Thursday, March 28, 2013

We Choose Virtues {A Mosaic Review}

Character training is something we feel is very important for our children but, sometimes fitting that into our school schedule just seemed too hard. I was excited to review We Choose Virtues for the Mosaic Review Team and see how this tool could be used in our homeschool. Heather McMillan began We Choose Virtues out of her love for children and her desire to see them reach their personal potential. Her observation is that children needed to be inspired by simple, positive and consistent instructions, and parents and teachers needed an effective language with which to communicate these instructions.

Our first step was to take the Family Character Assessment which is a free PDF download. We went through the assessment together and, while I encouraged the children to choose best where they felt they were, I also gave some guidance - especially to our 8 year old who apparently felt she was as close to perfect as you can get. Our 11 and 10 year old children did great assessing themselves and when I reviewed it with them felt they really had a good grasp of what character traits they needed to work on.

Next, after looking over the assessments we chose an area that we felt we could all use a little improving - we chose attentiveness. We used the Virtue Flash Cards  {$14.99} to go over what being attentive is - "I watch and listen carefully. I am NOT ... forgetful, distracted or distracting and I don't ignore or interrupt!" Our cards were the NIV version {these are also available in a King James version and a secular version with no bible verse} and also included this bible verse - "Pay attention and listen to the sayings of those who are wise. Apply your heart to the sayings I teach" Proverbs 22:17. The kids copied the bible verse and then colored the page that went along with our virtue from the Kids of VirtueVille Coloring Pages {$3.00} - which is a PDF download, that I copied hole punched and added to our bible study notebooks we use.

I really loved the Parenting Cards {$34.99} which gave tips on - teachable moments, virtue user challenge, what to say after "I'm Sorry", and a little blurb about the Kids of VirtueVille - for Attentive it was Airplane Betty Jane.

Front and Back of Parenting Card for Attentive.

I loved the fact that these virtue lessons took less than 10 minutes a day to review and we began seeing changes immediately. I created a chart and each time I caught one of the kids doing something that showed they were putting their virtue into place they received a sticker. We decided ten stickers would earn them an ice cream cone. Also, really loved the colors and graphics that We Choose Virtues uses - the characters are fun and engaging.

There are many ways to purchase the We Choose Virtues items - as a kit for the homeschool family the cost is $98.99 and includes all of the items I mentioned above plus tools, which though not necessary, would be a wonderful addition. You can also purchase tools individually. As a minimum I feel you really need the Parenting Cards. Also, We Choose Virtues offers a wonderful comparison chart you can find here - that may help you decide which products would work best for your family.

Heather recommends these items for preschool through elementary. Our children are 2nd, 4th, and 5th and I feel were the perfect age for this product. Though, I will continue using We Choose Virtues even through next year when our son moves into middle school.

We Choose Virtues has been so kind to offer my readers a few discount codes which can be used toward purchases - HOME20 will save 20% off of any homeschool kit through the month of April or you can utilize coupon code VIRTUE15 and save 15% off of any purchase - good indefinitely.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Crafting for a Cause

Lately our girls have been quite busy ... as soon as we told them the news about adopting they began brainstorming fundraising ideas. It didn't take long for them to put those plans into action - friends joined in and so far they have raised hundreds of dollars on their own.

It all started with a bracelet fundraiser - those rubber band bracelets which are all the rage. That morphed into friendship bracelets made with a loom - with an added charm. Originally the rubber band bracelets were boxed up - the boxes became so popular that now they make the boxes and sell those separately. From there - we have headbands and hair ties made from stretchy seam binding ribbon {an Anthropologie knockoff}. And now, little paper purses with minature candy bars inside. Friends have been making hand sewn cats, hand drawn pictures, and candy bags. They have sold their items at school, in their neighborhood's, to friends and family both near and far.

Many of the sweet children helping with these fundraisers have never even met Miranda but, want to help. This is just another way we have been blessed so far on our adoption journey.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

{Recipe} Quick Easy Cheesy Sliders

I have a confession to make ... I hate touching ground beef, more so than chicken - which is probably much more germier - go figure. Anyway, I love all these fun slider recipes I have found but, realized real quick it wasn't going to happen in my kitchen. Now, I know you can use gloves but, for some reason that creeps me out even more, trust me, I 've tried it.

So, this is what I came up with - a slider alternative. It was originally a recipe my sister made at a party we had - she placed the mixture on pumpernickel bread but, I figured - place it on a slider bun and now you have Quick Easy Cheesy Sliders.

