Showing newest 9 of 30 posts from January 2010. Show older posts
Showing newest 9 of 30 posts from January 2010. Show older posts

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Adoption Books for Kids

Here are some of our kids favorite books about adoption:

Love You Like Crazy Cakes  This is such a charming and cute book. Specifically about China but good for any country or situation.

Seeds of Love  Excellent book if you are traveling to bring home a new sibling.  Talks specifically about the separation time while parents are away adopting the new sibling.  A tiny bit dated, in one scene the mom is packing for the trip to China and she packs lots of rolls of film.  My kids asked what film was!!!  That aside it is a terrific book.

Boyra and the Burps  This story specifically deals with adoption from eastern europe.  My boys love this book, partly because they too are from eastern europe, but also because it talks about burping and boys always love that topic.  This story is told from the perspective of a little boy and his adjustment from life in an orphanage to a home.

Let's Talk About It: Adoption  This is a Mr Rogers book.  This book too is a bit dated, but my kids have always loved Mr Rogers.  This would be a great book to give to cousins or friends, it is a very sweet, simple and accurate look at adoption.

A Mother for Choco  A favorite in our house for a long time.  Very cute board book about a bird looking for a mom who looks just like him.

This book is not about adoption, but about a Korean dish called Bee-bim Bop!.  The girls in particular love this book, and I enjoy reading it.  I loved to eat Bee-bim Bop even before we had Korea daughters. It portrays a mother and daughter preparing a beloved dish together, very cute and culturally positive story.

We have owned several copies of More, More, More Said the Baby  My mom first gave us this book when we just had the older boys, little did we know how much our family would soon resemble all the characters!

Another book that is culturally positive is called Rechenka's Eggs  It is a story about a woman in old Russia who decorates beautiful Ukrainian eggs.  She cares for an injured goose which she eventually nurses back to good health.  Wonderful illustrations.

We just stumbled across this book in the library, Ron's Big Mission and all the kids enjoyed it.  I have added it to our wish list, really good on lots of levels.

All Work and No Play?

  Tonight I read an article called Serious Play Careless Work by Elisabeth Elliott.  I thought this piece was profound, and so completely and utterly true.  We are raising children who can't entertain themselves and all of their "play" is completely organized by others.  We are doing them a disservice when we think they don't have time to do chores around the home, or it is easier for us to accomplish a project when they are not involved.

A couple of sections were particularly interesting to me....

          "If a child is not given to understand that he has a responsibility to help make the wheels of home run smoothly - if he is not given work which matters, in other words - why should he imagine that it matters, very much whether he cooperates with teachers and fellow students?  His parents have failed to give attention to a vital matter.  Their attention has been elsewhere - on their own interests, jobs, amusements, physical fitness, or only on the child's health and a misguided notion of happiness which leaves out work altogether.  If the "quality time" his father spends with him is limited to amusements rather than work, small wonder the child assumes nobody really likes work."


         "Happiness, after all, is a choice.  Let your child see that you put heart and soul into the work God has given you to do.  Do it for Him - that changes the whole climate of your home.  Draw the child into acceptance of responsibility by starting very early.  Expect the best.  If you expect them to oppose you, to "goof off," to be terrible at two, rude at ten, intractable as teenagers, then they won't disappoint you."

I encourage you to read the entire article.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Every mom's favorite laundry basket picture........empty!!  

This is how these baskets are supposed to look every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon.  At least for a few minutes, until they rather rapidly fill back up again.  And, no, no pictures of how they look on Sunday night!  I am not even sure you can see the baskets.  

A few months ago I started using this particular system of having everyone put their dirty clothes in these baskets instead of having hampers in each of the rooms.  There is a basket for lights, colors, and darks.  I am still training everyone on actually getting items in the correct basket, but they manage to get it right about 90% of the time.  It has been a huge time-saver to have most things sorted before I start laundry for the day.  I wash and fold and then everyone helps put their own items away a couple of times throughout the day.  My goal is to have it done and put away by dinner.

The bag of socks below (left) is a different story.  I kept finding random socks in the basement, in the shoe closet, or under a chair.  I decided to hold on to the socks and not wash them until the offenders (the big boys) realize that they have no more socks to wear.  They should realize it in a day or two, however they have no problem putting on their shoes without socks no matter what the temperature is outside.  The bag to the right is my laundry room trash bag, you do have a trash container in your laundry room don't you?  Oh, and the clothes sleeves you can see on the left?  Clothes I need to iron.  I haven't ironed since summer!

