Friday, November 29, 2013

7 Quick Takes

Thanks Jen for hosting!!

1. St. Andrew Novena starts tomorrow!! 

I will spare you all from hearing, once again, how much I love this novena, so all I am going to say is: PRAY IT!

(It is piously believed that whoever recites the above prayer fifteen times a day from the feast of St. Andrew (30th November) until Christmas will obtain what is asked.)
2. Blessed John Paul II, Pray for us!
Tuesday was our LAST home visit with our social worker.  It was the day she was going to do the walk through, inspecting the house.  After school work was completed, I was cleaning LIKE CRAZY.  I had done a lot of reorganizing and cleaning over the last few weeks in preparation for this visit, but I was doing all of the "final touches."  Well, I was in my sons' bedroom, straightening up and noticed something.  LOTS of broken and cracked glass on the back of the door.  I am not sure if it was a 60's thing or what, but their bedroom door has TILES of glass on the back of it.  (It is really ugly) Anyways, over the years, the glass has suffered and there are cracked tiles and pieces of glass missing from the door, that we have not done anything with, except to cover it with tape.  2 hours before she was set to arrive, I called my hubby in a panic.  What are we going to do?? 
He calmly told me to put a poster over it and pray she does not look at it. AT ALL.  The only poster big enough was a Blessed John Paul II poster.  I hung it up over the cracked glass, put duct tape over the rest, and told my boys to pray for Blessed JP II's intercession so that she would not even look at the door.

And she didn't!  We passed and we are so close to having our homestudy done I can feel it!
3. Black Friday Anyone??
I am NOT a Black Friday shopper, are you?  But if you are looking for great sales on fitness items, check out the Beachbody sale!  You can shop on my site. All proceeds go to fund our adoption.  If you have any questions about any of the items, you may leave a comment or email me at katiepetko (at) yahoo (dot) com and I will get back to you shortly!

4.  Adding it to my reading list . .

Pope Francis' Encyclical, Evangelii Gaudium.  My hubby has been reading it already (the lucky guy was able to get it a day early!).  It is long, so I am really, really hoping to squeeze it in this weekend.

Anyone reading it yet?  Thoughts? 

I want to read it before any firestorm begins so that I am well informed!

5. A day late, but I have a turkey question.

Ok, I know that Thanksgiving was yesterday, but I will be making a turkey for Christmas too.  But, I want to know if any of you brine your turkey and if it is worth it. I have never done it and the turkey tastes fine and juicy to me, but I get to the day before Thanksgiving and wonder if it is something I should do.  So . . .

Do you brine??  Is it worth it??
6. My hubby's birthday present
I just had to share, because I love this picture!  I finally reviewed all the pictures of when my hubby met the Pope, ordered my favorites and got some enlarged.  And this one is my favorite . . .
7. Little Flower Cuteness
Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Black Friday Beachbody deals starting today!

Hey, all!  I am sharing these here, in case anyone is interested.  Beachbody has some AMAZING sales for Black Friday that start TODAY!

If inetersted, you can order through my website here. Any money I make from the sales, goes directly to our adoption fund.  So, get healthy, shop, and support a great cause.

Wordless Wednesday - My Advent Reading

And I am quite giddy to start these books!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"You have my sympathies."

Last weekend I went on the Joy for Journey retreat.  This was a retreat for adoptive moms and pre-adoptive moms.  Because the retreat was Christian, my hubby and kids decided to wait for me to go to mass.  We went to a local parish that has a Sunday evening mass.

When mass was over and I was walking with my boys, down the aisle.  An older women looked at me and asked, "No girls?" 

I have gotten this question before.  And although I do not understand why people of all ages seem to think it necessary to comment on the fact that we have boys, I try to handle it with grace.

So, I smiled, nodded and said, "No, three boys."

A look of pity shone on her face, "You have my sympathies."

I had her sympathies??  Now, normally, I would just smile and ignore the horribly rude comment.  After all, my boys were right there.  And she was implying that, because I had them, somehow I was in need of sympathy.

