OUR SUMMER "SCHOOL" PLANS

Summer break is here! And, we're just a few months away from our oldest starting kindergarten. He has attended a two day a week preschool for four years now and has learned so much. We truly believe he is fully prepared for kindergarten (thanks to all of his amazing teachers!), but want to make sure we don't fall out of routine over the summer months. 

I mentioned on Instagram a few of the workbooks I purchased to go through this summer and gave a brief walk through of them on my Instastories, but I thought I'd share a little more of a detailed plan here. 

We'll be working in several different workbooks five days a week during the summer, taking Saturday and Sundays off. Almost all of this will be review work and won't take more than thirty minutes a day tops. I'm not looking to wear him out during his summer break, I just want to keep him fresh. 

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Listed below are the main workbooks we'll be using. All of them are from Kumon Publishers, except the "Handwriting" workbook which is from Carson-Dellosa publishers. There was an "Are You Ready For Kindergarten? Pasting Skills" workbook available, but the reviews for it were sub par, so I went with another Kumon Publishers pasting book that had great reviews. (Disclosure: the links below are Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, I get a small return from your purchase. Those returns help me pay the monthly fees for this site, but it doesn't cost you any more than you would regularly pay!)

The "Handwriting" workbook begins with daily pages on an individual letter. It then builds into writing several separate words. And lastly you combine those words into sentences. Gunner is already able to write his letters, but our goal for this summer is to really practice, practice and make out handwriting even more legible. 

The "Math Skills" workbook works through counting, identifying numbers, and shapes. While the "Verbal Skills" workbook continues to focus on letters, but instead verbally saying them and sounding them out. Both of these workbook have more of an activity or learning puzzle style (think connect the dots). 

And all of the books get more advanced through each daily lesson. For instance, the "Scissor Skills" book begins with cutting along a straight line and ends with the child cutting out individual shapes. Scissor skills are super important for kindergarteners and most kindergarten teachers ask that you make sure your kids know how to use a pair of scissors before the school year starts. It takes time and practice for them if they've never done this before, so be patient! Also, if you have a left handed child, make sure to buy them a pair of left handed scissors. This made a world of difference for Gunner. 

The "Pasting Skills" workbook will also have a cutting that needs to be done for each activity. You could have your child do that, or to speed up the process, you could pre-cut the pieces they need to paste. I think that's totally fine as many of the pieces are more advanced shapes and the focus is more on following steps and locations for the pasting. 

Our Schedule:

We'll work in the "Handwriting: Printing" book every day, while alternating between the "Math Skills" and "Verbal Skills" books, as well as through the "Scissor Skills" and "My Book of Pasting" workbook. 

Here's an example of how we'll alternate based on our first week of summer "school". 

Day 1: "Printing" page 3, "Math" activity 1, "Scissor" activity 1
Day 2: "Printing" page 4, "Verbal" activity 1, "Pasting" activity 1
Day 3: "Printing" page 5, "Math" activity 2, "Scissor" activity 2
Day 4: "Printing" page 6, "Verbal" activity 2, "Pasting" activity 2

I imagine we'll also throw in the occasional crafty learning activity on days/weeks we have more down time. You can see all of my favorite preschool and learning activities on my Pinterest boards here!

Hope this helps!

I DON'T WANT MY KIDS TO BE COLOR BLIND.

You know how there are some thing you've said your whole life and thought nothing of it, but then, someone says those words to you and they just don't settle right? 

"God needed them more than we did." after someone close to you passes away. 
"Everything happens for a reason." after someone breaks your heart.

Well, this phrase was one of those for me. I hear it tossed around in Facebook posts and Instagram captions on MLK Jr. day or Black History Month...

"I hope someday our children will be colorblind." 
"I don't see differences. I'm colorblind."
"So many issues would be solved if we were colorblind."

But, here's the deal...I don't want my kids to be color blind. 

Now, hear me here, I think people mean well by the idea of color blind-ness but it isn't real and I don't think it should be a goal. We all see color, and that's okay. In fact, it's really great. God didn't create each of us the same and instead of trying to disguise or hide that from my children, I want to celebrate it. There is no glory in trying to paint every race or gender the same, in fact, it's foolish and harmful. 

