Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fall Tree Craft

I found this idea from one of my favorite blogs.  Here is her post on this project 
(plus SO much more):

First, we dot-painted the ground (white construction paper) to represent the fall leaves.

Then we painted paper towel rolls to represent our tree.  This was the favorite part and the kids concentrated so hard making sure to cover every spot.

Love how Amada is "observing"

To finish it up I cut slits on the bottom of the paper towel tubes and glued/taped to their "ground".  I also cut slits in the top of the tubes and bent them for the branches.  I cut leaves out of construction paper using fall colors, then the kids glued them to their trees and ground.

Here is the finished product!  Theses turned out great and the kids had a fun time making them.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Budding Photographer

Our oldest daughter, Adriana, is a senior in high school and has recently taken an interest in photography.  We invested in a REALLY nice camera and she is now in charge of taking family pictures.  Take a look at some of her recent captures while we were camping.  

Alex, 9

Amada, 2

Amada, look at those dimples

Dad, climbing a HUGE rock

James, 7

Johnathan, full of energy

mom, in camping mode
The kids found a fort on the beach made from driftwood.

Alex hiding.

Camping Trip to the Ocean

Our family recently returned to the community of campers with our purchase of a travel trailer. In my opinion, that is the only way to camp, especially with little ones who have special needs. We are able to go away from home and still have some level of sameness and predictability. It's already stressful enough traveling with children who NEED routine so it is nice that we are able to bring our own food and sleep in our own trailer every time we travel. Besides, when (not if) the kids have a meltdown we can close ourselves in our relatively soundproof trailer and watch a familiar DVD. The car ride is a little tricky as towing the trailer puts added stress on our van so we can't use the air conditioner, one of our children has anxiety when driving on the freeway, and a few of our children experience motion sickness on curvy roads. 

Our solution is to leave early in the morning when it is still cool and some of the children will sleep. When all else fails, we distract the children with the iPad, scenery outside the car, or treats. We discovered the Seabands for motion sickness and they work wonderfully without having to use medication.

Everyone in our family loves visiting the ocean and what better way to wrap up our homeschooling unit on the ocean than to visit one.  (This was a very private beach and we were the only ones there most of the time.)

The kids were able enjoy the full sensory experience of the ocean: the smell of the moist salty air; the calming rhythmic sounds of the waves; the feel of the wind and sun against your face and the sand in your toes (some of our children prefer to wear shoes and socks on the beach and that's ok too); the taste of eating a picnic lunch at the beach with a little sand mixed in; and the sights of sandcastles, driftwood, and sea life. We were very fortunate to see dolphins and seals jumping and swimming through the water.

Even though our children experience the world differently, and sometimes the world IS a bit scary, we still want them to have the opportunity of different experiences.  And we will be there right beside them.

Mommy & Johnathan

Monday, October 10, 2011

In Honor of Columbus Day

We didn't go into much detail, but we talked about who Christopher Columbus was and what he is known for.  We made ships out of egg cartons, play-doh (to hold the toothpick in place), a toothpick and post-it notes cut in half vertically (wrap the sticky end around the toothpick).  I assigned a ship name to each of the boys (Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria) to remember and quizzed them periodically throughout the day. 

We also made binoculars from toilet paper rolls and the kids went "exploring" throughout the house to see what they could discover.  It was raining outside today so we weren't able to do this activity outside.  I love listening in while our children are playing.  I overheard one of the boys say he spied an octopus.  Too funny!

Enchanted Learning also has ideas for more projects.  This is one website I subscribe to for homeschool activities and worksheets. This is where I downloaded the world map.  

I also found this rather short (3 min) video on National Geographic Kids which might be helpful for those children who are a little more attentive.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Crayola Undersea Adventures Color Stories

Our boys need extra practice with fine motor control and following directions so I thought the Crayola Undersea Adventures would also be a great addition to our ocean theme.

The package came with 4 coloring books, 4 individual boxes of crayons, and the DVD.  This allowed for little sister to join in.  

We moved our table so the kids could see the television while they had fun.  We actually split this activity up over 3 sessions.  The DVD & coloring book have 3 stories and each one was just about the right length of time for our kiddos.  

I LOVE Crayola's website for resources as well!

Killer Whale Costumes

I search (more like scour the web into the wee hours of the morning) for hands-on activities to help "lock" the learning in through experience.  I found many great activities to do with the children related to our ocean theme in August at:  Sea World Classroom Activities.

The boys LOVED the "Baby Shamu Suit"!  They were able to identify the dorsal fin, as well as the fluke.  It was also lunch time and what do killer whales eat?  Fish!  So we made grilled cheese sandwiches and cut them out with our fish shaped cookie cutter.  I have never seen the boys eat their sandwiches so fast! 

