Sunday, November 30, 2008

Birthfathers and bio sisters

We finally got to meet Naia's birth father!!! On Thanksgiving he was at her birthmom's house, so we took a drive over. He's a really quiet guy that was EXTREMELY nervous about meeting us. He's definitely tall (6'4") and he said that he is also part German. Something we did not know. He was very nice and it was great meeting him on Thanksgiving so that we could tell him and her birthmom, together, how very thankful we are four our little Naia Blueberry. I'll have pictures once I have a sec to download.

We also got to spend the day yesterday with Shaye's 6 year old biological sister. Shaye cried so hard when she had to leave. It broke my heart into a bazillion pieces. Her bio sis was also heartbroken and we told her that when she comes over for Laela's birthday that she could have a sleep over that weekend with us. She and her father moved out of West Sac and are now living in a beautiful (I can't stress this enough!) foothill community that is AWESOME! She is in a much better school and out of the influence of West Sac. I am just so happy for that little girl and I am so grateful that Shaye and Laela will grow up knowing her. Oh, and do I have some incredible pics of the day.

More to come....

Thinking of kindergarten

I can not believe that next week is when our district starts tours of the elementary schools and open enrollment is in early January!!! I am desperately trying to go through a list of about 5 or 6 elementary schools and determine which of them I want to tour with Shaye. This is seriously going to be one of the hardest decisions that Caroline and I ever make. I mean, what if we pick the wrong school? I certainly don't want Shaye to get used to a school, the teachers, the children and then find out it's just not working and have to switch her. This is even worse than my preschool search.

Because she has been attending Montessori preschool and I absolutely, 100%, truly, without a shadow of a doubt believe in this method of education, I want her to continue Montessori through 8th grade. Shaye just turned 4 a few weeks ago and already is reading and writing and taking such an interest in both. Montessori is utterly amazing and it's a great fit for her. So, our first choice would be a tuition free charter Montessori school about a 1/2 mile from our house. They also have another campus a few miles away and that would be our 2nd choice. Beyond that, there are three "Open" schools all within 5 miles from our house. I also really love the idea of sending our children to one of these schools. Here is a brief description for those of you who aren't familiar with what an Open school is:

We are guided by a unified philosophy that provides a high quality, standards-based, and comprehensive elementary school education. This is called the Open Philosophy and is based, in part, on Piaget’s developmental learning theory, Dewey’s constructivist learning theory, Montessori’s use of manipulative materials, and Kohl’s thematic, integrated curriculum.

In Open classrooms, emphasis is placed on individuality and reaching each child’s potential. We have found that the best way to provide for this is through the following practices and themes:


At its most basic, this term refers to the notion that all children should be recognized as unique beings with their own strengths and weaknesses. They ought not be taught as if they were all at the same ability level with the same interests.
We expect all students, no matter their starting points, to go further.
We use flexible learning groups to target students' needs, styles, and interests.
Experiential learning and constructivism:

We have long held true to the proverb, I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.
We emphasize hands-on learning, the use of manipulative materials, and real life experiences.
Because we recognize that the environment is an extension of the classroom, we emphasize field education and community involvement as a critical part of real learning.
We know that real learning is discovery, even if it's guided, facilitated discovery, and we strive to communicate the sense of wonder inherent in learning new things.
Student-centered collaborative classrooms

We care for the whole child and are concerned with each child and are concerned with each child's physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development.
We velieve that even as academic standards are imbedded in the curriculum, the classroom and the curriculum ought also reflect our students' interests and that students should be given the power to explore their curiosity and imagination.
Student Empowerment:

As educators, one of our chief goals is to teach our students to take responsibility for their own learning; by doing so we seek to create a community of self learners.
We acknowledge that honoring student voice and student choice leads to the students' feelings of empowerment and ownership in their own learning.
We teach with high expectations and emphasize quality.
We teach and promote student reflection and self assessment.
We believe in cooperative participation in learning and in life.
We emphasize doing one's personal best, competing against oneself rather than against others, and working for intrinsic rather extrinsic rewards.

At our school we are committed to the idea that parents are an integral part of the learning experience, both inside and outside the classroom. Learning is best accomplished when teachers, parents, and students work as a team. Hand in hand, as part of the team making academic choices, setting goals, and evaluating progress, students become responsible lifelong learners.

