Monday, February 25, 2008

Children's Books

I imagine most of you know, I have a HUGE obsession with children's literature! If I had to start over with going to college now, I think I would be a media specialist. I'd love to share books, stories and discussions with little ones! I have hundreds (maybe close to thousands) of children's books. Most of them are currently in "theme" boxes for preschool, according to what we're doing. I do have a book shelf of favorites though. I thought I'd list just some (and yes, this is a huge list, but only some) of my favorites. I think these are books that EVERY child's library MUST have! You can never read too much (or even enough) to your children! It is so good for them, their vocabulary development and becoming pre-readers themselves. I was listing these for a new teacher on a web forum that I visit and I thought I'd share them here as well.

In no particular order. First of all, you MUST shave EVERYTHING written by the following authors!

Audrey Wood, Eric Carle, Leo Leoni, Giles Andreae, Jan Brett, Jamie Lee Curtis (Currently "Tell Me Again About the Night I was Born" is my favorite of course) and Shel Silverstein

Wemberly Worried & Chrysanthemum - Kevin Henkes

There's an Alligator Under my Bed - Mercel Mayer
(Nightmare in my Closet & Something in my Attic)

The Kissing Hand - Audrey Penn

The Doorbell Rang - Pat Hutchins
(We're doing a day theme on that & Who Stole the Cookies from the Cookie Jar in a few weeks. Class book, activities, everything)

Good Night Princess Pruney Toes - Lisa McCourt
(Still remembered by the wee one and her favorite from preschool)

Storm is Coming - Heather Tekalee
(This is a great book about getting children NOT to be afraid of storms, so funny)

Is Your Mama a Llama - Deborah Guarivro

5 Little Monkeys - Eileen Christelow
(There's about 5 or 6 of these)

If Elephants Wore Pants - Henriette Barkow

I Aint Gonna Paint No More - Karen Beaumont
(I found this about 2 years ago and LOVE LOVE LOVE it)

If You Give (a pig a pancake, mouse a cookie, moose a muffin, etc..) - Laura Numeroff

Eleanor, Ellatony, Ellencake and Me - C M Robin
(one of my best friend's bought me this book, super cute about nicknames)

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly - Simms Tabath

10 Black Dots - Donald Crews

The Dot - Peter H. Reynolds
(a best friend bought me this one too, very very very good "moral of the story" about doing your best!)

All Russell the Sheep Books - Rob Scotton
(I just found these last year and I love the sweet stories and the artwork)

Tops and Bottoms - Janet Stevens
(A classic, you'll have to find it online used)

It Looked Like Spilt Milk - Charles Shaw

Down by the Cool of the Pool - Tony Mitton

The Velveteen Rabbit - Margery Williams

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (and Chicka Chicka 123) - Bill Martin Junior

Inside a Zoo in the City - Alyssa Satin Capocilli
(and Inside a House that is Haunted)

Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon - Patty Lorell
(great story about just being YOU)

Fancy Nancy - Jane O Conner
(a kiddo this year gave me this book, there are several...a hoot)

The Night Before (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc..) - Natasha Wing
(they are all very cute)

Miss Bindergaraten (there are a ton of these too, all great) - Joseph Slate

Go Away, Big Green Monster - Ed Emberley

*I read through this and instantly start thinking of dozens and dozens that aren't on it, they're in my boxes. Such is life*


I found this quote today and think it's blog worthy.
May we all learn to look forward!

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Adoption Journey - Signed Up

Where did I leave off? I believe that we had just made the decision in October to work with the IAC. We requested the packet of information and signed up for the free Saturday information session the first weekend in December. For some reason, I can't remember now, we weren't able to make the November session.

Now, thinking back, November was full of miracles in itself. We'd made the decision, but hadn't quite figured out how to fund it yet. Adoption, as most of you know, is very expensive. Some agencies and ways of going about it are cheaper than others. Cheaper did not mean something you can fund out of what you have in your saving account typically. Yes, we have a piggie bank and no, it didn't contain that kind of change.

