Saturday, January 30, 2010

Prayers Needed For Our Buddy, Joshua

This is a picture of Joshua, with all his babies at the hospital.  I've mentioned Joshua here several times before.  He and Jessie were born just three weeks apart, Jessie first.  Tomorrow will be a week that Joshua has been in the hospital. He has asthma, so having the flu has made him a very, very, sick little boy.  He was flown by helicopter to Children's Hospital in Birmingham on Monday, spent several days in ICU, then was doing a little better and moved to a Pulmonary Care Floor. Now he is back in a special care or ICU again.  Please pray for our little buddy.  From the beginning, they were having diffculty stabilizing his oxygen levels, and he now has pneumonia as well.  He has a big brother and sister at home with grandparents as both his parents are at the hospital with him....four hours away.  They all need our prayers.

I apologize for the picture quality, I couldn't quickly get a picture and "borrowed" one from his dad's facebook.  When they were just babies and toddlers we always talked about Jessie and Joshua getting married one day.  We dreamed about how they could have their own place, very near both sets of parents! Jessie was too young to hear and understand any of that at the time.  When they were toddlers, their two big sisters dressed them up and performed wedding ceremonies (several times!) where they were pronounced husband and wife.  I truly don't think Jessie remembers any of that; they were so young, but every since she watched the Duggar wedding on tv, then there was a wedding in our family recently, she tells us she's going to marry Joshua, in a white dress, in a church, with flowers.  They have been friends from birth, hug on 1st base in baseball, and fight like siblings....who knows.

Please pray for Joshua and his family.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

First Day of Coop

Today was the first day of the new coop semester.  My kids LIVE for it, I try to survive it! Truly, there are many things I love about it too.  But, it makes  for a   l   o   n   g   day on Tuesday, and once the kids get to Jordan's and Evan's grades, it is difficult to get their schoolwork done in a four day week.

Typical Coop Day: Well, it begins EARLIER than we like to start our days around here.  We have always homeschooled and are spoiled by not having to rise early and be dressed and out of the house early.  We left our house at 8:00 and have a 25 minute drive to the church that is our homeschool umbrella.  Jordan drives us now :)  I wake Jessie sitting over her with a cup of koolaid and her Prevacid, so she can have that on an empty stomach 30 minutes before eating anything. I try to let her sleep as long as possible, since it is earlier than usual for her, but have figured out if I try to save time by having her eat on the way to save time, she usually won't, so I may have to go back to getting her up a little earlier. I digress, easily sidetracked....

This semester I signed Jessie up for four classes, 8:30-12:30. I plan to try four classes, but if it is too much, we will drop the last one.  The 8:30 class,  I thought I signed up for a class about holidays, but today's class was a story, craft, and coloring.  If I had realized it would be a story type class I might have signed up at 9:30 for playdoh instead of story time. 9:30:  Story time, read stories, sang couple songs and had a snack. 10:30 Song and Dance. Jessie LOVED this.  The teacher owns a dance studio, so she's had a lot of experience with little people.  They did a little pre-ballet (what she called it!) there was no pressure to be perfect, just fun, then did other songs that had motions and movements.  We're Going On A Bear Hunt, If You're Happy And You Know It. For me it all ran together...she loved it. 11:30 was supposed to be a Bible Class, but the teacher didn't show (!!) and helpers (including me) took the kids to an indoor soft play inside the church.  Each of the classes I signed Jessie up for are geared for preschoolers, up to age 5. I have sometimes signed her up for a couple of elementary classes, it really just depends on what is offered.

Up till now, I have attended every coop class with Jessie.  Every parent is required to help 1 hour of their child's coop, not necessarily in their class. I have chosen to stay with Jessie for every class.  When she was younger I just didn't feel comfortable leaving her because she couldn't communicate well enough.  Now, she talks a lot, and although not every word is understandable, I don't worry that she can't express her needs and wants.  There's no mistaking those!!  Also, I have always seen myself as the mediator between Jessie and other children, helping her to be understood.  Finally, I feel that more adults and children know her, so that maybe I can take the tiniest step back. A tiny one.  Not much, just a little.  I will still take her to each class and hope to stay only for PART of each class, except for the one hour I am the committed helper.  We will see :)

