Thursday, May 28, 2015

Krakow travel tips: Where to go and what to see in 48 hours

Monday, May 25, 2015

Poland's New President

Andrzej Duda, from the Law and Justice Party, won the election.

Here are some online articles about the election:
Huffington Post
Krakow Post

2015 and 2016 Polish Holidays

If you are planning a trip to Poland, be mindful of their holidays and observances. Most shops in Poland will be closed on those days.

Click here for a list of Polish holidays and dates for 2015 and 2016.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Look! I've found Polish Food

In south Louisiana. your chances of finding Polish food is about the same chance of it snowing. It is very rare for it to snow. I've only seen it once in the last 6+ years of living here. And it didn't even stick to the ground.

On Saturday, I had a random idea to go into Big Lots to check out their food inventory. They always have a random assortment of international foods and I was looking for cherry jam to make fruit filled pierogis for this weekend. I really didn't want to pay $7 for a jar at World Market, where I usually get my "Polish food". Unbeknownst to me, Big Lots had all of these Polish cookies and jams and at a ridiculously cheap price. I paid about $12 for all of this.

It was nice to remind Smalls that we had bought these cookies for her in Poland. But she is in this "reject all things Poland" phase, so she said she didn't really care about it, but notice the package in front. It's empty. Smalls devoured those cookies.

Do you have a favorite grocery store where you get your Polish food?

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Whit Sunday in Poland

If you're in Poland or if you are planning to travel to Poland tomorrow, here's a heads up.

Tomorrow (Sunday, May 24) is Whit Sunday. Most shops in Poland will be closed.

Click here for more information.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Polish Lullaby: Kotki Dwa

Kotki Dwa/ Two Cats

Ah-ah-ah, two little kittens
Ah-ah-ah, ah-ah-ah,

There were once two little cats.
Ah-ah-ah, two little cats,
Gray and brown oh both they are.

Oh, sleep, my darling,
If you'd like to have a star – you'll get it.
All the children, good and bad,
Are now sleeping in their beds,
Only you are still awake.

Ah-ah-ah, ah-ah-ah,
There were once two little cats.
Ah-ah-ah, two little cats,
Gray and brown oh both they are.

Oh, sleep, 'cause you see
The moon is yawning and he'll soon be sleeping.
And when the morning later comes
He will feel ashamed because,
He fell asleep but you did not.

Translation of lyrics source

No-Drama Discipline

No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way To Calm The Chaos and Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind By: Dr. Dan J. Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson

This is a wonderful book to add to your parenting toolbox. It has helped me to understand a little more of what is going on inside of Smalls' brain. And most importantly that her brain is constantly changing. It's important that her brain continues to grow and make new connections. Smalls' brain before we adopted her was stressed and in survival mode. Now that she is home, we can help her to make new connections to calm her chaotic, stressed brain. I am definitely NOT saying this is an easy task, because it has been the hardest thing that I've ever done in my life. This is a wonderful book that has given our family some more tools to help us to create calm in our chaotic home.

If you haven't read  The Connected Child, I would read that book first then dive into this book by Dr. Siegel and Dr. Bryson.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

How We're Taking the Crazy Out of Summer

Anyone with a child who dysregulates when they have free time?

What about not knowing the day's events?

How about when plans get cancelled because of the rain or other non-controllable event?

Yes, yes, and YES!!! Smalls can get dysregulated at all of these types of events, which makes life difficult at times and not so spontaneous.

As I've mentioned before, this is Smalls' first "real" summer. All of her life (up until age 7 1/2), she has been in daycare or just sitting in her room playing with her toys or watching TV. We started first grade last July (2014) and she just finished a week ago.

Now for a summer break that we both need! If I give her free reign to do whatever, she will have a horrible attitude and be fussy. I do not want to spend my summer break trying to regulate a child the whole time, not to sound ugly, but momma needs a break! I was brainstorming some ideas to give our summer days order and not chaos and I've came up with a schedule that we will roughly follow.

