The Post I Never Expected To Write About Adoption

Well, it’s time I peel back the curtains a little bit and tell you about our adoption journey the past 8 months. I’ve hinted on more than one occasion that things were rough and there was a guest blog post I wrote on We Are That Family where I gave some cryptic details, BUT very few people knew the extent of our heartache. Even now, I’m ashamed to share it, but I know that speaking truth is the beginning to healing. Giving words to sorrow has always been the door to which I find comfort, and I must walk through the door before me.

Our girl experienced extreme trauma in her life before coming to our home. I won’t share details of her trauma publicly because it is her story, but it was extreme and affected her deeply. Trauma literally rewires the brain and causes all sorts of things in children as young as she was at the time of the traumatic events. As we peeled back the layers, we began to see more clearly that we were not the right fit for her. Her trauma reactive behaviors were severe, multi-faceted, and so very, very scary. We hunted down every resource available to us locally to help her, but it was “too little, too late.” Her needs are extreme and the level of therapeutic parenting that she requires is beyond what we can provide for her with other small children in the home. We cannot compromise the well-being of our biological sons for the sake of “saving” her.

frozen hat

While she looked healthy and happy to outsiders and in pictures, we saw a very dark side of things within the walls of our home. Our happy home had become more of a prison with alarms on doors, surveillance cameras, extreme safety protocols, and more. She is, to put it very mildly, mentally ill. As I type this, she is in her 2nd psych hospital stay and has been there for over a month. The first time was the day after Christmas and she celebrated her 6th birthday there. During her 7 months with us, we went through 3 forensic investigations with CPS, an interview with a detective, 2 psych hospital stays, an ER visit for self-harm, death threats with a viable plan (we later found out she was attempting it one night, but backed out), suicide watch, countless hours of therapy…and it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to keep her safe from hurting herself or to keep others safe from her. Our love wasn’t enough.pink gloves

We have agonized over what is best for our family and for our beautiful girl. We truly love her and are heartbroken for the road we have walked with her. We are even more heartbroken for her past experiences that, essentially, made it impossible for her to receive and reciprocate our love. Ultimately, we have had to be very honest with ourselves about what we can handle and what cannot continue to happen in our house. We have made the decision to disrupt her adoption placement with us and not finalize the adoption. She will not return to our house when she is released from the psych hospital and has been moved into the residential treament portion of the hospital.

waterfall

We know this may come as a shock. It is to us, too. I remember reading about adoption disruptions when we first started our adoption journey and judging what I couldn’t understand–and here I sit in the very same rocking boat after being pulled out from the waves of this storm. We know we have loved her the best we knew how. We take comfort in the fact that we gave her a safe place to share her story, sought justice for her, pinpointed her specific therapeutic needs, showed her what a loving family looks like, and most importantly, exposed her to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is the only one that can truly heal her anyway.

water shed

We are now trying to piece our lives back together and heal from the second-hand trauma that we have experienced. Our boys have suffered. My husband has suffered. As the primary caregiver and target of most of the aggression, I have suffered immensely. Not one of us is walking out of this unscathed. Our entire family has been touched by this, but we are clinging together for comfort at the feet of the cross. We know our Savior isn’t surprised by our circumstances, and for some reason, we were asked to walk through this for His glory. We know that if we hadn’t taken her when her emergency placement was presented to us, she would still be in a hopeless situation with her abusers. I have to believe that, while this is terribly difficult, there is purpose for the pain. God will rebuild our lives just as He has done so many times before.

Leo’s Pad Preschool Learning App

The draw of the iPad is intense with our three year old. He’s often found climbing on things to find it and has figured out the password to unlock the home screen to let himself play his favorite preschool learning apps. Honestly, I don’t blame him–I love fun technology, too. Usually, when Asher plays the iPad, he will open an app, play for a few minutes, and move on to another app. Lately, I’ve noticed him choosing a particular app and staying within the app for a longer period of time.