Here are a few pictures of them enjoying their "fish".


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

This is our {sweet boy} James after enjoying some Cool Whip.  Due to his sensory processing disorder and cleft palate, he prefers foods that are mushy.  Also, the bigger the mess he can make, the better.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Parenting Children with Health Issues - NEW LOCATION

Friday, September 9, 2011
8:30am - 4:30pm
Sutter Health University
2700 Gateway Oaks Blvd., Sacramento, CA  95833

Guest Speakers:  
Dr. Foster Cline, Child Psychiatrist and Co-founder of the Love and Logic Institute, will address handling refusals to take medication, strategies for preventing arguments and avoiding power struggles, promoting responsibility without nagging or lecturing and enabling children to make good self care decisions.   

Lisa Greene, Co-author of Parenting Children with Health Issues is a parent of two children with cystic fibrosis who will speak on her professional and personal experience with this topic.  

Class is open to parents, caregivers and clinicians working with children with chronic health issues. 
Breakfast, lunch and class materials are included.
Sponsored by Sutter Health and Electromed.  
Register at:, or call (916) 262-9154.
Registration fee $20.00

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

I am not a photographer, nor do I have a nice camera.  But, this is absolutely THE cutest kitty picture of all time (taken on my iPhone).

Bear and Tiger

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Adoptive Parents Whose Children are Experiencing Emotional Illness

What we would like you to know (geared towards providers of mental health services):

1.  We are doing the best we can.  This is really hard painful work.  It is hard to see our children suffering so, and not able to understand the world like most people do.

2.  No parent wants their child to be emotionally ill.

3.  We are experts on our children.  We know them very well.  Listen to us.

4.  Don't promise us things you can't provide, or promise us that others will provide them.

5.  It is hard to tell our story to the outside world.  Be gentle with us.

6.  We are grieving for lost hopes, dreams and ideals which haven't or won't be reached.

7.  We are tired and sleep deprived.  We are exhausted.

8.  We are isolated.  There aren't many people who understand, and if they do, they are tired too.

9.  Don't ask us to tell our story in front of our children.

10.  We carry a huge burden as the reporter of what is happening with our child.  After all, there is no blood test for mental illness.

11.  If you say you will call us, call us back.  If we leave a message, call us back.

12.  When you have exhausted all your resources, there is still one left.  It is US.

13.  We will often compromise more than we should.

14.  We are competent, and if we become really competent with our child, it is what experience has given us. We still need you just as much.  Don't punish us because we have gotten so experienced at caring for our children and think we don't need you just as much.

15.  Don't finish our thoughts and sentences.  Don't assume you know what we feel.  Please take the time to ask us and let us talk.

16.  Don't forget that this makes us incredibly sad.  We are grieving and some days we feel very raw with emotions.

17.  Experiences like raising an emotionally disturbed child means we find out who our real friends and supports are.  It means we often have to grieve the loss of someone who we thought was there to support us.

18.  Boundaries - we'll keep ours if you keep yours.

19.  We do battle to meet the needs of our kids, please don't put us in the position to battle you.

20.  You can tell us how hard our job is, but don't tell us to quit.  We are not giving back or giving up on our children.  They have already lost at least one family, their birth family, and we are not going to repeat that experience for them.

*Courtesy of

Friday, August 26, 2011

Recipe: Peanut Butter Balls

Here is a recipe for a quick & healthy snack that your children are sure to love!

Peanut Butter Balls
Use equal parts of the following ingredients (I use 2 cups of each):
Peanut Butter
Oats (quick oats are smaller pieces, old fashioned oats work as well)
Powdered milk (you can use nonfat or whole)   

Mix ingredients (I use my hands and if you wear non-latex type gloves, it cuts down on the stickiness).
Roll into balls and place on cookie sheet. Refrigerate. Enjoy!

Pay Me A Break

I go to the salon every six weeks to get my hair cut and colored.  I have been going to the same hairdresser for 17 years so she is much more than just my hairdresser.  She is also a great friend.

I am extremely cost conscience, always looking for ways to save money. While I could buy a box of hair dye and do it myself to save money, this is one area I refuse to cut back in. This is my 2 hours of "me time" every six weeks.  I consider it as paying myself to take a break. I get to sit for 2 hours while someone else does something for me. No one calling, "Mommy!" or asking anything of me. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my family and would be completely lost without them.  I also think we, as moms, sometimes forget to take care of ourselves.

When I leave the salon I am happy to return home refreshed, both physically and mentally.  So, for me, the cost is well worth it.

Is there an area you choose to "pay yourself a break"?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ocean Diorama

We are studying "the ocean" as our theme for this month.  I am all about creating as many hands-on activities for the kids to engage all of their senses.  So I thought a good way for the children to learn about what lives in the ocean was to build our own.  We started with a shoe box we had left over.


