Monday, August 31, 2015

Free Full Homeschool Curriculum List

Disciplining Your Child with Special Needs

Back to School Letter

25 Killer Sites for Free Online Education

10 Questions for Parents Preparing to Adopt or Foster

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Dairy Queen is Coming to Warsaw!!

Check it out!! Dairy Queen is coming to Warsaw in September!!,Dairy-Queen-fast-food-chain-to-open-in-Poland

2nd Grade Curriculum Revision

Click here for the original 2nd Grade Curriculum.

We've been at 2nd grade for 4 weeks now. This week I evaluated our progress to see what is working and what is not working. Homeschooling a special needs child is different and requires much flexibility with your child's strengths and weaknesses. I've come to the realization that Smalls is not able to do worksheets right now. She has complete meltdowns and we can't redeem the day afterwards, so, I ditched them this week. We have had a great week, almost zero meltdowns during school! I've also learned that Smalls is not a confident reader. She struggles with reading. I realize she has only been reading for a year now, but I feel like she should have kept progressing, but we haven't. We are doing great in math. Her favorite subjects so far are social studies and earth science. We both have enjoyed using the Easy Peasy curriculum because it has short lessons. Smalls is still learning vocabulary and basic life knowledge that she should have learned a long time ago. With much reflection on the last 4 weeks of school, here is our revised 2nd grade curriculum.

We are still using this book as a guide on what we need to learn in 2nd grade.

Writing- 1 page a day from the Complete Curriculum book and no worksheets

Reading- McGuffey's Primer and Flashkids

Math- 1 page a day from the Complete Curriculum book and whatever game that corresponds with the material (no worksheets)

Language- 1 page a day from the Complete Curriculum book and whatever game that corresponds with the material (no worksheets)


Earth Science

Ancient History 

Bible OT

Character Study (on Mondays)

PE/Health  (on Tuesdays)

Ancient Art (on Wednesdays)

Ancient Music (on Thursdays)

Back To School Introduction Letters for Teachers

25 Ways to Nurture Your Hurt Child

Why Rewards Don't Work

Friday, August 21, 2015

16 Things Europeans Find Strange About Americans

 #2 Don't ask for ice in Poland! They will give you a strange look. If you are going to Poland and you love ice, pack your own ice trays in your suitcase.

Netflix Might Be Available in Poland Soon!

Best of Katowice

5 Steps to Manage Big Emotions

13 Things to Remember If You Love a Person With Anxiety

Chill Out Corner

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Poland's Most Beautiful Beaches

17 Differences Between an American Mom and a Polish Mom

Change the "normal mom" phrase to "American mom" while you read this article.

Making Your Church Accessible: Ministry to Families with Disabilities

This is how your kid learns: Brain Plasticity

How to deal with Child Rage

Free Noun/Verb Sort Game

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sticky Note Lesson Planner

This is what I use to plan out our lessons. I absolutely love this system. It works great for our family. I am able to edit it easily or change up plans without having to erase or white out. I can also see what we are struggling with or if I planned to much work for one week or not enough on another. Homeschooling a special needs/trauma child, I am constantly re-doing or re-thinking our week-especially if it's been a bad one! I can't recommend this enough to other homeschooling families.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Ideas While You Wait

Click here for our waiting experience.

Waiting is hard. There's no nice way to put it or sugar coat it. When you are in the adoption process, you have a lot of wait time. You are waiting on your agency to send you paperwork, waiting on government offices to process paperwork, waiting on clearances, or waiting to be matched or given a referral for a child to to look over. It feels like there is endless waiting in adoption.

Here are some suggestions for you to do while you wait. I've broken them up into two categories: serious and silly (sometimes you are just feeling down about waiting so long and you need a few laughs).