My 5 gallon bucket of laundry detergent.  You are making your own laundry detergent, aren't you?  Liquid Laundry Soap


Jonah and Leah are "working out".  For some reason Jonah was motivated to do some stretches the other day, and Leah was ready to join in.  As Jonah was counting his stretches it was so cute to hear Leah following along.  Her speech has really improved over the past few months.  Now she will attempt to say  any word and says lots of things on her own.  She definitely keeps making progress.  In fact, she is "graduating" from two speech sessions, to one speech session and a session of occupational therapy.

We have been very happy with her preschool program.  Her teacher has been really good about continually assessing where she is and making changes as needed.  The perk of being at a private, small preschool.  Leah is still Leah of course - a handful - but always lots of fun :)

Wrapping up Another Celebrated Dancing Bear

We wrapped up our reading of Another Celebrated Dancing Bear with tea and a spice cake with vanilla frosting from Tea & Cake with the Saints.  The girls helped make the cake and Levi liked watching it bake.  He even included the appropriate "mmmm" sounds :)  At dinner Jonah was in charge of giving Dad a narration of the book, Sarah was responsible for remembering some of the ingredients that went into the cake, and Jacob shared some of the highlights of the US/Soviet space race.  It was a fun book to read and we decided that a trip to the circus was a necessary addition to our future "to-do" list.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Crock-pot Stacked Enchiladas

      Tuesdays and Thursdays are my "crock-pot" days.  These are the evenings that we are busiest with activities and Bob may or may not be home to help get the kids where they need to be.  Either way I know that dinner is going to be ready.  The added bonus is that I can dump things in either after breakfast and clean up a good portion of dinner along with breakfast dishes, or dump things in after lunch and clean up with lunch dishes.  This is the meal we had on Tuesday.  It was easy, good, and most of the kids ate it well. Here is the recipe from Recipezaar, Crock Pot Stacked Enchiladas.  The only modifications I made were that I used only one pound of ground beef, and I added a can of black beans and a can of corn.  I cooked it on LOW for 4 hours, as some of the reviewers said it was a bit mushy.  That worked great.  I served it with this Cornbread recipe and some fruit.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Our Adoption Story

Our Adoption story was written by a good friend, Heather Schultz, for The Catholic Times in November 2009.  Note: we brought Anna and Levi home in December 2009.