2015 Summer Schedule:
7-8:30am Morning List
8:30-9:30 Pick an activity ticket from the ticket cup
9:30-10am Free time in your room
10-10:30am Snack Time
10:30-11:30am  Pick an activity ticket from the ticket cup
11:30-12:30pm Lunch Time
12:30-1:30pm  Pick an activity ticket from the ticket cup
1:30-2pm Free time in your room
2-3pm Pick an activity ticket from the ticket cup
3-3:30pm Snack Time
3:30-4pm Pick an activity ticket from the ticket cup
4-5pm Pick an activity ticket from the ticket cup
5-6pm Dinner Time
6-7pm Walk in the nearby park
7-8pm Get ready for bed

What are these activity tickets? They are pieces of paper with an activity written on them, sounds simple enough, huh?

Here's a list of the activities on the tickets:
Review Work (2 pages a day)
Daily Chore
Do an art project
Take a virtual museum tour
Watch a science video on youtube
Science Experiment
Phone (not a real phone, one of our old ones that Smalls uses to take pictures and videos)
Swimming Pool (our apt. complex has a swimming pool)

I try to not let Smalls watch a lot of TV because that is her escape from connecting with the world. She watched TV all day, everyday in Poland and she has an extreme addiction. I try to reserve TV time for a movie night or for a rainy day.

I pick 3 tickets to put in the ticket cup, so I can have a little control over what types of activity she can do. I also want to make sure that we get in our reading, review work, and daily chore. Smalls then chooses a ticket without looking.

We don't use every ticket, every day, except for reading, review work and daily chore. I chose to put those three as a ticket because if I tell her to do one of those things, she gets a horrible attitude. This way, I have no control over what ticket she gets and she can't complain because it is the luck of the draw and she chose the ticket.

We have also planned specific summer outings in our nearby area, so we are not just confined to our house.

Now it's your turn. What do you do to keep order in your house during the summer, especially with a child who is easily dysregulated?

Monday, May 18, 2015

FASD: Strategies for Behavioral and Acedemic Success

Hey ya'll!

If you missed out on this great webinar last week, like me, here's the recorded presentation. I am currently listening to it right now and I'm learning a lot on how to deal with specific FASD behaviors that a lot of adoption materials that I've studied doesn't cover.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Zupa Truskawkowy/Strawberry Soup

This is my first Polish food to cook (besides pierogi) for Smalls. I will admit that I was scared to try this recipe. Strawberries and soup? Together? Well, since strawberries are in season and I have a lot of them in my freezer, why not try it out?

I found this recipe online, but I felt like it was lacking in the taste department. I know, Polish food is not full of flavor like I'm used to down here in Louisiana.

Zupa Truskawkowy/Strawberry Soup

3 cups Strawberries (washed, sliced and stems cut off)
5 cups water
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt

1. Boil strawberries in 5 cups of water until they are soft (about 6 minutes).

2. Transfer the strawberries to a blender or food processor. Puree until the mixture is nice and creamy.

3. Mix milk, cornstarch, and 1 cup of the soup mixture together until blended.

4. Mix all of the ingredients back into your main pot. Add salt and sugar. Boil for 2 minutes.

5. Eat!

I ate it hot like a traditional soup and I sprinkled some dried basil with a dollop of sour cream. And it tasted pretty good. It's like a tomato basil soup, but with strawberries.

Now if I were to eat this cold, I would sprinkle some cinnamon and dip graham crackers into this.

What do you think about this recipe? Would you try it?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Poland Adoption Facebook Group

This is a group you definitely want to join! Because Cat from and I just created it.

Families with Children Adopted from Poland

If you're not on Facebook, I'm sorry but you will not be able to join our group.

This group is a place to get advice, resources, and tips on adopting children from Poland.


I stumbled across this neat website this morning.

If you are planning to travel, Local-Life will give you some great local places to eat, attractions for you or for the family, and places to stay. It gives local's recommendations, so if you are planning to visit one of these cities check this website before you go to see what the locals like.

*Also you can check out for other local restaurants.

Poland's Presidential Race

Here's an update on the Presidential race in Poland.