If I were to tell my son, Titus (who we adopted at birth), that I see no color, I'd essentially be telling him that I see nothing unique or special in him. I'd be telling him that a way the Lord uniquely made him isn't worth my noticing; in fact, to me, he just blends in with everyone else. It's detrimental to the self esteem of a black child and it's detrimental to their pride of heritage and love of self. I want my Titus to be proud of who he is and all of the ways he is different.  

But, here's what it really comes down to...the goal is not to become a color blind nation or raise a color blind generation, the goal is to be people who see color but have no preconceived notions, ideas, hate, or disgust toward it. 

The first step toward that? Acknowledging the biases and racism in your heart. What caused those feelings? Who do you feel them about? Racism and biases are sin and should be treated as such. Find a safe place, a safe person you can talk through those issues with. Pray about your feelings, the state of your heart. Ask for forgiveness...from God and those who you may have wronged. 

Next? Expand your circle. Open your mind and self to meeting people who are different than you, specifically those you've felt wrongly toward in the past. Pray that you have no preconceived notions or ideas about them, and celebrate who they are and how they are made differently. 

We can be the generation, the people that Dr. King dreamed about, spoke about, wished for, and prayed for...but that doesn't come by trying to ignore differences; it comes by acknowledging them, accepting them, celebrating them, and walking hand-in-hand down the same road of reconciliation. 

CHRISTMAS CARDS WITH MINTED

I am typically a holiday purist. I like to give each holiday its' time in the spotlight, but that doesn't mean I can't start the fun planning for Christmas now. One thing that does need some forethought? Christmas cards!

I am absolutely one of those people that gets giddy about sending out Christmas cards…except last year. No Christmas cards last year because #somanybabies. It does seem to be a tradition that is dying off as each year we receive fewer and fewer cards, but that doesn’t stop me from getting excited about sending out ours!

Minted has long been one of my favorite resources for Christmas cards (we love their birthday invites and their affordable, unique art too!) because they have so many different options. You’ll find cards that are modern, traditional, bright, neutral, spiritual, silly, and more; plus, their quality is hard to beat. And my most favorite thing about Minted? They'll address your envelopes for free! It is seriously the best feature. 

Every year I share some of my favorite designs from Minted’s current Christmas card bunch, so here are my favorites for Christmas 2015!

all images via the Minted website. click each photo to be taken to direct links. 

And right now, if you FOLLOW THIS REFERRAL LINK and create an account with Minted, you'll receive $25 off your first order! Just spreading a little Christmas love, friends. You know, before Thanksgiving and all...

Does your family send out Christmas cards every year? 

 

*this is not a sponsored or endorsed post, however affiliate links were used within the text. 

10 THINGS YOU CAN ASK ME ABOUT ADOPTION

I wrote this post several months ago and finally decided to pull it out for National Adoption Month. I've come to find that some things are just offensive and I'm not sure there's an appropriate way to say or ask them. But, I still want to publish this in belief that most people mean well. I hope this disarms some of us who have built up walls. Adoptive families, I'm looking at you here. I know how these questions sting. Really, I do. And I hope this will teach others that there are right ways to ask a question and just some questions you should never ask at all. May our words impart grace and truth and love. 


When shopping at IKEA the other day, I noticed a family that looked a lot like ours. White parents, two white children, and the most precious little black boy. And I stared, I watched. Not because it’s weird or I think it’s wrong, I obviously don’t think those things. I watched because I would’ve loved to know their story, I would’ve loved to tell them how I know the looks feel, I would’ve loved to know their sweet boy’s name.

That experience, plus a “Ten Things You Should Never Say To An Adoptive Parent” blog post floating around my Facebook newsfeed, got me thinking. As adoptive parents we hear and experience a lot of insensitive things. I get it. I’ve winced and cringed a few thousand times at things people have said to me. People stare and ask awkward questions, and you begin to feel like you stick out like a sore thumb…and honestly, sometimes you do.

Adoption makes you curious to people; but, I’m a firm believer that a good 90% of those people mean well. Maybe people watch, and stare, and ask awkward questions because they don’t know what else to do or say. They don’t know the correct verbiage or terminology, and honestly, I didn’t always either. Maybe they’re curious about adoption or maybe they’re adopted themselves. And here’s what I think is important to note – curiousity isn’t wrong. I’m tired of knocking down every well intentioned person. I’m tired of scaring every person on the internet from asking questions about adoption, from showing curiosity and interest in our life.

