Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Emma's 6th Birthday, Aloha!

Thank you Aunt Stephany for such an awesome slide show!
Click Here

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How is Lily Doing in School?

Well since you asked the answer is better than I expected.  Yes, it is still early and the spelling test was very small this week, but this is what she brought home after her first full week.

Do you see that?  Brilliant!
I wish you could have seen the smile to go along with that 100%.   It was worth all of the worry and aggravation I have had the last 18 months with her.

You see, there have been times and there still are times when I wonder if Lily will ever catch up.  For those of you who do not know, Lily was adopted as a healthy 6 year old.  Healthy yes, but so much catching up to do after living in an orphanage for six years.  The best we can tell is that there were no toys, no books, no school.  What did she do all day?  We think she played outside and watched TV.  We don't even think she was given chores.  She had no critical thinking skills, no problem solving, she was living a "ground-hog day" existence.  Each day ran into the other without much change.  She did not have choices.  She just did what they told her to do.  They told her when to eat, when to go to bed, etc.  She had never left the walls of the orphanage according to her.

  The one thing she did have was survival skills.  She knew how to get her fair share, and she knew if she did not get it.  Still to this day she watches me very carefully give out the food at dinner.  She may not  be able to do some math skills, but she can tell if someone has two more grains of rice than she has.

She also has great organizational skills.  She can put things away and packaged as if new.  What little she did get she must have had to put away securely.

So getting her to think for herself and think in a logical manner is taking a lot of practice.

When I think back to those first months when it took so long to learn her colors and I wondered if there was a learning disability.  I went over and over colors with her.  She eventually got them but it took so much repetition.  As I worked with her I found out that everything we did took so much repetition.

To think that she is now reading, yes at a very early level, but she is reading is almost a miracle to me.  At times I would get very angry with her, but to see now the fruits of that work is amazing.  A part of me wants to continue the homeschooling, because now I can finally see some of the results.  I don't know what God has in store for  Lily.  Adopting older has had its challenges.

But what we are seeing is a little girl who loves life, loves people, and loves God.  She has the opportunity at a future that has no limits.



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Our Jilly Bean starts Pre-school

Today was Jilliana's first day of pre-school.  This has certainly been a month of decisions for me.  First deciding whether to homeschool the girls or not and now whether to send Jilliana to school so early or not.  She has only been here 6 months.

 We signed her up back in the Spring since there is always a waiting list for the pre-school that the older girls went to.  Her speech therapist thought it would be good for her.  I  had my doubts and fully anticipated that we would go, she would cry and not stop, and then I would bring her home and wait until next year to send her.

Jilliana has never even stayed at Church yet by herself.  Either Mike or myself have stayed with her.

 Pre-school is from 9-12

 I took her for a pumpkin muffie after dropping the girls off at school.  They go to school at 8:00.
 Jilliana always amazes me.  I think she is really, really, smart.  We walked up to a table that had name tags for all of the kids coming today.  I was looking for her tag and the next thing I know she has found her name by herself and picked it up and told me here it is!
 It was 100 degrees today!  The sun was very bright.  Her teacher let all of the kids bring a stuffed animal on their first day.  The school knew that I was expecting Jilliana to cry.   They assured me that they would call me if she did not stop.  They are aware that she was adopted just 6 months ago and may not be ready for this.
 She was really happy to have a potty and sink that she could reach all by herself!

 She went right for the play-dough
 Then it was time for me to leave.  The Teacher told me I could stay if I would feel better, but I was ready to find out if she would be going to school or not.  At this point I told her Mommy was leaving and that I would be back.  She started crying.  The Teacher told me, "She will be ok".  Yes in "normal" circumstances I would expect a child to be ok, but these are uncharted waters.  When is really the right time?  I really thought that it was going to not be now.  Even when I go to the grocery store and she stays with Mike, when I come back she acts like I have been gone for a week.  She runs to me yelling"Mommy" and hugs me.  So I walked out the door.  And you know what happened next?  I started crying.   Here I am surrounded by all of these young moms and I am crying.  They are all telling me it will be ok.  I can hear her crying and I wait.  After just a few minutes one of the Moms looks in the window for me and tells me that she is sitting on the teacher's lap and is not crying.  I wait a little longer and she is still ok.  So I leave after telling the director to call me if she starts crying again.  I did some shopping close by so that I could be back in 5 minutes.

