Monday, April 30, 2007

Can't blog for long!

I am about to leave to go on a very special trip!!! THIS is my first girl time getaway in YEARS!!!! Probably like 4 or 5 years... Two of my long time buddies and I are off for a beach getaway with no kids! (my mom an mom-in-law are with the girls- AWESOME grandmas) My friend has a baby too little to leave but he hardly counts. He just sits there looking cute. :0) I may or may not blog there. We will see how busy relaxing I am. WOW! The beach and no kids to watch. Whatever will I do??? I might have to TAN OR READ OR NAP!!!! OH MY! I am going on an ALL GIRL TRIP! WOOOOOOHOOOOOO!!! If you have called or written to me and I have not gotten back to you I am SO sorry. With two trips and making sure we did two weeks of home school in three days, well I have been CRAZY BUSY!
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I did just post on my other blog for those of you following "No More Junk In The Trunk." here it is... http://nomorejunkytrunk.blogspot.com/ Later, Angel

Thursday, April 26, 2007

I never saw blue like that before...

I am so very grateful for this process of growth and change God has brought me through.(and continues to walk me through) I see the world in a different way now. Remember when you are in the middle of the struggle that this can take you somewhere beautiful. It's not really about your destination or when you reach it. It's about a change inside of yourself. It's about whether you choose courage and joy...or despair and bitterness. I am choosing joy daily and it has changed everything... everything. Here is a peek into how life looks to me these days.

Moments you want to kick yourself.



I went on a long awaited beach vacation with my family this past week... I could hardly wait. Zoe's first time at the beach. Our first big family vacation... this was Big STUFF! I spent days getting ready and remembered everything EXCEPT my CAMERA!!!!!! CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT??? I do NOT know how it happened. I brought my camera charger...my external hard drive... my lap top... my memory stick loader... AAAACCKKK!!! I almost cried. Thanks goodness I pulled myself together enough to realize that I could not dare to be devastated over a little forgotten camera while I sun bathed by the ocean. Can you imagine? Ridiculous. Fortunately I had my video camera which is also a lower quality digital camera. It is not NEAR as good as my camera but it will have to do. What has become of my brain? I am cooking up a nice little slide show of our trip but you'll have to be patient with me. More soon- really... Angel

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

SORRY I'VE BEEN AWOL!!

We went on vacation and they were supposed to have high speed wireless internet.... there was no internet. I'll give you all the details tommorrow. Just wanted you to know I am alive and kicking. :0) I got a TON of e-mails so if I haven't written you back SORRY! I will write back soon. MORE TOMMORROW! Angel

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

New Blog Post

On No More Junk In The Trunk http://nomorejunkytrunk.blogspot.com/ I know some of you have wanted more info on our gluten free status and The Maker's Diet. I wrote a long post about it and thought you may want to check it out. HUGS! Angel

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Have weight and health issues???


JOIN THE FREAKIN CLUB!!!!

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NO REALLY! Come on over and join us at http://nomorejunkytrunk.blogspot.com/

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NO MORE JUNK IN THE TRUNK LADIES!

SAY NO MORE!

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Here is the way it works. You go to the blog and you can join if you want by just leaving a comment asking to join. You will be assigned to a team. I am one of four team captains. We will have a friendly competition to see which team can lose the most pounds and inches. Plus we will just encourage each other, have lots of fun and give some great advice. If you don't want to join you can just come by to see what the latest advice or challenge is.

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YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE AN ADOPTIVE MOMMY TO JOIN A No More Junk In The Trunk Team! YOU DO NOT HAVE TO HAVE A BLOG! IT IS NOT TOO LATE TO JOIN! Just leave us a comment and join the crew. We are here to support each other in reaching our goals and dreams in all different areas of our lives.


SEE YA THERE!

Take a close look.... I am shrinking before your eyes!


Angel

Monday, April 16, 2007

Adrenaline Junkie?

