November – National Adoption Awareness Month

November is National Adoption Awareness Month and Sunday, November 8 is referred to as Orphan Sunday and is the focus of services at many churches across the nation.  Prior to our own journey through adoption, I probably would not have really even known about this month being NAAM or Orphan Sunday, as the churches I have been involved in over my life have not done anything to be part of this movement or to focus their services on the idea.  Obviously, all of that has changed through our adoption of Eli.  On my facebook page, I have chosen to post a link each day that focuses on some aspect of adoption.  Thus far, the articles have been pretty short and non-controversial, at least in my own mind.  The point of doing this is to hopefully inform people that are not intimately involved in adoption (through being part of the triad, working in the field, etc.) and to maybe open up a discussion.  This has not yet occurred.

While we often hear about adoption through the voices of the adoptive parents (such as myself), it is important and vital that we also listen to the voices of the adoptees, especially those that are now adults that can help us, as adoptive parents, understand the perspective of our children.  By reading material (books, blogs, etc.), viewing videos/movies/documentaries, listening to interviews, finding adult adoptees in the local community and developing relationships with them, we #flipthescript to privilege the adoptee rather than the adoptive parent.  This is not to say that the perspective of the adoptive parent is not important or valuable; it is.  But it is definitely a different view than the adopted child will have and in order to be a better parent, we must understand the child’s perspective.  We must also understand that the child needs to develop their own story and voice.  There are definitely things that we don’t share with most people as they are not privileged to know those details unless Eli decides to share those when he has the ability to choose to do so or not.  What is most important for us is that we parent Eli well, both from a simple parenting standpoint, but also the added complexities of a transracial adoption.


Play Dates

As a SAHM to a now toddler (1 month walking…woot!), it is becoming increasingly difficult to simply “stay at home” so that Eli is entertained and kept active.  As his attention span is limited, we typically spend some time playing at home, usually switching between playing in his room with some toys there and then going to his playroom in the basement where the majority of his toys and books are kept.  I used to have the six bins in the toy shelf organized for each day of the week with Saturday and Sunday being one bin, as we were usually not home very much on those days.  Shortly after moving to this house, I switched the bin organization to type of toys.  For example, there’s a bin for all of his stuffed animals, another bin for all of his Lego people/Fisher Price animals and the like, another bin for stacking type toys (stacking rings, blocks and such).  Many toys in the basement are too large to fit in the bins so we have those sitting out along the wall so he can decide to play with them whenever.  I’m trying to figure out if I should go back to the organization of a bin of toys per day so he sees different toys and such while still have some toys the same all the time.

Anyway, the point of all of that is that both Eli and I have needed to have play dates with friends.  Eli needs the socialization that play dates encourage and I need the time out of our own house to spend with other moms.  It helps when Eli is not the same age as the other child/children, so that he can see older children, learn how to play with different toys, learn to play together with others, sharing, etc., but also so he can see younger children and how to be gentle and kind, sharing with those younger, etc.  For me, it gives me the opportunity to have adult conversation with other moms, encourages socialization for us (so that we don’t feel isolated and alone in our own four walls), and often gets us doing things we might not have done ourselves with our child (going to a place is more fun with friends).

Here’s to more play dates with friends!


Rainy Day Activities

Here on the East Coast, we’ve been inundated with lots of rain the past several days and there’s more to come with the hurricane off the coast in the next few days so I’ve needed to find some rainy day/evening activities for Eli and I (and my husband, too) to do while being stuck in the house. So, I went back to my pinterest boards and found a few things I thought might work well.

The first was shaving cream painting. I found the idea on pinterest and then went to the original post to find out more about how to do it, materials needed, etc. I added some things to our shopping list like shaving cream/foam since we only had gel in the house. I already had some Crayola kids paint from previous activities so we used that and then I just printed some leaf templates onto regular computer paper. My husband thought it would be better to put the shaving cream/paint mixture on the reverse of the page so that we could still see to cut out the leaf shapes. So here’s what we did.

IMG_2629 Because it was painting, we decided to just have Eli in his diaper. Less laundry clean up afterwards. ;-)

IMG_2631 We used a shallow baking sheet and filled it with shaving cream. Then my husband smoothed it out a bit with a spatula. We added a bit of paint of fall/leaf colors orange, red, yellow, and green.

IMG_2633 We helped Eli mix the paint into the shaving cream with a spoon. There was a lot of help here because Eli couldn’t quite figure out what to do even when we showed him.