        The Dunlaps are just like any other family.
Yes, Bob and Jennifer Dunlap have adopted all of their children, but the couple insists they have only done what anyone else can do.
November is National Adoption Month, and Jennifer says although “not everyone is called to adopt, (everyone can) pray for kids waiting for families, and possible even help financially.”
“It’s so easy for us to not think about the suffering in the world,” said Jennifer. “If every Christian family did adopt a child, there wouldn’t be any more waiting. God’s not calling everybody to adopt. But it’s there in the Bible that we need to care for orphans. Even if you’re just praying -- what you say in that two-second prayer does make a difference.”
Some time before the end of this year, the Dunlaps, plan to bring home their fifth and sixth children -- Anna, 5, and Levi, 2.  The Dunlaps are adopting their newest children from St. Vincent in the Caribbean. Their older children hail from Russia (Jacob, 8; Jonah, 6) and Korea (Sarah, 5; Leah, 3).
The couple began considering adoption after trying to get pregnant for some time without success. They weren’t interested in seeking medical intervention.
“We never felt the need to get pregnant at any cost,” explained Jennifer. “We just wanted to be parents.”
She added, “We used to pray to get pregnant.  Then I remember looking at a statue of Mary and saying, ‘I want us to be parents. I want to be a mom. I don’t care how it happens.’”
Shortly after that, Jennifer came across information about an adoption seminar.
“I asked Bob, and he said he would go,” she said. “I had to ask him again, because I knew that if I went, I would want to go in that direction.”
The couple knew that night that they wanted to adopt.
They began the adoption process with European Adoption Consultants ( in February of 2001.  Their son Jacob came home that October at six months of age.
Having the opportunity to be parents has strengthened the Dunlaps’ faith. “I see the Lord speaking to me in so many ways, in being a father,” said Bob. “My kids can disobey, they can yell and scream, and at the end of the day when you tuck them in, you love them just like you did in the morning. Fatherhood teaches me a lot about how God loves me even when I disobey and act out.”
In offering advice to other families considering adoption, Jennifer explained, “I did the research backward.  I liked the agency and then I found out about it. We educated ourselves about the problems we may face, and different issues.  But with all of our kids, we felt this is a child God has meant for our family. We believed God would give us the grace to get through the challenges.”
Jennifer believes their adoption of Sarah was a clear example of God at work. She said, “I feel like God plucked her out of Korea and dropped her in our laps.”
Shortly after they had brought home Jonah, someone sent Jennifer an email with Sarah’s picture that read, “Is this your child?”  The picture came from, a website with information about children around the world who are waiting for adoption.
The Dunlaps were not considering adopting another child at that time, but while Jennifer was looking at the picture, Jacob walked by and asked, “Are you looking at a picture of my sister?”  That night, while Jennifer’s mom was babysitting, Jacob told her, “Oh, that’s just my sister.”
Jennifer put the picture on their refrigerator, and the Dunlaps began praying the little girl would find a family.
“It didn’t occur to me that she should be in my family,” said Jennifer. “But then I read a book about taking a leap of faith, and about how God provides everything.”
When Jennifer discussed the matter with Bob, he said he also had been thinking they should adopt the little girl in the picture. That night, the two decided they wanted to proceed with the adoption. However, they didn’t know how the process would work financially, since they had just brought home Jonah.
The next morning, their tax accountant asked them to come in to sign some paperwork. On the way, they were talking about how to make Sarah’s adoption a reality.
They went in one at a time to sign the paperwork, since the boys were in the car.
Jennifer said, “I went in first to sign, saw the amount on the paperwork, and asked, ‘What is this amount?’”
When the secretary explained that was their refund amount, Jennifer asked, “Are you sure?”
The amount was within $100 of what they needed to bring Sarah home.
Sarah’s adoption also went the fastest for the Dunlaps. They originally saw Sarah’s picture on her first birthday, March 3, 2005; Sarah was in her “forever home” with Bob and Jennifer by July 4, 2005.
“Things like that don’t happen to us,” said Jennifer. “We felt that was God saying, ‘I told you all you have to do is say ‘Yes’ and I’ll take care of you.’”
Bob agreed adoption requires a “leap of faith.” “You have to trust about affording it, safety in your travels, getting the child meant for you, and picking the right agency,” he said. “There are so many leaps of faith you take in that process.”
“It tests your faith and it confirms your faith,” he added. “When it happens … God’s like, ‘I told you everything was going to be OK. Just trust in me.’”
In fact, although Jennifer understands why finances are often people’s main concern when they consider adoption, she said, “We are trying to do what God wants us to do. It’s His money anyway. He’ll work out the details. We’ve certainly had to make sacrifices, and to make different choices. But it’s been OK. It’s not a hard sacrifice to make.”
One reason Sarah’s adoption process went so quickly, and in fact, cost less than normal adoptions, is that Sarah was considered a “special needs” child.
“We didn’t set out to adopt a child with special needs,” said Jennifer. “What they said Sarah had she doesn’t have. And if she would’ve, it was a mild condition. It wasn’t life-threatening.”
Jennifer knows some families specifically seek to adopt children with special needs; for instance, her sister is in the process of adopting a child from Armenia who has Down’s Syndrome. Jennifer said there is even a waiting list to adopt Down’s Syndrome children from within the U.S., because about 90 percent of Down’s Syndrome children are aborted.
“It’s more the child who came along (that we were called to adopt). We’ve always firmly felt there are no guarantees with any child,” said Jennifer. “Bob’s sister Dana has two kids with cystic fibrosis, and there was nothing on either side to suggest they should look for it. You never know what God’s going to give you. Hopefully God will give us the grace to get through (the challenges that come).”
Most recently, the Dunlaps decided a Caribbean adoption would be a good fit for their family because they could take their other children with them when they traveled. All of the Dunlaps’ adoptions have required some amount of travel.
This time, the Dunlaps chose to work with Creative Adoptions ( Choosing a good adoption agency is of utmost importance, Jennifer said. Since different agencies often specialize in different countries, the Dunlaps have used three different agencies for all of their children. Sarah and Leah were adopted through Children’s Home Society (
“We were going to adopt from Jamaica,” Jennifer said. “Then the director (of Creative Adoptions) called and said that two children were available in our age-range from St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We felt this is what God was calling us to all along, and He used a different route to bring us here.”
Although taking their four children with them to St. Vincent was “more hectic” than traveling by themselves, Jennifer believed traveling as a family also brought “huge benefits. “They got to meet their new siblings, and break the ice,” she explained. “It was much easier than I expected. As soon as we saw Anna and Levi on the front porch, all of my kids went up right away and were hugging and kissing them.”
Sarah and Anna formed a particularly close bond, probably since they are so close in age, said Jennifer. She hopes that will help Anna make a smoother transition to her new home. Being with her biological brother, Levi, also should provide good support.
Although some countries allow an escort to bring adopted children to the U.S. so families don’t have to travel, Jennifer recommends traveling to the adoptive child’s country.
“If the only thing keeping you from adopting is the travel -- do the escort,” she said. “But there are benefits from going to the country (where your child is from). You experience the culture, and it gives you a much better appreciation for the U.S. It gives you insight as to where your child came from. It’s also easier for the child.”
The Dunlaps are very open with their children about their adoptions. “It’s a normal part of everyday conversation,” said Jennifer. “We pray for their birth families every night. We want them to feel like any time they have questions, we are OK with it.”
Not knowing the circumstances behind her children’s adoptions makes it easier in some ways, Jennifer said. “We can say we don’t know,” she explained. “I (can say) I don’t have the answers, but I know from the moment God thought of you, you were meant to be in this family.”
Jennifer continued, “The plans God had in store for our family were so much bigger and better than we could have imagined. I don’t ever wonder why God didn’t plan for us to give birth. I know why. I know God planned for us to have these kids in our family. I couldn’t ask for better kids than we have.”
Considering adoption? Bob and Jennifer Dunlap, who are in the process of adopting their fifth and sixth children, offer these words of advice:
1. Read Catholic author Dr. Ray Guarendi’s book “Adoption: Choose it, Live it, Love it.”
2. Find a good agency, preferably an expert in the country from which you are planning to adopt.
3. Consider Adoption Advocates ( for your home study, which is required regardless of the type of adoption you pursue (international, domestic, foster).  Jennifer recommended social worker Wendy Panourgias.
3.  Don’t let the cost scare you away. The Dunlaps’ adoption costs have ranged from $15,000 to $40,000 per child. “We’ve done various things, including home equity loans,” said Jennifer. “Sometimes there are grants for special needs children. There are organizations there to help, but you have to do the footwork.”
There also is a $10,000 tax credit per child, available after the adoption is finalized; you can apply for low-cost adoption loans; and not much cost is involved with adoptions done through foster care.
Many companies offer adoption benefits, said Bob. If your company doesn’t offer these benefits, suggest they do. Bob has been successful in doing this. He recommends downloading a form on the Internet (search “adoption benefit proposal”), and tailoring it to your individual company.
Jennifer also encourages people not personally called to adopt to consider providing financial support to people who are trying to adopt.
4. Do Internet research. Jennifer said connecting with people who have adopted is a huge source of support. There are Yahoo groups for almost every country. 
The following are some particularly useful websites: Rainbow Kids ( is a photolisting of children in the US and abroad, with a lot of adoption articles; Brittany’s Hope ( provides a photolisting of children abroad; Dave Thomas Foundation ( has information about foster care and adoption; Adoptive Families Magazine (; and 
5. Reflect on the following Bible verses: Mark 9:37, Matthew 18:5, Sirach 4:10, and Romans 8:14-17.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Adoption Books