WARNING!!!!! We may have an adrenaline junkie on our hands!
Zoe has been saying she wanted to go on the BIG roller coasters at Sea World since the 1st time we took her in January. I wasn't sure she understood enough English for me to explain how scary it might be so I wouldn't let her go. Her Tia Bek (my momma's best buddy) is a fellow adrenaline junkie and was more than happy to take her. This time I knew she understood that it was scary soooo....

We took her to see if she was tall enough. Why does she have to be so durn tall??? Hee hee! :0)


She dashed up the stairs. NO FEAR!

Here she is waiting... she doesn't look nervous yet.

Ready to go.

Bye Mom!!!






The person you hear screaming REALLY LOUD... that's TIA BEK! :0)

She made it with a smile on her face!



She is SO proud of herself for being SO BRAVE! She now wants to go on a roller coaster that is even BIGGER!

SHE IS PREPARED!
Maybe even giddy! This one is WAY SCARIER!

Here she is when she got back.

She was saying, " SCARY, oh my HEART!"
It took her a minute to collect herself.

Too funny! Bek said she kept slipping down lower and lower on the seat and hiding her face. Bek held her hand so she wouldn't freak OUT!
She immediately wanted to call Daddy to tell him how brave she is.
It was so cute listening to her trying to explain a roller coaster ride in English!!! She was using vocabulary I think she just learned that day.
I was so proud of her. It was amazing to see her take that on and conquer it! Talk about a confidence booster.





Zoe talking to Daddy! Too funny. She has now decided she likes roller coasters where you have the metal harness thing so you don't slip around. She doesn't like the ones where you just sit with the bar on your lap. SMART GIRL!

The Many Faces of Cute....Kaitlyn











Saturday, April 14, 2007

Home schooling family

So since there seems to be a little "curiosity" about how and why we do home school I thought I'd share how we do things. Although a certain anonymous commenter was quite rude about the whole thing I can see how one might be curious about our schedule. It doesn't bother me at all to share our life choices when asked nicely!! :0) So I want to share with you what we are doing as a family.
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When we were in the process of adopting our sweet Zoe I was a little obsessed about the best choice of school for her. I was so nervous about making sure she would be able to catch up with the other children and not feel like she wasn't smart just because she was a little behind the other kids. I researched DOZENS of options. I visited quite a few schools. Finally we went through an interview process and enrolled Zoe in a spectacular Christian school. She was supposed to come home sometime between April-July of 2006. We just knew she would have several months to learn English and bond with us then she would start a part time schedule. JUST PERFECT RIGHT??? Well.... as many of you know that is NOT how things turned out. It took us 5 months of waiting to finally get DNA because of slow lawyers and complications at the US embassy.We passed through April, May, June and their was no sign of Zoe coming home. In June we found out we had been kicked out of PGN and thrown into a rectification process for a minor clerical error. When we were kicked out we were told that because of these complications we should not even expect our Zoe home for Christmas. For weeks I was devastated. All my visions of Zoe home for the summer and Thanksgiving and Christmas were melting away. I was worn thin emotionally and financially. The thought of another Christmas in the Marriott in Guatemala just "playing" family almost broke me. I called Zoe's school and literally broke down crying as I explained to the unfortunate soul answering phones that Zoe would not be there in the fall. They were amazing and supportive and told us they would welcome Zoe when we were all ready.
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As we prepared to go on a long awaited 2 week trip to Disney World in Oct 06 our hearts were breaking. We had planned this trip for Zoe and Kaitlyn. We had booked it when we just knew July was a worst case scenario. ALL the grandparents were going. It was supposed to be a special bonding time with all of them. Now here we were 3 months past our supposed worst case scenario and no end in sight. Then without warning we received a call that our Zoe had been released from PGN! It was crazy and unexpected and WOW! We were only two weeks from Disney and we really thought there was no way she would make it but we had to be ready. All of a sudden things started FLYING! We got the birth certificate and final signature within a couple of days. We got everything ready for pink and took it with us to Florida. Sure enough... we were walking through Epcot when we received the call to come pick up our daughter. Her pink appointment was in 3 days!!!! I jumped on a plane and got our girl and brought her back to Orlando on Nov 1st. Her first night in the US was spent in the Magic Kingdom. We didn't do much. Just the carousal and seeing some princesses were enough for Zoe at that point!! Yet just the gift of her being there- of seeing her hugging Mickey Mouse- it was more than we could have hoped for a month before that.
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I called the Christian school and enrolled Zoe for the next semester. As we got to know Zoe better I realized that a classroom setting was more than Zoe was ready for at that point. She is so smart but was deathly afraid of making mistakes. She would literally break down weeping if she thought she was about to get a wrong answer. She had never even set foot into a school and hadn't even learned how to even spell her name till she was in foster care. I realized that putting her in a group setting in that fragile state could be a huge mistake for our little one. I was an ESL (English Second Language) teacher before I became a stay-at-home mommy. I felt confident in my ability to teach her what she needed to know. I talked to our social worker and she whole heartedly agreed with our decision.
Learning to function in a safe family has been a huge thing for Zoe. Learning to speak English has been a huge thing for Zoe. Learning to not be afraid to make mistakes has been huge. Being allowed (and forced) to think for herself has been a huge thing for Zoe. Learning to read in English, learning to write in English, learning Math at an advanced rate.... these things were going to be so much anyway. We had to be careful not to overwhelm her. The most important thing for Zoe was to BOND with us. Learning to be a part of our family is infinitely more important than her multiplication tables. We know that each child is different and respect each family's decisions for their children. Parents know their children better than anyone. It was our job to know Zoe.

