Posts Filed Under A Grand Adventure

Why Is Music So Important?

by bosssanders on July 31, 2015 with no comments
Please welcome our guest poster, Amy Allen!  Amy Allen has a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education and a certified Harmony Road Music teacher and opened her own authorized Harmony Road Music Education Center in Western KY.  Amy has spent many years serving others through her gift of music.

In the last 30 years that I have been teaching music to children, I have seen the ebb and flow of school funding for music programs and instruction nationally. Early on, music programs in our schools were seen as fluff and considered to be extracurricular activities. As a result, when communities saw tough times financially and school funding became scarce, and when the demand for higher academic standards increased, I saw schools cut their music education programs. For the last 15 – 20 years, however, we have seen study after study reinforce the value of music instruction on brain development, social development, and especially spatial-temporal intelligence, and national standards for education have begun to include arts and music components, requiring all schools to make these disciplines a part of their offerings. Today, however, we stand again at a crossroads. Hard economic times and the decrease in federal and state funding is once again causing our schools to get creative with how to best educate our students, and schools are being expected to do more with less.

The value of participation in music for every child has not lost its importance, however; in fact, its impact continues to be reinforced by the research — more and more, we are seeing that music is not just a nice thing to learn, but an essential ingredient of a person’s education and development.

For example, a simple search on the internet about the effect of music on brain development and education from early childhood to adulthood will yield the following studies and observations from top researchers and writers:

  • A 2-year study with preschoolers led by behavioral psychologist, Frances Rauscher, and physicist, Dr. Gordon Shaw, compared the effects of certain types of instruction and activities on intellectual development. Four groups of students were given either piano/keyboard lessons, singing lessons, private computer lessons, or free-play time for 20 minutes, 5 days a week. At the end of 6 months, the children were given tests to measure spatial-temporal ability. Those children who received the piano/keyboard training performed 34% higher than the other children.
  • In another study, students with music training scored an average of 52 points higher on the verbal portion of the SAT and 36 points higher on the math portions of the SAT than students with no musical experiences.
  • In the March 1999 issue of Neurological Research, a study showed that a group of second and third-graders who learned eighth, quarter, half and whole notes, scored 100% higher than peers who were taught fractions using traditional methods.
  • Again, Dr. Gordon Shaw conducted research with 2nd grade children who were given 4 months of piano keyboard training, as well as time playing with specially-designed learning software. Those given the training scored 27% higher on proportional math and fraction tests than children who had not received training. Dr. Shaw said of the results, “Piano instruction is thought to enhance the brain’s ‘hard-wiring’ for spatial-temporal reasoning, or the ability to visualize ratios, fractions, proportions and thinking in space and time.”
  • A March 2010 article by LA Times columnist, Melissa Healy, reporting on research about music and the brain states, “Five months after we are conceived, music begins to capture our attention and wire our brains for a lifetime of aural experience. At the other end of life, musical memories can be imprinted on the brain so indelibly that they can be retrieved, perfectly intact, from a mind ravaged by Alzheimer’s disease. . . . But for all its beauty, power and capacity to move, researchers have concluded that music is little more than ear candy for the brain if it is consumed only passively. If you want to sharpen your senses, boost your ability to focus and perhaps even improve your memory, the latest word from science is you’ll need more than hype and a loaded iPod. You gotta get in there and play. Or sing, bang or pluck!”
  • An article published in the May 2012 Developmental Science journal states that infants who participate actively in musical experiences show “superior development of pre-linguistic communicative gestures and social behavior” as compared to their peers who only experience music passively. We are finding that actively musical babies are more skilled at communicating too!

Why these results and emphasis on active music-making? Neuroscience shows us that our early experiences, notably those from birth to age 6 determine which brain cells (neurons) will connect with other brain cells and which ones will become inactive. The more neural connections that are generated, the more learning that takes place, and the more capacity for intelligence built in the brain. The experiences with active music-making build connections of brain cells in a way that few other disciplines will because it is so multi-sensory, involving the ear, the eye, the tactile-kinesthetic, and the whole emotional sensory processing. Music is also organized mathematically. The rhythms in music are mathematical—the meter in music is mathematical—even the frequencies of the vibrations of musical octaves are mathematically related. No wonder the data supports using music instruction to reinforce and build math skills! But that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

Yes, music has the power to bridge into the mind like nothing else. It is a unique discipline that provides multi-sensory information at the same time with the same set of perfectly-ordered (mathematical) information. By not providing active music-making experiences for our children in our schools AND in our homes, we are missing out on one of the greatest possible gifts we can give our children—a well-developed, organized neural network brought about by continuous exposure to, and participation in music. Music is not just a nice thing to do with and for our children. It is essential!

Become an advocate for music education in your school and community, and even better, “sing, or bang, or pluck” side-by-side with your child! What better way to encourage and motivate them to be actively engaged in music and to build your brain power too!

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Adoption At School: When Your Older Adopted Child Begins Public School

by bosssanders on July 20, 2015 with no comments

You are most likely reading this post because you are either a parent of an older-adopted child, a teacher or administrator in the school system, someone who supports an adoptive family and wants to understand, or someone who got lost trying to find my awesome recipes.  If you are the latter, I’m sorry (check the links on the side).  :)  But, no matter how you got here…THANK YOU.  THANK YOU for stepping up and out and being WILLING to learn more about these beautiful children.

As July slowly slips away, I know for many of us (parents of older-adopted children), anxiety sets in.  Depending on the school system and the individual teachers, our year is about to be a breeze…or, hell.  And, we’re sitting here wondering which it will be.  I pray that this post will be an encouragement to both school officials and parents.  I pray that it will be both informative and empowering.

School can be HARD when you bring home an older child from a foreign country.

Everything you THOUGHT you knew, can (and should) be thrown out the window.

When we brought Z home, I knew I was in over my head (even though we were a homeschooling family).  Where do you start with a kiddo who you lost out on so many years?  And, then there were the speech and language and other therapies I didn’t know if he needed.  And, honestly?  I was overwhelmed.  I was afraid to FAIL.  But, for almost 2 years, I did it anyhow because I felt it was what he needed in that period of time (we still stand by that).  We have a list of reasons why we think public school would be better suited for Z at this particular time, but it’s probably not what you might think.  When we’ve told others, they automatically assumed it was because 1) he wasn’t learning at home (we have psychological evaluations to prove otherwise) and 2) for socialization.  Some days I think folks forget that we don’t have ONE child and live on a secluded homestead.  What we DO think will help are VERY structured schedules, someone other than mom teaching him, ability to easily integrate any needed therapies as needed, and the ability to ONLY focus on bonding with my son.  He has worked his tail off (and so have I) in the past 18 months.  He jumped through 4 grade levels in less than 18 months…which is HUGE.  So, now, I’m passing the baton.  And, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious at all.

When our older adopted children first come, they often do not know the English language.  Sometimes, they’ve never even had a school experience at all… so what do you do?

This was one of our first questions.  And, even as veteran homeschoolers, we felt overwhelmed and ill-equipped.  Search as I might, I couldn’t find ANYONE who had really forged a path for us to just follow behind.  The little research we found suggested two main things:  Have your child FULLY tested (full psycho-educational testing) and/or homeschool for 6 months or more before transitioning them to mainstream school.  While part of the reason for homeschooling is to help acclimate your child to their new home, family, language, and culture, I also believe the other huge reason was quite simply…schools often don’t know what to do with our children (keep reading, I’ll explain).

