Reality of the hurt adoptee

A local magazine, Family Times, interviewed me in September about older child adoption. One of the issues I spoke about was when people tell my children that they "have a new life now" or that what happened to them is "in the past".

I couldn't disagree more.

It's still the same life, just a new chapter in it.
What happened in their earlier years are part of who they are today, not just in some other life.

We don't try to make it pretty.
We don't minimize or maximize it.
We don't dwell on it and we don't shove it in a box and hide it.
It is what it is.

In Gregory Keck's book, Parenting the Hurt Child, he had this to say;

Recent trends in adoption lean toward openness, truth, and full disclosure. While most agencies share nearly all information with adoptive families, there is still not agreement on what constitutes the "total truth".

This is particularly true in the case of adoptees who have experienced trauma prior to adoption. The concern is that they will be hurt when faced with the truth about physical or sexual abuse, neglect, parental drug addiction, or difficult circumstances surrounding their removal from the birth family. However, it isn't the knowledge of a horrid past that causes their hurt--it's the hurtful experience itself. Most children who have been removed from a bad situation and finally adopted remember much of what occurred in their birth families. While their memories are not always well organized and intact, they are there in some form.

The trauma of hurt children who are placed in adoptive homes is often so dramatic that the adults involved in the situation cannot deal with it. I believe that is why parents and social workers sometimes focus too much on what few "positives" there are about hurtful birth parents and inadvertently minimize the truth for the child.

Time after time, I see beautifully constructed life books with nice pictures of people from the child's early life. That is fine - especially if one is trying to create good feelings. However, the stark reality is that if everyone at home were always smiling around the birthday cake or playing happily in the park, the child would NOT have been removed from the family.

In our attempt to be respectful to those who hurt their children, I believe we further confuse those children. We are not affirming their reality.

Children most often know the truth--they lived it! We need to validate their truth, document their truth, and where possible, show them the truth.

Trauma is subjective. Therefore, we must present the facts as they were, and then allow it to become the child's "job" to reframe it, repackage it, and put it together in his understandable form. We can only affirm who he is when we give him the truths and allow him to integrate or discard them as he wishes.

In their efforts to protect the child emotionally, and perhaps to safeguard themselves as well, parents and professionals too often try to "make nice". But we cannot change reality. We shouldn't, nor should we try to make bad things good and good things bad. This attempt causes great cognitive dissonance, further perplexing the child and clouding his reality.

It is neither the adoptive parent's job nor the professional's job to protect the child from his past. In fact, it is not possible to do this. It is, however, possible and necessary to protect the child from present and future dangers.

Once such danger is the distortion of the reality. Full disclosure should apply to all aspects of the adoptive process. I don't feel that we should keep any information about a child from that child. And I don't think we have to wait until he is old enough to understand what happened to him. After all, most atrocities committed by parents are done before their children can truly understand them. We talk to babies. We explain to our children about being sorry long before they have a conscience or understand the concept. If parents waited for a child to "be ready" before they said or did something, no child would ever "get it."

The fact is--hurt children have been exposed to things we don't like. We need to help the child heal, and to do so we need to be honest--even when we don't like the truth. Affirmation requires the truth, and the truth is affirming. Like pieces of a puzzle, each piece of information begins to complete the very complicated picture. Even when the picture is ugly, one can see the whole when there are not too many holes.

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the experts speak

What do the experts think of homeschooling/unschooling?
I decided to ask three of them and share their thoughts.

The first one is Cimion, age 13. After 7 years of being in public school, he has been enjoying homeschooling for the last 10 months. I questioned him while he was on his way outside to jump on the trampoline. and this is what he had to say about why he likes being home.

1. I don't have to do homework after being in school all day.
2. I don't have the take the FCAT test.
3. I get to meet and hang out with other homeschooled kids and make friends.
4. I can learn and read about things I'm interested in whenever I want, like cars.
5. I have time to do more stuff with my family

The second expert was very busy but, because she loves to talk, found a little time for me. Jacqueline, age 7, had been in public school for 2 years and has been home for the last 8 months. She paused from her velvet art long enough to give me the facts.

1. I like it because I can spend more time with my family.
2. I learn more at home.
3. I meet new people.
4. I can read more.
5. I can play more.

The last expert is Shawna, age 10. She has spent 4 and a half years in public school and has been home for 1 year. She was getting ready to reply to her penpal when I questioned her.