For Zoe we knew that her first year she needed to be with us as much as possible. Just like a newborn she needed to learn that we would take care of her and she could trust us. We knew that she needed that kind of security before she could have the courage to take off on her own. So we decided I would home school for this semester and she would go to school next school year if she was emotionally ready. Again the school was completely supportive and wonderful. (did I mention I adore them???)
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We decided these were our goals.... Zoe would do two years of Math curriculum in 8 months. She would be fluent in English. She would be able to read on a beginner first grade level in 8 months. She would be able to write simple sentences independently. She would be able to receive instruction and correction without weeping. She would be able to fail without fear. She would be securely bonded to our family and confident in herself.
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Doing all this is easier than it sounds. Anyone who has taught knows that there is a LOT of time spent in the school day shuffling and waiting and so on. If you have only one child to teach you can get things done 10 times faster. There is no extra review because some of the kids don't get it yet. There is no 20 minute bathroom breaks before lunch while you referee fights in the bathroom and make sure everyone has washed their hands. We don't have to take attendance or file through lunch lines. So you can see that our school does not take near as much time as a traditional classroom setting. It usually takes us 2-3 hours a day to do her seat work. Then we do the art, music, PE and so on in lots of fun ways after we are done with our busy work. Recess is whenever we get done... PE is bike riding together to do school in the park or playing basketball or jumping on the trampoline. Yes, PE is also climbing all over the huge nets and bridges at Sea World or swimming.
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We are also doing a year round school schedule. We do not usually take traditional holidays. She did not take a spring break and will not take a traditional summer. We take breaks whenever we need them as a family. We do school every week. We just don't do it in the same way. We do two longer days together each week. On those days I instruct and help Zoe in learning new skills. Then two days a week Zoe does her independent work with my help if she needs it. (she practices her reading, writing and math games) Usually one day a week we do a field trip and she does some work in the car. The car is actually a great place to do school. I just ask lots of math questions or she reads to me. It works out great!
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Zoe has been in school for just 4 months. Next week she will complete her first YEAR of math!!! She can count to 100 by ones, 2s, 5s and 10s. She can count backwards from 20. She is learning to tell time and count money. She can add and do simple algebra. (10=6+x) She can communicate almost anything she needs to in English and understands 90% of what we say. She can read on a kindergarten level. She can write simple sentences with a little bit of help. She has gained so much confidence that sometimes she doesn't seem like the same child! She is becoming more secure in our family. I just love seeing the process!!! What a few months can do...
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So NOW Zoe is enrolled for next year. She will start school in the fall!!! YAY! This time she is really going to be ready. This school is what is called a university model. That means that you take classes just like you do at college. Elementary students take classes 2 days a week. Middle and High school students take classes 3 days a week. You enroll your child in whatever classes you would like them to be in. You have the option to let them take some at home and just test out of them to get credit in older grades. Classes are offered by level- not just by grade. So if your child excels in math they can take a higher level of math. If your child struggles in reading they can take a lower level. The children are not all the same age in each class similar to college. (of course many of the kiddos will end up together in the traditional 1st class or 2nd class) On off days the elementary children do their busy work at home with a parent. Their school time is spent on the core teaching and major projects. This schedule also allows the school to use one facility for all their students which cuts cost in half! Zoe's tuition is less than half of what it would be at a traditional private school. Great news for us!! Plus, I think it's great that Zoe will get to have a school experience and friends but we will still get to spend extra time with her. I plan on sending all of my kiddos to school there.

