Daytona Speedway

My two boys (the big one and the bigger one), Billy & Cimion went to Daytona Speedway today. They're participating in a 5K walk/run right on the track. They so so psyched to be able to walk on Daytona Speedway. They went with Cimion's former foster brother and his father. I just spoke to Billy (he called me right after the walk) and he said they were having a great time. Part of the package was admission to Daytona USA and admission to the Rolex race, which is a 24 hours race.
It thrills me that Cimion & Billy have this common interest. It gives them a way to connect on common ground and have fun together. Making memories is a very important part of our bonding and I'm glad that their friends were able to be part of it.


Day Thirty Six

This week, Cimion & Shawna attended a Storytelling class at our library. It's a twice a week class that goes until April. It's being given by members of the Ocali Storytellers Guild. They really enjoyed it! Another homeschooled boy that we know is taking the class also and they were very happy to see him. The last time we saw his family was at Shawna's birthday party so it was nice to catch up a bit.

Yesterday was my 43rd birthday. My kids and husband chipped in and got me two expansion packs for The Sims (which I love!). I got Makin' Magic and Superstar.
The day was not so happy though because my mother ended up in the hospital with some heart related issues. They did a medication increase and have been running some tests. She just bought the house next door to us so we really miss seeing her everyday. :-(


Day Thirty Five

Jacqueline loved Girl Scout camp....so much that she never called me once the whole weekend! LOL!! I gave her my cell phone but she said she was having to much fun. :-)
Her troop leaders are so great, they make it really fun for the girls. I bought disposable cameras for the whole troop so the girls could take pictures. I can't wait to see them.

Billy & I went out Saturday night and my mom came over and stayed with Cimion & Shawna. I figured with one less child (Jacqueline being away for the weekend) it would be easier for her. We went to Starbucks and just hung out. :-) It was nice to spend time alone with my hubby. Since we adopted our kids, there hasn't been much time for us, but we knew that going into it. Still, it was nice to just connect with him. We did a lot more connecting at home but I would need a x-rated blog for that. ;-) LOL!!

I'm really starting to see some changes in Cimion lately. I just posted on Forever Parents about how he rages everytime we come back from a therapist or med. check up. We stopped all therapy quite a few months ago but he was still doing it after his med. check up. We just went to one last week and so far, no rage. Cimion & I had a discussion about it and although he doesn't know why he does it, he's now aware of it. This was one of the first times he spoke in full sentences and had eye contact with his doctor. His doctor is so encouraging and always tells Cimion that he's a good boy (Cimion loves hearing that he's "good") and to keep focusing on having a good life. :-)


Day Thirty Four

Jacqueline went back to the jazz class she tried last week. She said she enjoyed it so we paid for the month. It's so weird for me to have a daughter in a a dance class having spent so many years teaching other kids dance. She met up with a girl that used to be in her Daisy troop so she's kinda happy to see a familiar face.

Shawna's decided to try Girl Scouts so I found a troop for her and she went for the first time this week. :-) I hope she likes it. Jacqueline has been a Girl Scout for 3 years and she loves it!

As of yesterday, Shawna is "offically" off Adderall now. We went to her & Cimion's med. check up and their doctor was very happy with my report on how well Shawna has been doing off if it for the last month. He told her he was very proud of her and told them both that they have come a long way. He loves that we homeschool them and always tells us what a good job we're doing. It's nice to hear. It makes it easier that we're on the same page. We also talked about how Cimion has been anxious lately. He asked me a bunch of questions relating to anxiety and Cimion scored very low. When he asked Cimion whay he was so newvous, Cimion said it may be habit. I was very proud of him, first for even answering the doctor (he usually is so nervous that he just mumbles)...but also for coming up with a possible reason. The fact that he is trying to take responsibility for his actions is a huge step.

Jacqueline had Brownies tonight. They're getting ready for a weekend at the Girl Scout camp. It's what they earned for selling cookies last year. They're leaving tomorrow and will be back on Sunday.
I'm a little nervous, she's never been away from us (besides spending the night at my mom's) and it's going to be a bit weird not having her in the house. I told her she can take my cell phone and call us if she wants to come home. The troop leaders are so great...I know Jacqueline is going to have a great time. I'm going to pick up a bunch of disposable cameras so all the girls can take pictures. :-)


Colonial America

Cimion & Shawna have an on going interest in the Colonial America time period.

I printed out a *timeline for them and we found some interactive websites while checking around online.
A Colonial family & Community
Colonial Kids
Colonial Williamsburg for kids
Our America
You are the historian
Indentured slaves
The Salem witch trials.