Once we arrived home, we had floods of physical tests and specialists to go see, as well as appointments to make sure all of our paperwork was good to go. –Not to mention, the first month of craziness as we all figured out what this new family dynamic would look like.  When we finally poked our heads up for air 3 weeks later, our son was already beginning to lose his language…meaning, even if we could FIND an Amharic translator…he was entering a period where he would be “without a language” for a bit, making testing IMPOSSIBLE.  Also, the language he spoke wasn’t Amharic, but bits and pieces of Amharic and other tribal languages that he had picked up.  Think, slang.

I sincerely wish we had better systems in place within our schools (not everyone can stay home and homeschool!), where we had relevant and updated research that guided how we transition older adopted children into our academics.

Boris Gindis, Ph.D states (source):

“…Early, well-planned, systematic and intensive cognitive and language remediation is a necessity for the majority of international adoptees who will start formal schooling immediately after the adoption. An overall functional model of such remediation should include four steps:

  • Accurate initial evaluation of educational needs.
  • Proper placement according to actual readiness.
  • Supportive and remedial services at school.
  • Remediation via specialized methodologies, if needed.

Unfortunately, this proven model typically encounters major roadblocks at schools due to persistent misconceptions among school personnel and administration regarding international adoptees, such as:

  • Internationally adopted children are similar to children from recently immigrated families and therefore should be educated the same way: placed academically according to their chronological age and taught English as Second Language the same way. The parents would be generally advised to “wait and see” how their children adjust to the new social/cultural environment.
  • No testing should be done before the children learn English.
  • Difficulties, both academic and behavioral, are solely due to the children’s institutional background; thus, loving families, good nutrition, and consistent schooling are all these children need for recovery.
  • International adoptees may not be eligible for special education services because of the language and cultural issues involved.

All these assumptions are damaging for internationally adopted post-institutionalized children, depriving them of needed help and support in education.”

Being Prepared…

I don’t think a person can be adequately prepared for this journey.  It’s one of those where you get thrown out of the cart and are scrambling, trying to move your feet as quickly as possible to minimize impact upon hitting the ground at break-neck speed while simultaneously, trying to keep your gait and not get even more behind when you’ve missed out on so much (and, the world slows down for NO ONE).

However, we need to research and educate ourselves as much as possible.  Parents are often more educated on education when it comes to their older adopted child simply because they have spent months (years) anticipating, researching, and being trained.  However, with the willingness and research of our school systems (or some really amazing individual teachers), this could all change…

What You Need To Know:

First, older adopted children are NOT the same as a child in an immigrant family.  And thus,  teaching and handling behaviors in the same manner will NOT be effective.  Older adopted children are NOT in their original families, speaking a common language.  Second, older adopted children likely have encountered much trauma which impacts the brain in significant ways.  Comparing an older-adopted child to a child who had been through major neglect/abuse in foster care would be getting a little warmer, but still incorrect, as older adoptees have not had the “base” of American culture and education built since they were infants.

Second. Parents and teachers, alike, must understand the effects of such things such as Post -Traumatic Stress Disorder and Post- Institutionalized Behavior in children AND understand and be able to successfully implement coping strategies both at home and in the classroom.  Parents and teachers will need to forge a relationship built on teamwork.  Teachers must also understand that what LOOKS like “normal behavior” in an non-adoptive child does NOT necessarily mean normal or healthy for an older adoptee.

Some common behaviors seen with Post-Institutionalized behavior are (source):

- Poor self-regulation – difficulties with sustaining goal-directed behavior, emotional volatility, reluctance/unwillingness, difficulty with delaying gratification.
- Mixed maturity-a child may seem advanced for their age in some areas and delayed in others.
- Self-parenting – taking “justice” into their own hands, bossing around siblings/parents, constantly attempting tasks beyond their age level and ability.
- Learned helplessness – this seems to be the opposite of self-parenting, but both can be found in the same child.  A child may act helpless in order to get attention (for example, with schoolwork because they want someone to sit with them)
- Controlling and/or avoiding behavior
- Self-soothing and self-stimulated behavior
- Hyper vigilance and “pro-active” aggressiveness
- Feeling of entitlement
- Extreme attention seeking
- Indiscriminate friendliness with strangers – I know we all love hugs, but many adopted children will show indiscriminate friendliness with ANYONE and EVERYONE.  This is NOT healthy for our children and should NOT be encouraged.  It has nothing to do with feelings of love or affection.

While the above behaviors may SEEM like “normal kid stuff” – let me tell you that the behavior itself may seem benign, but what is underneath it is NOT.  Please understand that if you encounter this in the classroom…we (parents) NEED to know.  It means there are things going on in our kiddos that we need to make sure we pay very close attention to (in many areas).  Please understand that when we try to explain that our child has some special struggles that we are not MEAN nor do we HATE our children.  We are wanting you to WATCH for these things so that you know how to handle them in a way that will prove beneficial for our child and their emotional well-being (which often does not look like conventional ways of dealing with things.)

Third.  Please use positive adoption references.  Here’s a list to help (as many of these never occurred to me before we began this journey.) (source):

Instead of….   Try this…

Real parents… birth (or biological) parents
Give up… terminate parental rights
Give away… make an adoption plan
to keep… to parent

Also, our children ARE American (or whatever country they are a current citizen of).

* For a complete list, check out the source above, as well as here and here.

Fourth. Please use alternatives to the following assignments.  –They cause much stress in families like ours.

- bring a “baby” picture assignments
- family tree assignments
- family history assignments
- genetic history assignments
- cultural or ethnic heritage assignments
- create a timeline of student’s life

Instead, here is a link with some alternatives.  Also, books and learning about great people who were also adopted can help adoptees feel more accepted and develop a positive self-awareness.

Fifth.  Please seek to understand our children.  Books like The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis will give you great insight into our children’s minds and some great tools to handle things.  Also, please understand that while most of us own Karyn Purvis’ books, sometimes even her methods don’t work for us.  Please just talk with us to see what we’ve found works with our kids.  And, please NEVER try to tell us how to raise our children better by one article you read online or something from a book (even if we gave you said book).  The truth is, we have tried most of it.  We know our kids extremely well, better than anyone else.  We see the hardest parts, because they feel free to be themselves with us.  Which is both good…and hard.

Sixth. Sometimes we see a different side of our child than you do.  Actually…this is pretty true most of the time.  My child will act golden for most people.  This is also post-institutionalized behavior.  (See the links above.)  Please don’t accuse us of making things up.  Please understand this is part of it.  Sometimes we get tired.  Sometimes we may seem like we are rough, tough, and jaded.  Maybe we are, sometimes.  But, we love our kids.  And, we need others who listen, believe us, work hard with us, and love our children WITH us and are willing to FIGHT for our children.  (And if you are a parent and have these types of educators in your life, VALUE them more than gold.  Bring them lots of chocolate and CHERISH THEM.)

Preparing For Back To School

I asked Chris Troutt, LMFT,  Executive Director and Therapist at the Papillion Center for FASD (Gallatin, TN) for her top 5 recommendations for parents of older adoptees beginning school.

1.  Begin getting into “school” routine 1-2 weeks prior to school starting. Go to bed like you would for school instead of summer, get up the same.

2.  Block off 2-3 hours during the day where “school related” activities such as worksheets (easily found on the internet), reading books, etc, become a part of their daily routine again. This helps to get their minds back into “learning” mode, instead of vacation mode.

3.  Pay attention to sensory overload when they come home from starting school. Most of our kids do their very best to “hold it together” during the school day, but fall apart when they get home. Make sure that they receive nutrition/hydration when they arrive home and allow them to “rest” for a short period before expecting anything else of them.

4.  If at all possible, request “no homework”.    Again, our children struggle with overload much of the time.  Homework is counterproductive for them.