The kids painted the water using glitter glue (because that is what I had available).  I thought it turned out well and looked "authentic".

The kids painted glue on the bottom of the box, then we poured sand for the ocean floor.

To finish it we found pictures from the internet of various ocean animals: great white shark, hammerhead shark, jellyfish, octopus, sea turtle, coral reef, and starfish then hung them from strings of various lengths.  We even had a killer whale jumping through the top of the box.  We made ocean plants from bent green pipe cleaners. 

Have you created something similar?   I'd love to hear about it!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Fun with Flubber

This is really what I had in mind when we first decided to homeschool this year.  Have plans, but if an idea comes up, go with it.  Be flexible.  Have fun.  Experience.  And that is what we did.

We watched the movie Flubber and then decided to make our own.

Flubber Recipe
Mix thoroughly
  • 1 1/2 cups very warm water
  • 2 cups Elmer's glue (not school glue)
  • food coloring (optional, as could stain clothing and skin)
In a separate bowl, mix thoroughly:
  • 1 1/3 cups very warm water
  • 2 level teaspoons Borax
Mix the contents of the two bowls together kneading until it is fully combined. Discard any remaining liquid.  Store the mixture in a Ziploc baggie for weeks of fun (& I personally felt it was less messy than play-doh).  Beware though, it will stick to hair, clothes, etc.  I used Goo-Gone to remove it easily.

This was fun for the whole family!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

This is my older daughter's favorite poem.  I can see why.  Our family has also traveled (several) paths not taken by most.  From the adoption (via foster care) of our four youngest children, to both my husband and I home raising our children, and now with our decision to homeschool our younger children.  I believe everyone should decide for themselves what is the best for them and not live in fear of what other people may think.  We only have one life to live and we should make the most of it.

Parenting Children with Health Issues

Friday, September 9, 2011
8:30am - 4:30pm
Sutter Medical Plaza - 1625 Stockton Blvd., Sacramento CA  95816

Guest Speakers:  
Dr. Foster Cline, Child Psychiatrist and Co-founder of the Love and Logic Institute, will address handling refusals to take medication, strategies for preventing arguments and avoiding power struggles, promoting responsibility without nagging or lecturing and enabling children to make good self care decisions.   
Lisa Greene, Co-author of Parenting Children with Health Issues is a parent of two children with cystic fibrosis who will speak on her professional and personal experience with this topic.  

Class is open to parents, caregivers and clinicians working with children with chronic health issues. 
Breakfast, lunch and class materials are included.
Sponsored by Sutter Health and Electromed.  
Register at:, or call (916) 733-7013.
Registration fee $20.00

Friday, July 22, 2011

"Event-full" Week

We had a very busy week with many first-time events. Last weekend we rode the train through Old Sacramento. We were easy to spot because our little ones were sporting their noise-reducing headphones. Only one of the children didn't feel too well by the end of ride from all of the movement.

Then my hubby had a fun outing with 2 of our children playing miniature golf. And of course, they couldn't leave without driving the go-carts.

After church on Sunday we braved eating out (yes, INSIDE a restaurant). I just may be too embarrassed to return because of the considerable mess we left behind.

Tuesday we hosted a potluck dinner for our Adoption Support Group families. Normally it is only the parents in attendance, but we thought it would be a good idea for the children to form relationships as well.

We'd been waiting (& counting down the days) all month as I had it marked on the calendar...July 21st, "State Fair". This was an outing I was actually dreading. The kids surprised me though!

We learned fire safety from Smokey the Bear. The "Big Bug" exhibit, although awesome, was too overwhelming for the little ones so we just kept moving. I would say the livestock area was the family favorite. Goats, cows, and pigs in various stages of gestation.

All of the children enjoyed some rides as well. It's not say we didn't have any meltdowns, but it was manageable and we didn't push our luck. I actually think the children could have outlasted me!


Saturday, July 16, 2011

The first step

Well, I have been saying "someday" I would start a blog.  You guessed it!  Today I took the first step.  I have to start small.  So, for now, I have a name.  Diverging Lives.  Why did I choose that name?  The definitions of diverging are: 1. to move, lie, or extend in different directions from a common point; branch off.  2. to differ in opinion, character, form, etc.; deviate.  4. to turn aside or deviate, as from a path, practice, or plan.
Well, in a nutshell, that pretty much describes our lives.  This year we decided to home school our younger children, who are adopted and have varying special needs.  It seems like we do everything "off the beaten path", but that's okay with me.

Homeschool Helps: Equivalent Fractions FREEBIE

 I know it has been a while since I have posted. Life is crazy, as usual. We are back to homeschooling two of our children this year. Becaus...