But at that moment, I could not let it pass.  Maybe it was because I had just spent my weekend listening to adoptive moms and adult adoptees share who important it is to stand up for your adopted child in public when the rude comment, or overly curious questions come.  My kids, adopted or not, need to hear me combat those negative comments by strangers that somehow imply that their mom is to be pitied because she had them.

"I do not need your sympathy.  I am blessed with these boys."  I smiled and kissed the head of the son closest to me.

I must have caught her off guard.  She stammered a bit and then said something else I no longer remember.  I think she may have even mentioned that she had three boys too.  I do not know.

What I do know is that whether you have three children under three, a family of 10, all girls, all boys, or a multiracial family brought together by adoption, the negative comments do come.  Sometimes they come from others who are curious and are just trying to be nice, but are a bit misguided.  And sometimes the comments come and we may want to shout, "Yes!  Give me your sympathy.  These kids are driving me crazy!"  

However, there are little ears surrounding us, waiting to hear what we will say, how we will respond.  And, really, there is a world of ears out there.  Will we stand up for our kids in that moment, and gently be a witness to the beauty of family life and the gift of children, or will we shrink from allowing our kids to hear what a gift they are?

I am not sure if what I said to that lady at mass will make any impact on her life or of the others who also heard our interchange.  But I do know that it made a difference to three little boys, that day, who all walked out of church with the biggest smiles on their faces.

Oh, yes, little men, this mom is abundantly blessed to have you in her life!  Each and every loud, crazy and exhausting day of it!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Monday's Daybook

Outside my window...

It is 4PM and the sunlight is fading fast.  It has been a beautiful day here.  The sun was shining and the weather was really nice for a November day.  There is snow in the forecast tomorrow . . . I will believe it when I see the snowflakes fall.

I am thankful...
Sunset over the harbor.  The view from our room.

For a nice weekend in Baltimore. My hubby is there for meetings and the boys and I decided to go up for the weekend.  While we did not get to see my hubby a lot, because he was in meetings, we did enjoy every moment we got to be with him. 

I did not get to me Cardinal Dolan while there, but I did get to meet Cardinal DiNardo, Cardinal George, and Cardinal Wuerl (again).  Cardinal George got on the elevator we were on.  He was so nice.  We were supposed to get off just one floor after he got on, but I quickly said, "Oh, let's go to our room (on the 27th floor)!"  He engaged each and every one of our boys and was just so friendly.   I am so thankful to be in a position to meet so many of the leaders of our church.  At a time when so many people criticize the Bishops and Cardinals, I feel thankful to meet so many of them and know that they are men striving for holiness and working to do their best for the Church.

In the kitchen...

Leftovers for tonight.  My hubby is still in Baltimore, so dinner will be uncomplicated tonight.

I am wearing...

A purple v-neck tee, my long black sweater (which I wear almost every day during the winter!), a scarf, and jeans.

I am creating...

An adoption fundraising tee.  I am not creative AT ALL, so I am calling on many other people who are talented in that area.  I think it is important to know what your gifts are, and are not, and to focus energy and time on those things that your are gifted at, and ask for help in those areas in which others are more gifted than you.

I am reading...

Kingdom Woman by Tony Evans and Chrystal Evans Hurst
33 Days to Morning Glory by Michael Gaitly, MIC
Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride
The Master Puppeteer by Katherine Patterson (Reading this to the boys)

I am looking forward to...

My hubby coming home tomorrow.  I miss him so much!  He has been gone a lot lately and it will be so nice to have him home for a while, with no travelling.

And I am looking forward to starting the T25 workout this week.  I have been unable to workout for about two months now because of the strain to my ribcage when we had croup, but now I finally can workout again! Wohoo!

I am learning . . .

To let go of my own timeline, my own expectations and to take everything one day at a time.

Around the house...

The boys are outside playing, trying to squeeze as much fun as they can out of the fleeting daylight.

From the learning room . . .

We are studying Korea right now.  We are combining geography, history and current events to soak in all we can about the amazing culture in North and South Korea.  It is interesting to see how just a few decisions in World War II, most likely, shaped Korea's current situation.  I think it is important to recognize that EVERY ACTION or INACTION has an affect that we might not even realize.