Once the paint was mixed into the shaving cream, we took one of the papers with the leaf template and helped Eli press it onto the mixture. Be sure to really press it down on all parts of the paper so that the shaving cream/paint mixture adheres to the paper. IMG_2634 Let the paper sit on the mixture for about 10 seconds or so.

Remove the paper carefully and put on a paper towel to dry for about ten minutes. Use a squeegee type tool (we had one from Pampered Chef) to remove the shaving cream and paint off the paper. IMG_2636

IMG_2637 Then let the paper dry. We let it dry for a few hours before cutting out the leaf shape. We only did two of these leaves but we have more templates printed out for future use. After the first leaf, we added paint to it and did more swirling. I would recommend this. It might be a good idea, especially if you have more than one child doing this, to give each of them their own baking sheet of shaving cream, or have multiple baking sheets ready so the paint doesn’t become too dark and too mixed, since the point is to show the swirl/marble effect. We wanted to see how it worked since this was our first time trying this activity. Now that we know, we will do more in the coming days. It’s a fun craft to do and then you can use the leaves to decorate your home, give to grandparents, etc.

Here’s our finished product. IMG_2638

The second rainy day activity I tried with Eli was a Fall Sensory Bin. This is Eli’s first ever sensory bin so I wasn’t quite sure how he would react to it. ;-) First, I knew we had a plastic storage bin that would be perfect to use for this project so I didn’t need to buy another one of those. The original post I found here, with lots of ideas for fall crafts and activities for kids. Many of these are a bit too old for Eli but I thought the sensory bin might be fun for him. We were running out to Target so I made a list of the supplies I would need for this activity (I tried the dollar store first, but they didn’t have bags of rice and such that were large enough). I did find the fake gourds and pumpkin at the dollar store as well as a package of fake fall leaves to use. We bought white rice, brown rice, lentils, popping corn, and red quinoa. I had Eli help me pour the items into the plastic storage bin and he really enjoyed that.

Here’s our sensory bin. IMG_2640 I put the fake leaves in and then showed Eli how to cover them up with the stuff and then that he could find them again. We also already had the shovel, rake, and sifter from a birthday present (they came with a sand pail).

Here’s Eli playing in the bin.



We learned that the sensory bin is probably a better outside activity as Eli enjoyed trying to scoop it and then throw it. LOL! The leaf activity would probably work better for a child a bit older than Eli but he seemed to like it with the help.


I Didn’t Learn That in School!

Often I read things or come across things that I did not learn in school. I think part of why I come across these things so often is because I am constantly reading as well as traveling to new places or visiting sites I have not been to before. Generally speaking, my first thought when encountering this new information or seeing a new place is “Wow! How cool is that?!?!” or “I didn’t know that!”

However, I often see people lamenting that they “didn’t learn that in school” or “How come they don’t teach ______ in school?”

There is just so much as far as information and skills that teachers have to teach that there is absolutely no possible way whatsoever that teachers/schools can teach everything. All schools have to make choices about what to include in their curriculums, standards, and/or objectives to teach and, conversely, what not to include. For example, as a history teacher, there is no way any history teacher or group of history teachers can ever hope to teach the students in their classes about all of history! I mean, seriously! Let’s think about it…First of all, history includes not just European or US history, but the history of all the other regions of the Earth (Asia, Africa, South/Central America, Australia, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, etc.). Then, you have the various countries within each of those continents or regions, plus the smaller history of the various ethnic groups that live within the borders of those countries. We don’t even teach all of US history. How many of you have ever heard of the Punitive Expedition that the US took against Pancho Villa? We don’t teach that because it’s not a MAJOR event in history. How many know about the Mexican Revolution in the early twentieth century and all the various factions that were vying for power? How many know about the dynasties of China? Tibetan history? The history of any country or people in Africa? (Don’t get me wrong…there are definitely things I don’t know, either!) And that’s just one subject.

There are things that schools just don’t have the time to teach. Most states require that students are in school for 180 days per school year and a school day is typically 6.5 hours. So, that works out to be 1170 hours, if each of those days was a full day. We know that there are many half-days so let’s trim it down a bit to a nice round number of 1100 hours. Within those hours, schools also have things like field trips, assemblies, track and field days, and all sorts of other special things that happen which take away those hours from the classroom teachers, and that doesn’t take into account the hours involved in all of the testing that we are now requiring of the students and teachers.