We began investigating ways of refinancing our house and applying for a second mortgage. Andy jumped on the ball with this one and was involved in all sorts of options in no time. I was really surprised about how quick he started moving, it reaffirmed what I already knew, he was just as ready as I was to get going. We were able to go ahead and get new carpet, bathroom and kitchen floors. That was exciting and we felt like we were preparing our home for things to come!

After a few weeks we came to the realization that no matter what path we chose, we could not possibly fund an adoption in the next year. It was going to take awhile to come up with enough money. We were discouraged, but still sticking to the plan.

Then in November God blessed us in a huge way with allowing a path to finance an adoption. It wasn't a path that we went seeking, it came to us. It was huge and just another "God thing" on the journey!! We were ready-

We went to the information session in December with only a few people knowing what we were up to. I had told four of my best friends, simply because I couldn't contain myself. We'd both told our bosses because of what was lying in store for us. Other than that, we tried to keep it to ourselves until we had more answers to the questions we knew would be coming our way. Having a friend who had traveled this path really helped us feel prepared as we got started.

The session was fantastic. There were about 12 other couples there and the place was packed. We met a couple who is currently fostering triplet boys who are facing some very tough physical challenges, we met several couples from South Georgia who were as genuine as the day is long and we met some of the fantastic staff that works for IAC. They could not have been any more warm and welcoming!

There was a guest couple there as well who had adopted a little girl. She is now just over a year old and is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. There story made me laugh and made me cry. It was a very a-typical adoption story, in more ways than one. They were "in the book" and waiting just a few weeks when they got an emergency phone call, a crazy situation had fallen through and there had been a little girl born that needed parents right then. They rushed to the hospital and found themselves Dads in just about a total of 6 hours from the phone call. Crazy, but amazing just the same.

We already knew we couldn't attend the required weekend intensive that was offered in December, Andy was going out of town and there was no way he could get out of it. We knew it would be January before we could get the rest of the information and sign our contract. However, he surprised me once again. We had a break time during our session that first weekend and Andy was out the door and on the phone with work before I knew what was happening. He was busy telling them that he HAD to be back in town for December intensive weekend. It worked! We signed up on the spot to return in just two weeks for a weekend long information session.

We came home more excited than ever. We were able to start with a very small handful of paperwork that we mailed off on that Monday morning with our first official enrollment payment. And... we're off.....

(What happened at the weekend workshop, more to come)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

We need more Orange Juice

So the other day I bought 2 single orange juice servings. If I buy a half gallon we never drink it all. I had one for me and one for Andy. I got up the morning Andy left for an out of town overnight stay, to find this when I picked up the VERY LIGHT bottle left!

Yes, it was empty.
I'm married to a dork, though he did manage to make me laugh out loud
without even being here.

Friday, February 15, 2008

In Mourning

So here it is upon us. Today is the last official day that Andy & I can go to Disney World and use our annual passes. Seems the annual part of that is over. I thought it would be the coolest thing in the world to be a pass holder. I spent years telling Andy of the amazing things life would bring "if we just had annual passes". Andy was pretty convinced if he gave in, it would bring world peace and cure hunger. While those things didn't quite happen, we did have a fantastic year filled with fun at Disney!

We enjoyed our trip last February, despite the cold and crazy crowd control. We loved being at Shades of Green that February and found Soarin' to be one of our favorite things down there. Then in May we had a great week long trip where we had a fantastic family of friends join us at All Star Sports. It was our first stay at a resort other than Shades in a long time. Andy enjoyed several days of golf while I enjoyed hanging with friends and reading by the pool. The parks were fantastic; crowds low and weather perfect. Then we were able to spend another week in September at the beginning of our Disney Cruise vacation with my parents. We returned to All Star Sports and felt back at home there as well. We had low crowds and the weather was again, perfect! The four of us were on the FREE dining plan and ate ourselves silly, truly the trip of Disney Dining! In October we returned with Andy's brother Steve and my sister in law Teresa. It was great to take a mini vacation with them. I'd always wondered what a quickie trip down there was like and if I could hack riding in the car for a short weekend Disney trip. It was great just to be there and we had a great time! The ride was worth it. (though I do still hate riding in the car) Our final trip with the passes was our December/January trip. It went from being planned as just a long weekend to one of the longest vacations we've taken. I think we were there for about 9 nights. We had a great time when we were staying both off and on property, with our first stay at Pop Century. We park hopped like crazy, used our passes for 50% off putt putt and took the long awaited helicopter ride. It was cold and crowded, but we had a fantastic trip!