5.  Lastly, encourage your child to begin some mindfulness exercises as a preventative method to becoming overwhelmed (most parents need to do this as well).   Simply stopping every two hours, taking time to take deep breaths, feeling where their feet are planted and calming their brain can help ward off meltdowns.   I also encourage nutrition and hydration every two hours to keep their brain in the most optimal place possible.

Some More Resources

Cognitive, Language, and Educational Issues of Children Adopted from Overseas Orphanages (a peer-reviewed publication)

Adoption In The Schools: A Lot To Learn

Supporting Adopted Children In School

Children of Trauma: What Educators Need To Know

In The Classroom…helping foster or late-adopted children succeed

Adoption Basics For Educators: How Adoption Impacts Children And How Educators Can Help

Papillion Center for FASD in Gallatin, TN - “Bringing Hope & Healing to Children and Families in Hard Places” and specializing in Attachment Disorders, Trauma and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.


Adoption At Home: Attachment And Bonding In Families

by bosssanders on July 16, 2015 with no comments

Whether a child comes into a family in infancy or as an older child, the journey of attachment and bonding can be a long and arduous road.

The Difference Between Attachment And Bonding

While attachment and bonding are often used interchangeably, they actually ARE NOT the same.

If you need a quick refresher of the difference between the two, consider this (it’s one of the simplest ways I’ve seen it put):

BOTH refer to the feelings and emotions you and child feel toward each other.

Bonding refers to the surge of love and tenderness YOU feel toward said child.

Attachment is about a relationship built over time between you and child that leaves your child feeling secure, loved, and ready to face the world.

Attachment and bonding are BOTH disrupted in adoption (or foster care) scenarios.  There is much loss that precedes both scenarios.  Children who have endured maltreatment, neglect, and/or abuse often struggle with basic family and life concepts.


Often, children with attachment issues struggle with (and, this is the short, abbreviated list ;) ):

- The need to know you will always be there. At some point, someone they loved in a parenting role either badly hurt them or left them (or both).  Some children will cry just to be comforted.  Others will run away, hoping you will chase them and bring them back.  Others will refuse to get close to you because they do not believe you will always be there and if they remain distant, they feel they can’t be hurt again.
Trust that their basic needs will always be met. Many children from hard places steal and hoard food.  Even babies will sometimes “overeat” because their brains have been rewired to say “this may be it for a long time.”
The need for control over SOMETHING in their life. In toddlers, this can be hard to tell if it’s adoption related or just toddler years, but either way, you can approach it much the same.  In toddler years, their brains can feel some very COMPLEX emotions and yet, the language and knowledge of how to express it isn’t quite there.  This is a very frustrating time for them (and us) in development in general.  Add in some pretty intense feelings of loss of sadness and anger…and you quite possibly have your hands full.  With toddlers and older children, they may avoid eye contact, test boundaries, lie, pretend to not hear you, do the exact opposite of what you say, etc to try to control their little piece of the world.  This is a battle of control, but also a test to see if you will stay with them.
The need for validation. Some children internalize their hurt and develop some very unhealthy belief systems about themselves like “I’m unwanted,” “I’m disposable,” I’m bad,” etc.  They feel like they did something wrong or weren’t enough and therefore DESERVED the treatment they received.   If these are their core beliefs, they will often try to live up to them.
Understanding what family is and what family is not. We have experienced this a lot with our older son who we adopted as an older child from Africa.  Mostly growing up in orphanages, he knew the culture of an orphanage but had never had a mommy to tuck him in at night.  Or parents who set boundaries and kept them.  He didn’t know what it meant to respect, feel sympathy, and show affection.  These were all so foreign to him.  In his world, lying, stealing, and manipulation was how the game was played.  Switching to American society and family life with our rules and expectations was a HUGE change over from orphanage life where boys ran mostly unsupervised with little consequence.
- Seeking attention in a positive way. If you are a child from hard places, often ANY attention is craved.  –Even if it’s attention where you are angry because the 9 year old who should know better just drew you some pictures…with sharpie… on the couch…and walls…  Some kids will also use their bowel movements to gain attention (although this can also be a sign of them not feeling safe or sexual abuse or other physical issues.)  Also, many children from hard-places show indiscriminate affection to strangers.
- Misinterpreting non-verbal cues and phrases. Sometimes a child who does not have a good “attachment base” with you will automatically filter non-verbal cues and phrases with a negative lens (often due to their thoughts about their self and belief system).
-Ability to regulate emotions like anxiety, anger, sadness, etc.
-A lower emotional and social age than their physical age. Great trauma can often “stunt” our growth in areas, leaving us behind emotionally and socially.  I remember when our son first came home, we were really surprised that our 7 year old boy connected best with 3 year olds socially and emotionally, he seemed between 1-2 years old.   I don’t often quote Karyn Purvis, but I do like what she said about emotional age.  She said,

” It’s not uncommon to find within a single harmed youngster:
the trust and bonding needs of an infant
the independence needs of a two-year old
the shame issues of a three-year old
the concrete thinking of a four-year old
the reasoning skills of a five-year old
the street smarts of  sixteen-year old
…all wrapped in the body of an eight-year old.”

(If you’ve not read The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis, I do recommend you read it to at least get an insight inside a child from a hard place’s brain.  She has some pretty good nuggets of wisdom to offer.)

Ways To Help Your Child Develop A Secure Attachment

(Please note that while these things have been helpful to us and others, it is a LONG and arduous road.  So, take care of yourself, friend, and also give yourself grace as you go along.)