I never got a call.  When I came back to the school this is what she was doing.
 She just looked up and said, "Mommy" and kept on digging.
I had a hard time getting her out of the dirt.

This was not what I had expected at all.  She had a great day and was excited about her school.
She will be going two days a week.  We will see how she feels on Thursday.  We are very proud of our big girl!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

First Day of First Grade

Today was our first day of first Grade!
Aunt Debbie came by to help get ready.  Daddy made waffles.
Lunch boxes for everyone, even Jilliana

The first day of school picture,
Meghan drove out to spend the night so she could also be there.
Bye Aunt Debbie
We are on our way
At school

Emma and Meilynn's first grade
Lily at her desk in first grade
Meilynn at her desk
Emma at her desk
Lily saying good-bye to Jilliana.  Jilliana ran up and gave hugs to all of them.
After School, still have smiling faces.
This one is for Lyla!  Lily is standing on Arkansas
Jilliana and Emma found Cape Cod
Meilynn's self portrait
Emma's self portrait
Emma and Meilynn's class
Walking home

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Decision About School Is Made

Well after much thought and prayer the decision is made.  We will be starting school tomorrow with all three girls in first grade.

 The decision really came down to me wanting to be the Mommy for Lily and not the Teacher that she despised.  I know that a lot of people that gave me advice felt that I had to do what is best for all three girls.  The funny thing is that either way, homeschool or public, it was all about Lily.  Emma and Meilynn would do fine either way.  I think that Emma and Meilynn would have had a lot of fun with me and learned a whole lot more than they will in the amount of time that a teacher has in public school for each student.

Lily would also have learned more from me, but at what cost to our relationship?  While Lily has done great in transitioning into our family, the tension between us because of me pushing her, may have hindered our bonding.  She has attached and bonded well with Mike, but to be honest, after some of our school sessions I did not feel all that loving toward her.

I found Lily's Teacher's e-mail on her web-page and told her I would like to tell her about Lily.  She responded right back and we set up a meeting time this morning at 7:00.  She was great and I think she will be an awesome Teacher for Lily.  I told her everything and I think that we will be a good team working together for Lily.  She made me feel better about our decision.

 While I still have doubts and concerns and I will miss doing the things that I had already planned in my mind.  The best thing about our decision is that it is not written in stone and we can make any changes we may need to and next year, well that will be another time of reflection, and decision.

So......with no school shopping even started, we hit the Target for all the school supplies.  The girls already had backpacks, so those were washed and hung to dry.  Lily needed a lunch pail and of course Jilliana needed everything the big girls had.  Meghan will drive over tonight and spend the night so she can be here for the girls first day of school and my sister Debbie will come over in the morning to help see the girls off.  I think she was around for most of Kami and Meghan's first days of school.

I need to slip in some of our Cape Cod trip over the next few days so since we are talking about homeschool I will leave with these pictures.  The girls and I did a colonial unit on our own this summer because I knew we were going to Cape Cod and would visit Plymouth Rock and I was getting the feel for homeschool.  We talked about the Mayflower, the Native Americans, and what it must have been like to live at that time.  Visiting these things was a great culminating activity and it made it real for them.

 Looking at the Mayflower 2

 Plymouth Rock sign

 Looking at the rock

 There it is!  It actually has a very interesting history and has been moved, broken, stolen from etc.
 A little lecture about the rock

 Daddy with his captive homeschool students.  Behind they are all the names of those that were buried together that died that first year.

 Entrance to Plymouth Village
 The girls also loved learning to follow the map.  For Geography we had learned where we were going, found it on a map, learned the names of the cities we visited, and learned about the compass rose.
 Dwelling the Native Indians used.
 What the homes looked like of the pilgrims

 Inside one of the houses

The view form the top.  The girls learned so much.  I was really impressed with Lily when we looked at the corn and she remembered that I had told her the Native Indians used fish to help fertilize the corn.  She can really surprise me at times.  So this is what was so difficult to give up.  I really enjoyed our lessons before and then getting to be there.  I know some of you are saying that we can do that with the lessons at school, or supplement ourselves. But, I know that we will get caught up in the school, homework, activity cycle.  Remember, I have done this before.  Once you start it is hard to stop.  I have been reading lately on a few blogs about living simply.  I am not sure what it is all about, but I want to find out.

So the girls are all tucked in and clothes and backpacks are laid out for tomorrow.
It is bittersweet.