Evan took Communications 101, Composition, Game Time and Game of Life.  Jordan took Communications 101, Composition (Essays), Biology Lab (Dissection).  They LOVE coop and look forward to it so much between semesters.  Having the entire day out of the house on Tuesday causes them to have to work into the summer some, and it is worth it to them.  I love that they are both taking writing with a teacher that loves it, it is an area that I really can't give them what she can, so I am thankful they are getting this opportunity.  I am so happy too that Jordan is getting to do Biology lab with a mom that has that background and loves science.  They did microscope last semester, dissection this time.  Jordan was very happy that she was paired with a boy who didn't mind being the one to touch "all the slimy dead stuff without even wearing gloves"!  In the afternoon Jordan and Evan ate lunch with their FLOW (Future Leaders Of The Wiregrass) group, had a devotion and set out for the places they would volunteer for a couple of hours.  Evan was writing letters as part of a pen pal program.  Jordan went to a place that ministers to a variety of people, some are homeless, some are recovering from some type of addiction.  They weren't working directly with those people today, but Jordan has a heart for both of those groups of people.  Mama Tina, that runs the place, made an impression on Jordan and she wants us see how we might volunteer there again later. 

Since Jordan and Evan were having lunch with FLOW, it was just me and Jessie together for lunch and she got to choose where we would go. Not surprisingly, she chose Things N Wings, one of our families favorite places.  After lunch, Jessie and I came home to chill for about an hour 15 minutes, then headed back to pick up Jordan and Evan.  We made a quick trip to a Christian store to find Jordan a track, as she is scheduled to sing Sunday at church.  Raced to Jessie's dance class, then Winn Dixie, and finally, home at about 7:00 p.m.

At lunch Jessie made my day.  I told her I enjoyed having lunch with her by herself, just the two of us.  I asked her if she liked it.  She said, "Yes, it's a bomb".  My sassy girl meant having lunch with me was THE BOMB.  I wasn't 100% certain that was what she meant until at bedtime she told me french fries were a bomb.  My sweet, sassy girl.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I wish reading was as fun for Jessie as the Science has been.  Although she's coming along nicely, it's difficult enough for her, requiring concentration she doesn't like to give, and I have to coax her along.  She doesn't hate it; but she doesn't love it.  I have figured out that it helps to have her start reading a story not too difficult for her, mostly words she remembers easily, then move on to a story that has words she doesn't remember as well. Then, when she's ready to quit, I offer to read her a story (from her reader), then she reads me another. The stories are short, so I'm not a slave driver, but if I don't have her read more than one we never get to new words to practice.  Truly, I think the most difficult thing about homeschooling a child who has difficulty and is struggling (I have another kid who does; it's not just DS) is motivation.  The trick is to find the balance of difficult enough to be making progress; but not too difficult to kill desire to keep learning.  Whew, it just makes me tired.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Funny Jessie: Science lesson

Jessie enjoyed all the hands on stuff we did learning about the senses so much that she wanted to do it again! It was too funny to me that she wanted to taste lemon juice again...she DOES NOT like it at all, but went right to the refrigerator to taste lemon juice and give the garlic a sniff too.  Today's new part of the lesson was about ears and skin.  So, while standing in the fridge, we used that opportunity to talk about that we could HEAR with our EARS the fan on the refrigerator, and FEEL with our SKIN that the refrigerator was cold, and the shelf was hard.  Hard and soft is a concept we've covered and she understands, but not talking about skin.  Skin is a difficult concept as it's all over your body.  I think when I'm pointing and saying skin, she's thinking, arm, leg, knee, etc. We listened for all the sounds we could hear: the dog's toenails walking on the floor, the fan in the bathroom and anything else we could think of.  It is much clearer to her, but she can still get tripped up by the language I choose, if I phrase things too differently.  At least she's enjoying the learning!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Abeka Kindergarten Science: God's World

Yesterday, I pulled out an old Abeka Kindergarten Science book that I used with Jordan, (who is in the 10th grade now!), long, long ago. I haven't done any formal Science curriculum with Jessie up until this point, we've just read some books from the library that would be about topics that fit into the science category.  That is in addition to the trillion books we own.  I'm planning to simplify it for her a bit and not do all of the activities that are in the teachers book but she is ready for this now.

