Nurturing our families, navigating adoption, and homeschooling

Happy Summer: Episode 20

Hello everyone and welcome to our Happy Summer Episode 20. It’s going to be short and sweet but meaningful we hope!


Amber and I have LOVED sharing Southern Joy with you over the last year. We just celebrated our one year anniversary with a Summer Book giveaway on Instagram and Facebook. Today we would like to leave you with a few ideas to make your summer Joyful AND announce our Summer Book Winner.


But first Amber will be leaving for China on May 30 to scoop her baby boy into her arms on June 4th. Be sure to follow her IG account @amberleggio and follow as she travels. I’ll be sure to share anything she shares with me on the SouthernJoyPodcast IG account. Stay tuned for Teagan Day!!!

Here are 5 things to Boost JOY through the summer months:


  1. Read! Go to the library, order one on your Kindle, or borrow from your neighbor. Just get your nose in a book and get away in your mind!
  2. Eat! Find some new recipes or try out all the ones you’ve pinned on your Pinterest wall. We know you have some! Even if it’s once a week, try something new! AND make one night a mom’s night off! Now THAT would bring me JOY!!!
  3. Walk! Find 20-30 min each day for a walk. Even if it’s at the crack of dawn before your house wakes up OR up and down your driveway while the kids play. Exercise will make a world of difference in your attitude, heart, and health!
  4. Sunshine! Get in the sun~ hopefully outside but if not, sit by a bright window and take in the warmth of the sun. When it’s back to freezing days, you’ll be glad you took time to soak in the rays!
  5. Enjoy! The ease of slower days! Try to keep your schedule free and lighthearted. Everyone needs downtime and it’s REALLY okay if the kids seem bored. Let them figure it out. Don’t rescue them. It won’t take long for them to find their own summer groove too!


We hope this gives you just the boost you need to focus on long, joyful summer days. Don’t take a single one for granted. Get up and embrace the day with a positive attitude.

And for the winner of the Summer Book Giveaway: Pagoo, Seabird, and The Burgess Seashore Book IS…

Sprout05: Jennie F. Yay Jennie!

PM SouthernJoy Podcast with your address and we will get your books out to you for the summer. They just might the thing to go along with your summer vacation!!!


Amber and I wish you a wonderful summer and we will be back this fall with a new season 3 of great topics. Until then, we wish you all the Joy in our hearts!!!


Writing with our Children Joyfully: Episode 19

Welcome back to Southern Joy Podcast. In this Episode we are tackling writing and what writing really is. We look forward to sharing what we do in our homeschool days with writing. Our hope is not to tell you how to teach writing, but give you some insight into our days in hopes you can glean something from this topic that may help you.
One of the toughest hurdles we face is changing what we believe writing is to us and our children, and to do that we have to decide what it isn’t…………
1.It’s Not the physical art of pencil to paper.

2. It’s Not handwriting

3. It’s not producing a perfectly polished piece
It is……….

— The thought formed in our mind and spoken out loud

— Can be written on paper by anyone

— Learned through hearing and copying beautiful literature

What do we believe about writing?

Sharon believes:

*I believe my children learn writing is possible by watching me write what they say/

*my children learn to read by sounding out and copying their own spoken words/

*stories formed in their own mind will be visited for many years to come especially if they are recorded

Amber believes:

I believe writing is the spoken word. If your children can speak they are writing. I believe heavily on cop ywork of great literature and dictation. Also having a rich reading environment where the children are hearing and reading the written word. All things from poetry, Shakespeare to Great Literature. These things all build and create great writing voices and then in turn great writers. What I have learned over the years is writing is not Grammar and spelling and perfectly written paragraphs. I have found that when you get bogged down in that the writing of your child gets bland and boring and monotonous because they are more worried about the technicality and not their writing voice. I think it was Julie of Brave Writer that said writing takes 12 years to learn. That means us mamas need to be patient with our children even through high school.

How to Implement?