Here are the ingredients:

1 pound low fat ground beef
1 pound ground mild sausage
3/4 pound Velveeta Cheese (cubed)
Slider Buns (toasted)


1. Brown ground beef and mild sausage together. I like to use my handy meat browning tool to break up all the beef and sausage - this especially comes in handy when you are using low fat grass fed beef.

2. Drain any fat off and return skillet to cook top.
3. Add cubed cheese to ground beef mixture.

4. Stir frequently until cheese is melted.

5. Now, the hard part, allow mixture to cool until when scooped it holds its form. This gives it a nice patty look but, if you don't care about appearances just dig in.

And, while I am on the subject of food ... why hasn't anyone told me about these ...

I totally missed out on the Girl Scout Samoa cookies this season. So, of course, when we spotted these cookies in the store we had to give them a try. They are a little smaller but, the taste is almost the same.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Created for Care {the most amazing adoption conference}

This past weekend I had the amazing opportunity to attend an adoption conference - Created for Care. The retreat was begun by this amazing woman - Andrea who blogs over at - Babe of my Heart. You have to just head over to her blog and read just a few entries to see what a servant of God she is. The theme chosen for this year's retreat was LOVE BIG - based on 1 Corinthians 13:13 “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Step out in faith. Wait with hope. And LOVE BIG. Just love the t-shirt I got with that motto.

I learned so much from the wisdom of other adoptive moms during several open sessions and breakout sessions I attended. But, one of the highlights of the retreat - meeting up with all the Latvian adoptive mamas pictured above. All five of us are adopting children hosted through the New Horizons for Children program. We were surrounded by the other 445 adoptive moms at the conference. It was so beautiful to worship with all of them several times during the course of the weekend.

There was also some time to just sit and worship with God - peacefully from the balcony of our hotel room. Picture above was my view - so serene and quiet. Time for reflection and to just be still. So thankful, my dear friend Robyn joined me on this trip!

Pictured above our three sweet kids with their new adoption t-shirts ... the girls' t-shirts say "I Have Hope" and Devin's says "Change the World for One".

Friday, March 8, 2013

RA/GA Derby {2013}

Last weekend was the annual RA/GA Derby race. Ava Mae was so happy to finally get to participate - last year would have been her first year but, we were in Disney. {It was a hard decision - derby race or Disney. NOT!}

The kids chose these themes for their cars - Ava Mae - candy; Lexi - flower power; and Devin - Latvia. {Just love Devin's sweet heart for orphan care.}

While our race time's were not the greatest - Ava Mae did walk away with 2nd place overall in the GA Design category. Our first derby trophy ever - Woo Hoo! Ava Mae's best friend, Maddie Bell, took Honorable Mention in the Design category - with her "Dog Ate My Car" design - what is hilarious or not so hilarious to Maddie Bell - her dog really did chew up her car.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

How God Can Change a Heart ... {the beginning of our adoption journey}

The question I have been asked and repeated the answer to so many times over the last two weeks ... how and why. I will apologize in advance for having to be so cryptic in my response here ... we are governed under the laws of a court with very specific rules. So read between the lines or leave me a comment and I will respond to you privately with any questions ...

Here is our story ... we are moving forward to provide a sweet L@tvi@n girl with a forever home. How did I get here ... I can say only "to God be the glory". He has worked in my heart so much since we had to send "Hope" {as she will be called from this point forward on my blog} back in January. Fears, worries, and selfishness on my part have been wiped away - not to say completely. There are definitely days I think "this is crazy" but, it is crazy in a good way. All I can say is God has called us and we are going ...

We have a hard road before us ... one with lots of paperwork, hurdles to jump, huge financial commitments, and a long journey and stay in a foreign country - not once but, 3 times. So many have asked, "are you worried?", of course there is worry but, there is also trust in my God. The one who can move mountains will be with us in the coming days.

We are so blessed with the most amazing friends and church family who are already rallying around us. Hope touched so many lives and I "hope" one day she realizes how God used her in the lives of so many to open eyes to the plight of orphans not just here but, all over the world.

So, for those who have asked what we need, right now - lots of prayer! Pray that this stage of the home study process can go quickly. We have our last home study visit next Wednesday. Paperwork is almost all done - just waiting on some things to arrive that I had to order. We also have quite a few doctors' appointments for my husband, myself and all the kids. Pray for funding ... we need to fundraise a large chunk of money. Our goal is $20,000 before we travel on our first trip to L@tiv@. That is a little over half of what our total cost will be.

We are working on some fundraising ideas but, if you feel lead, our adoption agency does accept tax deductible donations on our behalf or join in on our "5 to Change a Life" - every little bit helps, would you consider donating just $5 to our adoption? It is so easy - just click the donation button below - you do not have to create an account to donate.