The first topic in the book is about Our Senses.  Before yesterday, when we've discussed it, Jessie couldn't consistently tell me which part of her body helped her to see, smell, taste, etc. We have to get pretty silly and make it fun, but today she can tell you that her eyes help her see, her nose is what is used to smell, and her tongue is what you use to taste. I would cover her eyes to help her "see" that it is her eyes that help her see.  We smelled minced garlic, the kind refrigerated in a jar....gross! It was very strong smelling. We gave a sniff to a couple of other food items that had different smells and talked about smelling flowers, etc. The funniest thing was when I put a couple drops of lime juice on her tongue! I think she now not only realizes that her tongue is what she tastes with, but the distinct difference between sweet and sour. After the lime juice, she tasted/ate some mini marshmallows which she loves.

The book is broken into 6 sections. The book has a mixture of cartoon looking pictures/drawings and actual photographs. The topics covered in this science book are: 

God's Plan for Me
The senses, brief overview about safety, what we need to grow, personal hygiene. This is exactly on Jessie's level. It is written in very simple language that I think an advanced typical kindergardener/1st grader can read on their own. Each topic is just one page, with large colorful pictures.

God's Plan for Weather
Very basic. Makes the connection between weather and the clothing you wear. Picture of a thermometer and simple understanding of it's use.

God's Plan for Seasons
We have talked a good bit about seasons and I'm waiting for the puzzle pieces to just fit together. Hoping this be a good addition to help with that. Again, it is simple, and that is good for us.

God's Plan for Seeds
We've read a little before about seeds, it has had no meaning for her. There are pictures of fruit with seeds in them (I've never thought about labeling that for her before!) Probably, we will study this section when we can plant some seeds and help her to understand.

God's Plan for Animals
Discusses animal homes, what they eat (basic, not too detailed). A couple pages about the most common (5) insects, spiders, zoo animals, farm animals, birds and reptiles.

God's Plan for the Seashore
Seashells, crabs, starfish, seahorse, sand dollars, sea gulls. She's read about these things b4. There are few enough topics that she could actually learn this material.

I've had this book forever, and it seems that she is in just the right place now to learn about these things.  The book is colorful and interesting and after we read/did it yesterday, she wanted to do it again today. Yay! I am actually excited about this. We may decide to get some library books about each of these topics, but will probably wait until later after this book is complete. I very much like the simplicity of this book and want to keep it that way.

My purpose in giving this thorough description is in hopes that if you are looking for a source to cover this material, if you aren't able to get your hands on a copy to look at it, you would be able to evaluate it by reading this review. Hope this helps someone!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

LUKE HAS A FAMILY!!!!!!!!!!!

Luke, that I blogged about recently, has a family that has committed to adopt him.  It was major rejoicing/silly victory dancing at my house! Ok, I was the one doing all the silliness, but my kids had known about Luke and were excited to hear about it too.  If not adopted, he was destined to be transferred to an institution that doesn't allow the children to be adopted.  This probably would have happened next month, as that is when his birthday is.  Thank each of you that may have prayed for him and that might have passed on the word!!!  Gotta go now as Jessie is in the tub and hollering my name, "Mom, come here!",  "I need more water", " want to bathe", every 30 seconds a new announcement but I had to let you know!

93% of people won't repost this, will you?

Wondering if anyone else feels the way I do about all the status updates on Facebook where you are taunted with the fact that 93% won't repost this, will you? Many of them are about being Christian.  I GET the idea that we should be willing to acknowledge our faith, that (reposting) just isn't the way I prefer to do it. Often my status is about my is so important to me in my everyday life that talking about it in person or on facebook, wherever, is natural.  What we say ALL THE TIME is out of the overflow of our heart. I can't help it, but those statuses daring you to repost or feel like a jerk, feel a little like bullying to me. I 100% know that isn't the intent of the person sending it, they have probably NEVER given it the level of thought I am giving it, that would be because I analyze all things to an annoying degree, even to me!

Having said that, anytime someone posts an authentic, individual post about their faith, that is always meaningful to me. Today, people are desperately looking for THE REAL THING and we desperately need to HAVE and BE the real thing. Many people will repost a precomposed status...who don't live a distinctively Christian life.  Many that live a distinctively Christian life don't need to repost that status for you to know they love their Savior.  I'm not talking about going to church.  I'm not talking about participating in Christian events. There are people that within moments of knowing them you know they love their Savior.  I want to be one of those people.