We got our money out of our passes without a doubt! We used them for approximately 25 days worth of parks, can you beat that? We used them to buy the dining club card and saved 20% off every meal we ate on all our trips, saving for family and friends too. We were able to give my parents free days at the parks that came with the dining plan trip since we already had the passes. We stayed for $49 a night on a few trips, no way you can beat that. We were able to preview Haunted Mansion before it officially opened.

It was fantastic, a dream come true for me. I have the most amazing husband in the world that humors me constantly with making my nutty dreams come true. He's pretty great like that!

We have chosen not to renew the passes this year. We figure with all the excitement coming and hopefully the addition of a baby Tanner in our near future, it wouldn't make much sense. We may not be able to make the most of them. We are cruising for spring break and will then just see what our year brings. Andy has two more trips out of town for two weeks at a time and we will travel when we can. We have gone back and forth dozens, ok hundreds, of times about renewing or not. We made final decisions and then changed our minds over and over and over. Each of us coming up on different sides of the discussion, hilarious!! We'll save about $60 (I think that's right) if we renew instead of buying them again and we were trying to justify doing it.

Moving along, here I sit not in the car headed to Orlando, so our decision is made. I told my friend Jo just the other day that I was seriously in mourning. It was fun and I feel sure we'll get them again when we have a little one who will enjoy it like we have. Until then, *sigh*sob*, I am not a Disney annual pass holder.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Embrace Life

Tonight I was reading my niece's blog and I found this quote. It's beautiful and I just can't resist sharing it all with whomever might read my own blog. It comes from the last sermon of a pastor named Kyle Lake. In 2005 he was a 33 year old father of three and pastor of University Baptist Church in Waco, Texas. He had written two books, was loved by everyone that came into contact with him and was an amazing, energetic pastor from what I've read. I've become a "wee" bit obsessed with his story tonight. On a regular Sunday morning he was in the Baptismal and about to Baptize a lady from his church. He reached up to adjust the microphone and was electrocuted and killed instantly, there in front of his family and church family. Can you imagine? What tragedy. It makes me cry as I sit here and think about it. Makes me stop and thank God once again for the life I have, the loved ones that are in my life and all of God's blessings. I am such a blessed child of God!

If you want to learn more about him yourself, just google his name. There is a ton of information out there. I am going to attach the link to the website about his film, "Kyle's Film". It seems that some who loved him made a 10 minute film with the words from this last sermon and videos to illustrate it. I've watched the trailers and they are amazing. While on youtube you can also view a home movie or two of him with his family. Again heartbreaking. I do stop and think though that through such a tragedy, his story and sermon live. How awesome is that? How many people will stumble upon his film, the blogs about him, whatever and be inspired to turn to God. That's a great big thing to leave behind.
You can watch the previews or trailers there.

Here it is, live BIG and EMBRACE life!!

"Live. And Live Well. BREATHE. Breathe in and Breathe deeply. Be PRESENT. Do not be past. Do not be future. Be now. On a crystal clear, breezy 70 degree day, roll down the windows and FEEL the wind against your skin. Feel the warmth of the sun.

If you run, then allow those first few breaths on a cool Autumn day to FREEZE your lungs and do not just be alarmed, be ALIVE. Get knee-deep in a novel and LOSE track of time.

If you bike, pedal HARD… and if you crash then crash well.

Feel the SATISFACTION of a job well done—a paper well-written, a project thoroughly completed, a play well-performed. If you must wipe the snot from your 3-year old’s nose, don’t be disgusted if the Kleenex didn’t catch it all… because soon he’ll be wiping his own.

If you’ve recently experienced loss, then GRIEVE. And Grieve well. At the table with friends and family, LAUGH. If you’re eating and laughing at the same time, then might as well laugh until you puke. And if you eat, then SMELL. The aromas are not impediments to your day. Steak on the grill, coffee beans freshly ground, cookies in the oven. And TASTE. Taste every ounce of flavor. Taste every ounce of friendship. Taste every ounce of Life. Because-it-is-most-definitely-a-Gift."

