Saturday, May 31, 2014

It's a ...

Twenty weeks tick by quickly when you're adjusting in adoption and figuring out a new normal. But Thursday indeed marked twenty weeks of pregnancy and the long awaited day to find out if we'll be seeing a lot more pink or blue in our future. I felt for some time that we were having a girl while Jason was sure we were having a boy and both kids, for their own reasons, wanted to have a new sister.

Our appointment was early Thursday so after a restless night's sleep we were up early to find out together. We asked the technician to let us guess and it was obvious none of us were experts at how to tell gender over ultrasound. I marveled at the pictures we saw. Baby was sucking it's thumb and wiggling around.

Then the great big question was answered.      

The boys are out numbered at our house. We'll be welcoming another girl this year! Both kids were super excited and Jason and I were (still are) a little in shock. Somehow, even though I thought girl, we both held the belief that girls are rare in the Tegen family. So, we are still taking it in..

and celebrating pink with two thrilled siblings!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

When It Rains...

It pours, and it's been drenching our house lately. Just the usual stuff that seems to happen all at once-- transmissions ka-putting, appendix's revolting, toilets overflowing, roofs leaking, air conditioners stopping. We smile about it sometimes because it seems a little ridiculous. We borrowed a car while our van was getting an apparently gold-lined transmission and even that car's tire went out. It just keeps life interesting, right?!

But this weekend with all the rain, a beautiful rainbow came out! All four of us were in a dear friend's wedding. There's a deep joy that comes when you stand at a wedding and know the two people were meant for each other. The bride and I connected when she was a freshman at our school over a conversation about soccer (of which I know practically nothing) and judgements...and ever since we've learned together, cried together and waited together for her husband. Then this weekend, he took her to be his forever. It was a celebration of celebrations!

Our boy added some humor as the ring bearer. Five minutes into the ceremony he started twirling his pillow wildly. Before he knew it he lost control and the pillow slid straight across the platform through an opening in the risers never to be seen again until the stage was moved. He was devastated and thankfully a friend was nearby to take our heart-broken ring bearer and color with him until it was time to exit with the flower girl. Thankfully the people who saw it thought it hilarious especially the mother of the groom.

Because my phone died before the ceremony even started, we'll have to wait on some of the photographer's awesome photos to share. We did manage to get this one along with some really fun photo booth shots... And of course a video or two or our girl and boy dancing their hearts out at the celebration!

We're looking forward to a week with a lot less rain...our van is again working, Jason is feeling great, our bathroom ceiling is sort of fixed and homeschool resumes tomorrow. Sounds like sunshine to me!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Homeschool Cont. and Pictures

Almost on a weekly basis our homeschool tutor/good friend shares valuable new insights on resources and methods for teaching. Today was no different and I wanted to share just in case some of you see this tonight and can also get the FREE download of Hooked on Phonics Classroom App. Wish I'd found this out earlier to share with you but today, May 6th, you can download it at the App Store free. Also, two other websites she told me about that I've still got to check out are linked here. The first is an all-in-one online, free homeschool that might be a great supplement to what we/you are already doing. And finally, an additional way to help those numbers (and really any subject) make more sense to our little ones is Khan Academy a "free, world-class education for anyone anywhere." I'm really excited to check that one out!

Before I get to some fun pictures from the last few weeks, I also wanted to mention a few other resources we've been happily using in this homeschool journey. When I recently took Levi to the pediatrician they were very concerned that he couldn't draw a picture of a person. I thought it an arbitrary concern and had I been more quick-witted would have bragged that he can draw a pretty realistic piece of poop if they wanted to see that.... In any case I left chuckling to myself that I'm not in the least worried about his inability to draw our family yet still took the challenge to work a bit more on his fine motor skills. Two things are helping us move beyond poop: Slow and Steady Get Me Ready (I skip some of the silly lessons in lieu of the ones I think sound productive) and his very own Getting Ready for the Code. I also have a thick Montessori at Home booklet that is amazing but still intimidating to implement. Finally, for both kids we've been reading through The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury that has a host of fun, classic read alouds.

And now, for a few pictures from our weeks. Somehow I'm not able to resize them in blogger so here they are in all their small, no-particular-order glory.

Egg hunt and other festivities at our church

Overcoming Reshma's fear of dogs. These therapy dogs came to our university to help students destress on finals week!

Lake time with our resident assistants

Checking on Daddy

Reshma's first American wedding

Rain, rain we love to play

Our 2014 Passover meal

Saying goodnight to Papa after bath time at Nana's. 
We don't have a tub at home so bubble baths are a luxury.

Enjoying the sunshine with friends

First haircut in America.

And finally...

Photo resizing is working for the final picture. Our 2013-2014 RA team that made it through this crazy year with us was an incredible team! At the end of the week they, along with their peers, head out for summer break and a little change of pace begins at our place! 