= One of the top things you will likely hear over and over is: Make their world small. We call it cocooning, oftentimes, in the adoption world.  It’s one of those things you need to not overlook!  Just trust me on this one!  And, another thing… this isn’t an exact science and every child is different.  And, honestly, they can go through things in stages…they may be experiencing trouble in one are one month and something else the next.  They may be doing awesome with boundaries and then two months later, you’re like WHAT JUST HAPPENED?  One of the things we asked when we first brought Z home was, “How long?”  And, there really isn’t a timeline.  You just do it.  You do it until you think maybe they are ready and you gradually invite someone into their tiny world… and if it works… do it again the next week.  If it doesn’t… close your circle again and go slower.  DO NOT RUSH THIS STAGE.  If your children are still indiscriminate with their love for strangers, you may want to consider making their world a little smaller.  (And yes, we are FULLY aware of how HARD this is when you have a marriage you want to nurture AWAY and you have lots of family who doesn’t understand why you aren’t at family functions and you have friends you NEED to see and the other kids have STUFF TO DO!)  Be creative :)  My husband and I would often switch duties.  When we first began going back to church after months of being home, he couldn’t handle interacting with people…so, he sat right there with us.  The whole time.  We held his hand (he was too big for me to carry or else I would’ve).  We asked people to not pat him or hug him or cuddle him (as irresistibly cute as he is).  Just high-fives or shake his hand.  It took him almost 2 full years before he finally trusted us that THIS was his family.  Forever.  He didn’t need to scope out other families and win them over just in case.
- Routine. Kids from hard places THRIVE in routine.  We are a homeschooling family generally, but our son needs routine so much, that we are opting to try out public school this year (keep in mind he’s been home for almost 2 years).  Make them a picture chart that shows them when they eat, when they sleep, when they play, etc.  There are lots of fun activity charts online and some fun ones you can customize and DIY, too.  Then, follow through.  In time, they will come to trust it.  (Also, warning before changing activities can also help … In 10 minutes, we are goint to bed…in 5 min, we are going to bed…Okay, time for bed.)
- Give them SOMETHING to control…but, don’t let them control you. If you said bedtime is at 8, bed time is at 8.  Be consistent.  However, do give them some choices… do you want to wear the red shoes or green shoes?  Would you like an apple or an orange?  (Or, if they can handle it, maybe even a basket of breakfast options that they can choose from.  –However, if this one goes awry, you may want to simplify the options to only 2.)
- Validate them. If they have negative self-beliefs, it’s important you zone in on those and help them readjust those beliefs.  It will take a LOT of work and time.  Some ideas are: Consistently tell them positive things about themselves.  Reframe their past circumstances… Your birth mom was scared and THAT is why xyz happened or… SHE made choices because SHE didn’t have resources or whatever.  NOT because your child was “bad.”  We have even given our child an outside story to help show this (when the storyline doesn’t involve them, they can sometimes see it more clearly and can talk through it…then relate it to them).  We also do individual date nights with our children, write good qualities on each of their fingers, and go around the table with each person saying something positive about each person.  They all LOVE this!  Also, compliment them to someone in public if they are old enough to understand.
- Teach them what family is.  And, what it’s not. If your child is a baby, this will be an ACTION sort of thing.  Showing up and providing for his/her needs.  For toddlers and older kids, constantly repeating things like “Family loves each other.  We are kind to each other.  Family needs to be able to trust each other.  Family is FOREVER.  Even when we are mad at each other.”  With our older son, we have had many talks about what happens in a family when trust is destroyed.  We have also employed some tomato-stake parenting (keeping the child close at ALL times…if you are in the living room doing laundry, they must be in there doing whatever…even when the other kids go off to play.  The idea is that until I can trust you to do what you are supposed to do, I need to help you make good choices.)
- Teach appropriate behaviors. We ingrain appropriate behaviors from BIRTH!  Instead of just saying “don’t hit your sister”, we try to figure out the WHY and then address ways to better deal with it next time.  Maybe he hit his sister because he wanted the toy and she said no.  So, we would walk through how to deal when we feel angry and we want something and if we feel like we may hit again, to come get mom or dad, and we will help them navigate that.
- Be clear in your cues and what you say.
- Pay close attention to your child’s emotional and social age and then, meet them there.
One of the things we did when our son first came home was make a list of normal things families do at different stages in a babies life.  There are different stages where we cuddle a baby to feed it with lots of eye contact and rocking, singing them to sleep.  They need to be held a LOT.  There are stages that come later where a child can sit to eat, but you are still handing them the food and sometimes putting it in their mouth.  They become more independent, but you still keep a very close eye on them.  They are not ready to play independent from you, just yet.  They still must learn the do’s and don’ts.  Once they hit 3, they gain a little more independence.  They can do things for themselves but still need a lot of validation and cuddling, etc.  They still need some supervision, etc.  —-Now, while I do believe there is some truth to this, please know we aren’t ones to bottle feed an older kid.  We did begin rocking him more in that time, though.  Who doesn’t like to be rocked?  I tried feeding him and that was weird for us… but, hey.  Try it.  It may work for you!

Ways To Build Attachment As a Family

- Laugh together.  Be silly. It sounds simplistic, but it really works.  It’s a way to bond deeply with each other.  Learn some new jokes or riddles and practice telling them to each other.  For babies and toddlers, you can make funny faces and sounds or tickle them.  Take photo booth style photos while acting goofy!  Play games that require you to make a fool out of yourself.  Tickle wars!
- Touch. Holding, cuddling, massage, etc.  Rub lotion on each other’s arms/hands, etc.  Rocking.  Baby-wearing if baby/toddler age.  Let your children use you as a jungle gym, climbing, crawling, swinging, etc.
- Help child feel like an integral part of the family. Our son, Z, actually asked for chores when he got acclimated a little because he wanted to be like the rest of us.  It helped him feel like he belonged and had purpose.  Beginning at 3, we give our children little “chores” or tasks to do.  As they grow older, these are more structured.  He also identified with his “place” in the family (older brother) and has taken great pride in helping with the younger children.  (Little brothers and sisters can also feel important in the family by making a big deal over their part in the family, too.  Little brothers and sisters in our family have special privileges, too!)
- Do special things together and  TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS! There’s nothing like going through an adventure together, and having photographs to remind us of those bonding experiences.  Also, when you take photographs of you and your adopted child (and them with their siblings), it helps to reinforce bonding and attachment, further making them feel like they belong.
– Focus on the most important 8 minutes of the day. The first 4 and last 4.  Focus on making sure these 8 minutes are positive and used to validate.
- Let your children choose something to teach the rest of the family. Even young toddlers can “teach” us how to build a tower of blocks or how to sing a song or dance a dance they’ve made up.  Older kids could read up on a fun skill (or watch youtube kids videos to learn) and then teach it.  The possibilities are endless!  And, it leaves them feeling important and validated and special!
- Exercise together. Cardio and yoga have both been proven to help regulate our children (and us!)   This is a two-fer!  It helps regulate AND creates a memory of something done together.  Learn some simple calming yoga poses or go jump on a trampoline together.  Other ideas: playing tag, hopping around like frogs, jumping rope, swimming together, etc.
- Do projects together. The sense of accomplishment and togetherness that comes from completing a project together is huge!  Complete a puzzle, clean the house (scrubbing floors!), color, plant flowers/garden (let them dig!), moving big and small rocks,  building something, etc.
– Display photographs of your adopted child and you, and another with them and their siblings in a PROMINENT place in your home.
-  Play games together…the funnier, the better!  Games where you have to act things out, guess things, draw and guess, etc are always a hit!  Choose games that focus more on fun than winning.
- Be sensitive to over-stimulation in your child. Some children need a space of their own to calm down, while others simply need to run or jump on a mini-trampoline.  Provide sensory activities in a box or a little tent in a corner that they can access as needed.  Pinterest has lots of ideas, but a weighted blanket, stuffed animal with a calming scent (lavender or Gentle baby by Young Living), headphones to cancel noise, exercise ball to balance on, stress ball, bubble wrap (if old enough to not swallow), discovery bottles.

**Please know, this is NOT an exhaustive list.  More like, just the beginning of a conversation about a journey :)  Not all of these will work for every kid and sometimes you will be required to change up your game plan in stages (it may work a while and then stop!)  Also, I’m not a doctor of anything.  I’m just a mom.  I’ve walked the road of both adoption and foster-care and parenting, in general.

Another NOTE:  I see a HUGE difference in ALL of my children if they do not have good, nutritional meals.  I’ve noticed that lots of artificial flavorings and dyes and sugar do not react nicely with my children.  They also have a huge need for exercising (which I wish I was as passionate about in my own body!).

And, Lastly…For You…

- Join a support group. You need people who “get you.”  I’m a part of both internet support groups (several) AND local.  They both have their positives.  I LOVE having a local group that comes together and supports one another in a very real way.  And, when things get too hard, we switch up kids with each other.  Not to mention, they get it.  And, no judgement.
- Take time away. Do it.  Go away for a weekend.  Go with the girls, spouse, by yourself…whatever.  Just do it.  It’s necessary to recharge to be a good parent.
-  Eat well.  Get enough sleep.  Drink enough water.  Move your body. Take care of your health.  You can’t run this race on fumes.
- Write out a thankful list. And, read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts if you haven’t already.  Seriously.  Review said list often.
- Ground yourself in God’s Word DAILY. Preferably before your feet even hit the ground in the morning.  My 3 year old is more accurate than an alarm clock at daybreak each day, so I rarely beat him up.  For this stage of my life, it’s not feasible for me to do a Bible study in the mornings.  So, I picked up a short devotional (Right now, I love Jesus Calling.  It’s simple and gives me a nugget that I meditate on throughout the day.  You can also go through Proverbs, one a day and choose a verse or two that really speaks to you to meditate on throughout the day.)  Then, at nap time, I TRY to study the bible for an hour or more.  It grounds me and makes me feel more peaceful and gives me strength to keep going.
- Start a journal and write down every. little. bit. of progress your child makes.  Every tiny bit.  And, when you feel like NOTHING is changing, look back at just how much HAS changed.
- Take time to nourish your marriage. It’s important.  Don’t put each other on the backburner.  Instead, remember to focus on your marriage and you will both be invaluable support and a safe haven for one another.
- Remember to laugh…and buy some wine…and laugh some more. For real.  I didn’t even like wine 2 years ago.


