Gimme a "S"

Thursday, June 30, 2011's about all we've been up to lately....oh, and lots of trips to the local library. These things alone have kept us quite busy this summer.

Caleb is rocking it out at his swim lessons, and in fact, he will finish up this week. He has learned the swim-float-swim sequence and even did so in his clothes these past two days. I am so proud of him.

Madeline and swimming? Well, she's making progress. I adore the kids' swim instructor, Ms. Carmen. She's excellent with them. Madeline just won't open her eyes under water, and the first few lessons were like a crocodile fight. Even still, Madeline willingly gets in the water, tears and all.

Yesterday reminded me so much of our first days in Wuhan. Every morning Madeline woke up in our bed and began crying, as if to express her disappointment that she wasn't really dreaming this whole thing up; she was still with us, we were her parents, and that was the way it was going to be. Through her crying, she would let me change her diaper and put new clothes on; she never resisted, just cried and accepted it.

She has shown this same attitude at her swim lessons this week. She watches her brother, she knows it's good for her, so she'll do it. Even though she's not happy about it. We have seen her make big progress from last week. She knows just how proud we are of her, and you can see it all over her face.

And school? Well, let's just say Madeline and Caleb have very different attitudes toward learning. Caleb is very teachable. He's an awesome student. He has grown by leaps and bounds in his ability to focus on tasks while his sister trashes our school room during his lessons. lol. Madeline, well, let's just say she doesn't like to be corrected or helped in any way. Lovely.

Despite the fact that she wants to be her own teacher some times, she really is listening and learning. She knows the sounds for all but a few of the single letter phonograms. She initially learned their sounds as the corresponded with uppercase letters from Letter Factory. But I've been teaching her the lowercase letters from Caleb's Writing Road to Reading phonogram cards, and she has almost learned them all.

She has shown an interest in reading, too. (Pay no attention to the clutter in the closet. And we did do as Caleb requested after filming the video, in case you're wondering.)

Because of this, we have started working on CVC words. I figured since she points to letters she sees in text and calls out their sounds, she recognizes that letters together make certain sounds. Do I expect her to be reading next month? Hardly. But I want her to see those connections. She has shown an interest in it. So I'm going with the flow.

I love the multisensory approach to learning that encompasses the Spalding method. I have seen Caleb's reading and spelling improve, and we've only been using the program for a few weeks. Naturally, since it involves writing, it's too soon to start using it with Madeline. (Although she really does love to "write" and does so quite well for a wee 3yo.) So I decided that the multisensory approach to take with her would be to use letter tiles. I purchased them from All About Spelling, and I love them! They are perfect for her. I bought the magnetic strips, so we can use them on one of our magnetic dry erase boards. We'll spell a few CVC words, she'll say all their sounds, and then I'll blend them for her. Then she's off to play.

She loves to spell on her board, and so does Caleb. Fortunately, their package of tiles contains all of the phonograms. So Caleb can spell words too. The other day he told me he wanted to spell Tennessee....and so he did. Oh, can you tell he's excited about our upcoming China reunion trip?

Anyway, I took a video of Madeline helping me tear apart the letter tiles. It just doesn't do any justice with respect to how giddy she actually was over her "new letters". (The "background music" is Caleb playing Ni Hao Kai Lan on his Leapster.)

This last video I actually saw on another homeschooling blog. I just had. to. share. it. Love it! Especially around the 2:30 minute mark.

This year Caleb and I watched the Scripps National Spelling Bee. I love spelling bees and even participated in a few in my younger years. When I would point out to Caleb the kids who were homeschooled, his eyes would grow large in amazement. He was definitely impressed. Who knows what the future holds. ;)

Happy Father's Day...

Sunday, June 19, 2011 the best daddy in the whole wide world ...

We love you, honey!!!!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

That's how old my mamacita would've turned today, if she were still alive.

It's hard to believe that it's been almost 7 years since she passed away. Her last birthday she celebrated here on earth was her 63rd. She actually celebrated it twice. She first celebrated in south Florida with Gramma, Uncle Harry, Aunt Carolyn, and my cousin Heather. Then two days later, on her actual birthday, she celebrated in North Carolina with me, Patrick, and my Uncle Bob. She was so sick and eating very little. But she still let us celebrate with her. She was such a trooper.

My mom loved carnations, the simpleton that she was. So every year on my mother's birthday (and on the anniversary of her passing) Patrick brings home a bunch of carnations. I just love them and what they represent- a love for the simple things in life.

Today Patrick took the day off from work to spend with me and the kids. We went on a little boat ride through the Banana River lagoon. We saw lots of manatees and birds. It may have been close to 100 degrees, but the breeze and the shade of the pontoon boat were quite comfortable. It was so nice and relaxing.

Then we went to lunch at this little Cuban restaurant that I've been itching to go to. It seemed they were short staffed, but the food was fabulous.