~ Journals

~Nature Journals

~Photo Stories

Art Stories

~Lots of Read Aloud

~Writing Materials everywhere~ even in the car

~Copy work and Dictation

~Talk about everything and remember that conversation is writing

~Encourage them to read their own writing to everyone especially family~ get out their journal

~Book making area

~Author’s Chair

~Friday Free Write

~Share real authors and their stories


~Learning to draw: first shapes eventually making it to step by step books and then independance
~Mom scribes all the writing
~Mom writes and child traces right over the writing with any writing utensil
~Mom writes and child copies one word on lines drawn underneath called magic lines
~Child gives words and mom draws the lines for child to sound out words
~Child writes on their own
*IF A CHILD ASKS for a spelling~ GIVE IT TO THEM

Give them beautiful passages to copy and maybe dictate~ scripture, poetry, book passage

*TRUST the process for years~ they will take ownership for themselves but allow time and scaffold as long as they need it

Encouraging Success~

~Anything is good and right (no preconceived expectations)

~Tell them often they are writers (authors)

~Look and listen to their stories

~Let them see us writing lists, in our journals, on our blogs, and published blog books (which my children read every single day!)

All in all writing is a belief in self that:

~ what our children say is important

~can be written down

~will be enjoyed

~will last for always

Our Favorite Resources:

Brave Writer

Beautiful Feet


Pencil Sharpener

Book Holders

Dry Erase Boards

Our Blogs: Both of us blog about our writing experiences at these two addresses…

Fairytales and Firetrucks

Growing Whole Hearts

Mothering the Broken: Episode 18

Welcome to Episode 18: Truths about Mothering the Broken.

Today we want to share some truths and  practical ways we nurture our broken, adopted children in hopes it will speak to someone in the trenches like we are on a daily basis. We both agree, it takes Sacrifice and Service from the adoptive family to begin building trust and security in our adopted children.

Sacrifice means you are called to love like Jesus with no guarantee your child will love you back. You will be called to dig deep into the word and your soul to have enough for a day and then there are times when you’re still lying on the floor in a pool of tears. Jesus is enough. We have to refuel our hearts everyday in Him. Remembering how much He first loved us on the cross can give us the hope of pressing on to live our broken children. Even when they push, spit, slap, and cry for hours. It is sometimes the only way they can process the horrible past they have endured. They are fighters. It’s how they came to be in our family. They have survived and will use all that fight against you to make sure this new gig is legit.

Acts 20:22 “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus…”

Adoption sometimes saves us from who we might have become in own making. A life with all we could ever WANT in exchange of a life sacrificed to a child who NEEDS everything we can give. It is a beautiful testimony to Psalm 73:26 “My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” Service is scaffolding and supporting our child AND family all at the same time. Even when we don’t feel like holding our child through an entire day or feeding them another snack on demand or cosleeping with our child so they feel safe and secure. Serving unconditionally is one of the greatest ways we show our love in the midst of great trauma.

When anyone adopts whether it be internationally or domestic, the adoption comes from broken relationships producing broken children. Adoption is a very complex and life changing choice. Both for the adoptive family and the adopted child. Having a new child home can be both joyful and dreadful. Choosing to adopt a child comes with huge risks and responsibilities.

How is adoption life changing?
Share the joyful and dreadful.
What are the risks and responsibilities?
Practical Application? Take life one moment at a time. Be in prayer all the time. Have a friend a text away to talk, cry, and pray with constantly, especially those first weeks home.

There are NO guarantees or promises from the child. We really can’t even expect they will love us. They didn’t choose birth, abandonment. OR adoption. . If we do have preconceived expectations, it can only bring disappointment and added stress to the mix. It puts unnecessary pressure on everyone. Choosing to bring a broken, sad, institutionalized, forgotten, lonely child into a home is a big calling. It is not something to be chosen lightly or with lofty expectations. We take the child where they are and nurture them forward toward healing.

What would be preconceived expectations we have had?
Why do our children come to us broken and lonely?
Practical Application: When adopting any age child, it is wise to view him/her several years younger and treat them that way. Put yourself in their shoes sitting in the environment they were just in, then thrust into an American family in a 5 star hotel, instantly with ALL they can wear, eat, and constantly on the go. Can you imagine the nerves and confusion going on? STOP and realize this child is ALL that matters… GIVE them every bit of yourself and when you get home~ DO THE SAME THING!!!!!