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Our Adoption Journey

Ok, so I haven't blogged on here about our adoption journey so far. I am pretty sure that everyone we know and love is aware of our plan and how we are moving forward. I keep most of our family and friends updated weekly, if not daily, about what is going on with us. For anyone who has missed out on the details so far, I thought I'd make a summary. You know me, no summary is short on details and ramblings. This will be the first of many I imagine.

Andy and I have been hoping, praying and (cover your ears you sensitive folks) trying for a baby now almost since we got married. In June, it will be nine fantastic years. We have tossed around the ideas of fertility treatments on and off, but they never felt right. My Mom tried for nine years to have me and after trying everything medically available, she was told she wouldn't have a baby biologically. I personally, can not imagine hearing that. I am 100% positive it's not something I can handle. We know our God is bigger than that and can do whatever he wants, after all my parents eventually got me naturally and biologically. It was a "God thing"! We knew that God had something planned for us and though we weren't sure what it was, we also were pretty sure what it wasn't!!!

We have also visited the idea of adoption on and off over the years. We were never opposed to the idea, but we did have personal questions that we weren't quite able to answer. We talked to people, read information and continued wondering down our path.

The past two years God placed some people into my life that had amazing stories. I "found again" a friend from college who has three beautiful daughters through adoption and I hung on every word as I witnessed the adoption of her twin girls taking place. I felt glued to the story and it spoke to my heart daily as I ran home to check her blog and see what was happening. It was a beautiful story and they give God all the glory for their precious family. My heart begin to stir.

Last year God placed another very important friend in my life I am sure that God planned our paths to cross and friendship before we ever imagined it! As we became friends and shared our stories, on the playground non the less, we found we had a great deal in common. She shared her story with me, not knowing at the time (if I recall correctly) anything about our story. She and her husband have an amazing son (who looks just like her, is a hoot and a great teacher of the mighty Wii) through open adoption. I'd never really heard anything about open adoption and soaked up her information daily. Why is it that I'd only heard or read about going to a different state for the most closed adoption I could find? Why was that? This open adoption thing is new to me and has a beautiful story, I was touched.

I began to share daily with Andy what I'd learn from her. She brought me tons of information and I ran through it, over and over and over. She talked to me, I talked to Andy, she talked to me, I talked to Andy. Unbeknown to her, she led me to a magazine that answered some big burning questions that, as a Christian, I couldn't find an answer to concerning adoption. When I found those answers, it was like a huge light came on. I was beginning to get God's message, but not fully just yet. When I needed a friend to chat it out with though, God surely supplied.

Meanwhile over the summer I went to visit my old college friend and met her three beautiful, hilarious and amazing daughters. Kristie took me in for the day and I send (yet another) heartfelt thank you. Sometimes you just don't know how something so small, can help someone in such a big way. In our visit that day we talked about a lot of things. We reminisced about college days, talked about her adoption journey and everything in between. I imagine she had no idea that she was becoming a huge messenger with one last burning answer that I desperately needed. Sometimes God speaks through his people and thankfully I got the message loud and clear. Now all I had to do was pray that Andy would get the same message, peace and confirmation that I had gotten.

Who knew that an October Sunday evening out to eat Mexican would be the beginning of something so big. One conversation turned to another as Andy asked me if I still had all of the adoption information at home. We ran home to spend the rest of the night waist deep in brochures, magazines, newsletters and websites!

We knew that my friend's family story was one we could relate to, one that made sense to us and one that sounded like it was just what we wanted. We knew right away that going through Independent Adoption Center and seeking Open Adoption was what God had in mind for us all along. Now why couldn't we see that all along? God's timing is just perfect and only he knows that answer. Thankfully, we found the path that he had already chosen for us and we took off down it at full speed ahead. We knew before we went to the center for the first time that we were ready, on board and on our way.

Thus begins our official story. In October when we started the discussions that led to a pretty quick decision (God had been working for a long time though) that we were going to work with IAC (short for Independent Adoption Center and what I'll call it from here on out) and expand our family through open adoption!

...What happened next?...Stay tuned....