle swords safely.  Tom Sawyer enjoyed the acting lessons and doing role playing games.  It was a great mix of arts and crafts and acting skills throughout the week.

On the last day, the kids went to the camp leader's home and had a pirate day.  They came in pirate costumes, ate pirate food, walked the plank into the ocean (went swimming in the pool), had lots of role playing pirate battles, and cooked raw meat on swords over an open fire.  What a dream come true for a boy!  He wants to go for two weeks next year!

There was one problem at the beginning of the week.  A child who has been having issues with Tom Sawyer for months was in the camp.  The boy basically tries to control several other boys through gifts and bribes.  Tom Sawyer had refused to cave under his demands a few weeks ago.  This resulted on the boy making lots of efforts to turn other boys against Tom Sawyer.  The camp leader put a stop to the nonsense and everyone had a good week.  I am so pleased with Tom Sawyer standing up to this boy and holding his own in this complicated social situation.  He remained calm and true to himself.  In the end, it all worked out well.

Does anyone else think this boy looks like he fell out of  Renaissance Northern Italy in this particular picture?

Blessings, Dawn

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Ten Reasons We Homeschool

Homeschooling ~ What a blessing this has been for our family.  I can think of very few negatives to this lifestyle.  Here are ten reasons why we love homeschooling:

1) Socialization ~ We homeschool so our children can be socialized by many people from different backgrounds, ages, races, abilities and faiths.  Today alone, my children have interacted with 37 kids from 3 to 16,  a professional dancer, five lifeguards, two store clerks, three neighbors and the mail carrier.  They are learning to communicate with people in many different settings.  Their socialization is not controlled by the limited environment of the classroom.

2) Freedom ~ We have the freedom to learn what is truly important to us and that which applies to our lives.  My husband and I have the freedom to decide what our kids need and don't need at any given time.  We answer to no one but ourselves.

3) Flexibility ~ With our children's special needs, we spend many hours in doctor offices, hospitals and at therapy appointments.  We have the flexibility to do our lessons wherever and whenever we want to do them.  Also, we can change gears when a child needs extra attention, support or training. 

4) Life Long Learning ~  Our children see learning as a life long opportunity that can take place anywhere and at any age.  They are eager to learn many different things in many different places.  We also are learning together, so we get many different perspectives and bits of knowledge from each other.

5) Character Training ~ We are with our children 24 hours a day.  We have ample time to correct, train, and teach our children to be noble, useful citizens.  With some of the special needs in our family (which takes many extra hours a week to manage), there would not be time to impart even half of our morals to our children if they were away from us all day at school.

6) Less Stress and More Control ~ Our children have many special needs, including RAD, FASD, learning issues, sensory issues, and severe food allergies (to name just a few).  By keeping our children home with us, we are able to reduce the stress they would experience in the setting of a large, noisy classroom.  We can meet our children where they are in their learning process, which further reduces their stress. We also have control over our son's diet.  We do not have to worry about someone feeding him something that will have negative consequences on his health.  Lastly, we reduce the triangulation that comes with raising a RAD child.  A RAD child tends to bait adults against each other in order to create distractions so that they can get away with mischief.  This is a lot harder when your Mother is your teacher and your Father is your principal.

7) Opportunities ~ I asked my graduate what he loved most about being homeschooled.  He said, "I love that I was given so many more opportunities to learn the things I wanted to learn about, as well as explore the world and do interesting stuff.  I wasn't trapped at a desk anymore."  I couldn't say it better myself!  (He's the only one of my children who has ever been in a school setting, although I took him out and had him repeat third grade. We never looked back.) 

8) Family Relationships ~ We have a complicated family.  Some of our special needs make some of us difficult to live with at times.  However, since we are together all the time, we are forced to work on our relationships and find ways to live, learn and love each other.  If we were separated by the many hours spent in a school setting, it would be much harder to establish the strong family bonds that we have accomplished.

9) Happiness ~ Our oldest dd said that she loved being homeschooled because it filled her with happiness.  When I asked her how homeschooling made her happy, she said that she got to learn while sitting in comfortable chairs and eating lots of snacks.  LOL!  My other daughter said she was happy because she got to learn with Mommy, and my youngest son chimed in that there was lots of time for action learning (games, nature studies, and other movement filled activities).

10) Adventure and Exploration ~ When you realize that life is learning and that the whole world is your classroom, learning is filled with exploration and adventure.  Everywhere we go, every second that we live, we are learning.  I so love that about homeschooling!  We never know what amazing adventure awaits around the next bend.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Wrap-Up ~ Grain-Free Lunch and Summer Fun

One of our children is nearly done with her one week adventure at camp.  We are giving each of our children one week of camp this summer.  It is one of my husband's regrets that he never got to go to any kind of camp, so I have had my eye out for the right experience.  This first child did well in day camp.  My biggest challenge was coming up with grain-free lunches.  (Our whole family is gluten free 90% of the time to support Tom Sawyer's diet). 

I'm cooking ~ Here are the lunches I came up with for week one.
Bacon slice, cheese slice, grain-free banana bread, cucumbers, dried pineapple and a Simply Fruit roll up (its dusted with corn so don't give to a child with a corn allergy).
Strawberries, fresh pineapple, yogurt, potato chips, peanuts and cheese sticks.
Peanuts, dried pineapple, cucumbers, cheese stick and grain free banana bread.
Watermelon, cheese and ham roll ups, pickles with no high fructose corn syrup, dried pineapple, Simply Fruit roll up and peanuts.
Yogurt, tropical dried fruit, cheese, pickles, and watermelon.
We are going ~Those of us that were not at camp busied ourselves with the $1 movies, tree climbing, library programs and lots of Lego play.  We attended the summer kick off pajama party at the library.  The kids especially enjoyed the playing with the hula hoops and the theremin.  They spent a long time doing both activities.