So, given that, how can we possibly add anything to what we are currently teaching? (Some of this goes to the arguments of getting rid of all the testing, allowing the teachers and other education professionals make the decisions, etc.) One of the current issues in the elementary schools is the removal of cursive writing, simply because they don’t have time to teach it with all that other stuff. (I have mixed feelings about that one)

Things like balancing a checkbook, budgeting, how to fill out forms, how to address an envelope (and where to put a stamp!) and other sorts of things like that just can’t be added to all the other things schools and teachers are doing. Or table manners/etiquette, table settings, appropriate attire for various venues or types of events (i.e., what you wear to a job interview is different than what you would wear to a music concert, church, etc.), grooming? (Thanks, Mr. James, for these!) Or navigating the public transportation system in any large city (especially if you didn’t grow up in a city), camping/survival skills, gun safety/shooting, strong work ethic? (Thanks, Robin!)

Now that I am a parent and former teacher, I realize the limitations of the public education system (as if I didn’t know that before) and that there are just some things that my husband and I (and extended family) will have to teach E at home. This means we will also have to prioritize what we really think is important versus the things that could be left til later or that maybe we don’t spend as much time on as others. Hmm….that sounds like exactly the choices that the public schools have to make. Ultimately this comes down to what we think the job of the public schools is.


Painting Fun

Eli and I have tried a few different ideas for painting in recent weeks. Both of these ideas were found on pinterest (of course!!!) and I thought they seemed easy enough to do with Eli, so we tried them out.

The first idea was to put some paint into a gallon size plastic bag and then seal it so that the child can “paint” inside the bag, without getting the paint all over themselves or everything else in your house. (Sounds good to me!!!) I did this activity two different times, using the Crayola non-toxic paint. I bought two 10 packs of the Crayola paints, one was the “normal” colors and the other was neon colors. The first time we did the activity we used the normal rainbow colors and I put four different colors into the bag; red, blue, yellow, and green. Then, I sealed the bag and gave it to Eli in his highchair. I figured if he had the tray on the highchair and he was sitting, he would be more intrigued by the painting, without having to think about holding himself up or crawling around everywhere on the floor. He seemed to like the idea of painting and the colors, picking up the bag, squeezing it, looking at the colors, etc. I did have to show him how to push the paint around a couple of times before he really caught on, but once he did, he liked it a lot. The second time we did this, we used the neon colors and I put out all the colors and had Eli pick four colors. I gave him choices of two colors, and the bottle he picked up or touched was the one we put in the plastic bag. This time, we had the painting bag in the playroom area of our basement and there is a coffee table there that Eli can stand at and is tall enough to use it to paint on. Again, I had to show him about squishing the paint around, but once I showed him once, he seemed to remember the previous painting in the bag experience and went to town pushing the colors together, picking up the bag and looking at the colors, etc. Here are some pics:





The second idea for painting fun was to make edible finger paint, since he is too young to get the idea of painting without putting it in his mouth! So the idea I found was to use plain yogurt and make the colors with Kool-Aid packets. We bought a few at the grocery store one week but they only had cherry, lemonade, grape, and fruit punch flavors. The cherry and fruit punch are both red, so we ended up with two red paints (one lighter than the other), a purple, and a yellow. You could mix different colors as well, but we didn’t do that this time. Anyway, I put one large spoonful of the yogurt into a plastic container for each packet of Kool-Aid I had and then I mixed in a bit of the packet to the desired color. The more of the mixture you put in, the darker the color will be. I had enough left over of each packet that I can do this activity again, so it is pretty cost effective too! I mixed the “paints” while E was napping one day and then put the containers in the refrigerator so I had them ready to go on the desired day. BTW, this is a good rainy day activity since you can do it indoors, etc. We had an extra shower curtain liner so we laid that down on the kitchen floor and then put a piece of white bulletin board paper (I have a roll of it) on top of the liner. This way it made for easy clean-up and if E went off the paper, that was ok, because we could just hose the liner off, instead of having to mop the floor. Anyway, after we laid all of that out, we got the containers out and put them in front of him. He did touch it but was more interested in stacking the containers (that’s one of his favorite activities right now…stacking), so we poured out a bit of the paint on the paper for him and he went for it right away, pushing the paint everywhere, mixing the colors, sliding through it. He was having so much fun. This was definitely a good sensory activity for him as it was cold, slippery, etc., but also smelled and tasted good (he didn’t eat as much of it as I thought he might). We also did this activity right before bath time, so he had eaten dinner and could have not been hungry…he may have eaten more if this had been when he woke up from his nap. Anyway, we did have some “paint” leftover, so again, we can do this activity again soon, without having to buy more materials. Check it out:














Struggling to Understand

Two and a half days ago, one of my sweetest friends died from complications related to cancer. She was 33 years old, with a husband of just over 3 years, and a sweet little boy, not even 1 year old. It is days like this that I really struggle to understand things like this that happen.