A favorite quote for today...
“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you.
He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your heart your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle.
It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.” Blessed Pope John Paul II

I am praying  . . .

For our adoption process.

For all the orphans around the world.

For my boys.

For a friend's special intention.

A few plans for the rest of the week:

Swim practice, occupational therapy,  a meeting with another homeschool mom who is a mentor, meetings with clients . . . . just a normal week.  On Friday I head out for an Adoption Retreat.  I am so thankful to have found it.  I now get to connect with adoptive moms in the area.  And I am super excited about the writer's intensive workshop that will happen on Friday night at the retreat.

A picture thought I am sharing . . .

We are still dryer-less.  Today was the perfect day to get three loads of laundry done, and dried. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

7 Quick Takes

Thanks, Jen, for hosting!!

1.  Katie is blogging, it must mean . . .
her hubby is travelling for work again.  I am sorry if that sounds a bit snarky.  As I sat down to write these takes, I realized that the only time I have sat down to write any posts in the last few weeks was when my hubby has been away for work.  He has been gone alot lately.  He is not too far away right now, just 45 min, but the meetings run so late and start so early, that he stays at the hotel they are held at.  We are hoping to go visit him this weekend, go to the Baltimore Aquarium, and hopefully run into this guy . . .

I am already trying to plan how I can get a family picture with him!
2. Thank you!
I want to thank all of you for your sweet comments on this post, both here and on facebook.  I have not been able to respond to any of them as I would have liked, but I have read them and appreciate them so much.
One of my friends, who was homeschoolled, shared that she had been diagnosed with a learning disability when she was young.  She recounted how school never really clicked for her, but that as she got older, she did fine and did very well in college.  She also mentioned that her mom felt as if she had failed.
When I read that, I just sighed.  I feel like that most days.  Or, at least, I question if I am failing.  And I think, it is very natural for any homeschooling mom, who has a child with a learning disability to feel that way.  You wonder if you are doing enough.  You wonder if your child would not be better off with someone more capable, more knowledgeable, teaching him. You wonder if, by spending so much time with one child, you are failing your others.  But, that is where faith comes in.  Because, He knows family dynamics, He knows your own capabilities, and your children's, and so, if He has called you to this crazy journey of homeschooling, He will knit it all together for the good of each and every family member.
3. St.Andrew Novena and a giveaway!
I love the St. Andrew Novena.  It begins on November 30th and is prayed until Christmas Day.
Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment at which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, Oh my God!, to hear my prayers and grant my desires (Mention your intentions here), through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.
(Pray this prayer 15 times each day, from Nov. 30th until Christmas)
This year I will be praying if for God to work miracles in our adoption process. 
Sarah, at Amongst Lovely Things is giving away a beautiful St. Andrew Chaplet or Bracelet.  Go enter here!

 4. Adoption Update
We finally had our first, of four, home visits with the social worker.  I spent the whole weekend before it cleaning like a mad woman.  I asked a group of adoptive moms what to expect and got such varied answers.  Many said that their social worker went into EVERY CLOSET in every room, to make sure there was nothing dangerous.  So, I spent hours cleaning out each closet in our home and reorganizing them.  Well, our social worker did not even leave our living room.  But, at least we have nice organized closets now!

Our social worker seems nice and I am hoping all the visits go well.  I have been praying for an increase in patience lately.  I just really want to be matched with a child, like yesterday, and I am having a hard time refraining from searching through lists of waiting children to see if a face jumps out at me as "our child."  I know that that is not what God is calling us to.  We are to plug along, wait and trust.  But, really, the waiting is tough!

5.  Frugal, fun, lazy, or just crazy? You decide.
Our dryer broke.  Over two months ago.  We know it is likely a repair that is expensive enough to warrant buying a new dryer instead of repairing this one.  When it first broke, we had my father in law try to fix it.  He couldn't.  The weather was nice, so we just decided we would use our clothes line to dry all of our clothes.  Then we had a rain spell.  And, instead of getting a new dryer, we got creative and hung a clothes line in our garage.  At that point, it kind of became a game.  Just how long can we go without a dryer?