Here is a list of adoption books I have found helpful:

Adoption: Choosing It, Living It, Loving It  By Dr Ray Guarendi

Real Parents, Real Children by van Gulden & Bartels-Rabb

Adoption Parenting

Toddler Adoption: The Weaver's Craft by Mary Hopkins Best

Raising Adopted Children by Lois Ruskai Melina

Adopting the Hurt Child by Keck & Kupecky

The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis

Attaching in Adoption by Deborah Gray

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne, M. Ed not an adoption book, but here are my reasons for adding it to this list.

Brothers and Sisters in Adoption by Arleta James

Lucky Girl  an engaging memoir about a woman and her birth family

Some you will want to read cover to cover and others you will pick up to thumb through the index.  All good books to investigate.

2010 Reading List

I plan on updating this throughout the year......

The Bible  (always reading)

1) The Company of Cheerful Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith

2) Educating the Whole Hearted Child by Sally Clarkson (should have waited for the updated version due out this summer!)

3) Homeschooling with a Meek & Quiet Spirit  by Teri Maxwell
~The main point of this book is that without a personal relationship with Jesus, it is impossible to have a meek and quiet spirit with which to teach and train our children.  Finding that quiet time for personal prayer is essential.  She gives tips on how to spend personal prayer time as well as tips on how to avoid meek and quiet spirit "robbers".  She also includes many stories from her own life as well as a few letters from readers of their discussion board.  A short book, that contains many good reminders for a more fruitful and peaceful homeschool day.

