Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Saving Memories Forever {A Mosaic Review}

Every once in awhile as I am scrolling through my iTunes library I run across this sound clip of Ava Mae reciting a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. She was just 4 years old and it is absolutely adorable. I always think I need a way of recording these types of things in a scrapbook of sorts. Amazingly, there is an app for that!

Saving Memories Forever, is a company that offers a way to record and store memories! You can choose to just record some sound blips of a cute child, have a place for a family member who is far away to record a message to a loved one, or a place to record the story of your life.

The quickest way to get started is to download the free app on your iPhone {or Android} and create an account. Then let the app walk you through recording your first sound clip - as you can see below it is so user friendly!

When you are done recording just push the upload button and your memory is saved. Don't have a smart phone - you can use the service on your computer. Just head on over to their website to get started.

Saving Memories Forever was begun by Harvey and Jane Baker who understand that a family tree is so much more than just names on a piece of paper - there are stories behind those names. Stories that need to be told and heard.

What a wonderful app to have before you head off this summer to visit family! I think this would be an amazing tool to have at a family reunion.

Saving Memories Forever is a free app but, for some of their premium services {which I would highly recommend getting} there is a fee of $3.99/month or $40/year. You can see a comparison here.

Monday, April 29, 2013

April Showers

While I am really done with all this rain, my daughter reminded me today - "April showers, bring May flowers".

I needed this dose of optimism today!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Last Day of Timothy {2013}

Last Day of Timothy ... I had two fun classes I taught this semester. I was so sad to see these classes end. A few of the kids will move on to new schools but, I am hoping to see many of these precious students back this fall.

Our last class together in Loom Knitting ... we finished up our service projects.

We ended up with sixteen hats total to be donated to a charity that distributes them to hospitals to be used in the NeoNatal unit.

Our last class in "Little House in the Big Woods" was picnic day ... some of the kids even came dressed in period clothing. We enjoyed snacks outside in the beautiful weather and playing games using only our imagination.

I don't know where the time went to this semester ... it seems like a blinked and it was over. Maybe being so busy with an adoption had something to do with it. Loved all my sweet notes and gifts from these precious kids on our last day together!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Spanish For You {A Mosaic Review}

My children love learning foreign languages - we have been working on conversational Gaelic, Russian, and Latvian {the latter two due to our adoption this summer and spending a month in Latvia}. Spanish is something the kids have been learning for years - I remember being somewhere when Ava Mae was just four and she started speaking Spanish to a woman and her little girl. The mom was thrilled to engage her in some phrases.
We had the opportunity to review Spanish For You! in our homeschool over the last few weeks. Having tried several different curriculums for Spanish - even the expensive go to software for all foreign languages, I feel like an expert in Spanish curriculum. So far, this has been the most child friendly curriculum we have used. In fact, the whole time I was working with the curriculum I kept thinking this would be a wonderful package to use at a hybrid school or co-op.

Spanish For You! is a theme based curriculum. We received the Fiestas package {also available - Seasons or Travel}. So while we were learning Spanish we were also learning about holidays, special occasions, and party themes. For a younger child {younger than 3rd grade} I could see putting together a fun lapbook with this curriculum. The curriculum in our package included a lesson book, downloads of student materials in pdf format {worksheets, flashcards, etc.}, mp3 downloads of the audio files, and a Lesson Guide.

Having never scored well in enunciation during Spanish class myself - I love the wonderful audio files in Spanish. No guessing how to pronounce a word or phrase.

The lesson guide is easy to follow and has short lessons for 4 days a week.  There are 30 weeks of lessons for grades 3 - 4 and 24 weeks for grades 5 - 8. With our mix of ages we chose to just follow the 3rd - 4th grade level and that worked really well for us. We made flashcards, vocabulary cards, played games, and my older two did worksheets.

The only drawbacks I found for the program is that it is not "pull it out of the box ready to go". Sometimes I really need that type of curriculum. There was a little bit of needing to figure out how to use everything that came with the program. Spanish For You! does easily explain on their site how to use everything - it is just a matter of sitting down and going over it. I am also not always a fan of curriculum that you need to print lots of materials out for - though it is not a curriculum where you have to print everything at once - you can choose to print things as you need them.
Spanish For You! was created by Debbie Annett.She has taught Spanish for grades kindergarten through high school for 14 years.  Debbie has also has taught Spanish enrichment classes for grades 1 through 8, and all levels of high school classes for homeschool students. Debbie Annett is an Illinois State Certified Teacher with a bachelor's degree in Spanish from the University of Illinois and a master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Northern Illinois University.  Debbie even studied in Seville, Spain.