The summer months are always so hard for me when it comes to handling the loss of my mother. It starts back at the beginning of May each year, when I know my other isn't there to celebrate my birthday with me or my sister....and I have no mother to send a Mother's Day card to. It was the end of May, seven years ago, that we realized my mother was not responding to treatments and that I had to leave Patrick to take care of her. We celebrated her last birthday on earth, June 16th, 2004. Then she spent the next 10 weeks living with us, until she passed away on August 10th.

That was the toughest summer of my life. And yet, I can't imagine going through it all without the peace of Christ in my heart and the support of my loving husband, Patrick. I remember telling Patrick that I couldn't imagine facing the loss of a loved one without the Lord holding my hand through it all. How do you do it? Where is the hope? Where is the peace? Where is the comfort? It can only be found in our heavenly Father.

I'm so thankful for a husband who is so sensitive and caring during this difficult time. God has truly blessed my socks off with an amazing man by my side.

So Happy 70th Birthday, Mom! My precious Gator Mom. I love you like crazycakes.

(Pictured left to right: me, Mom, Deb, and Gramma; Christmas 2002)

A little bit of this and a little bit of that

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Last week the time finally arrived when Madeline's hair was long enough for a cut. Since this precious girl of ours had seen her brother get his own hair cut multiple times, she knew exactly what was expected of her. She did so well, never crying. In fact, she was quite happy at the whole prospect of a hair cut. "No move. Snip snip," she would say in preparation for the big day. You'll have to pardon the quality of all of these images, as they were taken with my iPhone. The digital noise is horrendous. But still, I wanted to at least brighten them up so I could share them.

When the gal was finished cutting her hair, she asked if she could put ribbons in it. I, of course, said yes. When she asked what color she would like and tried to answer her own question with "Pink," I had to correct her. "Orange, please. Orange is her favorite color." Yup. Craziness...and a good thing, I tell ya, that she has orange bedsheets and an orange, custom-made bedskirt. lol.

Caleb got his hair cut too. He just keeps looking older and older (and more and more handsome!) He loves to get color "painted" in his hair, always going for red and blue stripes. I took the kids to Chick-Fil-A for lunch afterwards (and to play). They had a great time.

We've been keeping busy with our light summer school schedule. Caleb blows my socks off in math, as he is now tackling division with quotients and remainders. I. kid. you. not. I remember doing this stuff in 4th grade. I'm just blown away.

We LOVE our new phonics/spelling program, doing the Writing Road to Reading, using the Spalding method. Caleb has almost all of the phonograms mastered. (Out of 70, there were about 15-20 that he hadn't learned from his previous phonics program.) I gave him a diagnostic spelling test, and he tested at Grade 2.9! So with his program, I'm sure his spelling is going to take off. And I can already see improvement in his reading. :)

Caleb has thoroughly enjoyed playing Stack the States on our ipads, and consequently has learned all his states. He loves looking at maps and our new globe. About a year ago, I purchased a Melissa & Doug states floor puzzle, in the hopes that it would help him to learn his states. I helped him put it together a few times, but that was it. Fast forward a year (and after Stack the States), and he can put that puzzle together lickity split! He even insisted on putting together the states puzzle at the library when we were there the other day. I just love his zeal for learning. It warms my heart.

Next week, Caleb and Madeline begin swim lessons through Infant Swimming Resource. They will each have 10 minutes every day 5x/wk. Madeline's lessons will likely go for 6 weeks since she doesn't know how to do anything in the pool. She will learn how to float on her back and wait to be rescued, which is what we want her to learn as a newbie "little fish."

Caleb, on the other hand, knows how to swim. He can swim the length of the pool under water and can also swim in the deep end. But we want him to learn what his limitations are and know how to rest safely in unfamiliar water. Swimming in our own pool is one thing. Falling into the river is a whole 'nother animal. We want him to be prepared. Hopefully his lessons will only last 2-3 weeks. This means our summer will be quite busy, to say the least. I'm at least thankful for an ISR instructor who lives 5 minutes from us, who can schedule the kids back-to-back, and who is willing to work with limb different children....

...which reminds me. I knew our application would get flagged for medical review because my sister indicated it would (with both kids having limb differences.) Well, as I was reviewing their applications, I wondered why Madeline's wasn't getting flagged. So I went back to review the questions to be sure I answered them all correctly....I didn't. I totally missed the first one, which asks "Does your child have any physical or mental disabilities?" I answered "No." Oops. Technically Madeline does have a "disability" because she's missing her left forearm. But it's clear as day to me that she really doesn't.  It's not a label we use to describe her because nothing can stop this girl. She can do anything she puts her mind to. So she might have a disability "on paper", but that's where it stops.

Anyway, both kidlets have colds at the moment. Not fun for either one. I've been wiping noses A LOT. Hopefully they will resolve before swim lessons start next week. And hopefully they don't pass them on to mommy and daddy. Somehow I doubt that will happen.

About This Blog

This blog is the place where shared our lives while waiting to bring our daughters Madeline and Havi home from China. (Our son Caleb was already home before this blog began.) It is now the place where we continue to share our life experiences, both big and little, as we try to glorify God and raise our 3 dumplings from China.

Feel free to join us as we journey through life, while I try to capture our days...

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