Mid-July Updates

by bosssanders on July 15, 2015 with no comments

Outside my window…
It’s STEAMY hot with ninja mosquitoes.

Going outside equals 39,934,387 mosquito bites.  SERIOUSLY?!

Thank goodness for this mosquito soap (more about it at the bottom of the post)!

I am thinking…

I never updated about my weightloss/health journey!  ACK!

Several months ago, I began a journey to better health. I was at one of the lowest points of my health and I had become uncomfortable in my own skin. Daily nausea, bleeding for 45 days straight, light-headed, and extreme fatigue… It’s hard to be the mom you want to be when you struggle to just get out of bed. After a lot of research,I jumped into a nutritional journey. Within 2 weeks, I could both feel AND see a difference. Inches melted off, I gained energy, my hormones became balanced, and I began to look and feel like the old me. I lost 15 lbs in 30 days and took my life back. I’m B-A-C-K y’all. And better than ever!!

I am thankful…

71.  For fresh summer bounty – peaches and strawberries
72.  Summer days with rainbow chalk, sprinklers, sand, grill-outs and water
73.   Peach milkshakes
74.  Lunch with my mama
75.   Little girls, spinning and swaying in glittered gowns

In the kitchen

We’ve been trying some new recipes, and this is a new favorite!!
Chicken Broccoli Cheese Casserole

5 frozen chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
4-5 cups broccoli florets
2 cans cream of chicken soup
8 oz cream cheese, cut into blocks
3 cups shredded cheese
corn flakes to cover
4 T butter, melted

Heat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.  Mix all but last 2 ingredients.  Spread out in 9×13 dish.   Cover in crushed cornflakes and drizzle melted butter.  Cook in oven for 30-35 minutes, or until heated through.

Serve over rice!

…there was also this yumminess…

Warm brownie topped with fudge sauce, fresh strawberries, and whipped cream!

Easy Fudge Sauce:

1/2 c sugar
2 T cocoa
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2-2 T butter
1/4 c water (more or less just to make a stir-able consistency)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Combine first 3 ingredients in saucepan.  Add enough water to make a stir-able consistency.  Add butter to mixture.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Let boil for one minute (still stirring!).  Remove from heat.  Add vanilla extract.  Enjoy!!

I am reading…

Teacher’s Manuals!

Favorite Things…

Our family recently discovered a new business called Southern Suds.

And, I want ALL. THE. THINGS.!!!

We recently discovered MOSQUITO SOAP!!

This soap is ah-mazing!  Simply rub it on your skin (no shower needed) to keep those annoying buggers away!!  We cut ours up and each kid gets a cube of soap to apply.  This has become one of our summer essentials!  Great for the ballpark, camping, or…just playing in the yard!  At only $7, it’s a bargain that you can’t miss!!



Parenting: Swimming Upstream In Mainstream America

by bosssanders on July 13, 2015 with no comments

It seems like once we become mothers, every decision we make somehow becomes open for public discussion and opinion.

And, much of the time, I feel like our family is swimming upstream, against the current of mainstream America.

Truth is…I’m okay with that.

But, I haven’t always been.  There was a time when someone would call into question my morals, ethics, and parenting and it would wound deep.  It was a lonely place to be – knowing that you have been called to a certain road, but feeling like you are the only person you know walking it.  Now, I know better and I’ve found community in people who believe similarly.

So, when I’m called “strict” because I set boundaries and am consistent, I know they are wrong.  When I say “no” because sometimes it needs to be said and am called a “mean mommy” by an adult, I know that it isn’t true.

The truth is… I get my parenting instructions from the Bible and not mainstream America.

And, sometimes… that looks like saying “no.”  Sometimes it looks like boundaries and it always looks like consistency.  But, boundaries aren’t made to deprive our children, but to protect them…just like God does for us.

But, we live in a culture that tells us our children should be our “number 1 priority.”  We live in a culture that advertises to children in the media because parents have become so used to getting most of what their children want, when they want it.  We live in a culture that suggests we put our children’s wants over our spouse’s wants.  We live in a culture that has forgotten to say “NO.”  A generation is being raised with a sense of entitlement, that what they want will be handed to them when they want it, and an expectation of being entertained and little to no consequences.

And, anything that doesn’t look like THAT, gets dubbed as STRICT or MEAN or BAD PARENTING.

I may shatter some grand delusions of what our family looks like, here.  But, our kids don’t get everything they want (or when they want it).  Heck, neither do I.  Our kids experience consequences when they make bad choices…just like you and I.  We set boundaries to protect our children, which means that sometimes, they don’t get to do things they want to do and I really could care less what their friends may be doing.  Sometimes, we have to make hard choices to discipline for things that hurt our hearts (because really, it would be more fun to eat ice cream and snuggle) because it’s what is best for our children in the long-term.  And, we TRY SO HARD.  We aren’t perfect, and we mess up a lot.  But, we also encourage our kids.  We love big and we cuddle and snuggle and laugh together.  We play together.  Occasionally, we’ll have ice cream for breakfast…because we can.  Sometimes, we dance in the rain or have a dance-off in the living room.

And, as I watch my children grow, I see this spark of something.  –This something that gives me this glimmer of hope and peace that we are doing just fine.  Not perfect, but we aren’t wrecking it, either.  These little imperfect (like you and me) people are slowly becoming young people who CARE about others, who would give their own shirt and shoes to help someone else, who pray for others on their own, who are polite and patient and respectful, and children who can recognize when they’ve done something wrong and ask for forgiveness.  They are gracious, loving, and relatively well-mannered (mostly).  And, we ENJOY being around each other.

10 Ideas For Parenting “Upstream”:

Protect your family’s time.  There’s this natural tendency in just about all of us to “give” our kids everything we can think of to make them more successful and well-rounded.  We want them in art classes, music classes, sports, dance, karate, and special academic clubs to give them that “edge.”  But, they don’t need it all.  They really don’t.   And, when you’re running around crazy from one practice to the next…or 20 birthdays in one month…things get a little crazy.  And, before you know it, you aren’t spending time together as a family.  You aren’t connecting as a family, growing as a family, and making memories as a family.

Limit screen time.  I don’t just mean limit the kids’ tv and ipad time…but, I mean yours, too when you are together.  I mean put the cell phones up and let the texts and emails wait for tomorrow (if you stay at home, set a couple of specific time ranges to use those).  If we “protect our time” just to let screens steal our attention, what good have we done?

Say “no” when “no” needs to be said.  I know sometimes “yes” is easier (short term, at least), but boundaries and “no” can be healthy for a child when used correctly.   You are doing a GREAT parent for protecting your children and helping them grow in character.

Give them chores.  I remember the look on a friend’s face when I explained that my 8 year olds’ chore included washing dishes.  Astonishment quickly turned to judgment.  What kind of mother makes her kids work?  Well, the kind that wants my children to value hard work and feel a sense of accomplishment and pride…and to feel like they are a very integral and needed part of this family.  My kids will actually ASK for chores to do (and most of them are unpaid chores…just part of being a family).