Don’t get me wrong, dealing with the death of a loved one at any age is difficult, to say the least. My paternal grandmother died when I was 11 years old, from pancreatic cancer, followed a few short years later by my aunt from the same thing. Then my maternal grandmother died in September 2011, followed by my paternal grandfather that November, and then my maternal grandfather in February 2013. But these individuals seemed so much older and I could wrap my brain around their death by thinking through their lives and my memories of them.

My friend was originally diagnosed with tongue cancer just months after getting married, with no risk factors whatsoever. She went through treatment and received a clean bill of health. She went to all of her check-ups, following all of the instructions of the doctors, etc. She and her husband had a baby boy a few months after we brought E home and we bonded over being mommies, having boys, etc.

But then, things started going haywire when she was re-diagnosed around Christmas. She started treatment with chemo and such and things seemed to be going ok. We prayed for her every night when we put E to bed. She was on the prayer list for her church, her family, her husband’s family, friends, etc. She had lots of complications this time, but we thought and prayed that God would heal her from these things and that she would be cured or at least in remission again. We believed that this would happen.

So when we got the news that she was in the hospital and the doctors didn’t think she would make it through the weekend, I was crushed. My husband and I were on our way out of town to celebrate our anniversary and we turned around to come back and headed straight to the hospital. We were able to spend a few hours with her and her husband in the hospital, she knew who we were and that we were there and we spent some time chatting. My husband and her husband had played together in our church band, my husband playing guitar and singing and hers playing keyboard. So, on our way to the hospital, I thought it might be nice if we could get hold of a guitar so my husband could play it and we could sing a few songs to comfort her and her husband. Another friend of ours was able to find a guitar and so my husband played several of her favorite songs and we sang. We left after a few hours when she needed to get some rest, and we said we’d be back the next day to visit again.

And then, early that next morning, she passed.

We are Christians and she was, too. (That’s really hard to write…was….) So, we believe that she is no longer in pain, is completely healed, and is rejoicing in Heaven. But, that doesn’t make her passing any easier…and I’m a friend, not her husband, parents, sisters, or in-laws. I can’t imagine the struggle they are having.

God promises that “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) I’m struggling to understand what good this death can have. Why would God take someone so young? Why would He take her away from her husband? Why would He take her from her little boy? What good could possibly come from a little boy that will not see his mother now except in pictures and maybe dreams?

In my head, I know that she is in Heaven and no longer in pain nor suffering the devastating effects cancer took on her body, but that doesn’t make the hurt or heartache any less. Christians mean well when they say things like “She’s in a better place now” or “She’s not in pain or suffering any more” and those sorts of comments. But it really is not helpful, at least for me, because it just reminds me that she isn’t here. I can’t speak for her husband or other family members about what they would like to hear from others, these are just my own thoughts and perceptions.


Water Play

Last week, I decided E and I were getting bored with the same play all the time, playing with the same toys downstairs in the playroom, or in his bedroom before nap time, so I wanted to try something new. He loves watching water come out of the faucet, or in the bathtub and drain out, and really loves when we take our walks in our new neighborhood and cross the bridges over a stream and he can look on both sides and see the water flowing. So, I thought a water activity would be perfect for him. BUT those water tables at Toys R Us and Target are freaking expensive! With just having moved and all the expenses that come with that, I just couldn’t justify putting out the $45 or more to buy him a water table. So, I thought about what we might already have at home that I could use. We have tons of plastic bins and the like, all of varying sizes and I thought one of the longer bins that is not very deep would be good for him, especially because he isn’t really standing unassisted.

I sat the bin outside in the front yard on a somewhat level area and filled it with water. Then, I got some of his bath toys (we had a few sets of the same toys) and brought those out and put them in the water.



To make it a bit more interesting for him, I saw an idea on pinterest about making colored ice cubes to put in the water. He could explore the difference in temperatures, see the colors melting into the clear water, etc. So, the night before I was going to do the water activity, after putting E to bed, I made them. Our tray had space for 16 cubes and we had four colors of food coloring so I did four cubes of each color. I put about 3 drops of food coloring in each space and then filled the tray with water, being careful not to overfill so the colors wouldn’t mix.


So, in the midst of his playing with them, I did not take a picture to show the various colors of the cubes and such. Oops! But here are a couple of pics of him playing in the colored water (all the cubes were in and melted at this point!).