Review Leo's Pad Preschool App by Kidaptive

Disclosure: I was provided this product for free for the purpose of this review. I was compensated for my time. All opinions are honest, and I was not required to post a positive review.

The app my three year old son has been drawn to is Leo’s Pad, an adaptive-learning series for preschoolers by Kidaptive. Designed by Stanford researchers and world-class animators, Leo’s Pad Enrichment Program is a stunningly beautiful app jam packed with learning.

Leo's Pad preschool app

What I like about Leo’s Pad Preschool Learning App

  • Amazing graphics–This is the most beautiful app I’ve ever seen. The graphics are seamless, not choppy or awkward when they move. The graphics are very detailed, much more like a painting than minimalist clipart graphics used in some apps. Here is a screenshot of one of the beautiful ocean scenes:
    Leo's Pad preschool app screenshot
  • Encourages social skills–There are times when kids are encouraged to share with one of the characters and do nice things for the characters. For example, one time the activity was to paint on an easel and give the paintbrush to one of the characters when my son was finished.
  • Multiple levels–There are six chapters that unlock when the early learners have mastered a level. While parents can unlock a level, the app wants them to play a number of times to keep them from breezing through the games and to master the learning. Big thumbs up!
    Leo's Pad preschool app by Kidaptive
  • Creative Skill Learning and Reinforcement–The activities are creative and woven in the storyline of the “app-isodes”.  There are auditory reinforcements that go along with the visual learning. For example, when a color is chosen on the paint easel, the child hears the color name.art on Leo's Pad preschool app by Kidaptive
  • Photo avatars for the non-readers–This was a huge positive for me. Since each child is working on their own level of learning, each child has a user profile. I liked the option of adding a picture for my three year old to help him independently find his profile. Don’t worry, if you’d rather not load a picture into the app, there are several cartoon character profile pictures available instead.
  • STEM focused–There are lots of higher-order thinking skills woven throughout the activities and I noticed a large portion of the activities were designed to cover STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I love STEM activities for my boys–science experiments and engineering get my boys excited!

What my kids think about Leo’s Pad

They love it! To them, it’s an interesting and fun game. As a mom and a master’s level teacher, I know it is teaching them and doing so much more than just entertaining them for a while. While never pleasant, kids fighting over who gets to play first is a sign of a great app. Although Leo’s Pad is targeted for preschool, my second grader enjoyed playing, too.

My Only Hangup

If you’ve been a reader here for a while, you’ll know that I’m a frugal girl. I believe homeschooling can be done well without spending a lot of money, especially in the early years, and can be done with common household items. Normally, we stick to FREE apps or go without. On the rare occasion that I pay for an app, it is less than five dollars. At a price of $24.99, Leo’s Pad does not currently fall within my app price range. However, you get what you pay for, and with Leo’s Pad, you know you’re making an investment in your child’s learning, not just entertaining them.

Leo’s Pad has a trial available for the first chapter. I encourage you to download it and see this app for yourself. Your kids will love it and you might just think it’s worth the investment. Download your FREE TRIAL of Leo’s Pad Enrichment Program. While you’re downloading, be sure to download Kidaptive’s FREE companion parenting app, Learning Mosaic.

Coupon Code for Leo’s Pad

If you like Leo’s Pad and want to purchase it, get 20% off with code IHOMESCHOOL if app is purchased via https://shop.kidaptive.com/. This code will not work via iTunes. Coupon valid until May 31, 2015.

Connect with Leo’s Pad

Find them on Facebook (3 pages to choose from)–Kidaptive, Leo’s Pad, and Learner Mosaic
Find them on Twitter @Kidaptive or @LeosPadApp

DIY Bean Bag Tutorial

Beanbags are a childhood staple. As a teacher, I often used bean bags in my elementary classroom for lots of different learning activities. The possibilities are truly endless! Homemade Bean Bags are a perfect easy beginner sewing project and can help use up fabric scraps. The materials are practically free, and even if you have to buy a bag of beans for the filler, each beanbag only costs pennies to make. Make a set for the kids in your life and enjoy hours of fun!