1. There are no bullies in homeschool.
2. There is no homework.
3. If I want to learn about something I can.
4. I can have a snack whenever I want.
5. I can stop and do something else when I want.

There you have it.

The experts have spoken.


Day Eighteen

Buono Natale! (Merry Christmas!)

Last night we had family over for Christmas Eve. It's become a tradition, we go there for Thanksgiving and they come here for Christmas Eve. We exchanged gifts, hung out and ate. :-)+ My friend gave me a really nice water fountain with a spinning ball on it. I've already decided how I'm going to put in in the living room.

The holidays are getting better and better each year as our family becomes more bonded. This is our third Christmas since the adoption and it was the best Christmas so far. We have a much stronger connection that we did last year and it made for much more lovng, grateful and peaceful holiday. This is such a weird, confusing time for kids like ours and they've all come so far (Jacqueline didn't have that far to go).

I bought Sirius for Billy and also a book he's been wanting. Billy gave me some cash (which is always nice) and a gift card to my favorite place to shop, the library book store and a few candles.
We bought a 14' trampoline and a telescope for the kids and they got some seperate gifts. We also bought them a ton of movies...15 in all! Some of them are Sleeping Beauty, Spy Kids, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and The King & I.

Merry Christmas to all!


Day Seventeen

Jacqueline went to Brownies last night. I actually forgot all about it and she reminded me 10 minutes before she had to be there! Good thing it's only 2 minutes away. :-)
The whole troop went caroling around the neighborhood. Jacqueline of course loves it! She loves singing and is really quite good! After that they had a Christmas party.

I made an appointment for Cimion to be looked at by a modeling agency. I happen to see an ad and he was sitting at a table with me. I looked up at him and figured, why not? He's tall, slim, handsome and has a great smile. We'll see what happens.
Our appointment is on Jan. 3.

When Jacqueline was getting ready for bed, we hugged and kissed on the couch, which is by the Christmas tree. I whispered in her ear that it was 2 days until Christmas and that I couldn't wait to open my gifts. She told me that she could wait because she already has the best gift, the bestest mommy and the bestest daddy. :-)

We're having friends over for Christmas Eve. Here's the menu:
Spaghetti with white clam sauce
Spaghetti with marinara sauce
Italian sausages/meat sauce
Meatballs/meat sauce
Chicken Cutlets
Red Potatoes in olive oil
Corn in garlic butter
Tuna Pasta Salad
Caesar Salad


Shawna's med change

Part One:
It's been 3 weeks since we took Shawna off Adderall and we're so happy with the way things have been going. When we adopted her she was on 4 different medications (for ADHD, depression, allergies & asthma) and we now have her down to two (wellbutrin for depression/anger and advair for asthma) I think we'll be taking her off the advair soon also. When she was in foster care, one of the parents was a smoker and that contributed to it. Now, she lives with non-smokers and we don't allow smoking in our house or car.
With her not being cooped up in school all day, there's really no need for her to be on Adderall. My three are very active and Shawna has a lot of opportunity to be physical. So far, it's going great and I doubt I'll put her back on it. This is such a big step for her and I'm so proud of how she is handling it. :-)

Part Two (8/06)
The big news around here is that as off the beginning of this month, Shawna is off ALL her medication! This has been such a long, roller coatser ride of a journey with her.
When we met her in 2002, she was an angry and controlling 7 year old. Her diagnoses included Reactive Attachment Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, had been physically and sexually abused, had dealt with far to much rejection, had tried to control her siblings through extremely inappropriate sexual behavior, was in speech & language therapy, physical & occupational therapy, mental health therapy, attachment therapy, had developmental delays and very little conscience. She was taking Adderall, Wellbutrin and some kind of prescribed sleep aid. :-(
She was discharged from some therapies, we stopped some of them on our own over the last 18 or so months, she was taken off adderall in March and today was her last day on wellbutrin.
I'm so proud of her. :-)
She decided, about a year ago, that her need for a family outweighed her need to control and that was the start of her taking her life back. The ironic thing is..she has more control over her life now than she ever did. It's all postive though. :-)


Day Fourteen

We've been really busy getting ready for Christmas!
Billy decorated the outside the other day and it looks so nice! We actually have more outside lights that he didn't put on because he didn't have time.
Our tree is up and this is the little guy's last Christmas. We need a bigger tree! We decided to use this tree outside next year and string popcorn for the birds on it. :-)
I think I finished all the Christmas cards but I'm keeping the box and some stamps out...just in case!
We're basically done with shopping...we bought our kids a 14' trampoline and a telescope for Christmas. They each got some other gifts that are just for them, but these are the two big ones!


