Smlwoman\’s Weblog

“Waiting for that golden moment when fear and desire die, and only the unspeakable reality of love remains. “

Math Memory Game November 2, 2013


My kids struggle with math.  And it is not my best subject.  So I came up with a game to make learning the equations more fun.  I have four children and all of them are at different levels.  1-4th grade.  With this game we can all play it together but still be challenged at our own level.  I posted a picture of all you will need.  I used empty cups from the crystal light.  School Glue. Black construction paper or card stock, A Gold acrylic paint pen, or a white out pen, and the canaster to hold the crystal light, and scissors.  I glued black paper in so the numbers are not seen on the reverse side.  I wrote numbers on the paper with a gold deco color pen.  If you don’t have a pen like that, they sell them at Michaels and are not too expensive, you can also use a white out pen.  It is less expensive and works just as great as you can see with the number 8 I made.  If you have just one level, you can write equations, then the kids have to match them but have to answer the question in a specific time to collect the cups.  For my kids I used just numbers.  Now my 6 year old can add the numbers to get the right answer and my 4th grader can multiply the same numbers to get the cups.  I can even use it for division and subtraction if I don’t use anything other then numbers.  And the containers for the crystal light are a perfect place to store the game when you are done playing it!

So the rules:

Youngest goes first

play goes clock wise

on your turn: turn over two cups multiply, subtract, add, or divide the numbers to get the right answer in less then 30 seconds. (As the parent you set what each child has to do, so there is no easy way out.  Remember it is a game but you want to help them learn their math facts faster.)

If you get it right you keep the cups.

play ends when all cups are gone and winner is the one with the most cups.

Have fun!


Remembering Biological Parents Even When You Wish They Would Forget

Filed under: adoptions in reno,Life as a Mom,my thoughts,Uncategorized — smlwoman @ 12:09 pm

arius bio letterSometimes I forget that my kids think about their birth parents. It catches me off guard when I ask my son what he’s doing and he says he’s writing a letter to his birth mom. He wants to let her know how much he’s grown, and he loves her and wants her to stop taking drugs so he can see her again. He’s never met her. I have no pics of her. I’ve never met her. I wrote a heartfelt letter to her when she relinquished him, and it got to her much later while she was in jail. We never heard back from her though. Secretly it hurts to hear him write this letter. It leaves me feeling like I’m not doing enough to love him. It’s almost like secretly I wish they would love me so much that they would forget about them. Forget about the ones who gave them all these struggles in the first place. But logically I know this wont happen. Nor should it. It is my job to help them feel good about their birth parents so they feel good about themselves.  To help them understand that they didn’t abandon them, but loved them enough to give them a better life and safer life. To let make sure they know how hard it was for them to let them go in the first place. And to make sure they know how lucky I am to have such wonderful children to love and care for. It’s my job to give them positive hope that they will one day see them again and get to share all these letters and feelings with them. As I watch my little boy’s eyes fill with tears as he realizes he can’t actually send this beautiful letter to the woman he knows about, but wants to believe she lives butterflies, I do just that. I help him feel better. I hug him tight, I let him express that he misses her and wonders about her. I tell him positive reasons why she didn’t write. I hug him tight and tell him how much I love him and that I’m grateful for God giving me a perfect son.  Hoping inside that when he is older this is what he will remember instead of how much he gets in trouble. But secretly I think how easily positives are lost and bogged down by negatives. I say secretly because I would never share these fears with him. But with others I will share so that people understand other sides of adoption and that I’m not a super mom, I’m just a mom. And thankful to be one.


My Family So Far June 24, 2012

Filed under: adoptions in reno,Children,foster care in reno,Life as a Mom — smlwoman @ 10:17 am

I have adopted 4 children as of May 11,2012. I am a single mom, have always been single. I am truly blessed! From left to right.  My mom, my little brother, my dad( who adopted me), me and my adopted children in the yellow and grey, and my nephew!  I truly encourage single adults who are really longing for kids, to check into adopting children from foster care. It has it’s ups and downs as all adoptions do.  But in the end it is truly amazing!  If you don’t think you can do it financially, again I would say look into your local foster care, there is help!


100 Days of School Project 2012 February 17, 2012

This is by far one of my favorite events in school with my kids. This year it was my own children’s turn to make a project. I was so excited to do this, that I started planning in the beginning of the year!