There will be another vote on May 24 between Andrzej Duda and Bronisław Komorowski.

Monday, May 11, 2015

What duties does the Polish President perform?

Here's a great online article about what the Polish President does while in office:

By the way, yesterday (May 10) Poland elected a new President. Does anyone know who won? Here's a list of the candidates.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

32 Questions to Ask Before Choosing an Adoption Agency

Here's a great article about what you should ask when considering adoption agencies.

32 Questions to Ask Before Choosing an Adoption Agency

Morning/Night Time List

Disclaimer: I found this idea on one of the Facebook groups I've joined. The original poster found it on pintrest and since I don't have a pintrest account I couldn't find the original idea, so I can't give credit to the person who came up with this great idea!

In our house, we MUST have a routine. We MUST stick to our routine. We MUST not change our routine or alter it in anyway. Life gets very boring for me sometimes, but Smalls needs this consistency in her life right now. I'm very nervous about this summer because I'm not going to have something planned for Smalls every minute of the day for her. I hope it will turn out to be a positive experience for her to learn how to handle unstructured time.

Starting the day can either make the day a positive one or a negative one. If we start unstructured (watch tv while eat breakfast or play before we brush our teeth), Smalls will have a terrible attitude the rest of the day. Her brain will be disorganized and she will have lots of tantrums. Ending the day can affect the way she sleeps. If she is rushed putting away her toys, goes to bed late, or doesn't know what to do next after I've told her 3 times, she WILL NOT sleep. Her brain cannot shut off because it is running wild with thoughts and feelings because the night was disorganized.

Since having a morning time/night time list our days and nights have gotten a little easier. Smalls knows what is expected of her before we start the day. She knows she needs to finish her list before we do school. This list gets her brain organized for the days events. The night time list calms her brain for bed. She is mentally preparing herself for bed. And I can now tell her to go do her list and she does it without needing me to monitor her (except for the shower, she hates the shower).

It took us a couple of weeks for Smalls to feel comfortable with this list. We would do it with her every morning and night until she felt comfortable with the list. She knows what is expected of her and that has relaxed her brain a bit around us.

Here's some pics of our lists:

Morning List

Night List

Obviously, feeding Fluffy is now not on our list because of his recent passing. I created this using a manilla folder because it is fold-able and velcro tabs so we could undo each chore for the next day. Smalls enjoys marking off each completed task. It makes her proud that she has accomplished a task.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Summertime Fun!

Our last week of 1st grade is this week. I don't know who's more excited me or Smalls??

I put together a list of things that Smalls could enjoy this summer or a list of things that I think could be fun. Ok, let's be honest. It's her first "real" summer and she is probably going to hate all of this stuff because she has never experienced some of this before and she's scared of experiencing new things. This summer will be our test run to try out some of these fun things that she will hate this summer but love next summer because she was able to do them the previous summer. Did you catch all of that??

Here's what we're planning to do this summer:
Audubon Zoo

Audubon Aquarium

Audubon Insectarium

Children's Museum

Blue Tara Organic Blueberry Farm

Mississippi Agriculture Museum

Vacation Bible School

Buccaneer State Park

Lafreniere Park (disc golf, spray park, and awesome playground)

Art Camp with Jefferson Parish Recreation Department

Kids Bowl For Free-nearest one is in Baton Rouge. Day trip!

Summer Kids' Flicks- The Grand Theater in Kenner

Summer Bowling Pass

Movies in the Park

Zephyr's Baseball Game

Sector 6 Trampoline Park

Visit a Virtual Museum

Jefferson Parish Library

Ultimate Summer Bucket List (these sound fun!)

Reading Programs:
Barnes and Noble

Jefferson Parish Library (our local library)

Nola friends, am I missing some events on this list? Please tell me!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Sleep Issues

Yes, Smalls has them. It's a nightmare for us. If she doesn't get any sleep, then neither do we. And it's not that she won't sleep during the night, because she does sleep a little-like 6 hours little. It's what she does to help put her to sleep. I'm not going into detail on the internet because this is a sensitive issue, but if your child has sleep issues please email me. I will be happy to share with you the struggles that we face in this area.