They also took out videos from the library the other day:
1. Who's that Stepping on Plymouth Rock?
2. Squanto
3. Colonial Children
4. School House Rocks: America Rocks

Books they've read so far:
Outrageous Women of Colonial America
Life in Colonial America
If you lived in Colonial Times
Chronicles of America: Colonial Times
Sara Mortons Day
Magic Research Guide: American Revolution

We're also looking forward to seeing The New World.


Day Thirty Two

I took Cimion to his Yu-Gi-Oh Duelist League on Saturday. Shawna came with me and we sat in Joe Muggs (in Books A Million)and had hot chocolate. She had a white chocolate cookie and I had a brownie with mine. It was nice to just hang out with her for a while. :-) I try to make it a point to spend a little time alone with each of them. After that we checked out the clearance racks and I bought a book on volcanos and a mad libs book for $1 each. Shwana bought a book on nail art for $1.
Cimion has a lot of fun at the duelist league. He traded a few cards and had a four way battle with some of the kids.

Today, Billy took the kids to their CCD class and I went to the flea market with my mother. I was able to pick up quite a few things I've been looking for.

First was a heavy duty plastic tool box for $5. Billy & I have been putting tools aside for them, so they can have their own set, but we needed a tool box.
I was also able to find a vendor that makes up wooden signs. I've been looking for someone who does this ever since we moved to Florida! I had them write "Benvenuto" on it, which is "Welcome" in Italian. It's now in front of my house. :-)
I also picked up a few movies for the kids. Shrek, Anastasia,
Yu-Gi-Oh, The Emperors New Groove and Aladdin and the king of theives. I also bought two Lilo & Stitch computer games, Hawaiian Adventure and Trouble in Paradise.
Another good deal was a solid wood Mancala game for $1. The vendor also threw in Boggle for free because the egg timer was missing.

I think I did pretty good today. I really enjoy the flea market near me (and it's only 4 minutes away). Over the past couple of years, I've been able to sell there also. Instead of having a yard sale at my house, I pay $8 for a table there and get all their traffic.


The Grateful Wall

During the fall, I had been thinking of a way my family & I could express gratefullness on an ongoing basis. I thought of, and tried a few different ways but none fit. I was looking for something that would be accessable and that we could all participate in at a moments notice. I also wanted it to be something we could share with others.

What I decided to do was start a grateful wall.
I have a small area of empty wall space near the entrance of our new family room. I covered it in card stock paper and wrote "I Am Grateful..." in big letters at the top, leaving the rest of it blank and ready to be filled.
I started it off with a few entries scattered around, such as "...that Billy is in my life.", "...for peaceful Sunday mornings." and "...for long time friends."

I showed it to the rest of the family and explained that they could add stuff to it whenever they wanted.
And they have. :-)

We currently have about 65 comments on our grateful wall. It brings me such a sense of joy and contentment to read it. I love reading what the people in my family are thankful for. Some I knew about, but some surprised me.

And it always brings a smile to my heart when one of my daughters write about me. :-)

Here's some links that I like.
Spiritual Practice: Gratitude

There is a calmness to a life lived in Gratitude, a quiet joy.
— Ralph H. Blum


Day Thirty

The 2nd Carnival of Unschooling has been posted. Come take a look! You'll find our entry near the bottom. :-)


Day Twenty Nine

I found a new place for Jacqueline to get her hair done. After the last incident, I need to be careful of who I let Jacqueline be exposed to. She is much more than just her skin color and I don't want her thinking she has to conform to someone else's idea of what she should be.

She tried out a jazz dance class this week and liked it. It's on Monday evenings and I told her she can attend as long as she wants to and if it ever becomes not fun, to let me know. Billy & I decided to not let her perform in the recital, maybe next year if she's still into it. We've both been involved in many, many dance recitals and frankly, it takes the fun out of dancing. When I opened my dance studio, The New York Dance & Fitness Center Inc. we never had recitals and I would never want her love of dance to be squashed by the pressure and stress of one. If she decides she wants to be involved next year, we'll discuss it then.
For right now, I just want her to have fun!

We got some videos mailed to us yesterday from blockbuster online. One is Jumanji and the other is Cirque du Soliel: Varekai. About half way through Cirque, my girls got up and danced and tumbled and spinned and jumped in front of the tv for the rest of the dvd. :-)

We've been trying to add to our computer software collection so we went to Toys R Us to spend the last of the money we had on the gift cards. We ended up getting Totally Spies and of course the girls love it. :-) Shawna is playing with it right now and while Jacqueline is waiting for her turn, she working on a 100 piece Bratz jigsaw puzzle I bought, over the weekend, for 50 cents at a flea market.


