Monday, November 10, 2014

Keepin' it Corny: A Thematic Study of Corn for the Primary Classroom}

I'm convinced you can make a theme around anything, so this week Becks and I are studying CORN.  
This may sound completely uninteresting, if not flat out boring, but CORN IS COOL, y'all.  

Here's a snapshot of our week. You can click the graphics to HERE to download.  
Cover graphics within are clickable.

Today, we started by reading Corn by Gail Gibbons.  I seriously love her.  She has a book for practically everything!  The illustrations are divine and the content is spot on for primary students.  
We will be making a Fact File for our study of corn throughout the week, but spent today just reading it for enjoyment and for new words.  {More about that tomorrow!}

After that, it was time to explore!  I cannot tell you how much fun he had with this.  I took some Kroger-bought cornmeal, poured it in a pan, and let him go to town!

Even though sensory bins are soooooo pre-k, I think that they are invaluable in primary!  I don't know many kiddos under the age of eight who don't mind exploring with their hands!

 Was it messy?  Absolutely! But, oh so worth it!  We left it on the kitchen table, and he returned to it throughout the day many times.

Aaaaaaand, it was the perfect segue into learning about adjectives this week!

I did a super-brief mini-lesson...
And, then it was his turn to describe me...
Afterwards, Becks did a similar (independent) activity to describe cornmeal.  I was so impressed with the adjectives he came up with.  He would even go back to the pan of cornmeal to touch and taste it to come up with them.  Love that!  We also stuck a piece of tape into the cornmeal and taped it right to the page.  {This would be perfect for a traditional classroom, too, and would give your kiddos the opportunity to have a sample of cornmeal at their fingertips to observe.}

The Adjectives All Around printable can be found HERE.

 Do you take time to study all things corny?!  I'd love to hear!

 PS.  Sweet girl had her one-year check-up today and had to get FIVE shots.  Sister was asleep by 6:30pm.  However, I did snap a cute before pic when she was all smiley and giggly :D
Happy Monday!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Five for Friday {11/7/14}

You can link up with Kacey, too!  Just click the graphic above :)

Tomorrow we are celebrating Faith's first birthday.  This may come as a surprise, but I'm not a Pinterest Party thrower.  I'm a cake-balloons-family kind of party thrower.  And, probably pizza.  Because what's a good party without good pizza?  

Not gonna lie, I teared up a little bit when I pulled these parcels from the mail addressed to Miss Faith Mullins.  My heart skipped a little.  Because she's my daughter and she's one and that's enough for me to be ridiculously sentimental about.  

I also did some completely (ir)rational birthday shopping and went crazy at Dillard's.  {PS.  Besides the Thanksgiving outfits, everything was under $15 and less!  #winning}
I have decided to revamp our home school room and schedule.  Something about what I am currently doing wasn't jiving, nor was the initial space we moved in to.  So, I'm spending this weekend putting some real thought and effort into changing it up a little bit.  I plan to report back.  

I did, however, purchase a white board which is pretty transformative alone.  A white board makes you feel official (and is also a really good alternative to all the paper I was wasting).  Becks has taken to "teaching" me.  Yesterday was Transfiguration where I was instructed to turn a Space Man into a dog.  It was unsuccessful and I think I'm failing wizarding school.
Becks did this little noun hunt activity this week.  He drew a picture of a noun, wrote the word, and then wrote whether it was a person, place, or thing underneath the post-it.  Simple and a nice little formative assessment.  Oh, and the clip board.  Because that's always fun.  Mine is from C.Jayne Teach.  
 Here's a better view of the picture he drew of me.  I think I'm shimmying.  

I wrote all about our adoption on the blog this past week.  
If you missed them, you can read them here:

 Part I here >>> A New Beginning
 Part II here >>> The Journey Begins
 Part III here >>> Blank Pages
Part IV here >>> Complete Surrender
I hired a babysitter this week.  Not only am a struggling to find balance as a stay-at-home-work-at-home-teacher-mom, but Brandon and I need a night (or two) out every now and then and we needed to find someone comfortable with Faith's needs.  The whole 'medically fragile' things can be a bit of turn-off when it comes to hunting for a babysitter : /  Thankfully, we were able to find someone who took care of another special little lady with medical needs, which has set my mind at ease.  Hopefully, B and I will get that night out soon!  In the meantime, while she's getting to know the kiddos, I'm hanging around and getting accomplished!  Hellllloooooooooo, clean and organized basement!
Happy Fridaaaaaaay!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Adoption: Complete Surrender {The Final Post}

As part of Adoption Awareness Month, I'll be posting about our adoption on this blog on and off throughout the month of November.  If you're here for teaching-related content, scroll on down :)

You can read Part I here >>> A New Beginning
You can read Part II here >>> The Journey Begins
You can read Part III here >>> Blank Pages

| Complete Surrender |

The day was Monday, November 5, 2013.  {Keep this date in mind!}

Before I went to bed, I decided to write a quick prayer in a journal that some dear friends had gifted me with during my time of struggle.  I opened to the very first page.  And wrote.