Christmas get together

We had a Christmas get together today with my childrens former foster parents, their current four foster children family, their former foster brother (from the same foster house) and his parents. We've been doing this since our children came home to us. This was my childrens longest (3 years) and last foster home right before we adopted them. They're very nice people and we enjoy seeing them. They loved and cared for my children when they needed it the most and I know they like being able to see how the kids are growing and changing with the years.
We had lunch, the kids played (there were 8 kids here from 2-13 years old), and we exchanged gifts. :-)


Racial stereotyping

Something happened the other day that really angered me...

In the past, I've noticed that black women tend to...how can I put this...try and align themselves with Jacqueline...try to show some sort of connection to her just because of her skin color. I'm not sure if I'm explaining it right. The reason I notice it is because they don't do it with Cimion (also biracial). It's usually from strangers in a store so I just blow it off.

We take Jacqueline (biracial: black/white) to an ethnic hair place to get her hair done. I can't take her where I go because they're not experienced with hair like Jacqueline's.
She's been getting her hair braided but up until yesterday, the braids have been close to her scalp. This time Jacqueline wanted them straight down, away from her scalp and I knew they would have to add beads to the ends to weigh it down.
I asked Billy (he takes her) to have them put in beads that were mostly her hair color (so they blend with her hair color-I don't like how a head full of colored beads looks) and to put a few red and green ones scattered throughout for Christmas.
She came home with a head full of white and clear beads! Just so you have a visual...her hair is short...the longest braid is maybe about 3" long (in the back). Each braid has 5 beads on it...even the braids in the front that are only about 2" long. All you see is beads when you look at her beautiful face.
I asked Billy what happened to the red/green beads for Christmas. He told me that he asked her to use red/green and mostly brown and that the woman said it's better to use white so it would go with everything she wearing. I told Billy that even though she suggested something other than what I wanted, he should have said no thank you, we want red & green beads mixed in. Between the color and the amount of the beads, I was not satisfied with the job she did.
I called her the next morning and told her that I wanted to come back in and remove at least one bead from each strand in the front and the sides. She told me that she needed the weight, which I already knew.
I told her 3 beads would be just fine, especially when the braid itself was as thin as a twist tie and only about 2" long.
Her reply was "Well, in our culture, 5 beads is not a lot".
Me: "In whose culture?"
Her: "The black culture"
Me: First of all, you may not be aware but my daughter is biracial-she's not black and second, as her parent I decide which aspects of the black culture my daughter embraces and a head full of beads is not one of them".
Of couse I hung up and we will not be returning there. It's expensive to do her hair (taking out the old braids alone takes about an hour) and I know Billy tips better than most people, so it's her loss.
Black women seem to think they have to teach me how to parent Jacqueline.
I do so love when I get those comments though (especially when I'm pmsing) because I love putting ignorant people in their place. Like I said, most of the time, I ignore it because it's made in passing by a stranger and I could care less what they think. But when I am having a conversation or some tyoe of relationship (business or otherwise) with that person, it's a whole other thing.

I'm so proud of my children...they've always been a multi-racial sibling group and they see each other (and people in general) for more than the color of their skin, unlike this woman. She sees my Jacqueline as a black girl. I see a beautiful soul who loves life and and is so much more than the color of her skin. Yes, it's that woman's loss...she will not have the honor of being around my daughter any longer.


Star Banner article

Back in July, I was interviewed by a newspaper about adoption. It was set up by the agency we adopted them. They needed a "feel good" article. :-)

Article published Jul 10, 2005
Three adopted children enjoy new life, parents

Joanne and her husband Billy wanted children, but Joanne was in her 30s when they married and did not want to go through a slew of immediate pregnancies.
So, they began looking into adopting. When a counselor suggested that they consider adopting a group of siblings, they decided that is what they wanted to do.
The private adoption took place through Central Baptist, but Kids Central Inc. provides some funds for the children’s adjustment, which is the family’s only “outside” help. KCI has been under fire recently, with the state Department of Children & Families taking a hard look at its contract for adoptions and foster care, but adoptions are up.
“I just think it’s a great way to expand or have a family,” she said. “These kids are out there already. They are born already. They want love and they wanted a family, and we wanted love and we wanted a family.”