Figure out your children’s needs vs. wants.  I remember thinking as a new mom that my kids NEEDED xyz.  It took a little while (and the loss of a job) to really shift our perspective on what we ALL need vs what we sometimes want but whitewash as a “need.”  Your 7 year old doesn’t NEED a phone or to be in 3 extracurricular activities.  Your 8 year old doesn’t NEED that new glitter-rocked shirt that costs $30, as cute as it may be.  Maybe even sit down as a family and start a conversation about what we NEED to survive and be healthy (emotionally and physically and spiritually).

Lead.  Be the parent.  Be consistent.  Even when you don’t wanna, even when you’re tired.  Lead by example.  Show them what biblical women and men look like in ACTION.  Show them what marriage should look like.  You are your child’s biggest teacher…they are watching every single move.  Spend money wisely and invest time where it matters.  They will learn more from what you do than from what you say.

Teach them.  Instead of just saying, “no” or “don’t do this,” explore with your children some alternatives of what TO DO when they find themselves in that situation, again.  Or, finding alternatives to entertain themselves or alternative ways to earn something they REALLY want.  And, when they make mistakes?  Don’t automatically fix it.  Sometimes, some of the best lessons are the ones we learn by natural consequences.

Say “I’m sorry.”  You will mess up.  Again and again.  I promise.  Be willing to apologize.  You are teaching them humility and forgiveness.

Encourage them.  Affirm them.  Tell them (honestly) things you are proud of them for and list out giftings you notice in them.  We have these things we do…one, at the dinner table where everyone goes around the table and names something about the person next to them that is positive and two, where I’ll write on each of their fingers something special and great about them.  They LOVE it.  Expect more from your children than society does.  That doesn’t mean expectations that are too high…because that’s guaranteed failure.  But, expect more.  It’s nice being believed in…and as they say, we meet the expectations made of us…good or bad.

LOVE BIG.  Love well.  Snuggle, cuddle, dance in the rain, and sometimes… eat ice cream for breakfast.  Serve others as a family.  Encourage others as a family…and encourage each other IN your family.


Trying to Conceive (TTC) MASHUP

by bosssanders on July 11, 2015 with no comments

After a year of trying for a baby early in our marriage, we were told that there was a pretty big possibility we may never get pregnant and should look at all of our options.  Granted, this was also about 9 years ago.  We tried Clomid, and NOTHING.  So, we set out to figure out the WHYs of infertility and if there were any “less-than-conventional” ways to conceive.

In the past  9 years, I have learned so much…and, we now have 3 beautiful biological children and soon to be 2 precious adopted children.  I’ve met so many women who are starting the long trek of infertility and it can be a very lonely place.  So, I wanted to write about some of the resources I found to be helpful.  *** Please note, I am NOT a doctor or fertility specialist.  You should research for yourself and none of my posts are meant as medical advice.  Consult your own doctors.  :)

FIRST UP… read this book:

This book will tell you the ins and outs of what it takes to get pregnant.  Also, it shows you how to chart, which is very important (that app on your phone?  Not so much).  She is THOROUGH.  She also walks you through different things that could be harming your fertility and his sperm count without even knowing it.  This book is SO HELPFUL!

check your DIET.
I know, I know.  You really like your cupcakes and fried goodies… but, it could really be messing you up.  Infertility can sometimes happen just because our body is out of whack.  Sometimes, doctors have a hard time of figuring out WHY your body is out of whack or WHAT exactly is out of whack.  For example, I recently found out by accident that soy and splenda are NOT great for my hormones.  I may or may not be more sensitive than others, but soy and splenda and other artificial sweeteners have shown to not support fertility, in general.  So, what IS a good diet?  GAPS diet, if you’ve tried for several years and have been unsuccessful.  Or, you could try Paleo (which is less restrictive, but also has less healing power).  There is also a PCOS diet if you have been diagnosed as PCOS.

If the issue is anovulation (not ovulating), VITEX (aka chaste tree berry) helped ME.  (click on photo for link)

If it’s a sperm mobility issue or possibly your cervical mucus (which you’ll learn about in the book I recommended above), research Pre-Seed (helps support sperm and mimics women’s natural fertile fluids)

These are great for tracking ovulation (click photos):


I’ve used both.  I like both for different reasons.  If I’m starting out, sometimes opt for the Clearblue.  They tell you without a doubt when your peak days are.  Easy-peasy.  They run about 30-45 dollars for 20 tests, which makes the Wondfo strips (at $33.59 for 100 ovulation tests and 20 pregnancy tests…which could last 5+ months!) a more ECONOMICAL version.  Both are pretty easy.  One just uses lines.  And, unlike the pregnancy tests, ovulation test lines don’t mean you are ovulating.  You are looking for lines just as dark as the test line.  Before you buy, I do recommend you doing a google search and seeing if you can find these anywhere else for cheaper.



I began using this Magnesium Lotion (just a tiny bit will do…think, dime size) to help support my progesterone levels and in hopes it would help my EXTREME nausea (hyperemesis gravidarum) I have with pregnancies.  Sometimes, my progesterone levels are low…which can lead to miscarriages.

This VERY specific brand and version of folate has been recommended to me numerous times to help prevent miscarriages.  Nothing is 100%, but having lost 3 babies, it’s worth a try for me!

Let’s be honest, for most of us, we can’t really just phone a friend and talk about CM or the twinge we felt (and what if?!) and all the things that come with this hard wait.  –Which is why TTC can feel SO lonely.  Not to mention, feeling disappointed every time there is not a double line or our cycle goes insane on us.  Check out  They are super nice and have lots of forum boards to browse.  You can even post your tests or charts to have others weigh in and let you know what they think!

Have you heard of this site?  Pretty interesting concept: gender-swaying.  There are several theories and nothing is ever 100% (because you aren’t God), but some of the theories are pretty interesting.   So, if you are really hoping for a baby boy or a girl… you could give it a try…  Just don’t go and decorate the nursery in pink or blue, yet!  (Some people have had a LOT of success with this!)

What are some things that have helped you in your TTC journey?



by bosssanders on July 6, 2015 with 3 comments

These are my FAVORITE resources!  I enjoy many books (MANY), but these are the ones I recommend everyone stocking their shelves with!


52 Fantastic Dates For You And Your Mate by Claudia and David Arp – EXCELLENT book, filled with fun date ideas (many of them can be frugal AND expensive, depending on how you choose to embellish.)


The Legacy Path by Brian Haynes – Create a spiritual legacy path for your children.  Great book with SO many easy-to-implement tips AND it’s easy to read!  This is one of those change-your-life books!

Raising A Modern-Day Princess by Pam Farrel and Doreen Hanna – perfect for parents of girls ages 8-15 (also great to begin reading early!)

Child of Wonder: Nurturing Creative and Naturally Curious Children by Ginger Carlson – You have kids?  Great, you need this book.

Words of Wisdom for Moms by Ginger Plowman – A GREAT flip-book of helpful discipline scripture and techniques

Reaching The Heart Of Your Child (Audio CD) by Ginger Plowman


Life Lines by Dave Meyer (Joyce Meyer’s husband) – Great book if you’re looking for some short devotionals to carry you through your day.  Not too preachy, not super in depth.  Short and sweet and lovely!

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan – If you ever doubt or wonder how much God truly loves you (I mean, truly…), check this one out.  It’s written so its reader doesn’t need a doctorate in theology or english to understand it and enjoy it.

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From The American Dream by David Platt – Super good.  A must read.  –Especially if your name is Joel Osteen.  By the way, prepare to be a little uncomfortable as you read this book…but, it’s worth it!

Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of  a Woman’s Soul by John and Stasi Eldredge – You’ll learn more about yourself than you ever knew in this one.