There are also a couple of Fundamental schools I want to tour just to try and understand how they will differ from the Open schools and the Montessori school. If we just can't find a school that we like, we will more than likely keep her in her current school for kindy, but I really, really want to ditch the tuition payment so we can bump Naia up to 5 half days a week next year. Then of course with the next school year, Laela will be 3 (OMG!) and we will more than likely enroll her into our current school for 3 half days a week.

The pressure is giving me eye twitches. How on earth am I going to get through this and feel that we have made the right education choice for our children????????

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Montessori birthday celebration moved me to tears. I've said this a zillion times, but I am just so thankful for the school my children attend. Shaye's teacher and teacher assistant are amazing women who love and adore her and it honestly blows my mind that we could be so lucky. Both teachers (and the chef of the school!) showed up for her birthday party on Saturday night at Chuck E. Cheese's (which, by the way, was the WORST possible place to EVER hold a birthday and we will NEVER do it again! The kids had a great time, but the service was awful and mass confusion ensued when I was being surrounded by 40 children asking for tokens and they had YET to bring them to us. Uggh).

Anyway, how many teachers do you know that take the time to show up to their student's birthday party? And her lead teacher was just recently married and has no children!! They also helped to wrangle the children and helped us make sure everybody had food and drink. It was utterly amazing and I was so appreciative and in awe of these women. I think that as a teacher that is just a normal gut instinct to get in there and help - especially when you know most of the children there. About 13 children from her class came to her party (and at least 15 to 20 of our friend's children) and can I just say that I have never seen so many God damned presents in my entire life for one child??? Jesus, I'm a little afraid that we might need that bigger house sooner than later.

I am watching my children blossom every single day and they are thriving in their school environment. I can only hope their love of education stays with them. I definitely think this is laying the best foundation for them.

Here's a little video I put together of the school celebration...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Ok, don't get too excited. ;) She's not ours (but oh she is heartbreakingly beautiful and I'd take her in a heartbeat!). Our friends James and Elizabeth are in the process of adopting a brand new little sweetie pie (from foster care) and it sounds as if E is going back to work and has asked if I can take care of the little muffin for her!! Oh, this makes me SO excited since I am no longer watching the little girl that I watched for 4 years and was starting to wonder if I need to go get that job at my favorite thrift store. ;) I'd *MUCH* rather snuggle a little baby all day long! I don't have any details yet, but this will be a PERFECT situation!!! When one door closes, another one opens.

C and I have our foster license on hold to take care of a few issues around the house. I really, really wanted to do emergency placement of infants, but we need to take another CPR/first aid class and we have a few other things in the house to change around. Now that I will be watching baby snuggle muffin, we may not foster for awhile. Since Shaye was placed with us I have dreamed of picking babies up from the hospital, taking a bazillion pics, video, putting together a baby book, etc. I just want the adoptive parents to be able to have information on their baby for those first 6 weeks of their lives. So many foster parents don't take ONE stinking picture of those babies (like Shaye's former foster mom) and I want to do that for families.

Speaking of Shaye, my little angel is going to be FOUR tomorrow. I thought I'd put a few pics of her up on my blog throughout the years. Every single day it's still amazing to me that I'm her Mommy.

The night she came to us she was 5 1/2 weeks old:

Mama and daughter

My first glimpse of you 12/28/04

About 4 months old:

How long can I hold my breath?

6 months old:

The official six months photo 5/19/05

1 year old:

Proud Mommy

2 years old:

Our running toddler

Shaye in pumpkin patch 2006

3 years old:



And now, she's 4!!!!!

I could kiss this face a billion times a day and it wouldn't be enough.


Tomorrow she is going to have a "Montessori Birthday" at school which I am SO excited for!!! We ordered up some cupcakes for Safeway and she is so excited that she can barely contain herself.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Courtesy of our dear friend Amy who says, "This about sums it up." I agree.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

How will I sleep tonight?

Well, it looks as if Californians have spoken. They value the lives of chickens (Prop 2) more than the well being of my family (Prop 8). How will I explain that to my children tomorrow?