Within the last month, we have established a new routine that helps Smalls get at least 10 hours of sleep (boy, has her attitude improved!). We have a night time list that Smalls goes by and checks off as she completes each task. We start at 7pm every night (it's important to start at the same time every night). Once her list is complete, we tell a bed time story and lights out, and then one of us stays behind to watch her fall asleep. The first week of this was hard and I dreaded every minute of it. It would take her well over an hour to fall asleep. She would try to talk to us, play with her stuffed animal, or play with the covers. We would redirect her to go to sleep. Our bed time routine took well over 2 hours to complete-EXHAUSTING! Fast forward to a couple of weeks later, Smalls falls asleep within 30 minutes of us watching her (yea!). Our nights are easier with knowing that she is actually asleep and not doing other things. We spend about 1 hour each night with this night time routine now, which is not too bad.

We will keep up with watching Smalls until she has learned to fall asleep on her own and she feels safe doing it by herself. Yea, it's exhausting doing this every night because when Smalls goes to bed that's supposed to be my relax time. We are trying to sleep train her the correct way because the first couple of years of her life, no one showed her how to fall asleep the appropriate way.

If you plan on sleep training your child, be patient and pick a fun game to put on your phone or read a book with a small reader light. It's a battle that we must win as parents. Our kid's bodies need sleep to grow and to be able to function at full capacity. Out of all the kids in the world, kids from the hard places need sleep the most.

Here are some resources on sleep issues that we've found helpful:
Chart on how many hours your child needs to sleep

Products that are helpful for getting your child to sleep:
Sound Machine

FREE White noise app for your phone

Dream Light Pillow Pets


2nd Grade Spelling

Spelling and Language are the hardest subjects for Smalls. We are way behind in these areas. Smalls has an auditory processing disorder and learning language has been a huge problem for us. Her brain cannot register new words and if there's other noises in the background when I'm talking, she is not hearing a word I say. It is very frustrating when I ask her to spell a word because she can't hear the word pronounced correctly, therefore her spelling is horrible. We are starting small in hopes of laying a good foundation. In 2nd grade, we will learn the 1st grade spelling words. has a great spelling curriculum for 1st grade.

1st Grade Spelling Words

1st Grade Spelling Worksheets to accompany the Spelling Words

Throughout the week, Smalls will read aloud the words and create sentences with each word. On Fridays, we will have spelling tests. I will call out the word and Smalls with write it down from memory.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

8 Magic Keys - FASD Video

The video graphics aren't the best in this video, but this video has amazing concepts to helping kiddos with FASD. I am applying these 8 keys in homeschooling Smalls and it definitely has made a difference! This is a great video to watch if you know someone with FASD.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Learning About Other Countries

Here's a neat way to help learn about other countries. This gives me great ideas for the coming school year.

Virtual Field Trips

Here's a great way to help reinforce geography or science concepts! Take a virtual tour of museums, zoos, farms, other countries and so much more. I am so thankful for this fellow homeschooler for compiling all of these. I can't wait to take a tour with Smalls!

Virtual Field Trips

Virtual Field Trips #2

Virtual Field Trips #3

Here are some other websites that I've found that are not included with the link above:

4-H Virtual Farm

A to Z Kids Stuff (this link has several virtual field trips)

ESchool News

Zoo Field Trip Animal Reports

This is a fun way to get the most out of our trips to the zoo!

Click here for FREE Zoo Field Trip Worksheets

God, Are You Nice or Mean?

God, Are you Nice or Mean? Trusting God...After the Orphanage by Debra Delulio Jones

I love this book! I should have read this book during the first year home with Smalls. The author of this book explained the first year home for our family perfectly. This book is very encouraging and offers hope to those of us who've adopted a challenging child. It's a short and easy read with tons of stories from her personal life (which I absolutely love). And she has a funny sense of humor throughout the book that I can relate too.

This book would be a great gift to give someone who is considering adopting. It can give you a peak into our lives and what to expect with a challenging child.