So, for the record, I love my Savior.  He is as real, and living, and present to me today, as anyone that I can touch, and see and hear.  It wasn't always so for me. I live every day now so very thankful that when I asked, "If you are real, show yourself to me, prove yourself to me, I want to believe." that he was faithful to do that.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Buy A T-Shirt To Help Orphans in Africa and Haiti

Only a couple of months ago I learned of the site 147 Million Orphans. Any time you purchase clothing from them you help feed a child in Africa.  I love that the front of the shirts (almost all of them) say 147 million orphans and on the back is Feed 1. By purchasing the shirt you are doing just that, how easy is that? Click here to read more about the feeding program. Theirs is an amazing ministry.  It doesn't sound like purchasing a tshirt would generate enough profit to be very helpful...that is because we are thinking of the cost of a meal here.  They can provide a healthy meal for 15 cents and a weeks worth of meals for $2.10, less than the cost of a happy meal. So a tshirt really can make a difference. For the next four weeks 50% of all purchases will go to help an orphanage in Haiti.  I'd already been trying to decide which shirt to order and finally ordered my shirt today.

There are 3 blogs associated with this ministry to Uganda.  I have been reading Katie's blog  for a few weeks now. She is only 21 and is mom to 12 adopted girls in Uganda.  Did you get that I said she is 21? Get your tissue ready before you visit her blog...but not for the reason you might be thinking.  I have loved reading her blog.  My eyes are soaked, but my heart is inspired to be more like her when I grow up. Her heart, her perspective and writing are unique.  Although she does tell of difficult circumstances, you can tell by reading she is one of the most joyful people you would ever meet. Every single time I read her blog I am encouraged and inspired. When I say I want to be like her, I mean completely available to God and tuned in, clearly hearing His direction, willing to be obedient, joyful in whatever task He assigns.

 I first read her recent post about her daughter Grace  (a must read!) and a few entries that came before it.  I then decided that I had to know how she came to be doing what it is she is doing.  I have finished reading through 2007 and am now reading 2008.  What was wonderful to see was that God lead her one step at a time, she didn't instantly become mother to 12 (it may actually be 14 now, that is unclear to me) and she didn't know all of his plan when she went to Uganda.  She makes herself available to him and He is using her in a mighty way.

The other two blogs are by by moms Gwen and Suzanne who run things here in the states, who are neighbors with Katies parents in TN, and both have or are in process of adopting children from where Katie is. Between the two of them they have 13 children.  It is amazing how God has brought these people together and the stories they have to tell. 

Be prepared to be inspired!  Don't get sidetracked and forget to buy a shirt!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sweet Big Brother

Evan has always been a sweet big brother, the sweetest, but watching some of the ways he has played along with Jessie's pretending this week has been the sweetest thing ever.  This big maturing boy, who will be 14 in two months, who looks more like a man every day, has pretended to visit different hotels (going from one bedroom to another was going to different hotels), helped dress baby dolls, pretended Jessie had a baby (you just go to the hospital or hotel to get one!) pretended Jessie adopted a baby (she obviously has overheard much conversation about adoption lately!), um, had to tend to the baby doll on baby potty after Jessie gave her a bottle,  he routinely has to be Jessie's dance partner. Now, don't get some crazy impression that Evan LIKES to do these things, but he knows that it means a lot to Jessie and makes her happy. I left the three kids home together while I was gone several hours last week for a board meeting for our FRIENDS group.  I had hoped that Jordan and Evan would spend some time playing with Jessie AND spend some time getting their homeschool work done.  When I got home and asked about their school work, they had spent much of their time snuggling, tickling and playing with Jessie. How can I complain about that?

I asked Evan to write as a writing assignment the other day a letter for our new parent packet that includes stories from siblings who have a brother or sister with Down syndrome. This paper surely needs some editing, some perfecting (he's ALWAYS hated to write, period) but the heart he expresses toward his baby sister is pure and sweet and loving.  I am so proud of the young man he is becoming.  Below are his words:

Well my mother asked me to write about how my life is impacted by my little sister having down syndrome.  To me, having Jessie (my sister with down syndrome) as a sister is one of the greatest things that could have happened in my life, and I truly believe that.  Having Jessie as a sister has really made me have to grow up a bit faster, most brothers and sisters don't have to worry about an eight year old getting out of the house and accidentally hurting themselves.  I think that it is good for me that I've had to take the more responsibility that I have, it has matured me a considerable amount.  I would say that having a sibling with down syndrome is a good thing, they are smart, funny, entertaining, and most of all extremely lovable.  For all the teenagers out there that think that having a sibling with down syndrome will not leave you enough time for your social life you're wrong, having a sibling with down syndrome just means that you will have to spend a little more time worrying about the needs of them instead of yourself.  If I could change Jessie from being special to a normal kid, I wouldn't do it for the world I love Jessie just the way she is, to me Jessie is awesome.  To several people I know Jessie is awesome to them and they see nothing wrong with her.