Well, we are still dryer-less.  Most days I can get at least one load to dry outside, although, with the colder weather and shorter days, this is proving a bit more challenging.  But, so far I have not had to many problems with this. 

If you were me, when would you finally throw in the (wet) towel and get a new dryer??

6.  Another question
I am ready to try to make things and sell things for the sake of our adoption.  My question is:

 What type of homemade items would you buy or do you like to buy??  What kind of Etsy shop is your favorite??

7. Little Flower Cuteness


Have a great weekend everyone!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Homeschooling, learning disabilities, and trying something new

When I started the homeschooling journey, several years ago, I never thought I  would have to learn to become a special ed. teacher.  But, these days, that is exactly where I am finding myself. 

At the end of the summer, we had our oldest son go through a series of educational tests.  One day a week, for about a month, we headed to the educational psychologist's office for two hours for J's testing. And a couple of weeks ago, my husband and I sat down with the educational psychologist to hear the results.

As we sat down that morning, I learned some very important things.  First, J is smart.  I knew that already and the test results confirmed that he IS smart.  When it came it auditory learning, he was OFF THE CHARTS.  Again, I knew this about him.  Then we came to his writing scores.  The first set of tests that showed results in the Learning Disability range.  Again, this did not surprise me.  But, it was good to hear it confirmed.  And good to give it a name.  He has dysgraphia.  I had not even heard that word until that day.  Quite simply, he cannot write.  When other children his age, can, without even thinking, form letters to make a word, and write words to form sentences, he has to concentrate on EVERY SINGLE pencil stroke. He has to concentrate so much on the actual forming of a letter, that the rest of the content: the spelling of a word, the space between words, the use of proper punctuation, is lost and forgotten.  This is my amazing son that can memorize and recite a Psalm with little effort, but spells his own name incorrectly if he writes it too quickly.

The testing did show two other areas of concern, which really just complicate his dysgraphia and other school work more.

When we walked out of that meeting that day, I was overwhelmed with love of my son.  My son, who works so hard just to stay focused and to do the work he does, no matter how imperfect I,or others may think it is.  I gained a new appreciation of the areas he is gifted in and I became determined to learn what I can, to not only help him overcome his learning issues, but to help my other two sons become stronger in areas that they are weak in as well.

And that is exactly what I have been doing over the last few weeks.  I am researching occupational and vision therapists.  I am "Pinning" apps for the iPad that will help with dysgraphia and vision issues.  I am reading about what exercises we can do at home to get the left brain and right brain to communicate the way they should.  I am making lists of exercises to strengthen fine and gross motor skills.  I have purchased games to help with visual perception and executive function processing.

We have been testing all of this out too.  The boys enjoy rolling on my exercise ball, for the first time ever since they were never allowed to play with it before. They are having fun squeezing squishy balls in their hands and proudly proclaim that their fine motor skills are getting stronger.  They work hard to concentrate on all of the figure 8 exercises.

There are days now that I think our homeschool looks more like some sort of therapy play house than a place where learning takes place.  And as hard as it is for this overachiever to let go of book lists and performance, I am OK with how things are.  My main desire right now is to help my oldest, and my middle son to overcome the difficulties they have with learning.  And if that means putting some of our books aside for a while and play a game, so be it.  If it means that I stop visiting homeschooling blogs because I compare, and feel inadequate afterwards, than so be it.

I am really not sure if all of this will work or not.  I am not looking for a miracle cure.  All of these efforts are really driven out of love.  Just like any other mother, I want the best for my children.  I desperately love them and I can see just how hard learning can be for them.  And, if there is a way, I can lessen the struggle for them,  not by expecting less of them, but by providing tools that assist them so that they can work to their true capabilities, I am willing to do what I can.

So, as the days and months pass, I may write here and there about this journey of me becoming a more adept, special ed. teacher (hopefully) and the boys improving too!