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp – It’s all about thanksgiving and finding contentment into everyday life.  She doesn’t speak from a perspective of someone who has all of the riches, but of someone easily related to… someone who has had their share of heartache.  And even still, she’s found the secret we’ve all been searching for…

Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend – Teaches you how to create HEALTHY boundaries (and what those specifically look like) in your life.  Whether it’s your gossiping aunt Mable or creepy cousin Beck or manipulative in-law, this book tells you how to create boundaries.  GOOD STUFF.


FAQ – The Homeschooling Edition, PART 2!

by bosssanders on July 6, 2015 with no comments

If you missed PART ONE, you can find it HERE!  Go on over and read the first part and I’ll wait here.

Okay, are you ready?

Here we go!

How do you weed through curriculum to decide?
I weigh several factors when choosing curriculum:

1.  The cost.  Also, what is the value of everything I’m getting?  If it’s a curriculum, is it priced in a way that is cheaper than if I bought it separately, and if the curriculum publisher wrote their own books, are they priced and of the same value as others I can get?  (Some families also choose materials with high re-sell value.  Personally, we don’t re-sell ours just because…I’m a nerd and …yeh.)  I don’t have a “that’s overpriced” amount…I just look at all of the things that are included and decide if I’m willing to/can pay that amount.

2.  Time to plan.  Some curricula require a LOT of planning and gathering.  Others are more pick up and go.  I prefer 80-90% pick up and go and 10-20% planning (in the form of special projects).  HOWEVER, I did more planning when we only had ONE child in school and I may be up for more (or not) when the kids can help a little more.

3.  Time to do.  How long does it take to get through a day’s worth of curriculum?  Again, I have 4 kids.  I can’t do 4 separate 8 hour days.  Mathematically, it just won’t happen.  I need a curriculum that VALUES my time and carefully chooses the BEST resources to help me teach them rather than lots of fluff and time-wasters.

4.  Does it fit in with our family values and beliefs?  We wanted something that would help us teach from a Christian background… THAT was important to us.  Whatever is important to you, make sure your curriculum fits in with that.

5.  Learning Styles – Does your curriculum utilize the learning styles of your children to help them learn?  We try to find curriculum/resources that bring in a little bit of everything.
- Visual (learn with pictures)
- Aural (auditory – learn with sound/music)
- Verbal (words in speech/writing)
- Physical (hands-on)
- Logical (logic/reasoning/systems/mathematical)
- Social (learn better in groups of people, with others)
-Solitary (self-study)

6.  Do you prefer a Charlotte-Mason or Classical approach?

7.  How does this Curriculum fit in with several kids in different grade levels (if applies)?  For example, some curricula are for ONE GRADE…so, trying to take 3+ kids through SEPARATE studies could be a lot.  Or, my favorite is the cyclical approach (like My Father’s World uses).  Go HERE for more info on MFW cycles.

8.  Do you need extra guidance to teach certain subjects…do you need teacher books that will tell you what to say verbatim?  Do you prefer certain subjects to be taught via online or dvd to your children?

9.  Do you want something “accredited?”  –This is not a big deal to us.  In our state, we are considered a private school and even if we choose to homeschool through high school, MANY colleges easily accept homeschooled kids.

10.  Do I have to depend on lots of library books?  Our library doesn’t have what we need by way of learning books MOST OF THE TIME…so, a super cheap curriculum doesn’t do me much good if I can’t get all of the (or most of the) books.  If you have a GREAT library and don’t mind being there a lot, this could be a great asset for you.

How much prep & planning does mom need to do 1) before each school year 2) each week?
Really, it depends on which curriculum you choose.  I’ve tried some where I planned more than I was able to teach (so we decided to only use certain activities to supplement and have fun with).  What we use now is pretty pick up and go.  For ME, the most planning I do before the school year is decide which curriculum I’m using, which major school supplies I need (paper, ink, new scissors, pencil sharpener, binder, etc), and I glance through their books.  I make sure I have everything I need and try to get a bit of a feel for how the books work (we also try to start a couple of weeks early to give us time to learn how it’ll all flow.  This way, we can take one week and do it over 2 weeks and nobody is stressed, and by the end of 2 weeks, we’re ready to ROLL!  Also, I look over the main points of what we’re studying…like, for this year, we are studying biomes and countries/cultures.  SO, I’m on the lookout for cool things related (think: fun things from EPCOT countries and asking friends to bring back a couple of goodies from their travels).  I keep a running list as I think of things.  OH!  Also, I pick a planner.  Which, I have a favorite one, that’s free … so, I’ll use that until she quits offering it FREE!  For each week, I simply look at the materials needed for the week and make sure I have them and sit down at some point to write in grades.  If I want to add any extra things in (hello, Pinterest!), I will plan for that, as well.  Again, though, this is because MFW takes much of the planning and does it for you (but easily modified).

Will you homeschool my kids? No, seriously, that’s the question.  :)
This seriously made me laugh.  Call me.  lol :)

How do I get started?
I’m assuming you’ve already prayed about it and talked to your spouse… so, I’m starting AFTER that:
1.  Look up homeschooling laws in YOUR state.  I like this site:
2.  Find a support group for homeschoolers close to you.  We have a group and they have been awesome at walking us through questions, and it’s GREAT for doing things together as groups!
3.  Consider signing up with HSLDA – they are attorneys who work for homeschoolers and can answer any homeschooling LEGAL questions AND represent you if you ever need it.  They are a WEALTH of information.
4.   Choose your curriculum (see above for my tips for choosing curriculum)

Do you have any extra tips?
- pair older kids with younger kids as “learning buddies.”
- start a week or two early to get your “groove” on without stressing.
- Basics first.  Then, extras.  Do your math, language arts, history and science.  THEN the other stuff.  And, if it’s a really bad day… focus on the math and language arts.
- Don’t do anything for your kids that they can do for themselves.
- Have fun.
- Don’t compare.
- For more than one child, try giving one child an activity/work that they don’t need your help with while you teach the other child (math/language arts), and then vice versa.  It helps a TON in our house.
- Also, we really like  There is a free version PLUS an app (ipad).  It’s GREAT for 2nd/3rd graders and UP.  I plug in my 3rd grader’s spelling list once a week and she plays games all week to learn the words.  Then, at the end of the week, she does a test on the site (or, I give her one, depending on the week).  And, BAM!  Spelling is finished!

Do you have any tips you would give?
Have any questions?
I’d love to hear from you!


Week One, Days 1 and 2 – Goals, Workouts, Health

by bosssanders on February 22, 2015 with no comments

So, here we go.

I’m probably at one of the lowest points (barring first trimester pregnancy) of my health.  For MONTHS – I’ve suffered from weakness, tiredness, nausea, and hormones that shifted so much that for 1 1/2 months, I bled.  That came with it’s own side effects.  After MANY tests, we have an idea of what probably sparked the confusion and chaos in my body.  Turns out, it really does matter what we put into our bodies and how we treat them.

After getting a little of my strength back, I’m ready to move further down the journey to health.  I’m setting small goals.  As I reach each one of them, I will create a momentum and be able to reach larger ones.

My top 3 GOALS for WEEK 1:
1.  Drink 1 GALLON  (16 cups) of water each day.

(I drink 2 of these each day)

2.  Add CLEAN nutrition (soy-free, gmo-free, aspartame-free, whey-free) to my body.  This nutrition right now comes in the form of CLEAN smoothies loaded with healthy things my body needs (my nausea gets in the way of being able to handle much extra at this point.)

3.  Workout each day.  –I’m not worried about for how long at this point…5 or 15 minutes.  The point is that I’m doing it each day.  Each day, pushing myself a little further.  And, something more than a little walking. I need to build up my strength, but pushing too hard too fast will do me no favors if it sets me back on the couch for 2 weeks!

