Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Our Curriculum

There are so many options out there when homeschooling nowadays! It is so easy to get overwhelmed by what to buy. It is also easy to spend A LOT of money on curriculum. Here is what we use for our homeschooling:

Saxon Math.

I used Saxon when teaching 3rd grade in public school and like the way the lessons are laid out. Both Gabe and Selah seem to like it, too.


This is new for us this year. We are using Handwriting Without Tears. I like the way this teaches each letter starting with a "Magic C" and then building each letter off of it.


Natural Speller. This is also new for us this year. This book has lists for 1st grade all the way to 8th grade. The lists are grouped together by spelling sound and sight patterns. I then go over to Spelling City (a free online program) and plug each kid's list in, print their lists from Spelling City and they play spelling games.


First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind. I have now gone through 3 of these levels and really, really like them. The kids are committing grammar rules to memory, writing a lot and memorizing poetry. I have added Writing With Ease by the same author and am very happy with this pair!

We read books together as units. This year we plan on reading Black Beauty, The Secret Garden and Little Women. I use Ambleside Online as a resource for choosing books. We also use Kumon's Reading workbooks for comprehension exercises.


I LOVE the Mystery of History series. It is taking us through History and can be used on three different levels. There are fun activities for each lesson and is so interesting. I have learned so much from these books!! We are doing Volume III this year.


I found the Christian Kids Explore series last year and we really enjoyed it. This year we are doing Chemistry together.


For Spanish we watch one free episode of Salsa each week. We love Salsa. They are sweet little puppet movies (think Sesame Street) that are completely in Spanish. The best part - they are FREE!!!!

We also have access to Mango Languages through our library and we do that once a week as well. Check your local library to see if they offer Mango for free - so good!!

I do Confession of a Homeschooler's Letter of the Week program with Mig.

And that wraps up our curriculum choices for this year! We are enjoying homeschooling so far!!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A True Sign of Growing Up

Look who lost her first tooth! Losing teeth is such a tangible sign of growing up! I can't believe how fast this little one is growing! 

Other than a dimple in a cute little chin,
What's more adorable than a toothless grin?
~Azu "Betty" Espezia

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A BIG Announcement

Yes - yet again our family is about to grow! It is our pleasure to finally announce that we are in the process of adopting a little girl from China!!! I have taken parts from each of our autobiographies written for our homestudy to tell the story of how we came to the decision to adopt in each of our own words. The pink text is from my autobiography and the blue is from Byron's. I believe together they show our heart toward adoption.

I remember always being compassionate about the orphaned. As long as I can remember, I have had a desire to adopt. When we were trying to become parents the first time, we experienced some issues with fertility. That is when we really considered adoption as a couple

After 2 years of not conceiving, the thought entered our minds about needing to adopt a child if we were to have a family. One day, Michelle came to have lunch with me at work where she announced that she was pregnant. The thoughts of adoption were suppressed.

I had already begun my graduate work toward a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) at UMHB when Gabriel was born. One of my MBA requirements was to take an international trip and study global businesses. UMHB sponsored a trip to China. It was in Beijing where I saw little children running in the streets and the thoughts of adoption came rushing back. The thoughts were soon suppressed.

Over the years since 2003, Michelle and I would share looks when the topic of adoption would be raised; when people we meet were adopted; when announcements were made about other families adopting. Still, the thoughts were suppressed. Adoption has been, and still is very much, on our hearts. Yes—even after having Selah and Miguel.

Adoption is something Michelle and I can no longer suppress. My heart has never recovered since seeing the children on the streets of Beijing. It is our desire to welcome a waiting child in China into our home so she may receive love, compassion, opportunities, values and a forever family. 
I am very excited about this new journey we are taking as a family as we seek a child through adoption. Our children cannot wait to have a new little sister and our friends and family have shown excitement and support as well. I am looking forward with anticipation the moment I get to meet my daughter and look into her eyes for the very first time. 