4) Write These Laws on Your Children by Robert Kunzman
~This book is written by a non-homeschooling parent.  He spends considerable time with several different families examining how they homeschool, what curriculum they use, and of course how they "socialize".  His main point of research though is how and if homeschooling is raising civic minded people.  Are homeschooled children given the opportunity to see another worldview, or are they stifled by their parents beliefs?  A fairly balanced and accurate portrayal of homeschool families, however I am glad I did not get it from the book store, but rather checked it out from the library.

 5) Sacred Parenting  by Gary Thomas
~I really enjoyed this book.  Not a parenting "how-to", but a book that talks about how God uses parenting and our children to shape and challenge us in our faith walk.  "Through sacred parenting we learn to act courageously, regardless of how afraid we may feel.  And when we step out in faith, we allow God to shape our souls in ways that will develop us far beyond the parenting part of our lives" (p.97)

 6) Dancing with My Father: How God Leads Us into a Life of Grace and Joy by Sally Clarkson
I hate to say it, but I didn't love this book.  I had very high expectations and they just didn't match up with the book.  I guess it was a bit redundant and it continued to say the same things over and over, just in a different way.  Basically have joy and be joyful regardless of the circumstances of our life.  We can find joy in any situation and God has certainly created us to delight in Him.  I did enjoy reading about the personal stories that were throughout the book.  I am still very much looking forward to reading The Mission of Motherhood, also by Sally Clarkson.

7) The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child's Heart for Eternity  This is a great book, it definitely exceeded my expectations.  I highly recommend it.  One of my favorite quotes from the book "In addition, as mothers establish the work of the home with honor and dignity, our neighborhoods, towns, governments, and institutions will prosper by being filled with wholehearted, secure human beings who have been prepared to live for God's purposes."

8) Beloved  Loved this little book.  Lots of little gems to ponder.  Very easy to pick up and put down or read all in one sitting!

9) The Three R's  Just what I needed to read.  A must read for anyone home educating young (preschool-3rd grade) children.  I wish I would have read this at the beginning of our homeschooling journey.

10) Dr. Beechick's Homeschool Answer Book  more great wisdom from Dr Beechick in a very easy to read format.  Packed with good stuff!

11) One Blood  interesting discussion, from an evangelical perspective, on racism and darwinism.  How we are all one race from Adam & Eve

12) Simplicity Parenting  here is what I had to say about this great book!

13) Miserly Moms  lots of helpful tips

14) Healthy Meals for Less  so far the meals have been good

15) Helen Keller

16) Growing up Black in White  interesting look at transracial adoption from the adoptees perspective

17) The Language Wars classic Beechick, really helpful

18) Quirky Kids an interesting look a quirky kids.  I already knew we had one, but still interesting.  Good resources for further reading and investigation.  I most enjoyed the little stories from families interspersed throughout the book.

19) Anna Karenina  finally finished!  The beginning and the end were a bit longish for me, but the middle made it all worth it.  A captivating book and I am so glad I finally got around to reading it.

20) No Turning Back powerful conversion story, would be of particular interest to young men/men and moms of young men who have fallen away from their faith.

21) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society  this was a good read and a nice follow up to Anna Karenina.  I thought the letters were a charming way to tell a story and has prompted some interest in the Guernsey Islands!

22) Simplify Your Life - ready my review here

23) Dressing with Dignity

24) Kimchi & Calamari  nice tween adoption story

25) You Can Teach Your Child Successfully  more classic Beechick, I love it!

26) Wild Fire  mystery involving the FBI, terrorism post 9/11

27) Sarah Palin

28) Geometry of Sisters

29) Home Schooling Children with Special Needs  great book that offers resources and many tips for homeschooling children with different needs.

30) Brothers and Sister in Adoption

31) Gifted and Graced

32) The Domestic Church: Room by Room

33) Mrs. Dunwoody's Excellent Instruction for Homekeeping

34) Moving a Puddle  Essays by Sandra Dodd on Unschooling

35) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo  interesting story set in an interesting location - Sweden!  Some rated "R" parts, but still an absorbing mystery.

36) Lazy B memoir of Sandra Day O'Connor and her family growing up in the Southwest.  Ranch life is not for the faint of heart!

37) Stories for the Homeschool Heart  this was as good as everyone has been saying

38) Freshwater Road a fictional peek into the civil rights movement in the south in the early 60's

39) Lucky Girl a very engaging memoir regarding adoption and reconnecting with birth family.  I really enjoyed the whole thing.

40) The Blessing

41) Rebuild my Church

42) Friday Night Knitting Club inspired me to pick up a scarf I had been working on!

43) Knit Two

44) Knit the Season

45) Free - Range Knitter


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