 Um, yes.  I think I gave God an ultimatum.  Who does that?

I don't want to sound flippant about this conversation, though, because He already knew His plan.  He was just as sure of it on November 5, 2013 as He was a decade before.   It was only I who didn't know.   He heard every prayer, could number ever tear, and knew that this journal entry would shine a brilliant light on the love He has for His children.  A beautiful unfolding.

 {The following is an excerpt from this blog post with a few more details added}

On Saturday, November 9th, we made a quick evening road trip up to Michigan to celebrate my Papa's 85th birthday.  Ironically, we never intended to go in the first place because we were expecting to have a newborn son, and initially RSVP'd no.  But, of course, things happened and we went.  Becks fell asleep in the back and, before I knew it, B and I were engrossed in a conversation about God's will for our family.  I told him about the childish prayer I'd written.  I cried.  Nothing was standing out! I told him.  I asked God to help me discern His will and He. Was. Silent.  The conversation eventually led to this dramatic statement from my husband: let go.  (I know, life-changing, right?!)  But, that feels like giving up! I replied.  No, it's letting God have control, he explained.  I mulled it over, and, through tears, I agreed with him.  

I had been trying.  For years.  I tried planning and scheduling and hormones and timing and more hormones and adoption.  And it had ALL failed.  I had tried enough, Brandon said.  And, for once (and only once), my husband was right.  I had tried enough and it was time to let God do his thing and for me to back off.  At the conclusion of our conversation, we had decided to let our Home Study expire and spend some time in the next few months putting God back in control of our family.  

We drove in silence for a bit after that, and while scrolling through my Facebook feed, I rolled over a status update from our agency: 

"I made an unexpected drive to ****** today to visit with a birth mother who delivered very prematurely.  Please pray for her and for the little one - under 3 pounds!"

In the darkness of the passenger seat, I snickered.  I'd just had this heart-to-heart with my husband about getting off of this roller coaster and I see that post.  Thanks, God!  <-sarcasm font]  I said a short prayer for the mom and baby and then talked myself through every reason why I was positive we wouldn't be a fit for that situation.  I even told Brandon.  His quick retort was to let go.  Oh, the irony!!!!  

While Becks swam in the hotel pool that night, I told my mom and sister our plan.  We were through.   Givin' it to God.  

We went to the party and drove home that same evening on Sunday, November 10th.  

Becks plays in the hotel room with my sister and niece.  Less than 24 hours later, he would be a Big Brother.

At the birthday party with B.  Less than 24 hours later, we would have a daughter.  

I was texting with some of my girlfriends on the way home and told them about our decision.  We got home late that night, and - thankfully - I'd already planned to have Monday off.  

My journal entry the morning of Monday, November 11, 2013.

Afterwards, I drove Becks to school like any other Monday.  I dropped him off and started back home to tackle a list of things I'd been saving for an open day.  Around 8:45am my phone rang.  

The Special Ring.  The one assigned to my agency.  

I knew the minute I looked at the screen to confirm it really was them, that this was the phone call we'd been waiting for.  And, it was.  

A baby girl was born.  On November 5th.  (See date noted above.)  You can meet her today.  Call Brandon.

A BIG EMPHATIC YES! is how I responded to our agency once I finally got ahold of Brandon at work.  

Then I was all by myself  at home, pacing and praying and reading the Bible.  Here's a snapshot of my internal conversation while I was waiting the excruciating three hours it took for Brandon to get off work...

God!!!!  Really?!  I mean, REALLY?!  Did you REALLY just do this?!  I mean, OF COURSE you did!  Of course!!!!  Because you knew!  You knew all along!  This is our baby!  This is our girl!  A daughter!  O.M.G.  God, you are too much!  This is crazy!  For REAL?!  I don't have anything pink.  I should go to Target.  What if I see someone I know and I look as crazy as I feel right now and they see the pink clothes in my cart and then they figure out what is going on before I can even tell anyone?! GOD, THIS IS CRAZY!!!!  This is so much better than anything I could've imagined!  You are God and you are GOOD.  Shooooooooeeeeee!  Wait, what will we name her?!  Will Brandon EVER get off work?!  I should read the Bible.  What should I read?  I mean, REALLY?!?!?!?!?!?

Except that seriously went on for three hours.  We only told my parents because we needed someone to pick up Becks, and I had to keep this monumental secret from my family and dearest friends when I really just wanted to shout it out the front door!  

I really did go to Target!  This is what I bought ^^^^^

At 1:45pm on November 11th, we met our daughter.  A very small, but very mighty, little girl.  All two pounds of her.  Perfect in every way.  She was attached to numerous machines and needed support to help her breathe, eat, and maintain her body temperature.  And, oh my, she was sooooooooo small.