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Here is Zoe's school schedule.... She will be taking most classes on the second grade level. She will take Grammar 1st grade level.
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History
This course will be individual unit studies with students learning about geography, Indians, Texas History, and ancient cultures such as the Egyptians, the Romans, and the Greeks.

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Grammar/Writing
The course will introduce students to different forms of writing and provide strategies for developing effective reading, speaking, listening, and learning skills. It will also introduce the six traits of effective writing, prewriting, and drafting guidelines. Course offered contingent on enrollment.
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Science

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LUNCH
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STUDY HALL

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Music
Music students will have an opportunity to experience an active involvement in exploring the fun of music. Students will learn the elements of music and connect to different music styles through the development of skills. These skills will include singing, playing instruments, creative movement, music reading, and listening. Students will also be introduced to composers of different music periods and various families of instruments. There will be performance at the end of each semester. Course offered contingent on enrollment.
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Art
Art students will be introduced to the fundamentals of art. They will explore art appreciation by identifying how art functions within our environment such as home, school and other places. Art history will be introduced to enable them to see the progression of art through the ages. The student will produce art in both 2-Dimensional and 3-Dimensional forms, using mixed medium of pencil, watercolor, tempra paints, oil pastels, collages, ceramics and printmaking. Some supplies will be provided by student. Course offered contingent on enrollment.
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We will continue doing Math at home because I am so excited about the math program we are doing together. It's called Right Start Math. It's great!! OK well that's it. I've blabbered on enough and I am sure you all quite reading a long time ago!!!! Hee hee.... More than you ever wanted to know. :0) Angel

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Voice Of Adventure


Just in case you ever wondered why my blog is called "thevoiceofadventure" here goes... Years ago, ummm 7 years ago I think, Russ and I were making BIG decisions in our life. We had been married a couple of years at that point and we were trying to figure out what we wanted our life to look like. We both had BIG, HUGE dreams! People looked at us like we were a little bit NUTS on a regular basis!! We would tell them our dreams of going to MBA school, adopting children and living overseas and a BUNCH of other stuff. Many people would give us this "aren't you sweet little children" look and figure we'd grow out of it eventually! Fortunately we also had people who supported us in amazing ways and helped us feel we COULD take those leaps of faith. It was tough though. We knew the path we were pondering would not be the easiest. One day I was visiting my grandparents with my momma and sharing with her our struggle. My momma said she really felt that I needed to read her devotional for the day by Max Lucado. Reading that devotional was like reading a blue print for my life. It was everything in my heart written down on paper. I immediately called Russ to share it and he was just as speechless about it as I was. That day I made copies and framed it. Russ has kept it on his desk since then and we have had it on our frig for most of the last seven years. This version is a smidge different but almost exactly the same. This is now our unofficial family creed. I am honored to share it with you.