The Akermans saw a picture of three children — a brother and his two younger sisters – who had been abused and neglected by their biological mother.
In July 2003 the children moved in with Joanne and Billy for a three-month trial period. It clicked and the five of them legally became a family in October 2003.
On Friday, Cimion, 12, Shawna, 10, and Jacqueline, 6, were laughing and splashing as they jumped and played in the family’s backyard swimming pool. A beautiful wooden play gym was set up for the children’s enjoyment and Buddy, the family’s female pet iguana, seemed to take the children’s rollicking in stride as she watched from his nearby cage.
It’s an eclectic family. Joanne and Billy are Caucasian. So is Shawna, but Cimion and Jacqueline are biracial.
“They were the only racially mixed sibling group I had ever seen,” Joanne said. “It made me take a second look at them.”
They are home-schooled so that Joanne may spend more time with them. And Billy is starting a new job this week in order to have more regular hours.

Clearly Billy has captured the children’s affections.
“He tickles us, and he does karate on me,” a smiling Jacqueline said about the games Billy plays with her. They also play “Pretty Princess” together, and Billy will even put on the tiara and rings to amuse her.
When it comes to Cimion, it’s like father, like son. Both enjoy auto racing.
“I went to the Daytona Speedway,” Cimion said.
Shawna, too, cares for her parents.
“I like my Mom because she lets me go with my friends,” Shawna said. “My dad, he wrestles with us.”
Joanne said at first it was not easy blending five different people, each with his or her own “baggage” and “issues” into one household.
“What I found to be the biggest challenge – they were doing things and I didn’t know why they were doing them,” Joanne said. “We had no past.”
It was difficult sometimes.
“Now that they are here, now we have a little bit of a past,” she said. “We are very big on making memories and doing things as a family.”
And to keep a continuity in the children’s lives, she invites their former foster parents with whom they lived for three years, to family celebrations and gatherings.

KCI has taken over child welfare for Florida’s children in keeping with Gov. Jeb Bush’s privatization plans. Although the state Department of Children & Families does the investigations, KCI, through contracts with various agencies, provides the foster care and adoptions.
Earlier this year KCI found itself in trouble with DCF, which was not happy with KCI’s performance. DCF sent KCI a “cure letter” which essentially put KCI on notice that its contract with the state could be canceled if there was no improvement.
Among the services that DCF wanted improved were child visitations, increasing the number of foster homes and adoptive homes, better record keeping, reduction in problems with the courts, and financial reporting and billing.
DCF gave KCI until July 5 to improve.
KCI’s new Chief Executive Officer Cindy Schuler could not be reached for comment.
DCF’s District 13 Administrator Don Thomas is on vacation until July 18. District 13 covers Marion, Sumter, Lake, Citrus and Hernando counties.
District 13 spokesman Al Zimmerman said KCI’s performance is still being evaluated but DCF is pleased with KCI’s progress, particularly in the area of adoptions.
“As far as the numbers go, we are excited at how they look so far,” Zimmerman said. “The adoptions – we hoped for 105 for fiscal year 04/05.” KCI exceeded expectations and came through with 106 in a very tight time schedule.
He said KCI did not do as well with foster homes and, in fact, the numbers were lower than when the cure letter was sent to KCI on February 2.
“But that’s pretty much the trend nationwide,” Zimmerman said. He said KCI has a marketing plan to try to increase the number of foster homes.
Zimmerman also said that KCI, at the close of the fiscal year on June 30, was expected to show a deficit of about $320,000.
“That’s less than 1 percent of their budget,” he added.

It is not all fun in their home. There are challenges ahead. And like parents everywhere, there are times when discipline – nothing physical – is meted out to recalcitrant children.
"My son said to me, 'Mom, I just realized you love us even when we do something wrong,’ ” she said. “That was big for him to think it, but to verbally express that to me – that was big.”

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Homeschooling and Adoption

Homeschooling and Adopting an Older Child

My husband & I decided to homeschool our three children about a year and a half after we adopted them. At first, it was something I was curious about because it was different. I've always enjoyed exposing myself to, and experiencing, things that are off the beaten path and I found myself being drawn to the homeschooling philosophy. I began doing a lot of researching on homeschooling in general, it's different methods and found out what the laws were for my state. Billy & I started meeting with other homeschooling families and we were confident that we could do this.