Probably my favorite picture of daddy and daughter, taken the first week.      Beckham holds his sister for the first time, later in Dec.

That first day was crazy.  We stayed at the hospital for a long time, and then had to go pick Beckham up from my parents - completely clueless that he had a little sister.  After we picked him up, we drove to tell Brandon's parents the good news.  Sleep didn't come easy that night.  One of those times when you literally can't even ;) 

Honestly, I still literally can't even.  I can't even imagine the excitement in the Heavens on that day.  I can't even believe this is my story to share on His behalf.  I can't even believe it all. 

The journey wasn't perfect.  But, it was beautiful in its imperfections instead.  

I'll leave you with this:  Brandon and I are not heroes.  We are two very ordinary, very imperfect people who love the best we can because He first loved us.  I don't ever want to paint the picture that we lead a pretty little life free from struggle or hardship or pain.  The months following the day our family became four were hardest, most intense months we'd ever endured as a couple.  Our relationship was tested almost daily and our faith was shaky and unstable more often than not.  

Thankfully, we serve a big God, friends.  A God who understands and can handle emotional fragility much better than we can.  A God who isn't surprised when we shake our fists at Heaven, wondering why and looking for an explanation.  A God who doesn't just hear the prayers of a forlorn and infertile 30-year-old woman, writing furiously in her journal begging for answers, but all of his children (that means you, too!).  

We serve a God who bundled up 2lb7oz of joy and made a family grow through the miracle we call adoption.  
And, today, she is one year old.  How great is our God.

Thank you for reading :)

Adoption: Blank Pages {Part III}

As part of Adoption Awareness Month, I'll be posting about our adoption on this blog on and off throughout the month of November.  If you're here for teaching-related content, scroll on down :)

You can read Part I here >>> A New Beginning
You can read Part II here >>> The Journey Begins

| Blank Pages |

I'm not sure what excuse we came up with the day we were to meet Grace (not her real name), but we somehow convinced my parents to keep Becks so we could leave for a few hours to meet with her and the director of our agency.  The details of that meeting are private, but in the end we came away as a "matched" family.   

I remember our agency telling me that the journey through the adoption process was a roller coaster.  I don't think she could've spoken truer words.  

I will cut to the chase.  Rip of the proverbial bandaid.  Tell you, straight up.  

That adoption didn't happen.  Grace decided to parent her baby.

To type that is hard.  

To express the emotions I had following a very upsetting phone call at 9pm on Wednesday, October 9, 2013 is even harder.  {I wrote about it briefly here.}

But, before I go any further, you have to know something: I do not fault Grace.  I never felt an ounce of anger or hatred to her.  Though I didn't understand,  I do know that she had a very difficult choice to make and had every right to choose to be the mother to her child.  As I sit here now, trying to imagine seeing her again with her son in her arms, I probably would offer her a hug of gratitude and acceptance.  I'm grateful that somewhere in her story, you'll find us among the pages and grateful that somewhere in our story, she is there, too.  I know that our brief encounter was beautifully orchestrated by the Master Story Teller, and that he gathered among good company that night and said, Just watch!  It's about to get better!  The ending!  Oh, the ending!  You can't even imagine!  Watch!!!!

Do you remember in the book series Twilight after Edward breaks up with Bella and there are blank chapters listing only the names of the passing months and Bella says, Time passes. Even when it seems impossible. Even when each tick of the second hand aches like the pulse of blood behind a bruise. It passes unevenly, in strange lurches and dragging lulls, but pass, it does. Even for me.  

That is exactly how I remember the month of October.  It was horrifically blank.  Not really in the written sense, but in the sense that I felt and did nothing.  I didn't want to see or talk to anyone besides my family.  I didn't want to sit alone in our family room, on the same couch where I took the phone call. 

I'm not much of a blank person - more so a person whose hypothetical pages are teeming with too many words to contain - but, there was this unfamliar feeling of nothingness that overcame me.  I didn't feel overly sad or mad or angry or happy or motivated or much of anything. The month of October was blank.  I was numb.  

But, as I started to seek, my pages began to fill again.  

I hadn't reread my journal entries from this time until the past few days, and I share them now because they reveal my internal struggles and the conversations I was having with God. 
 {Some pages have been intentionally omitted to protect the privacy of the situation.}

You all.  Seriously.  I can't even believe I wrote those things.  He was working the whole time.  He was revealing himself to me in the biggest way.  Sure, it felt like grief at the time, but looking back - it was growth.  

And, this next entry - for me - is epic.  The date is November 5, 2013.  

Exactly one year ago today.  The day a baby was born somewhere across town.  

A baby that would rest on my chest less than a week later.  

And I had no idea.  

Epic is really an understatement.  

To be continued...

{I will post again later today!  There's a birthday to celebrate!}