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The Voice Of Adventure

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Max Lucad0

(He Still Moves Stones)

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There is a rawness and a wonder to life. Pursue it. Hunt for it. Sell out to get it.
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Jesus says the options are clear. On one side there is the voice of safety. You can build a fire in the hearth, stay inside, and stay warm and dry and safe. You can’t get hurt if you never get out, right? You can’t be criticized for what you don’t try, right? You can’t fall if you don’t take a stand, right? You can’t lose your balance if you never climb, right? So, don’t try it. Take the safe route.
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Or you can hear the voice of adventure—God’s adventure. Instead of building a fire in your hearth, build a fire in your heart. Follow God’s impulses. Adopt the child. Move overseas. Teach the class. Change careers. Run for office. Make a difference.
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Don’t listen to the whines of those who have settled for a second-rate life and want you to do the same so they won’t feel guilty. Your goal is not to live long; it’s to live.
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Sure it isn’t safe, but what is?
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Luke 17:33 Whoever seeks to save his life loses it, but whoever loses his life preserves it.

Gone Tommorrow!

I am getting everything ready for another surprise trip to Sea World! We leave in the morning. This time we are meeting my mom and her best friend Tia Bek. We will spend the night and come back Saturday with fun pictures!! LATER! :0) Angel

Kaitlyn's Story


This is the story KK told me today.
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Once upon a time there was a princess named Zoe and a princess named Cinderella and a princess named Kaitlyn. They were walking and then they saw a LITTLE bitty carrot on the ground. Then they ATE the little carrot for lunch. Then they walked in the forest. They saw water and they swim in the water. They had soooo much fun. The End

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Strange Milestones


I guess normally parents just celebrate the usual milestones. You know what I mean... birthdays, first steps, first whatever. I seem to be reaching some really odd milestones with Zoe. Yesterday I walked by the window and saw Zoe and Kaitlyn jumping on the trampoline. Zoe glanced over so I waved a little. Then something amazing happened! She just kept jumping. Now I know that may not seem particularly amazing to you but I felt this strange relief pour over me. I realized in that moment that it was the first time she had better things to do than stop and give her full attention to me. I know that sounds weird and I'm not even sure how to make this make sense. Ever since Zoe came home she has always needed to acknowledge us in some way. I have heard it called "anxiously attached." She has loved us from the start but there is fear and a need to try so hard. It's hard to put your finger on what feels strange but it's just that it's not always "natural." She's just so crazy attentive and perfect sometimes. Kaitlyn doesn't stop jumping and wave and then immediately run in and say, "We jump mommy. We are having fun!" every single time I walk past a window. Now please don't get me wrong! I am not complaining or saying that this behavior is at all "bad." I'm just saying it felt forced and odd sometimes. I have been waiting for the day when she would just be a normal kid who is too busy to stop everything. Now suddenly it's happening. She feels safe enough to ignore me! SWEET!!!!What a milestone for us. I know that seems really strange but it is such a great feeling. I feel like she is starting to transition from anxiously attached to firmly attached. I love seeing her finally start to feel safe for maybe the first time in her life. Now that is a milestone worth celebrating. Hugs, Angel

Can I ask a favor?

UPDATE! THANKS SO MUCH FOR ALL THE OFFERS! I THINK EMILY HAS GOT IT COVERED FOR ME! I FEEL SO BLESSED BY YOUR WILLINGNESS TO HELP ME DO THAT. YOU PEOPLE ARE SO COOL!

Can any of my Guatamama readers take a gallon ziplock baggy full of gifts to Guatemala? I want to send pictures and things to Zoe's foster mommy. It doesn't have to be RIGHT now.... just if any of you are taking a visit or picking up soon and can spare the space. I would have her pick it up at the hotel. I know it would mean a lot to her. (and me too!) :0) Hugs, Angel


P.S. In this picture- no flash and them in front of the open windows in our Marriott hotel room... Guatemala City! Rule # 1 when you get in your room as an adoptive mommy.... open the curtains as far as they will go and THEN pin them back further than that with chairs!!! :0) Oh yeah.... natural light baby!

Monday, April 09, 2007

THANK YOU!!! And here are the answers..

You were all so sweet and complimentary of my pictures. Watch out... you don't want to give me a big head! Hee hee.. :0) I am actually always very nervous about my pictures even though I have been doing this for years now. My hubby loves to tease me about it.
Now you are really in trouble cause I am inspired to show you all my favorite bluebonnet pics. The pictures were taken at my mom's house. It is my second favorite place to take pictures. (my favorite is on a beautiful beach) Her home is wonderful and on five acres. She is always creating fun nooks and crannies where I can take cool pictures. We make a good team I think!