DIY Bean Bag Tutorial

 

DIY Beanbag Tutorial

Sewing level: Beginner
Time: 5 minutes
Cost: $0-$5

*Affiliate Links are present in this post.*

Materials:

Square scrap fabric
Sewing machine
Thread
Beans (any will do!)
Hand Sewing Needle (optional)

How to Sew a Beanbag

  1. Cut your fabric to a 4×4 square. You will need 2 squares per bean bag. (Mine were 3.5 inches square in the photo. They were fine, but a little smaller than I wanted.)
    Cute two squares for DIY beanbags
  2. With right sides together, sew around the square. Make sure to start halfway down one side and stop sewing early, leaving a 2 inch space.
    Sew two squares together to make beanbags.
  3. Clip corners, making sure not to clip the thread.
    Clip corners before turning beanbag right side out
  4. Turn the bean bag right side out through the hole. Use a pencil to push the corners out.
    Use a pencil to push corners out when you turn the beanbag right side out.
  5. Place beans inside the bean bag. I used regular dry pinto beans that I’ve had in my cabinet forever, but whatever kind of beans you have at your house will work.
    add dry beans to the bean bags
  6. Sew the small opening shut. I used a needle and did a quick whipstitch by hand, but you can also use a sewing machine.
    whipstitch the beanbag opening shut

That’s it! So easy. Now, you’re ready to hand these to the kids and make up a game!

Don’t forget! Today is the LAST day to purchase the Ultimate DIY Bundle!

DIY Door Draft Stopper {Easy Sewing Project}

As I quietly creep through the house to the coffee maker, I catch a chill as soon as my feet hit the hardwood floor in our entryway. It sends a shiver through me and I make a quick detour to look at the thermostat. It’s holding strong and steady where it was set, but it’s winter and the cold air still finds its way in through the tiniest cracks. A draft stopper, or a draft snake as we called it growing up, is a quick and easy fix for stopping cold air from coming in through door cracks. Using a Door Draft Stopper or a Draft Snake is a great way to lower your heating bill and make sure your home is energy efficient. It just so happens that a door draft stopper is also a very easy DIY sewing project. With some scrap fabric and fifteen minutes, you can stop drafts in your house, too.

DIY Door Draft Stopper or Draft Snake to keep the chilly air from sneaking in the door cracks and helping your heating bill

DIY Door Draft Stopper/Draft Snake Tutorial

Sewing Level: Beginner
Time: 15 minutes
Cost: $0-$10

Materials:

Fabric (mine was from my stash)
Thread
Sewing machine
Measuring Tape
Rice
Twill Tape (optional)

 

How to Make a DIY Door Draft Stopper/Draft Snake

  1. Measure your door and add a few inches. Cut Fabric. I found a piece of fabric in my stash that was perfect, so I didn’t even cut the length.
    Use scrap fabric to make a DIY Door Draft Stopper
  2. Fold in half lengthwise (hotdog fold). Pin the long edge and one short end closed.
    sewing scrap fabric into a DIY Draft Stopper
  3. Sew one short end. Lift your presser foot, turn, and sew all the way down the long side. Clip corners, being careful not to cut the seam.
  4. Turn the tube inside out. Use a pencil to gently help you poke the corners out if you need to.
    turning scrap fabric tube inside out for DIY Draft Snake
  5. Fill 3/4  of the way with rice. My husband helped me with this part.
    DIY Draft Stopper made from rice and scrap fabric
  6. Fold the rough edges on the open end of the tube inside about an inch.
  7. Optional: If you want to add a handle loop for easy storage when not in use, cut a piece of twill tape. Insert it in the opening to form a loop. Pin in place.
    Sew a loop at one end of your DIY Door Draft Stopper for easy storage
  8. Sew shut. Reinforce the opening with more than one stitch. (I scooted my sewing machine all the over to the edge of the table and asked my husband to hold the rice tube while I sewed the opening shut.)
    sewing end of the rice tube for a DIY draft snake

Note: I store mine hanging on a hook in my laundry room when not in use.