Spanish for You! is a very affordable curriculum! For $64.95 you receive all materials needed to teach grades 3 - 8. You can also choose to just purchase one level, which costs just $39.95. Teacher lesson plans are available for $14.95 for Grades 3 - 4 and just $12.95 for Grades 5 - 6 or 7 - 8.
I feel that Spanish for You! is a great curriculum for a family looking for something affordable that spans a wide range of ages and learning styles.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Earth Day!

For Earth Day I thought I would share some pictures from our recent trip to the North Georgia Mountains to meet up with my parents and two of my siblings.

It was a quick trip but, it was great seeing family and taking in God's beautiful earth ... love Spring! {And, bonus, it was before the gross pollen was covering everything in a thick sheet of yellow.}

We were at Tallulah Gorge in time to see a Spring Water Release.
Beautiful Cherry Blossoms!

Love seeing old Coca Cola signs!
Happy Earth Day!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Last of my "To - Do" List Done

Last week we were able to finish our last major items on our "To - Do" List for our adoption ... it included ~

Mailing our dossier off to L@tvi@ for translation. {Mailing packages to a foreign country is hard ... mailing a package to a town in a foreign country that DHL insists does not exist even harder!}

Having our Biometrics done by Immigration for our I-800a approval.

Devin, Lexi, and Ava Mae getting their passport applications done and expedited ... they should be back this week.

So, I know the million dollar question ... "what's next?". We await our I-800a approval {Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country} - which should come in around the time our dossier is done being translated {if things continue to move at the speed they are now}. Those two docs will then meet up and head to the orphan court in L@tvi@ where a formal referral will be made for "Hope". Next, we say yes to the referral - that goes back to the L@tvi@n court and we await a travel date for our first court appearance and 3 week stay in-country. So, a lot of waiting in the coming weeks ... with it being the end of the school year our calendar is packed so we have lots to keep us busy. My goal is also to get Hope's room done and do some summer clothes shopping for her. {She will more than likely come to us with just the clothes on her back so we will need to bring clothing with us for her.}

Thank you for everyone who continues to pray for us! We feel those prayers. Right now our major prayer requests would be - 

1. That we would hear an answer back on a grant we applied for through Lifesong for Orphans.

2. For the next steps in this process to go smoothly.

3. For our upcoming fundraiser {see details below}. 

4. And, as always, prayers for our sweet L@tvi@n girl as she patiently awaits us coming to get her.

Our next big fundraiser is quickly approaching - a Yard Sale ... we have received lots of wonderful donations already. We have such generous friends who have donated jewelry, kids items, brand new home decor, and furniture. We are praying for good weather on April 27th!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Ultimate Homeschool Planner {A Mosaic Review}

It is that time of year again ... time to revaluate and plan for the new school year. Now, I know what some of you might be thinking - "it's only April - this school year hasn't even ended yet". I used to think that too but, I will say there is freedom in planning your next school year before this one ends. It truly allows for a restful summer and it also gives me an opportunity to shop at the upcoming homeschool convention and used book sales.

I was completely doing the happy dance when I was chosen to review - The Ultimate Homeschool Planner by Debra Bell {$28.00 retail}.What perfect timing!! Though I have a nice homeschool planner I am using this year - I am not real happy with it. And, some of the reasons I have not been happy with it are things The Ultimate Homeschool Planner has done right!

Fist and foremost, this planner allows you to fill in the months and weeks. Now I know this may sound silly but, I don't like flipping through my planner and seeing months with nothing written on them - it just seems such a waste. I like that with this The Ultimate Homeschool Planner I can start our school year in September - and that is the beginning.

I loved that the planner gave a tutorial at the beginning to show how to get the most out of using it. While many of us are seasoned homeschoolers - it is always nice to review and for those that are new to this journey - what a great stepping stone this provides.

As I plan for next year, I like that this planner has goal setting sheets and a way for me to begin planning our year by filling in major events/holidays that I already know will be on the calendar.

I thought the customizable yearly, month, weekly and daily planning forms allow for the most information to be stored all in one place. And, the flow to each of these planning forms make sense.

The weekly planning forms allow you to decide if you want the subjects written across the top or down the side. Also, you can track up to six children - without feeling like you have to double up on subjects and write really really small to make it fit. Also, love that I can track reading lists and have a place for year-end review.

In planning for next year, I know I would like my son who is going into middle school to have more independence and take more responsibility for his daily assignment sheets. It was great to see how The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students, also by Debra Bell {$19.00 retail}, worked alongside my planner.

This planner could not be any simpler ... it allows for the student to once a week copy the list of subjects for the week from the main planner. It also easily allows the student to track their progress and see what still needs to be completed or needs revision. And, though I don't know how much my son will get into filling out the fun questions in the "About You" section of the planner - that is something my daughter would really enjoy. The student planner also has places to record other activities and has lots of study tools, trivia, and helpful tips. After reviewing this product, I will be purchasing one for my daughter also, who will be in 5th grade.