When fall came I started taking one of my children to go collect Acorn tops. We collected big and little ones.  We knew the bottoms fall off the trees way before the tops do.  Once we saw the bottoms on the ground we knew it wouldn’t be too much longer.  We waited another 3 weeks and finally there were a lot on the ground. We did have to get a few from the trees because we needed a hundred of them and not enough had fallen off yet. When we had enough, we put them in a bag in the garage and waited for our 100th day of school!  Finally the week came for the project! Our 100th day of school fell on Valentines day this year, so they postponed the celebration until the 15th.  I grabbed a brownish orange posterboard from the store to use for the body. I drew the acorn first, but found later I should have just drawn a line to show my child where to stop and let her glue them on. My origional acorn was too large for the ammount of acorn tops that we had.  We wound up just drawing the line after a few mishaps.

First we counted out our 100 acorn tops and double, tripple checked our count.  This is important because it is very hard to recount them after they are on the acorn.  I am sure there is a better way to glue them on so you can count them easier, maybe in 10 rows of 10, but we didnt’ think of this until after we already had them glued on.  She painted a thick layer of glue on about 2 inches wide and 12″ long, and then she started to put the acorn tops on the glue.  We added more glue with a paint brush as we worked our way to the top of the acorn and the stem.  This kept the glue from drying too fast on us.

Another lesson learned is:  I would have used Elmers Glue All instead of school glue. It was way too watery, and left the paper pretty wet and hard to dry. By morning it still wasn’t dried, so I turned it over and turned the ceiling fan on and that helped it to dry while we were getting ready for school. It was still a little wet an hour later, but not too bad.  Another thing that was helpful is I put a heavy book on top of the acorn tops to keep the paper from folding and lifting up as it dried.  After she had all the tops on, I cut out an acorn shape on the bottom. I think it turned out great! And she was pretty proud of it too! Her teacher loved it and hung it up in the classroom.  She was the only one who did something like this and felt even more of a sense of pride when she saw her teacher make such a big deal out of it and to hear the oohs and aahs of her classmates.  She collected the acorns herself with a little help from her big sister, and she glued them all on herself, and counted them out all by herself.  The only thing I did was show her how much glue to use and how to put the glue on the first time, and then i cut out the final shape.  We had a blast working on this together, and I can’t wait to do another 100 days of school project with my youngest child next year!


I hate Parent visit days October 18, 2011

I get so upset on the mornings I know my kiddos are going to see bio parents. It used to not bother me. But this was before I was going to adopt them. I used to love sitting and listening to the parents stories of the kid’s lives. I used to love trying to get them to go to fun places to play with their kids. I used to love finding the right bus routes to make it easier for them to get to dr. apts. I used to love it because I was teaching. I expected the children to go back home. But then things got frustrating when the parents didn’t respond to any of my efforts. They didn’t follow through on any of my fun plans. This caused dissapointment and heart ache.
Now I hate parent visit days. I feel that all our privacy is taken away. I dont’ like my adopted children getting hugs from these people. They are just people, but when they lose their kids, they can become harmful people. And now my adopted children have learned to trust them.

I don’t understand why a parent who is facing Termination of parental rights and has to be supervised in visits has the right to go to dr. and dental apts. of the children and not be supervised? I also don’t understand why in mediations bio parents get attorneys for free, and foster parents don’t get any support. The county even puts school names in the court documents they give to the bio parents. This again makes no sense to me. Where is privacy protection for the ones who care for the children? Where is the protection for the children after the county is done with the case? Why do I have to feel like I have to move out of my home to give my kids and my family anonimity. We can get slammed for mentioning any little thing about their cases due to privacy laws, but there doesn’t seem to be any privacy laws for the foster parents. I just don’t get that! Why cater to the ones who abuse and not the ones who care for the abused?


How to look for a Good Quality Preschool – Teacher Turn Over July 5, 2011

Filed under: Children,Life as a Mom,Preschool Tips for parents — smlwoman @ 12:40 am
Tags: , , , ,

I have come to realize that a lot of parents are not sure what to look for in a preschool. How do they know if it is the right school for their child? Well I can give you some inside tips about preschools. I was a preschool teacher 20 years, as well as an assistant director for 7 of those years. Working with kids is my passion in life. It is why I taught for so long at such a small wage, and it is why I became a nanny, and it is why I foster and adopt the children in my care.