This was a first draft that has corrections that need to be made, but is an accurate picture of the way he feels about her.  When he says others don't have to worry about a sister getting out and hurting themselves...we have a pool in the back and Jessie a couple of times has stepped out the front door without us realizing it (she wasn't going anywhere but was in the front yard) so we are nuts about keeping the doors chained or listening for the door.  When he describes her as lovable, I think he truly means lovable...not loving as you hear others describe people with DS.  Calling her special....he hears us use the words special needs...he considers her special as an individual but isn't referring to her as special in the ways some use it (I don't think).  "To several people I know Jessie is awesome to them and they see nothing wrong with her." Funny to me, the words of a 13 year old boy...nothing wrong with her? The heart of this 13 year old boy by his words and actions every day is this....I wouldn't change Jessie if I could..I love Jessie just the way she is, to me Jessie is awesome. I wouldn't change Evan if I could either...I love him just the way he is, to me he is awesome.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

For the love of Luke

My good friend Heather has been burdened for a little orphan named Luke in the same way that I have been for Corinna.  He like Corinna, is in Ukraine.  He is five and will soon be six.  His photo has already been moved to the Older Boys (over 6).  Unlike Corinna, however, when he is soon sent to an institution from the orphanage where he currently is, he CAN NEVER BE ADOPTED.  I know that I don't have a huge amount of readers on this blog....but you never know what God can use.  If any of you reading have a way to spread the word about little Luke before it is too late...please do so.  You can see Luke by clicking here.  There is currently over $5,000 in the Older Boys grant fund that will be used to help fund the adoption of the next older boy.  I believe that is a result of the Christmas Angel Tree fundraiser; $5,000 is a great start! Please help us pray and spread the word to help find a forever family for Luke.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Back 2 School....The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

We started back to school yesterday.  I had dreaded it.  Not the actual schooling, just the loss of down time and  having no schedule to keep.  I have mourned it, that's for sure! I did start the day yesterday feeling refreshed, with a real sense of purpose and managed to keep my energizer self going all day...loads and loads of laundry, paying bills, clearing out 2009 files of bills, school with Jessie, made the kind of phone calls I HATE and always put off (making appointments and checking on medical bills and homeowners insurance) an easy but cooked (not sandwiches, etc. I mean!) supper of spaghetti, bread and salad.  We managed to go to bed with the house tidy, dishes clean, ready for the next day.  I woke up Tuesday thinking, "Are you kidding me? I've got to do all that again?!" was good but no energizer bunny. 

Today when we were studying her spelling words, Jessie was so stinkin cute.  I wish I had a video of it, I'm just not that high tech to get it on here.  I know, however, in retelling it, it can never be as cute.  There were a couple of words she had learned but forgotten (from and name).  I would ask her how to spell the word and she would react a little bit frustrated.  I would cover the written word with my hand, then allow her to sneak a peek.  She would quickly try to remember it. Then I would cover it and she would spell it. High fives every time she got it right.  We were giggling and having such a good time with it.  She (and I) love it when we can make it into a game.  We reviewed the words is, my, Boo (our dog's name) from, love, name and introduced did and it. 

Jessie's dance class started back today and gymnastics starts back Thursday.  Officially back to normal routine.  I was so pleased as I watched to see how in the 3 months or so she has been doing this, how much better she is at walking on her toes.  As part of the dance they walk on their toes in a circle. When she first started she could barely stay on her toes at all and keep her balance, now she can stay up for the whole time! She still has a ways to go on learning to skip.  She doesn't enjoy dance as much as gymnastics but it is so good for her. She does enjoy getting to see all the girls each week.  It is a class just for kids with special needs.

Hope all are having a good New Year so far!