I’ve made draft stoppers for all of our exterior doors in our house, especially the door between the garage and our new basement homeschool room. They keep the cold air out and the warm air in. I’d say that’s a pretty fantastic frugal winter sewing project that will keep you warm.

DIY Door Draft Stopper or draft snake

Want more DIY Projects? Buy the Ultimate DIY Bundle and get busy!

DIY Plastic Grocery Bag Organizer {Beginner Sewing Project}

In my quest for pantry organization, I have a love/hate relationship with plastic grocery bags. On one hand, we reuse them for easy disposal of stinky diapers, mini trash can liners, and more. On the other hand, they seem to multiply faster than rabbits. Even with the use of reusable canvas shopping bags, we STILL end up with a lot of plastic grocery bags that need to be recycled or reused. That’s where my kids come in—one of their chores is to put the plastic grocery bags into the grocery bag holder. It works well for us and even the 3-year-old can do it. The problem is, our plastic bag holder has seen better days. I’ve had it for at least 15 years and it is falling apart. It was literally holding on by a thread and wasn’t really doing its job anymore. The plastic bags were overflowing and falling out, which led to even more clutter. It was time for a new Plastic Grocery Bag Organizer to contain the plastic shopping bag clutter.

 

Use a tea towel to sew a Plastic Grocery Bag Organizer. This beginner sewing project is an easy way to organize plastic shopping bags and cut down on pantry clutter!

Making a Plastic Grocery Bag Organizer is an easy sewing project. If you can sew a straight line, you can tackle this—it’s a perfect beginner sewing project. By using a tea towel instead of fabric, I eliminated the need to finish seams and save some time. Or, if you want to use some fabric, it is a great fabric stash busting project. This sewing project took me less than 15 minutes from start to finish and made a big impact in my pantry organization efforts. Ready to get started on your own? Let’s sew!

 DIY Plastic Grocery Bag Organizer Sewing Tutorial

Sewing Level: Beginner
Time: 15 minutes
Cost: Less than $5 (I had everything on hand, so this was FREE for me)

*affiliate links are included in this post

sewing materials for an easy to sew plastic grocery bag holder

Materials:

Tea Towel (mine is from the Dollar Tree!)
Sewing Machine
Thread
Skinny Elastic (mine was 1/4 inch)
Safety Pin
Twill Tape (you can buy this in a package or in at the cutting table. You’ll only need about 8 1/2 inches, so you could ask them to cut some to be extra frugal)

How to Sew a Plastic Grocery Bag Organizer

 