Fun in the sun ~ Our peaches are almost ripe.  As usual, at least 1/4 of the tree is infested with bugs/fungus.  That is what we get with an organic (neglected tree).  However, we love the fresh organic peaches we do get.  The kids have been in the tree eating peaches all week.  They are still a little hard, but the kids don't care.

I'm reading ~ The Complete Idiot's Guide to Urban Homesteading (finished) and Great Books About Things Kids Love (finished) and I have started Scarlett.

Projects I am doing ~ I organized my desk, helped dear husband get the area beneath the deck cleaned out and maintained the garden this week.

I am joining Homegrown Learners and Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wordless Wednesday ~ The Cleaver Won

What happens when your husband is cutting a pineapple and hits the glass cutting board too hard with the cleaver?

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Collage Friday ~ A Full Week

My Favorite Resource this week is the book, Eat Like a Dinosaur.  This cookbook is based on the Paleo diet.  I am not claiming that the Paleo diet is the best way to eat; however, for someone responsible for preparing meals for a child who is allergic to all grains, this cookbook is especially useful.  It has wonderful pictures and the food tastes GOOD.  Only one child died over eating the Brussels sprouts. LOL They all happily ate the Ratatouille and the Fool's Gold Nuggets.  My son is allergic to most tree nuts so we have to adapt the flour when it calls for almond flour.  Otherwise, the cookbook needs no adaptation.  The two pictures of metal dishes is our new lunchbox system for camp and picnics.  On my journey to rid our family of corn, we have discovered that corn is in all BPA-free plastic and all paper products.  The only safe options are metal, china, stoneware and  glass for dishware.  I am pleased with this three piece lunch system.  I bought a smaller stainless steel container for dips that fits into the larger containers perfectly.

I took lots of picture of my girls in my wedding dress this past week.  It was a fun photo shoot.  I loved sharing my wedding dress with them.  More photos are in the blog entry below this one.
We attended a wonderful water-themed party this past week.  The kids had a great time getting each other wet.  They had a water balloon fight and a relay to fill a bucket of water (boys against girls). 

I am joining Homegrown learners and Learning all the time.

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real ~ Little Girls, Satin and Pearls

My husband and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary this week.  We went to a lovely dinner at a nearby inn.  The mountain views were breathtaking.  It was a perfect evening, until I lost my mind and convinced dear husband to pretend we were 20 again and go on carnival rides with very full stomachs.  LOL!  It all worked out fine, but I think I will skip the carnival rides next time!


I wanted to let my girls try on my wedding dress, and I thought that our anniversary was the perfect day.  The girls loved fingering the little pearls and beads.  I loved taking pictures of my precious girls, who are growing up so very fast.


I am happy to have a few heirlooms to pass on to my girls.  Only time will tell if either of my girls will want to wear this dress in their own weddings.  However, it is nice to have something special to share with them if they choose to use all or part of it.  It is amazing some of the alterations that can be made to dresses.


The dress was huge on both girls.  Little Red Ridinghood could not walk in the dress and fell over in a heap of satin.  Imagine if I had taken the train down.  Goldilocks was shy, quiet and calm in the dress.  This is the polar opposite of her usual self.  She is my tomboy who loves to climb trees, race boys and is often loud. 


My girls!  I love those little bare toes sticking out from under that very formal wedding dress.  That picture reminds me so much of the little girl inside all of us busting to run free at times.  My other dd, who is on the cusp of puberty, is not yet developed (the dress just make her look that way) and just beginning to leave little girlhood behind.

Please join Like Mother, Like Daughter for PHFR.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, June 1, 2012

Collage Friday ~ The One That Covers Two Weeks

The past two weeks has been a whirlwind!  We have done everything from finish school to travel half way across our state and back.  Some days we just sat around and read books (I love those days!).  In the collage from left to right ~
  • Tom Sawyer has caught the reading bug.
  • We went to the state capital and enjoyed their history museum. 
  • The kids love our new inflatable pool. 
  • We went out for breakfast to our favorite organic eatery to celebrate the last day of school.  The girls had brownies and Tom Sawyer had a double order of organic sausage.
The kids really liked the new displays at the history museum.  It was very hands on!  There were tons of wonderful facts that many of us did not know.  We also got to see Grandma Sue, who traveled down to stay in the hotel with us.  Our real purpose for being in the capital was to see Wicked!! This was my early 40th birthday present from my Dad and stepmother!  Can you say awesome?  Grandma Sue babysat in the hotel while my husband and I went to the theater.  It was GREAT!  We both loved it.  We hadn't both seen a Broadway show since The Lion King about 12 years ago.  Here is our new favorite song, "Defying Gravity".  You know it is a winner when I forget to clap and have tears running down my face!

In other theater news ~
The kids finished up the school year at the theater last week with their final performance of Sleeping Beauty.  They performed it five times and did a wonderful job.  They just love the stage and dancing. 

As we go into summer and start our more relaxed schedule, I am already thinking about our upcoming year.  You can view my thoughts on this past school year here and my kids thoughts here

I am joining homegrown learners for collage Friday.

Blessings, Dawn