At the time of our adoption, they were 5, 8 & 11. We adopted three children, siblings that had been in foster care for fours years.. After about a year, I started to feel as if we had hit a plateau in terms of bonding as a family. Sure, we knew which of us was not a morning person (Shawna & I), which of us didn't like eggs (Cimion & Jacqueline) and who could be counted on for remembering directions (Billy & Cimion), but I wanted more for us. I felt that we needed to start bonding on a deeper, emotional level. There were emotional issues that needed more private family time in which to be addressed. I knew we couldn't accomplish that with them being away from us for 35 hours a week at school.
And it didn't end there. After school hours, there was homework that needed to be done and tests to be studied for and teachers to meet with and over priced candy to sell. School seemed to have a way of creeping into our personal lives and stealing our family time.

So, over a four month period, we removed them, one at a time.

It's been a year since we removed our first child and the benefits of homeschooling (and also being free of the school system) continue to have a tremendous positive impact on our family. We would never have come as far as we have if our children were still in school.

I recommend homeschooling for every family that adopts an older child.
It can be done.

It's not easy though. Especially when most of the children adopted through the foster care system struggle with a variety of emotional issues. But if you've adopted older children then you're not the type of person who shys away from something just because it's not easy.

But, it can be done and you can do it!

(This post was the basis for a short article I wrote)

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Day Nine (moved blog entries)

Billy just left to take the kids to their CCD classes at Our Lady of the Springs. If it wasn't for Billy taking them, we probably would have skipped this year. LOL! As I posted on another day, we're far from religious and my personal views are agnostic. We wanted our three to at least be baptised Catholic so we could all be the same religion after we adopted them.

I had started a blog of sorts on the adoption board I run and I've been wanting to transfer some of the posts here, so here are a few that I didn't want to forget.

Here's the first one:
We were in Home Depot shopping about a month ago. Jacqueline was with me, while Cimion & Shawna were walking with Billy. At one point we were in an aisle for quite a while and she noticed a pregnant woman. Jacqueline kept looking at her while she started to move closer to me. She wrapped her arm around my hips and put her head against my stomach and just looked at the lady. I didn't say anything, I just rubbed her back and arm, slowly and lightly. After a while she looked at me and asked me why I never had a baby. We'd never had this conversation before and I didn't expect to be having it in Home Depot. LOL I told her that we had decided early in our marriage that we wanted a few children and that it wasn't that important to us if they were biological...which is 100% true. She then said that she wished, I would have given birth to her. I smiled at her and told her that would have been very nice. It was a very intimate, quiet kind of moment...in the aisle of Home Depot on a Saturday afternoon.

Here's another one:
Burning the midnight oil...
Last night Shawna and I were in the family room, she was reading, I was on the computer. Between 10-11:00, everybody started going to bed until it was just us two still up. She is not normally up this late but I'm trying something new in regards to her night terrors.

Anyway...she was reading The Foal in the Fog, a chapter book that is listed as a 4th grade level. About 11:30, I asked her if she was tired and she said that she was a little tired but she really wanted to finish the book. I know that feeling...the feeling of enjoying a book so much that you don't want to stop.
When she was in school, she was consistantly 2-2.5 years behind in reading. She had been an ESE student through most of her school life and I often wondered why her reading level wasn't improving. When she was in the 3rd. grade (reading level was 1st) I noticed that she was being made to read 3rd. grade books in her ESE reading class. She was getting frustrated and often declared that she was "no good at reading" and that she "hated it". I asked her teacher why they weren't letting her read on her level. She said that even though she was an ESE student, they had to teach them on grade level, not the level they were actually on.

When I took her out of school, I made the mistake of copying the same failing formula as the school but luckily for her, I realised what I was doing before any more damage could be done to her.
I bought a bunch of 1st. grade books, and told her they were on the shelf for her for whenever she wanted to read. I didn't bother her about it (and it was hard because she wouldn't even look at a book when I took her out of school) Slowly, she started reading.
Because she was given the freedom to read at her level , she started to feel good about reading.
Because she started to feel good about reading, she wanted to read more.
Because she wanted to read more, her reading level improved.

She finished her book at about 11:45 and proceeded to tell me about it. She told me the sequence of the story line, told me about the characters and also what she thought of it. She ended with telling me "I love reading". It was a few minutes until midnight and I know she had never been up this late. I told her that in a few minutes it would be the next day and she thought that was so cool! She stayed up looking at the clock, waiting for midnight and then went to bed.