There are often more low points in the first months than high ones because everyone is adjusting and the new child must take precedence. It is not fair to that child. It is not fair to the parents. It is not fair to the children already in the family. Adoption is NOT FAIR. It is choosing to bring a child home believing the brokenness can be healed with lots of love, time, and patience.

What are things we do in the first month?
What are things we can do to nurture toward healing?
Practical Application: Most of my children were young enough I could still carry them in the carrier while going about our daily life. I was able to care for my other children while still giving my new child precedence. I have been known to sit on the floor with at least three children in my lap. Stay available for all the time. Giving face time to your children (all of them) will make all the difference in the world. Your children already home will have a huge influence on your new child as you sit near allowing your new child to watch and learn. Believe me, they are watching EVERYTHING and pick up on so many ideas just being and seeing.

We also know, no two days are ever the same. There will be good ones and bad ones, and extremes in both of those. No two adoptions will ever be the same so we can’t compare how well someone else’s child is doing to our situation. No two children will ever be the same. Just because our first adoptions have been smooth sailing and our children have adjusted so well doesn’t guarantee the next ones will be the same.

What is something we can do to help a really bad turn around? Or survive?
How do we help our children adjust?
Practical Application: Give words to your other children of how things are going and remember sometimes our face is our only form of communication to our new child. Being loving, kind, gentle, and caring with our face even in the middle of the tantrum can maybe keep things from escalating. And when it doesn’t, tell the child over and over you love them always. Allow them to hear I love you more than anything else. EVEN when you don’t really know if you love them yet. Fake it until you make it.

Just a few other thoughts to make adoption a little more real and honest:
We feel like giving up
We feel like taking the easy road. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.
We have wondered what we were thinking in adoption
We get angry and raise our voices
We make mistakes
We want things to be like they used to be~ and so does our adopted child.

In the end, it will all be worth it!!

Special Request!!!

Amber and Joe have about $15,000 left to raise before traveling to China in May. They have been graciously awarded a matching grant from Lifesong. Anything up to $3000 will be matched~ potential for $6000! That is huge SO…

PLEASE consider giving to their fund via this link provided. Teagan their precious son will be so blessed if you do!!!

Growing Tribe Leggio

Making the Moments Matter: Episode 17

Welcome back to Episode 17!

Today we discussing how we are keeping The Fun in our Family and Making the Moments Matter.

“Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life” Charlotte M. Mason

On our last podcast we talked about some changes we made due to circumstances on busy work with no results and children dreading the next thing. Honestly if there is no joy or fun happening while learning, it’s not worth the effort we’re putting in. Our goal is creating a learning lifestyle where our children enjoy learning and being together doing life. Fostering and sparking a love for learning is key in educating our children. When the twinkle goes out we have lost them and we might as well send them on the Big Yellow.

“We all have need to be trained to see, and to have our eyes opened before we can take in the joy that is meant for us in this beautiful life.” Charlotte M. Mason

We certainly know everything we do is not going to be fun and full of joy BUT making mundane things a little more enchanted goes a long way. If there is something your children just can not enjoy, there is sure to be another way of doing it and probably more fun. Just changing how we phrase something changes how children view it. Calling laundry A Folding Party or declaring it Make Your Own Breakfast day. You can make it fun~ it just takes a little joy and effort on our part.

“To introduce children to literature is to instal them in a very rich and glorious kingdom, to bring a continual holiday to their doors, to lay before them a feast exquisitely served. But they must learn to know literature by being familiar with it from the very first. A child’s intercourse must always be with good books, the best that we can find.”

*Setting the feast and they will eat (bird story)

*Talk about the areas we have set up around the house to invite learning

“Look on education as something between the child’s soul and God. Modern Education tends to look on it as something between the child’s brain and the standardized test.”

*Show them beautiful art and listen to beautiful music

*Nature walks

“Never be within doors when you can rightly be without.”