There are lots of tips so I will break them down to one or two tips per blog. My first tip is about teacher turn over. Preschool teachers are paid very low wages. It is statistically proven that 99% of preschool teachers make poverty wages. Many are taken advantage of. Many are unappreciated. In the first year of teaching you can lose your voice, and have several colds while your body is trying to build up immunity to all the new germs you are exposed to. Some “Open school” plans will allow one teacher to have 20-25 children as long as there are enough teachers in the school to cover ratios. And closed room schools are not much better, you are lucky to get a bathroom break if you need to wait for the director or someone else to come into your room so you can leave to use the restroom. Rarely do Preschool teachers get seen as a teacher. They are often considered glorified babysitters. And it is rare to find a preschool that actually gives it’s teachers their 2/10 minute breaks, and some barely get a lunch if they are to short of staff to cover ratios. You are also required, hours are set depending on which state you work in, to do 15-25 hours of continuing education every year. These hours are unpaid. Most preschool teachers not only teach but clean up vomit, and potty accidents, while also trying to keep 15 children from getting into trouble. They also are the janitors of the school, cleaning bathrooms, cleaning up from lunches, etc. So why do we choose to teach in a preschool?

Some teach to get by while in school. Especially those who are seeking a degree in any career working with children. Some do it for the hours, always off nights and weekends. Some are big kids themselves and then there are some who have a passion for making a difference in the lives of children. It is a career for them. And they spend much of their “personal time” thinking of new and exciting ways to teach. These are the teachers you are looking for. Keep in mind that some teachers may start out in a preschool not having any intention of staying long and then wind up loving what they do so much that their reason for staying changes.

When looking for a school, ask the director how long she has been at this center and how long she has been the director. Ask about turn over. Ask how long the the teacher with the most senority has been at the school. It is rare, but if you find a school with a teacher that has been there for at least 3-5 years then the school treats them right or the teacher has a passion for teaching. If you find a school with several teachers that have been there that long or longer, then snag the school. It means not only do the teachers have a passion for teaching, but that the director helps to keep them from being over stressed. You want a director to be active with their teachers. yes there are things she has to do outside of being in a classroom, but a good director always remembers what it was like to teach before they became a director. If you can find a school like this, and they do exist, then grab it! Preschools with a low turn over rate are not easy to find, but they do exist. And even though this is not the only thing to look for, it is in my opinion, one of the most important ones.


Loving Strangers February 3, 2011

I was reading a friends blog and she mentioned something that I have been struggling with as well.  Kids adapting to new kids in the family. 

My nephew is my love!  He is the whole reason I moved back home.  I cried every time I left and when I would get pictures of him in the mail I would cry.  I wanted to be here to be a part of his life.  And when I moved back home I did just that.  I was the cool Aunt.  The one who took him to the best places, the one who got him the cool toys, and the one who showed him how to play cool things like Gak and squirt bottle tag. 

Then I decided I wanted to adopt and have my own children.  My nephew took this very hard.  A few months after I got Arius, I took my nephew into the bedroom and held him because he was upset at Arius.  I asked him if he was angry that I brought Arius into the family.  I told him he could tell me the truth and I wouldn’t get angry at him.  He said Yes and started to cry hard.  I held him and tried my best to explain how I wanted to be a mommy and how Arius needed a mommy.   I promised to still try to do things with him sometimes that is just him and I.  But when he started school it became a lot more difficult.  I thought this talk would have helped him, but in his mind, Arius is with me all the time, having the time of his life.  Or maybe because he has seen me get angry with Arius he thinks that Arius has turned me into a mean person instead of his cool Aunt.  I am not sure.  My mom said the other day my nephew was looking at pictures she had up of Arius and Reasa and Seany, and she saw him make an X over their pictures.  She said it was like he was crossing them out.  When she asked him about it, he clammed up.  He is only 6 and already bottles up his emotions and thoughts.  It had been a while since I had taken him out so durring break I took him and Jasmine to play lazer tag and just have a fun day together.  He seems to get along great with my oldest girl.  I wish I knew what to do to help him love Arius the way I do.  Or that I could find a way to help them become good friends at least. (more…)