And… to get through the week.   It seems I’ve taken on a cold (the kiddos have it, as well, so I know it’s not just detoxing).
I’m also working on detoxing my brain… writing more and spending more time studying the Bible and meditating in prayer.  Creativity really releases so much for me.


February Mash-Up

by bosssanders on February 19, 2015 with no comments

So, I’ve been reading…

My husband read this book in highschool for a class and insisted that I read it.  I’m not sure how I missed this in school, but I’m glad I was able to read it now!  It’s definitely a good book.  AND… Lois Lowry has books that go with this one…so, we are excited to read those together.  HOORAY!  We are nerds, this I know.

I’m still working on my dear husband to try to get him to read 1985.  By the way, if you’ve not read that one, you should add it to your list, too.  It’s a GREAT read…and a little eerie at how some of the things have gotten pretty close to what was written so long ago!

In Other News

We were part of this mess with

For Valentine’s Day, my sweet husband ordered THIS beautiful bouquet:

Isn’t it pretty?  He spent so much time picking it out.
On Valentine’s day, he paced back and forth to the front door.  They promised to deliver by 7pm and everything seemed well and good.  There had been no communication to say otherwise from OR from a local florist and the money had been taken from his account and the order confirmation said it was due for delivery on time.

Here is what we received:


That’s right.  Nothing.  We figured there MUST have been a mix-up.  Maybe someone wrote down the wrong address or maybe they were lost.  So, we called the company.  After waiting on hold for over an hour, we finally connected with a man named Harold.  (I have good reason to believe that was NOT his actual name, but whatevs.)

“Harold” said that there would be no flowers…ever.  That the local florist had been swamped and refused the order.  He said that they did all they could and the system had notes saying they contacted us and left messages.  We confirmed the number and email they had on file was correct… because there was no such call (missed or otherwise) in our call logs or any missed voice mails or emails.  It was a cop-out on their part.  And, instead of not taking the money for goods they couldn’t deliver… they took the money and didn’t bother to ACTUALLY contact us OR immediately refund the money.  They just kept it.

After about 15 minutes of “Harold” being VERY repetitive and telling me that 1) It wasn’t their fault and 2) there was nothing he could do and 3) repeating my name 5,000 times… I asked for a supervisor.  Multiple times.  I was put on hold for a total of 2 hours and 40-something minutes.  The line was disconnected 3 times.

While on hold, we used twitter and facebook, and while SAID they would get back with us to help us via social media…they did nothing but make it LOOK like they were handling the situation.

We chose to file a report with the Better Business Bureau.

After 2 hours and 40–something minutes, we finally reached  a woman who had blaring noise in the background and could not speak or understand English very well.  We were then forwarded to a manager.  This manager did promise to give us our money back.  She did not offer anything else.  We told her that we were very disappointed in the dismal customer service and quite frankly, it didn’t seem they wanted our future business.  Or, anyone that we knew.  She seemed to think giving our money back was a favor to us, and so we explained that technically, she didn’t have to process a refund, that the credit card company would side with us and that accepting payment and not delivering goods was considered theft.  Fraud.  We explained that we expected more from customer service from a brand we had spent money with in the past, and that as small business owners, we would NEVER treat customers the way they treated us.  We told her what would be expected as the LEAST to gain back trust after such an incidence.

Finally, after what seemed like a LONG conversation (keep in mind I’d been on the phone for almost 3 hours)…she told us that our money would be refunded, we’d get a “make up” bouquet similar to what we ordered, AND a $20 gift certificate.

I wasn’t thrilled, but it was better than nothing, so I said okay and we disconnected.

Several days later, a woman from the “VIP team” called regarding our BBB complaint.  For the first time, I spoke to someone who actually apologized for THEIR mistake.  She also listened and did NOT interrupt…not even once.  I repeatedly let her know that I know this wasn’t HER fault, but that we were very disappointed in 1800flowers.  I explained that the customer service we had encountered thus far had been horrible and that we weren’t sure we’d ever be ordering again…because the truth is this…

We have ordered flowers through them for Birthdays and Congratulatory events.  But, we’ve also ordered flowers to comfort others who have lost children and family members.  It’s one thing to mess up a Valentine’s order… but, it’s another to mess up something so special as a bouquet of flowers that says what words can’t, “I’m so sorry for your loss.  We are here with you.  We remember.  We will walk this with you.”  If you think I’m disappointed and annoyed by this mess up, then wait until you mess THAT up.  There are no re-dos.  We can’t always be where our family and friends are.  So, we send something that we hope can convey the message for us.

We explained that we weren’t sure we could trust them, now.  While we believe in extending GRACE…because EVERYONE messes up at some point.  WE also believe in being able to admit when you are wrong, apologizing, and making things RIGHT…especially when you own a business.   And, their customer support team had a hard time doing that.  WE don’t have 3 hours and several days to “fix” things every time we need flowers or a gift sent.  I’m not being PAID for that time spent.

For the first time, someone from the 1800flowers team agreed with me and seemed genuinely apologetic.  She wasn’t just trying to get me off the phone with a check by my name…she was actually listening.

She agreed that from what I described and what she saw in the system, it had gotten ridiculous.  But, it makes me a little sad because I’ve heard from so many people who experienced what we had and they never got up to “upper level” customer service.  Their money was refunded and there was no real apology or anything else.

After explaining that we would probably never use a $20 gift certificate with a company that so grossly disappointed us…because nothing on their site is $20 and there is NO WAY we’d be spending our own money so soon, she bumped the $20 to $60 so that we could try them again…on their dime.  You see, THAT is how you earn back trust.

She let me know that their “make up” bouquet was on the way.  My husband ordered this (with a balloon) originally

They were unable to replace it because they needed to ship from their facilities…
So, they said they’d send something similar in value and color.
They chose this…

I’m not a fan of all-mauve, BUT it was a nice gesture, nonetheless.  And, they were trying, right?  That matters.  So, I was pretty pleased and was interested in seeing how they handled this order and the next order.

Wednesday, I received this arrangement:

YESTERDAY… and the flowers were half dead.  They went immediately to water, didn’t set on my doorstep (got them right from the UPS drivers’ hands).  See the front flower…totally wilted.  The roses were drooping with petals falling off and brown already on the edges.  Not only were they half-dead, they were not anywhere CLOSE to being the same value.  My husband spent over $80 for flowers and a balloon.  There was no balloon.  He ordered a large bouquet… the one consistent in value is the exact one you see above this photograph.

I called the new VIP number, and again, this lady was VERY nice.  She apologized and wanted to try again.  She said this sometimes happens, but they want to replace it.  Instead of flowers this time, I chose a plant, hoping it would be able to fare a little better.

I should receive it Friday.

I’ll be updating.

Here’s where I’m at so far…

-’s main customer service line is worthless.
- I will only call the VIP desk from now on.
- If they can outdo themselves on the next 2 arrangements, I’d be willing to give them another shot… but probably never again on a major holiday.

- I would really like to see a grand gesture on 1800’s part to make right where they failed for the hundreds of other customers the way they finally have tried with me.  I’d like to see them initiate this and reach out to those people and not offer them the bare minimum.  They shouldn’t have to BEG to be treated well.  I’d also love to see better customer service, over all.  Nobody should have to wait almost 3 hours on the phone or DAYS for a response on a missing order.  I’d love to see their customer service staffed with people who speaks WELL and LISTENS even better.  –People who are interested in taking care of their customers.  As business owners, we need to understand that our customers MAKE US.  If we fail them, we fail our business.  Without customers, we can have the best products or services…and still have to close our doors.

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