Serious Suggestions:
  • Read and study on how to parent an adopted child. Parenting an adopted child has different challenges than parenting a biological child. Click here for the books that I've read.
  • Learn to cook food from your child's home country. 
  • Listen to a radio station in your child's country. Get to know the language by listening to songs and the dj on the radio. Here's a Polish station I listened to.
  • Learn your child's language as best as you can. Here are some links for learning Polish.
  • Decorate their room and get it ready for when they come home.
  • Attend garage sales to find toys for all ages. Some older kids need younger toys because of various developmental delays. Also this is great way to get low cost clothes in various sizes. You will need a variety of sizes because your child may grow a lot within the first year home.
  • Locate a school for your child. Talk to the administration to see how they could accommodate your child.
  • Work extra hours or pick up a small second job to help with your adoption savings.
  • Read blogs about others who have gone before you. They could have some great tips while in country.
  • Join an adoption support group. It's ok if your child isn't home yet. These groups will give you a great idea on some of the challenges you may face parenting an adopted child.
  • Throw yourself an adoption shower. Not many people (or at least in my circle) don't understand how to help someone who is adopting. I wished I had done this. Don't forget to register for items that you need.
  • Prepare your relatives for the newest addition to the family. Talk to them about connected parenting strategies from The Connected Child by Dr. Karyn Purvis. 
  • Interview pediatricians and their offices. Ask if they are familiar with internationally adopted children.
  • Join groups on Facebook and on adoption websites. Knowledge is power! If you would like to know which ones I'm apart of please email me (my email is located in the about section).
  • Research holiday celebrations in your child's country. Can you incorporate some of those into your family?
Silly Suggestions for those hard days when you need a laugh:
Do you have any other suggestions? Please comment below and tell us what you did while you waited for your child to come home.

Books I've Read

Friday, August 14, 2015

Polish Food for Polish Kids

You all know that I'm a fan of reddit. If I have any down time, I am usually on reddit. One of the subreddits that I've joined is r/poland. I asked the group to give me some Polish dishes that they remember from their childhood. I am trying to teach Smalls her Polish heritage as much and as best as I can, so I thought food would be an easy place to start.
Here are their ideas:

The Trauma Tree

Here's a great way to explain how trauma affects children:

10 ways to teach your child the skills to prevent sexual abuse

Free Fine Motor Activities

I'm always looking for ideas to work on Smalls' fine motor skills. Here's two links that I've found with great ideas that are free!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Eurasia Information Webinar

If you haven't chosen an agency and would like to have more information about our agency's Eurasia program, you're in luck! On September 28 and 7pm (CST), Lifeline Child will host a webinar on their Eurasia program. Countries included in the Eurasia program are Bulgaria, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, Poland, Romania, and Ukraine.

Click here for more information:

10 Tips for Children with Feeding Difficulties

Sensory Solutions for the Classroom


7 Ways Childhood Adversity Changes the Brain

10 Words that Look the Same in Polish and English But Have Different Meanings

Friday, August 7, 2015

Adoption Registry

If I could go back and re-do our adoption, I would have thrown myself an adoption shower. I would have also registered for some needed items for Smalls and for our trip to Poland. I know that sounds weird to throw myself a party, but we really needed a lot of items to help us get to Poland and for Smalls when she came home. In my local circle, adopting internationally was a foreign subject and not a lot of people knew how to respond to us adopting. Don't worry about stepping on toes by taking charge and throwing yourself a party. It's ok. Your friends will want to join in once you throw out ideas for an adoption shower.

Here is a great website to create a free registry:

Here are some suggestions on items to register for:
For babies/infants:
For toddlers:
For older children:
  • gift cards for restaurants (You will be exhausted parenting a newly adopted child. You will want to get take out!) 
  • gift cards to grocery stores (Before leaving for a month or more, you would have emptied out your refrigerator. You won't have any basic groceries on hand-milk, bread, cheese.)
  • coupons from relatives or friends to volunteer babysitting
  • travel items (suitcases, money belts, passport holder, adapters, etc)

Did I leave anything off this list? What did you buy or receive that you've found helpful?

Parents Raising Kids with Special Needs must Manage Their Stress

Amen! If you're a parent of a special needs child (and I classify adopting older children in that category), this is a must. Managing stress is hard when your little one demands every second of the day. Here's a great article of some do's and don't's:

Free Curricula in Every Subject for 3rd Grade

I know, Smalls just started the 2nd grade. I am posting this for when I start planning the 3rd grade. It will be here before I know it!

Information Processing Issues: What You Need to Know

What a great article! I will be using this as a reference when I write Smalls' teachers a "get to know Smalls letter" to help understand some of the challenges she faces.