  1. Fold the tea towel in half, bringing the two long sides together to make a long, skinny rectangle. (Or as I tell my kids, a hot dog fold.)
    a folded tea towel can be sewn into a plastic grocery bag holder. Easy DIY project for a beginning sewer.
  2. Pin along the long side (or if you are a sewing rebel like me you could totally skip this step)
    pin your tea towel plastic grocery bag holder before sewing to make a straight line
  3. Sew a straight line on the long side. (FYI: the top corner was really thick, so I moved over a little and used the seam from the towel as my sewing foot guide.)
    with only a few straight seams, you can make a DIY plastic Grocery Bag Holder  to organize all those extra plastic bags from shopping trips
  4. Trim if you need to to remove bulk along the seam. Make sure not to cut over your sewing line.
  5. Fold the top and bottom of the tube down. Iron and pin in place. I eyeballed this part using my elastic as my guide. 1 inch was plenty for me.
    sew a plastic grocery bag organizer from a tea towel
  6. Stretch your tube on the sewing machine ( I removed part of my machine so I would have more control.) If yours won’t fit around your sewing machine arm, push the bulk out of the way.
    removable sewing arm on a sewing machine
  7. Sew around the tube, leaving a 1-2 inch gap from your starting point and ending point.
    grocery bag holder top seam
  8. Lay your tube flat. Cut two pieces of elastic about the length of the short side of your tube. (I totally eyeballed this.) Using a safety pin on the end of the elastic, thread the elastic through the hole, working it through the mini tube. If this is your first time making an elastic seam like this, make sure to hold onto the other end of your elastic, or pin the loose end close to the opening. This will ensure you won’t pull the elastic all the way through. If you mess up and the elastic pulls through, just do it again.
    safety pin on elastic
    easy to make plastic shopping bag organizer
    making an elastic seam
  9. Pull elastic through and overlap the ends to make the elastic like a continuous circle. Sew.
    elastic seam for plastic shopping bag organizer
    sewing elastic seam
  10. Place the tube on the sewing machine again. Sew the 1-2 inch gap closed on the top and bottom seam.
  11. Turn the tube inside out.
    elastic seam
  12. Trim any loose strings you might have hanging.
  13. Measure the twill tape. I measured about 8 1/2 inches. Once again, you can eyeball this. Trust me.
    use twill tape to make a loop for the DIY plastic bag holder
  14. To make a loop, I folded the twill tape in half, then moved one end down a 1/2 inch. After that, I folded the longer edge over to make sure my edges were clean and didn’t fray. If you didn’t want to do this, you could put some Fray Check on the raw edges.
    twill tape
    twill tape 2
  15. Stretch one of the elastic ends over the sewing machine again and sew the twill tape loop onto the plastic grocery bag organizer. Since my kids will be tugging on it frequently, I reinforced my stitching on the loop a few times.
    sewing a loop on the plastic shopping bag organizer

And that’s it! Hang it up in your pantry or laundry room to organize all those pesky plastic grocery bags that are cluttering up your space.

 

Make a plastic grocery bag organizer made out of tea towels. Perfect for beginner sewing project.

Delight-directed Homeschoool Learning in December With CurrClick

December is a hard month for homeschooling in our house. The days leading up to Christmas seem so busy to me and all I really want is to just slow down, bake cookies, and stare at the twinkle lights on my Christmas tree. Not to mention, we’re all starting to feel a little homeschool burnout by now. That’s why I have started Delight-directed Homeschool Learning in December–to get us through the slump, take a curriculum “break” without really taking a break, and add a little fun to our days. Oh, we’re still doing the basics like math, writing, and reading, but we’re taking a break from the more intense unit studies for a little while to catch our breath and enjoy the holiday season.

One easy way I incorporate delight-directed learning for multiple kids is by turning to CurrClick.com. CurrClick has thousands of resources with the click of a button. You can purchase their products for relatively cheap, and most importantly, you can download and print them instantly. CurrClick makes delight-directed learning a cinch.

CurrClick

Delight-directed Homeschool Learning in December

To start with, I sat down and searched the CurrClick website for things I thought the kids would enjoy. With thousands of resources, it can get a little overwhelming to scroll through lapbooks and unit studies with kids looking over my shoulder. Keeping the kids’ interests in mind, I searched for things that would still meet some of the current learning needs for each child. Then, I let the kids pick what they would like to do out of those things. So, in a way, I guided their choices a little. I’m sneaky like that.

So what did my kids pick?

Jonah (7 yrs old) picked the Winter Brick Activities and More (he’s a a bit Lego obsessed)
Winter Brick Activities and More Lily (5 yrs old) picked the Frozen Lapbook , Frozen Copywork, and the Frozen Activity Book (she’s a bit Frozen obsessed)

Frozen Lapbook

Frozen Copywork

frozen activity book

The most important thing? It worked! The kids are enjoying themselves, I get a break from the teacher intensive curriculum, and we can still enjoy all of our favorite holiday traditions during the month of December.