So, in the spirit of that, I thought I’d take what was originally a Facebook status soapbox rant, and turn it into a blog post. I want to take off the boxing gloves and answer your questions and take a few moments to educate you. Below, you’ll find some “appropriate” terminology. I am by no means an expert. There may be better ways to ask or say things than what I share below, but these are the things I often suggest people use, the words and questions you could politely ask and I’d gladly answer. Every adoptive parent has “their thing” they hate hearing or being told, below are a compilation of things I often hear mentioned. 

I do believe that I would be remissed if I didn’t mention that some of these things should be asked of adoptive parents in a private manner, especially if the child(ren) are older. Also, some of these things shouldn't be asked if you don't have a relationship with the adoptive parent. Respect people and their privacy. There is always a time and a place to ask things.
 

1) “Do you know his/her ‘real mom?’”
We hear this one A LOT. And honestly, this one is my “thing,” my pet peeve…but, I know what people mean by it. First, by all explanations, I am Titus’ "real mom." There are many things that could prove that, including a birth certificate with my name on it. This well intentioned question can be very offensive to people that have fought long, difficult battles to bring home their children, and very much make people feel like they still aren't really a parent. The correct terminology to use here is “birth mom” or “first mom.” This would be one of those questions that could be inappropriate to ask around an older child. If you were to ask me this now, in front of Titus, I’d simply reply “Yes, we have met her.” But, don't expect details on a story that isn't privy to you. 

2) “Do you know his/her ‘real dad?’”
Essentially the same question as above, correct terminology is “birth father” or “first father.”

3) “Why did his/her mom give him/her up for adoption?”
Another well intentioned question that you probably shouldn’t expect a detailed answer on. Terminology wise, it is much more appropriate to ask why a birth mom “chose” or “placed” her child for adoption. The terminology “give him up” or “gave him up” has a sort of negative connotation, a feeling of the child being an object that they just didn’t want. Adoption is a heart breaking situation for all sides, especially the birth parents.

4) “Where did you get him/her from?”
Again, this question makes the child sound like an object. Mostly I think people who are asking this question are asking if they were born in the United States or in another country. Please just ask where they were born. I would say most parents would have no issue answering this question.

5) "How much did he/she cost?"
Children should never be referred to something that has a monetary value. They are a life, there is no price to put on that. However, depending on how well you know someone, you could ask how much the adoption process costs. The process is the expense, NOT the child. Don't expect all people to be comfortable answering this question. If you're unsure of the comfort level, it's always safe to start with -- "Was the process really expensive?" or a similar question.

6) "Why didn't you want to have one of your own?"
Titus is just as much "my own" as my biological children Gunner and Pacey are. He is one of us forever. All in all, this is an invasive question. How I add children to our family isn't really your business; and for some, adoption has occurred because of difficulties getting pregnant. It's also  an offensive question to the child. It gets under my skin when I hear people say -- "I want to have a few of 'my own' before adopting." I know many people mean nothing by it, but if you cannot see an adopted child as "your own", adoption might not be for you. 

7) "Are any of your kids 'real' siblings?"
Yes. 100% real siblings, just like I am my child's real mom. Adopted children don't need to be told by strangers (even those who might just be curious and well meaning) that they're less "real" because they aren't biologically related. If you want to know if they're biological siblings, there's a proper way and time to ask that. 

8) "Why didn't you adopt from 'here?' There are so many of 'our own' that need families."
This one does tend to perturb me. Mostly because this indignant question often comes from people who do little to nothing to care for the orphan on their own. Make sure you know a family well before asking why they chose a certain type of adoption and don't even make any child seem less than because where they were born. That wasn't their choice, but bringing them into our family was ours. 

9) "Why didn't you adopt overseas? Those kids really need help."
Again a questioning comment that often comes from people who aren't doing much on their own in terms of orphan care (remember, it's a Biblical mandate, y'all!) Again, this is a family's private choice. You should know someone well before exploring this question and never make their child seem less than because of where they were born. 

10) "Aren't you afraid his 'real mom' will come back for him? I heard this story..."
Look. Adoption can be scary and nerve wracking without some stranger's story about some person's cousin's sister they knew. You can rest assured that any family who is going through the adoption process is well aware of the risks involved. You look that sweet momma in the eye and tell them that they're brave and you're proud...because those words are true and impart life and love and confidence...something we all need. 

 

I'd love to hear from you in the comments. Anything I missed? Any stories you'd like to share? Let's chat! I'd love for you to share my post too. The point is to gracefully educate others, so I hope you'll do just that.