Our process is just beginning. We have just completed our home study and have just a few things left to accomplish before our paperwork is even sent to China. We haven't been what the adoption world calls "matched" (or referred) to a specific child yet, but have requested a girl between the ages of 0 to 3 years old with special needs. We aren't sure when we will be able to go to China to bring our little one home, but are expecting it to be sometime in the coming spring. Our children are so excited about the adoption - they pray for "little sister" everyday and talk about her often.
We will keep the blog updated as we progress through the process, so keep checking back. Most of all, keep us in your prayers as the whole process has been, in so many ways, a lesson of trusting God as he leads us through this path to adoption.
The Bible uses many illustrations to show our relationship with God. Marriage is used to depict the relationship between Christ and the Church (the bride of Christ). Adoption is another great picture of His love for us. When we trust Him as our Savior we become adopted sons and daughters of Christ!!! (Romans 8:14-17)
No, I will not abandon you or leave you as orphans. I will come to you. John 14:18
He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will. Ephesians 1:5

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

First Day of Homeschool

Our first day of the homeschool year was Monday! We celebrated the end of our summer break by doing some tax-free school shopping on Friday, followed by lunch at McDonald's. The kids each got new supplies and an outfit each. That weekend, I found five student desks on Craigslist for $5 each and Gabe and Byron went and got them for me! Once we had everything, the kids were so excited to get back to school! They are loving having "real" desks this year, so I included them in their back to school portraits!

Gabriel is in 3rd grade this year:

Mig is going to be working on letters and numbers. He's not really in pre-K yet, but he needed a portrait, too. 

Selah is in 1st grade this year! 

They make such an adorable class!!

And now for an important announcement: 

Starting next week this blog will be found at a different address. is moving. The new address for our blog will be:
So change your bookmarks (if you have us saved), but continue following us -we have some exciting news to share!!!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Retirement Party

On July 31, we headed down to Central Texas to celebrate Byron's dad as he heads into retirement.

The party was held in the Bell County Courthouse in one of the Courtrooms. 

So many people came out to thank Dad in his service as a Legal Aid Attorney.

He received some certificates for his work.

And a lot of hugs! This is the staff at Legal Aid of Central Texas where Dad Serna worked for 35 years.

And, of course, what is a retirement party without a Mariachi Band?!?

Pawpaw and the grandkids:

All of us:

Ever since Gabe's musical (set in a courthouse) he has been very interested in all things legal. He was so excited to be going into a real courthouse and even more excited that we had the run of a real courtroom. He looks pretty good in that judges' seat!

Here is about an 11 minute cutting of the presentations honoring Dad Serna. If you have time, watch it and see how well he spent those 35 years of service!
We are all very proud of him!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Choir Camp 2013

Last week the kids (and my nephew JT) attended our church's choir camp. I helped out, too - it was such a blessing for us all! But also, completely exhausting! We spent the week learning a full musical and then Friday night the children performed the musical. They also did a 20 minute cut of the musical for church on Sunday morning. Gabe auditioned for a part back in June and received a speaking part as Simon Peter. The musical was called Simon Says and was based on the book of Acts when Simon Peter was on trial. It was so neat to hear these children presenting the gospel in such a clear and beautiful way. 

Selah was part of the mini-camp. They spent the week learning about the Armor of God and presented 3 songs on Friday night. They created their costumes for the show during the week and looked so cute wearing their armor! Selah was also chosen for a short speaking part!

Selah wasn't feeling very well the day of the performance. She was running a little fever and complaining of a headache. She was VERY serious the entire time on stage - but she did so well!!

Our sanctuary was beautifully transformed into a courtroom for the muscial:

Simon Peter being defended by Ms. Steele:

Being a bit dramatic:

Singing and doing choreography:

He was SOOOO cute!!

And  now a total treat!! Here is a portion of the performances for you to see! First is Selah's part, then Gabe's final statements. Enjoy the show!!

What a great experience for all of us! Gabe was such a great little actor! The directors told me all week long how impressed they were with him. He is wanting to join the Kids Praise Choir during the year now. He made friends, and had a blast!