And another:
My youngest daughter Jacqueline (just turned 7 a couple of weeks ago) loves the
Between the Lions website. This is the site for the PBS show. She loves the site because of the songs. They play the songs and show the words and in some songs, there is a video. So anyway...about 10:00 last night, she goes on the site and plays the songs. She sings along (quite loudly) and watches the videos at the same time. Everytime I came in the room, I'd take a look over at her and there she would be....singing and smiling and dancing in her seat! She told me and Billy all about every song after it was over and while she's talking, her eyes are shining and all sparkley and she's smiling from ear to ear. Every once in a while she would stand up and do a few twirls around the room and then go back.
This went on until midnight! A few times, I started to go into the family room to tell her it was time to go to bed but when I saw her...so completely happy and content, how could I put a stop to that? I felt so blessed and lucky last night to have such a beautiful soul for a daughter.

One last one:
Food control and limits:
This is something I have been thinking about for a while and it's also something that I've been slowly changing my way of thinking about as they heal more and more.
I started with Jacqueline because out of the three, she has the most common sense, the best self esteem and the least amount of emotional issues.at this point in out lives. My goal is that she be able to listen to her body and have control over what and when she eats. I started by asking her if she was ready for breakfast, lunch or snack instead of just making it and giving it to her. To my surprise, she is having breakfast about an hour later than I would have been giving it to her. I've also started asking her what she wants for breakfast, lunch or snack instead of just making one of the things I know she likes and giving it to her.
I've also just started doing this with Shawna I definitely see a difference, in both girls, and how they treat food. I've also stopped limiting "junk food". When they have cookies, I hand them the bag and tell them to put it away when they're finished....intead of taking out 3-4 cookies and telling them that's all they can have. I've found that they eat less cookies now.
Which brings me to today.....
Shawna & Jacqueline both had sleepovers last night and the four girls, plus another neighbor girl were hanging out all together last night...going in the pool and the hot tub. About 8:00 last night I told the girls I was having some ice cream and did they want any. The other three girls did but my two said "No thanks, we're not really in the mood for ice cream"....and Jacqueline asked for grapes.
Last year, Shawna would have said yes, even if she didn't want it and she would have finished hers before everybody else and then wanted more. Today after lunch, the two girls that slept over and the neighbor girl who was back again, asked me of we had any more ice cream. I asked S & J and Shawna said yes, but "just a little" and Jacqueline wanted an apple. Since I've started doing this, Shawna turns down sweets all the time. She's learning, at 10 years old, to listen to her body.
I know adults who don't even do that. LOL We discuss nutrition and eating healthy. They like to read the labels on what they eat so while I'm giving them more freedom, I'm also giving them more information. That, in my opinion, is a key factor in this. They need the information so they can make good decisions.


Day Eight

Shawna attended the Pat Parelli horse conference with our friend Dale and her son Kenny. Dale has been a mentor to Shawna in her love for horses. Shawna said she had a great time and was very excited when she came home.
Cimion attended his Yu-Gi-Oh duelist league today. He's so into it and he's getting better at dueling all the time.
During the afternoon, while Cimion and Shawna were out, Billy & Jacqueline started to put up the outside Christmas lights. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
In the evening we went with my mom and cousin Maryann to
Silver Springs for their Festival of Lights. It was so pretty and sparkley!!They had carolers singing and a lighted boat show.


Discovery Science & Outdoor Center

We went to the Discovery Science & Outdoor Center today. They hold Homeschool Labs on various science related topics. We've went to two of them already. The first one was on sinkholes and erosion and the second one was all about microscopes. Here's a blurb about the one we went to today:

Astronomy: Visit the exciting STARLAB Portable Planetarium right inside DSOC. Students will learn the fall and winter constellations. A short session on how to use a telescope (if you have one, bring it, otherwise, we’ll share ours)will be provided. Students will also view the Sun with our solar telescope. Finally, Earth’s place in the Solar System will be examined with a unique outdoor activity.