11 Things You Should Know About Polish People

Amazon Rainforest Video for Kids

The actual video wouldn't post on the blog. :(

Here's the link:

35 Things Only People Growing Up Polish Would Understand

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Updated FASD Guide

Here is the updated guide on FASD for medical and allied health professionals. Please share this update with anyone that you know who works with people affected with FASD.

Your Brain is Particularly Vulnerable to Trauma at Two Distinct Ages

Ultimate Guide to Occupational Therapy Resources for Kids

A Guide to Warsaw's Sights and Symbols

Adopting Debt Free: Our Experience

Based on this article:

First, we started with #2 (budget tightening) and 3 (savings). We did not want to go into debt or take out a loan to pay for the adoption. We’re Dave Ramsey fans of paying cash for things up front.  We paid off all of our debts (from school) first to help free up some of our paycheck. We cut our budget to a “bare bones” budget. We began to cut some small items from our budget like coffee, eating out, and frivolous things we didn’t need, although we did allow some fun money which helped us to not feel so “deprived” and not blow our budget. We then worked on insurance (major money sucker in our budget!). We called around and got quotes on car insurance, renter’s insurance, and health insurance. We found cheaper plans that had similar coverages to our old plans. This saved us a couple of hundred each year. We kept getting creative about ways to cut our budget. One of the easiest ways to save a lot was with our grocery budget. We spent $400 a month for two people, which is a lot! I started cutting household cleaners from my budget and starting making my own, making a grocery list (sticking to it!), found low cost recipes, and substituted black beans and lentils for beef. I got our budget down to $100-150 a month. I got very creative with groceries and household items.

During the budget tightening phase, we started #4 (adoption fundraising). We held 1 raffle, 1 garage sale, and sold Just Love Coffee. Our raffle for a Saints wreath (b/c we live in New Orleans) brought in $500, the garage sale gave us $2400 (we asked friends and family to give us their junk to sell), and selling JL coffee gave us over $5000. We were the top coffee seller for them at that time. We are also featured in Julie Gumm’s newest addition of You Can Adopt Without Debt because our coffee sales were insane. Sure people can fundraise with t-shirts, but you buy it once and that’s it, but with coffee (and really great tasting coffee) people come back for more.

We also used #5 (gifts/donations). Family members want to know what we want for Christmas, birthday, etc…, we would say a donation to our adoption fund. There are some family members who wanted to buy a gift to put under the tree, I would ask for something that could easily be returned to Walmart so we could buy groceries or whatever we needed for the adoption.  Or we would list what we needed to pay for like $100 background clearance, $75 passport, $50 visa, etc… We tried to be very tactful requesting for money instead of gifts for the adoption. This brought in about $7000.

My husband and I were both able to work more hours (#6). We didn’t have any kids or obligations except to each other. I worked b/t 50-55 hours a week and my husband worked closer to 60 hours a week.

And lastly #8, we were the pilot family for our agency’s Poland program and the agency gave us $2500 scholarship.

We saved up and fundraised $30,000 in 1 year. Adopting debt free was not an easy thing to do. Even church members gave me strange looks, when I said that we are adopting debt free. I would recommend it to anyone on any budget. It can be done and it does take a lot of hard work. Create small goals and tackle them fiercely.

One thing I tell friends who are adopting internationally, is to consider adopting debt free. After we brought our daughter home, we were extremely thankful that we had spent a year before we started the process to save up. We did not know the extent of my daughter’s issues. She didn’t have any major needs, but we still spent about $5000 on health/dental care after we came home and we had insurance! We also didn’t realize how poorly behaved she was going to be. My daughter came from a very, very hard place (and you don’t know it until their home with you). If you’ve read Dr. Bruce Perry’s book, A Boy Who was Raised as a Dog, my daughter is the cat version of that story. If we had taken out a loan and had to pay it back while trying to parent an easy to love but hard to raise child, I probably would have resented her. I still had issues bonding with her (for other reasons-she was a cat!) but it could have been amplified if we had to pay back a loan on top of all the stress we were dealing with. You just don’t know what may happen when you get home from adopting. I love my daughter to death and would do anything for her, but if we hadn’t adopted debt free, we probably wouldn’t have a great relationship like we have now.