12 Days Of Christmas Homeschool Freebies and Resources

12 Days of Christmas Homeschool Freebies & Resources from CurrClick.com

Here’s little more incentive to help you get to know CurrClick.com! Along with some of my blogging friends, I am partnering with CurrClick to offer the 12 Days of Christmas Homeschool Freebies and Resources.

From December 12 – December 14, 2014 you can download a Holiday Music Unit Study for FREE with code CC12days12.

Plus, we’re hosting a giveaway! Enter below to win one of 12 $20 gift cards to CurrClick!

CurrClick Giveaway

 

CurrClick end of the year sale

Rainbow Fish Ornament

The Rainbow Fish is a simple story about a beautiful fish who learns to make friends by sharing his most prized possessions–his sparkly scales. While Rainbow Fish starts out prideful, he learns a lesson in giving and friendship. It’s one of my favorite books for talking about how to be a good friend and sharing. The Rainbow Fish isn’t a Christmas book, however, we were inspired to make a Rainbow Fish Ornament to remind us to give freely and as a kid-made gift for little friends. {This post contains affiliate links.}

The Rainbow Fish book inspired Kid-made ornament #kidmadeornaments #kidsmadechristmas

Rainbow Fish Ornament Supplies

  • Perler Beads {affiliate}–Perler beads are very small beads that are placed on small pegboards. After making a design, you use an iron to melt the beads and fuse the design together. My kids are addicted to these “melty beads”.
  • Perler Bead Fish Pegboard {affiliate}
  • Perler Bead Ironing Paper (comes in the Perler Bead kit)
  • Iron {affiliate}
  • Googly Eye {affiliate}
  • Hot Glue Gun {affiliate}
  • Small, shiny rhinestone or sequin {affiliate}

How to Make a Rainbow Fish Ornament

  1. Using the fish shaped pegboard, place the perler beads in your desired pattern. We tried to mimic the Rainbow Fish illustrations with the light blue face and the blue, green and purple scales, but the great part about this project is that kids get to fill up the pegboard however they want.
    Perler Bead Rainbow Fish inspired ornament
    Rainbow Fish Inspired Perler Bead Ornament
  2. Once the pegboard is full of beads, very carefully transfer the pegboard to a towel. Place the ironing paper on top of the beads and iron with a medium iron setting until the beads are melted and fused together. {Please Note: This is a grown-up job! You will see my child’s hand on the iron in the photo below, but the iron was not plugged in and was only for the tutorial photo.}
    Rainbow Fish Perler Bead Ornament
    perler bead ornament inspired by The Rainbow Fish children's book
  3. Allow to cool completely. Then, peel the ironing paper off the top.
    perler bead fish ornament
  4. Remove the cooled perler bead shape from the pegboard.
    perler bead fish
  5. Hot glue the googly eye and the small rhinestone on the fish. Poke an ornament hanger through the top of the ornament (what I did) or you can hot glue a piece of ribbon to the back.
    rainbow fish perler bead ornament
    rainbow fish inspired perler beads
  6. Hang on the tree or give as a gift to a friend!
    Rainbow Fish Ornament made from perler beads
    Rainbow Fish Ornament gift for a friend

70+ Kid-Made Ornaments Inspired By Children’s Books

A bunch of my blogging friends have gotten together to make kid-book inspired ornaments and I bet your favorite book is in the list!  It’s a 10 day long party of gorgeous kid-made art and Melissa over at Mama Miss is hosting the big party for us.  So go on over and check it out.

10 Days of a Kid-Made Christmas featuring 70+ ornaments inspired by children's books

Here are the rest of today’s Kid-Made Ornament bloggers, so stop on by and start pinning:

Stained Glass Gingerbread Man Ornament | The Educators’ Spin On It

 Sugar Plum Fairies Ornament | Made with Happy

Legend of the Pointsettia Ornament| Growing Book by Book

Stickman Ornament | One Time Through

Russell’s Christmas Magic Ornament | Adventures of Adam

Want to see them all in one place? Check out the 10 Days of Kid-Made Christmas page!