Monday, September 30, 2013

Homeschool Spirit Week

One of my favorite time of years as a high school teacher was homecoming. I loved the Spirit Week when the kids would come to school in their pajamas or with crazy hair, or with grass skirts and Hawaiian shirts. There was so much excitement and energy in the air. I would often come to school as decked out as the kids.

Last year I found out that an online curriculum store was hosting the first ever nation-wide homeschool spirit week. Of course, we participated. When school started this year, one of the first things the kids asked was when we would do spirit week again! Last week was Homeschool Spirit Week and we had so much fun participating!

Monday was Pajama Day! It was also our dentist appointment day, so Gabe wore pjs to his appointment!

Tuesday was Homeschool Away From Home Day, which worked out great because it was also MOMs day. MOMs is a Bible study group for moms and kids and they have a great program for the homeschooling families!

Wednesday was Crazy Hair Day! Gabe had a red and purple faux-hawk, Selah had a purple high bun and Mig had red and purple stripes. 

Thursday was Crazy Sock Day. Here are our socks and GiGi rocked some crazy socks in Belton, too!
Friday was Super Hero Day! Selah wore a tutu, tiara, and a cape. She said she was "Super Ballerina Girl", Gabe was a dashing Superman and Mig was Spiderman!

 Spiderman obviously likes to swing.

It was a fun week of being proud and feeling blessed to be able to be homeschoolers!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Adoption Update! Approved!

Our family and friends have been so supportive of the adoption. I am so thankful for the prayers, thoughts and inquiries on how the process is going. We finished all of our requirements for our home study on August 12 and since that day we have not had much news to share. Our social worker said it would take her about 2 weeks to write the report. We have been waiting, and waiting, and waiting on our home study report to get finished. A little over a week ago our social worker emailed saying she was waiting on a few documents. I guess there was a little mis-communication between her and our home study agency because the documents were on file, just not forwarded to her for some reason which explains why it was taking so long for our report to be finished. On Saturday I checked the mailbox and this sweet card was in the mail:

It was just a little note from my Aunt Jackie saying how excited my family in Miami is for us. It was a great reminder to "be joyful always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thess 5:16 - 18). It's that always and ALL circumstances part that is so hard, and yet so important. So we will have JOY in the waiting and even give thanks for it. 

NOW for the update! We now actually do have news to report!!! Yesterday afternoon I received an email from our social worker that the report is finished! We were able to review the report and we were approved to adopt!! Our placing agency (CCAI) and our home study agency (Little Miracles International) still have to review the report before we get the final copy and are able to move on to our next step, but things are starting to move again! 

Thank you so much for your continued prayers as we journey to our newest family member!

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Time To Dance...

On Saturday Selah and I headed out early in the morning to a local high school. A friend of mine is the director for the drill team at the high school and her team was doing a dance clinic for elementary age girls. 

When I dropped Selah off that morning, she was a little nervous, but excited. 

The girls showed all of the parents what they had learned that day at a performance at 12:00. By the time we showed up for the performance, Selah was all smiles! She even sent us a little "I love you" sign. 

She ended up having a great time! Here is a short video of her sweet dance:

And there is a time for every event under heaven - 
A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
 A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance. 
Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

Saturday, September 21, 2013

School Projects

We have just finished our 6th week of school! It has been a busy 6 weeks, too!

In History we have been studying the Renaissance time period. Last week we studied Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel. We finished our study by painting our own "Sistine Chapel". We taped a coloring sheet of part of Michelangelo's famous painting to the underside of their desks and they laid on their backs to paint them. 

This was a fun project!! 

In Science this year we are studying Chemistry. So far we have learned about elements, mixtures and compounds. This week we learned about the structure of atoms. We made giant atom models to go along with our studies. You can find directions to make these modes HERE

Of course, we take time out of our busy homeschooling schedule to do a little recess, too. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Art, Antiques, and Autos

This weekend our family went to Denton's Arts, Antiques and Autos show. There was so much to see!

There were classic cars for Byron to drool over.

And quirky cars to entertain!

There were BIG trucks...

and old tractors.

There was even an old fire truck.

The kids were even able to climb in a car or two.

Gabe's favorite part was a scavenger hunt on the city square. He worked hard to find all of the answers.

Selah's favorite parts were the flowers decorating the square...

and the vendor giving away taffy!

It was a really fun day!!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

90 and Counting

This Saturday the crew and I headed to McKinney, TX to help celebrate a very special birthday!

My grandfather's second(?) cousin, Margie, turned 90!! I have never been to a 90th birthday before and counted it a privilege to be able to help her celebrate hers!

OK - does she look 90 to you!?! She looks at least 15 years younger than she is! 

I met Margie when I was a senior in high school. It was our first Sunday at the First United Methodist Church of Belton, TX and I walked in the door leading to the fellowship hall. Margie was standing there and said, "You must be a McCleskey! You look just like your Aunt Mildred." I had no idea who she was or that we had any family in Belton. She then introduced herself as my cousin. Over the next 5 or 6 years Byron and I would go visit "cousin" Margie and her husband Jim various times. After Jim passed away, Margie moved to McKinney, TX to be closer to her daughter in a nursing home. 

Margie never forgets to send me or my children a birthday card and sometimes sends cards just because she was thinking of us. She is an inspiration, always happy, always smiling, and mentally she is as smart as a tack. She enjoys the nursing home and is actively involved in the activities there (though I hear that many residents will no longer play games with her because she is the only one that remembers how to add and subtract and wins every time!) Margie is the type of person that makes growing older look good!

Thank you, Margie for being an inspiration to us all!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Our Adoption Agency


When we had finally made the decision to start pursuing adoption now, I began searching for an agency. We didn't know anyone who has adopted from China at the time (though we have met some since) so we didn't have anyone we could ask for suggestions for agencies. So, I went on google and just typed in "China Adoption Agencies" and started going to agency pages and looking around at their sites.

 Once I had found a handful that I thought looked pretty good I started pouring through reviews. You can search and read what adoptive parents have to say about the agencies. Once I had looked at the ratings and reviews I had narrowed my list down to four agencies.

 I contacted each of these agencies using contact information from their websites. One replied with a short, informative email and contact information in case I would like to continue pursuing adoption through them. Another sent an email with a .pdf attachment about their agency. One agency sent a letter, few brochures and an application through the mail. CCAI (Chinese Children Adoption International) sent a folder full of detailed information both about their agency and about the process of China Adoption. There was a DVD included in the folder, a book about the founders of CCAI and an application. I was so impressed with the packet of information!! Even more impressive is that nearly every review I read from adoptive parents that used them were glowing. In fact, the more I found out about CCAI, the more impressed I became. 

We filled out the 12 page application and send in our application fee. Our application was approved on May 10, 2013!! Soon after our approval we received our orientation packet, slideshow and a very helpful packet to help us start our dossier. We have completed our 10 hours of required parent training through CCAI and have continued to be impressed and happy with our choice. 

CCAI has been ranked #1 by the China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption for overall assessment among the 178 international adoption agencies and countries around the world placing children from China! CCAI has placed 10,000 Chinese children and over 2,000 children with special needs. Not only do they place children, they have a heart for these children. After placement they have an ongoing on-site and long distance cultural and emotional support for the children and their families. They also reach out to children left behind in orphanages. they contribute $500,000 per year to support the orphanages, foster care, medical and educational support. 

You can go HERE to see a video about CCAI and all that they are doing for Chinese Adoption. 

As you can tell, we are very excited to be working with CCAI as we journey to adopt! 

And because no post is complete without a picture, here is picture of our family we submitted to our home study agency and will submit with our Dossier.