Time Capsule

My kids wanted to put a time capsule together, being it was the start of a new year. We decided to bury it in the yard and open it next January.

We decorated a plastic quart size container and each of my three put in:

1. a photograph of themselves taken last month.
2. a self portrait using colored pencils.
3. a hand tracing.
4. a list of their favorite's (food, snack, drink, movie, playstation game, computer game and Christmas gift).
5. what job they would like to have when they get older.
6. something that they would like to learn about or learn to do in 2006.
7. a receipt from food shopping (from today, with the date circled) that shows prices of foods we buy.
8. a prediction about the price of one of the items on the receipt.
10. a list of their New Year resolutions.

We have a little under an acre, so we searched for a spot we liked and Cimion dug the hole.

Shawna decided to make a map so we would know where to find it next year. I helped them map out the yard and they marked the spot where we buried it.

It was a lot of fun-we'll probably do it again next year!


Day Twenty Seven

On Monday, Jan. 9th at 9:00 PM, Lifetime is showing "For the Love of a Child" about two women who put put their life's energy into helping abused children.

Next Friday, Jan. 13th on 20/20 (ABC at 10:00 PM), John Stossel is doing a story on public schools called "Stupid in America: How We Cheat Our Kids."


Nurturing Growth

From Daily Om.

Nurturing Growth/Spiritual Parenting

A parent's job is to prepare their child for life. One of the best gifts to give your child then, is a sense of their spiritual self. Nurturing a love and appreciation of themselves and their relation to the universe at large will serve them well as they travel through life, especially when the road gets rocky, as it often does. Show them love, instill compassion, teach them acceptance, encourage an open mind so they may discover the divine within.

It begins with love, of course. Make sure your child always feels loved through words and touch. Allow for lots of cuddling and kisses and continue hugs and loving touches even as children become aloof adolescents. Encourage your child to be loving also, not just towards family and friends, but towards everyone. Let them know that they are connected to everything; humans, animals, the earth, and the stars. People who understand that we are all one are more empathetic and less likely to hate and hurt. Instill a sense of responsibility and ownership so that children may be good stewards of the earth and value life. Teach your children to be grateful. Let them know that a rainbow is as much of a gift as a toy. Encourage them to express thanks for every small favor and even to see the blessings in life's challenges. The hard knocks are easier to take when we can change our outlook. Inspire self discipline through a spiritual practice in the form of yoga, martial arts, prayer, meditation, music, or the arts. Learning to focus and ground oneself is the best way of connecting to the divine and getting to know oneself. Children with a strong sense of themselves are better able to make wise choices, connect with others in a positive way, and to avoid destructive behavior. Communicate constantly with your children, perhaps starting the ritual of council once per week.

Also, allow your child to fail. Let your child know that we become better people when we learn from our mistakes and that no one is perfect, including you. Just be there when they fall, then encourage them to get up and fly


Day Twenty Three

Felice Anno Nuovo! (Happy New Year!)

On Friday, the kids & I got together with their former foster parents and their four current foster children and went to Silver Springs, a nature theme park in Florida. We've been there several times because we have season passes but we always enjoy going with other people also. They went on the glass bottom boats (I don't do boats) and also the jeep safari (Jacqueline didn't want to go on so I stayed with her). We walked around the petting zoo, fed the giraffe and checked out the bears.
After that we met up with Billy and went to our favorite chinese buffet for dinner.

Yesterday, Billy took Cimion to his Yu-Gi-Oh Duelist League and the girls & I went to Barnes & Noble. I bought a few books off of the clearance racks:

Get a Grip on Physics
The Handy History Answer Book
The Handy Religon Answer Book

Shawna bought a
Holiday Picture Bracelet kit by Klutz.

After that we sat in Starbucks and had biscotti and hot chocolate..I had tea. mmmmmmmmm :-)

Today Billy & the kids are going to an annual New Years Day football game given by a friend of Billy's. Every year he organizes a game and BBQ at the sports complex near us. They play football, eat and hang out. Billy is going to bring the kids bikes and roller blades for them. I usually stay home and enjoy the alone time. :-)

Currently reading:
Cimion (age 13) Animorphs: The Hork Bajir Chronicles
Shawna (age 10)Animal Ark: Mare in the Meadow
Jacqueline (age 7) Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs Before Dark
Me (ageless) Llewellyn's Magical Almanac
Billy (16 years old trapped in a 40 year old body) No reading for Billy. He's to busy with his new Christmas toy.

Currently watching:
Kids: Magic School Bus: Space Adventures
Billy: The Jerk
Me: MTV's Guantlet 2