Some of you wanted picture taking tips so here are all my secrets!!!

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PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR FLASH!!!! It is ruining your pictures!!!! A flash often wipes out the natural shadows created. It generally makes people look flat and plastic. Of course it can be used in wonderful ways but I find that natural light is always a better bet. So whenever possible open all the blinds and doors to let in lots of light or take the kids outside when snapping photos. Try using lots of bright lights in the house if it's too dim. If you have to use a flash distance yourself a bit from the subject and then zoom in with your lens to get a closer shot.

Get closer, CLOSER, CLOOOOOSER! Most people take pictures from way to far away. Focus WAY in on your subject. It may feel very strange to get in that close. When you are starting to feel ackward you are getting close enough. Remember, you don't want to get a picture of the big tree behind your child. You want to get that gleam in their eye. You can't get that if you are afraid to get up close and personal..

Try to make the atmosphere as relaxed and fun as possible. The clothes should be comfortable. Let the little ones hold something natural like a flower if they need to keep their hands out of their mouths and pockets. Let them stroll together or walk in a creek. Let them giggle. When you need them to smile at you ask them if they see any worms on your head and generally act like a complete goof ball. If they are enjoying themselves your pictures will reflect it.
Don't take pictures when it's too sunny! Most people think bright sun is great for pictures but it's actually very harsh. Sunlight like the pics at the strawberry farm in the blog entry below is way too strong. It dulls the colors and takes away all the shadows that convey emotions. Pick an overcast day if you can. If you can't wait for cloud cover take pictures in fully shaded areas.... under a tree... on a big porch...in your house in front of your windows... in a pickle you can use a garage with the door open! Evening light and morning light are also great.Buy a piece of insulation! :0) For ten bucks at Home Depot you can get a hard sheet of insulation that has foil on it. Buy it and break it in half. (it is huge) Get someone to stand on the side with half the board and reflect some soft light on your subject. The overcast sky allows the colors to pop. The reflector gives your subject a soft glow. It will make a BIG difference.

Take LOTS of pictures. A typical photo shoot for me will last 30 minutes to 1 and 1/2 hours depending on whether it's just a simple thing with the kids in the back yard or a bridal shoot. In that time I will take between 100-400 pictures. I take a TON of pictures. With those kinds of odds how can you NOT get something wonderful?
Keep the clothes simple. Don't have any logos or crazy patterns. We want to see the people- not the latest fashion craze. Solid colors are better. Keep it soft and muted. Bare feet and natural hair are usually a good call. On the beach stick to white, khaki, denim or MAYBE light blue.. With little ones don't be afraid to show their beautiful skin. Their rolls and pudges are so wonderful. Hair and make up should usually be as simple and natural as possible.

Get a good, user friendly digital camera. I have a digital Cannon Rebel. It's not the newest or best or most expensive. I don't really need all that. I just need something fast and easy. Point and shoot cameras are TOO SLOW! You can't keep up with a two year old zooming through bluebonnets with a point and shoot. They usually only take about 1 pic per 6-8 seconds. By then your cute kiddo is out of the field and screaming for a drink! :0) You need something fast!
I don't use any fancy settings. I generally just switch off my flash and have the camera on auto focus. Oh by the way... when you decide you want a camera... figure out which one you like then go buy it on Amazon or some other online store. I saved about $300 because I bought my camera on line.

Don't always get a smile. Emotions are beautiful in so many ways. I love seeing something different. Of course the smiles are wonderful. Then again so are the tears, the frustration and the looks of pure exasperation! Our lives aren't all one emotion. Why should our pictures be one sided?

Just try to capture a moment. It's the feeling of where you were at that time. Try to make it fun and natural and you will all have a blast!

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Okay... that's probably more than you ever wanted to know but you asked. Now go take some kick butt pictures of your cutie pies!

HUGS! Angel