Sunday, May 4, 2014


{Part of this post was written from a trampoline, the other beside a four year old who was wishing an inch worm back to life, the third from bed late at night and the fourth during Sunday afternoon quiet time. Forgive me if it's a bit muddled.}

First off, let me echo the good advice I've heard from other families. Every child and family is different. For some a curriculum can work wonders while for others it won't work at all. The following mix of curriculum is what's working for us right now. There's really no formula. Homeschooling is a mix of fun and discipline. It's not about laziness or aiming below national standards. It's actually the opposite just tailoring learning to the individual needs and passions of the student! Some days for us are exciting and fun. I'd been lying if I didn't also add that some days we barely make it through without strangling each other. We're all learning in this new process! Although I graduated several years ago with a degree in early childhood and elementary education and taught for a year overseas, I still consider myself a complete novice in the world of homeschooling and curriculum. Homeschooling from kindergarten up seems daunting enough so the situation we find ourselves in starting with an older child who is just learning English with lots of gaps in all subjects is a true challenge.  

While I agree that starting children with a rigorous curriculum can challenge kids to excel above and beyond, it can also swing the other way and bring great discouragement. Very quickly into this adventure I decided that while I want to challenge Reshma to learn great things and make great progress, seeing her light up when she succeeds is much more important than learning right now about Ancient Rome or Latin or even Astronomy for that matter. We're laying a firm foundation and that's starting out really simple, brick by educational, phonetical brick.

Starting out this year I visited this site and printed off several grade levels of standards. When it became apparent that so much of the information was beyond us with Reshma's growing English vocabulary, we moved back to the basics of phonics, reading (a lot of reading to and shared reading of stories), writing (learning to construct simple sentences), math, science and history. We started informally right after she came home with 100 Easy Lessons to Teach Your Child to Read but when we reached a level of frustration with the book and it quit working for us, we moved to Explode the Code booklets. Reshma went from dreading language time to loving it. That is success! However, we've only been using the books for a short time so time will tell if this love continues. I've also been eyeing the highly acclaimed All About Reading and may look into that curriculum too just to make sure we are laying the strongest, best foundation possible. For now though both Levi and Reshma are enjoying their individual books and Reshma even asks to do her lessons.  That was not the case toward the end of our 100 Easy Lessons so we are thankful that this season of phonics can be fun and enjoyable.

For writing we've worked on writing prompts I and her tutor give her and I've even been interweaving a bit of content from First Language Lessons in our writing projects. Paired with her writing, we've been working through Dolch sight words using ten per week for spelling words to increase her vocabulary and word recognition. The website has been a great help with learning the words along with a tic-tac-toe sheet that lets her chose spelling word activities. When we finish our Dolch list I anticipate looking into All About Spelling for continued spelling work.

For Math I was looking for something to cover the basics that had color and character. While many recommend Saxon or Singapore (I don't have experience with either) the bland layout of the books scared me away. Reshma loves Math...and I wanted to keep that love. We settled on Math Connects by MacMillian/McGraw-Hill. We mix some concepts from Touch Math (this has worked wonders) and Math-U-See. Already, with great help from our tutor, we've seen gains in Math and a continued love for the subject! 

For History and Science we're trying something new. After trying my hardest to make A Child's History of the World work for us, I gave in and decided it was too much for where we are currently. Comprehension was way down and the content, though facinating, seemed so impractical and disconnected from the information Reshma already knows. So, instead we restarted with a two-fold approach. For continued learning about India we downloaded Voice of the Martyrs free series on Bold Believers in India. About three times per week we're looking up places and things in India while hearing stories of great faith. As a bonus we're talking a lot about the differences between religions. It's been so good! Simultaneously, while building on her understanding of the different Indian states we're diving into American history with Abeka's Our America. It's simple yet thorough enough to give her a better understanding of national symbols, national leaders and the formation of the country in which she now lives. So far this has been an excellent launching point. For Science we also chose the same strategy of covering a variety of topics and opting to dive deeper into subjects as her vocabulary improves. Abeka's Enjoying God's World is proving to be a great fit right now!

Finally, my most exciting find is the one that we incorporate every night at bed time. Often, after our game of in-the-dark hide-n-seek, snacks and teeth brushing, we read a book together like most families do. We've read lots of different books and series but have really wanted to find a Bible that captured the attention of both our kids. After searching Amazon I picked one and have been SO, SO happy with the choice. Once, after accidentally leaving it in a hotel room, we all talked about how much we missed reading it together and ordered another through a friend with two-day shipping so we could get a new one as fast as possible.

With 500+ pages this one gives a thorough look at the Old and New Testaments, has great illustrations which include darker skinned characters and is worded perfectly for both our four and nine year old to understand. They look forward to reading what happens next and don't let us forget that we have to read before bed. I love the discussions we're having from this children's Bible!

And there you have the simple version of what's working for us in this season. Next year's schooling choice is still up in the air...we know there are many advantages to home and public school and we're weighing all the factors. For now, though, the right choice for us has been school at home and I've been so thankful for all of the great curriculum finds. 

How about you, homeschooling families? What curriculum jewels have you found or do you plan on trying?