Both planners have great coated covers - which we put to the test when my daughter dripped chocolate ice cream on the outside of my planner. It easily wiped right off. I am so glad to get the opportunity to review this planner and cannot wait to begin our new school year with it!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Ultimate Blog Party {2013} and A GIVEAWAY!

Hello fellow UBP 2013 party goers ... welcome to Joy in the Everyday!  My name is Alicia and I began blogging in August of 2008 as a way to keep track of our homeschool journey. I figured if I didn't remember to write it down in my teacher planner at least I would always have the blogasphere to refer back to. 

My blog evolved to sharing my love of paper crafting, cooking - baking, homeschooling, my faith, and I always enjoy sharing ways I find joy in the everyday.

Our family lives in the northern suburbs of Atlanta - my husband and I have been married for almost 23 years and we have three biological children - ages 11, 10, and 8 - who we've homeschooled from the beginning.

We are now in the process of adopting a sweet girl who we hosted in our home for four weeks over Christmas {that is her and I pictured above}, from an Eastern European country. Here are a few posts on that subject ...

We are overjoyed to be adding this child to our family and are hoping to travel in June to get her! So now, our blog has grown once again - this time following us on our adoption journey.

When I am not posting about homeschooling, family life, or adoption - I love to post fun recipes and craft projects {I have to put my Pinterest addiction to use somewhere}. Here are two of my recent baking/crafty posts.


As I mentioned above - I absolutely love paper crafting!! So, for one lucky party goer I am giving away a complete stamping set {pictured above} from Stampin Up! It includes a stamp set, ink, and a card making kit. To enter ... just leave me a comment below!

Ultimate Blog Party 2013

Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to visiting you during the Ultimate Blog Party 2013!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Process So Far ...

The last month and a half seem to have flown by as we began our adoption journey. Having never adopted before we were newbies to all of this. Thankfully, having been an event planner I can manage a "to do" list in my sleep. That skill is really coming in handy.  For us to expedite this process we decided to work on almost all the beginning steps at one time. So, I thought I better update before we get too much further down the path.

First off, we have the best adoption agency rep who lives just 30 minutes from our home so getting our home study done - though time consuming, was a pretty quick process. There were doctor visits for check ups for my husband and I. Then the kids had their check ups - plus, some shots they were not looking forward to! Then there was the collection of finger prints and background checks {for every state lived in since 18}. And, there was lots of paper to collect ... birth certificates, marriage certificate, pet shot records.

And, just when you think there cannot be anymore paperwork ... another stack arrives for your signature. Of course, everything has to be photocopied - some times two and three times. As we began to work on our dossier documents we found out things not only had to be notarized but, apostilled {a word until beginning this journey I had never used or even heard of}. Apostilled is like a notarized notarized copy ... don't ask. I have signed my name so many times that I lost count ... and, even better, I ended up having to hyphenate my maiden-married name due to the fact that it was that way on my Georgia driver's license and when I got my passport they decided that it would have to be the same way. Which meant all of our adoption documents would need my hyphenated name - thank God when I found this out we had just begun the dossier document part of our adoption - which are the official papers.

But, as I write this now - our home study is done, our I800A is in front of our government {the document which requests permission to adopt a child from another country}, and our dossier is ready to be mailed off to L@tvi@, for translation {from English to L@tvi@n}.

We have had two fundraisers ...

A Willow House Fundraiser

A Basket Weaving Class Fundraiser
We are planning a large garage sale on April 27th and have already received some wonderful donations of items to sell! We have also applied for a grant and hope to hear back sometime before May.

So far to date, we have spent around $5,000 on agency and government fees. Another $600 on expedited passports and $1000 on things like finger prints, doctor's exams, and apostilling fees. 

This week we have $6715 due for more agency fees, translation fees for our dossier, and a post-placement fee deposit. Once again, I just have to say "to God be the glory" ... in the last 24 hours more than $5,000 has been received in donations. One of those large donations from a family who had no idea that we even owed this money this week - they themselves have been on a journey and had the most beautiful story to tell as to how we became the recipient of this donation. 

One of the scariest parts of an adoption can be the price tag you see. For us, that number is around $35,000 but, you know what, that is probably one of the least of my worries. I know God put us on this journey and when He does amazingly crazy things like that - He provides, just like he has this week.

For all those families who have blessed us beyond belief in the last 24 hours - we can never thank you enough for what you have given sacrifically and joyfully to help us bring our sweet L@tvi@n girl home.

"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19