The Starlab was very cool! The kids enjoyed it and we saw some friends there, which is always nice. :-) It was from 10:00 until noon but it ended about 12:30.
We were supposed to get together with our friends Dale and (her son) Kenny afterwards and hang out at a park but the weather has been so rainy lately, that we decided to skip it.
We ended up going to Burger King for lunch and then we went home and watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. :-)
In the evening, a friend of the girls 'K' came over and played with them for a few hours. The three of them love pretend playing and tonight it was restaurant. They pulled out all the play food and the Home Depot aprons and set up shop. :-)


Day Six

The past few days we've been doing lots of Christmas shopping. The kids use their own money to buy gifts for each other and us and they make gifts for other family members.
Cimion bought a Care Bears coloring/activity book for Jacqueline, a package with 5 different lip glosses for Shawna and a $5 gift card for Burger King for Billy. He's finishing up a color by number of butterflies for my mom. We'll frame it when he's done. He's going to make wooden snowman napkin holders (made from per cut wood) for Aunt Mary and Marianne.
Shawna bought a barbie picture frame for Jacqueline, a Goosebumps book for Cimion and a pair of slippers for Billy. She made keychains with their names for Aunt Mary and Marianne. She still has to make something for my mom.
Jacqueline bought a Pony Pals book for Shawna, an Nascar chapter book for Cimion and a bag of Twizzlers and Life Savers Cream Savers for Billy. She also bought a book about grandmothers for my mom. She made and framed a color by number of a peacock for Aunt Mary and made a picture for Marianne using "lumpy paints".
Billy & I went shopping last week and bought them a 14' trampoline and a telescope! I'm so psyched for them to open it!
We also went to the library book store and donated 4 big bags of books! While I was there, Jacqueline saw a Disney Princess talking book that she wanted and I also bought a book on yo-yo tricks, American Indian legends and a book on the sun.
We couldn't hang out with the homeschool group because it was pouring!! We ended up staying in and writing out Christmas cards.
Jacqueline had her Brownie meeting tonight. She made some cute ornaments for our tree. They're also putting together a basket of toys to be given to charity.
Billy rented the movie about Hans Christian Andersen from Blockbuster Online in the mail today because he wants to watch it with the kids. :-)


Day Five

We re-enrolled our three in the CCD classes at Our Lady of the Springs (Roman Catholic church). They went last year, all three got baptised in April and then Cimion & Shawna did their First Holy Communion in May. This year, Jacqueline will do her First Communion.
Billy & I are far from religious. My personal religious views are agnostic and I find myself frustrated with organized religion. I am a spiritual person though. I believe in treating people with an open mind, I don't hurt anyone or any animals and I go out of my way to help people.
So why did I enroll my children?
When we adopted them, it was important for Billy & I to make them the same religion as us, as is the case with most families. It was just another way for us to connect. Now that they're baptised, they are always free to drop out of the classes if they want and they are always free to choose another spiritual path at any point in their life.
They actually enjoy it though. :-)
It's a small church and they know most of the kids that attend from last year so it's kinda fun for them also.
We went out to eat in the evening, at our favorite Chinese-American buffet. We don't go out to eat much (as a family of 5 on one salary-we prefer to spend extra money on other things) so it's nice when we do go.


Day Four

We really enjoy the weekends now that Billy switched jobs and is off. It's been so great having him home on the Saturday & Sunday the past few months. :-)
Cimion's Yu-Gi-Oh Duel League meets on Saturday morning so Billy dropped him off about 11:30. He really enjoys it and is making some friends there. There's one kid that he knew from when he was in school so he's been hanging out with him. There's about 20-25 boys that attend from ages 8-17.
Jacqueline got her first letter today from her penpal! She's so excited!! I'll help her get a reply out this weekend. :-)
The girls and I rented the entire first season of Little House on the Prairie on DVD from Blockbuster Online and we watched about 5-6 episodes today. I love Blockbuster Online so much...we can rent unlimited DVD's, keep them as long as we want (3 at one time), they deliver them to my door and they pay for the postage to send them back. Plus they send us coupons for free rentals in the store. We also rented the animated version of The Hobbit, which we'll be watching tomorrow.
The kids are all in bed and Billy & I are going in the jacuzzi. :-)


Day Three

Today I took Shawna to our friend Dale's house. She goes every Friday and learns about horses...everything from grooming to riding. Dale (who is a homeschooling mother)has 3 beautiful horses and Shawna has been really enjoying herself. Today when I picked her up, she was leading Hal (one of the horses) around the field and Dale was showing her how to make him jump over hurdles.
While we wait for her, Jacqueline & I usually go to Dunkin' Donuts and have something. It's nice because we get to spend time together, just the two of us. :-) Last time we found a thrift store so we stopped in today and I picked up a set of 4 snack tables (the folding kind) for $5.
When we got home we watched Black Beauty. I just picked up the video in a flea market over the weekend. Of course, Shawna loved it. :-)