*Picnics (Charlotte Mason quote about being outdoors)

*Learning out on a blanket

*Play outside every day

“Children should have the joy of living in far lands, in other persons, in other times – a delightful double existence; and this joy they will find, for the most part, in their story books. Their lessons, too, history and geography, should cultivate their conceptive powers. If the children do not live in the times of his history lesson, be not at home in the climate his geography book describes, why, these lessons will fail of their purpose.”

*Poetry Teatime

*Listening to audio books at meals or rest: meet on stairs and they tell me what they listened to and something about it. (Snack and story)

*Intentional Playtime: Games

*Movie morning

“Every day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend…”
“The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days.”

*Folding Parties (Laundry)

*Friday Morning Cleaning Frenzy

Show Notes:

Simply Charlotte Mason Picture Study


What are some fun things you family does to have fun and make the moments count?

Changing up our Homeschool Rhythm: Episode 16

Welcome back to Episode 16! Today we are going to discuss a mid year change up and what God is putting on our hearts about schooling our children.


Have you fallen into a rut with your homeschool? Are you just checking of your tasks and making sure they are done. Have you lost your Joy? The Bible tells us “A Joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones” Proverbs 17:22 If you have lost your Joy and turned into a task master instead of imagination starter this episodes for you.


I have been pondering the wise words of an English Educator Charlotte Mason she says, The question is not how much does the youth know when he has finished his education but how much does he care and about how many orders of things does he care? In Fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set and therefore how full is the life that is set before him? These words have rang very true lately in both of our school days. We have been pondering these wise words and watching our children. Were we really creating an environment to thrive in?


Like Amber swings toward the CM method, I tend to swing toward the brave writer lifestyle. It too follows a CM flavor and Julie Bogart says CM has influenced her writing among other people~ “In their unique ways, they each talk about absorbing and noticing and copying the writing skills of masters.”


She goes on to say… “Writing is not filling up a page with words. It’s about helping your kids to create new hooks in their minds so that they can express themselves more and more powerfully over the course of their lifetimes… and can do it in written form.”


I began reading back through my copy of The Writer’s Jungle making notes on big sticky notes and implementing. One section at a time and we are finding more joy in our day.


You know what the beauty of these two thoughts of education? They are both right because it’s right for our own family and children. What works for my children is different for what works for Amber’s. While recognizing we are different in presentation, we are alike in our passion to live a life of learning in the most beautiful of ways!


We hope you enjoy our chat!

Show Notes:

Simply Charlotte Mason


Read Aloud Revival

Lamplighter Books

YWAM Books


Awkward Adoption Questions: Episode 15

Welcome to episode 15 Awkward Adoption questions and how we keep the integrity of adoption when answering. This is another podcast dedicated to answering another listener’s questions.

Stacy commented, “ Would love to hear how/if you’ve ever dealt with family (near and far) who just don’t get your heart for adoption? Sibling? Grandparent? Uncle? How do you handle the topic when brought up? How do you control the conversations at larger family events? Do you ever notice a difference in treatment towards bio vs adopted children within the family? Basically overall boundaries and opinions of family…. I am asked this question more and more often. I have these issues within my own family so I am a bad reference.” This is biggie and one we want to talk about. We are throwing a slew of others we’ve been asked over time let’s get to it.

Sharon quotes,”I am pretty blessed when it comes to family members being opinionated about our adoptions. I KNOW there is talk when we’re not around about us knowing what we’re doing and even had family express concern that we are taking on too much but in the end they know we are doing what we feel is right.

When our children are home, there has never been any ill feelings toward our adopted children. If anything, they get more attention that our biological ones but being older, it didn’t really affect them that much. For the most part, I don’t give people the chance to offer their thoughts about our children.

We don’t go to many big family functions and the ones we so attend, our family knows the story. I think blogging and sharing on IG allows people to process our life without it needing to be discussed around our children.

I have noticed at church because people follow me, they just seem to know our children and we aren’t such a novelty. So this is thumbs up to social media for a change. 🙂

We hope we have given you encouragement to educate and inspire others toward the beauty and blessings of adoption.

The last thing we want to do is cast off someone because they just didn’t know any better.

We may be the closest thing they ever get to adoption so we MUST make it count.

In the end, we can’t imagine standing before God and Him saying,
‘What in the world were you doing adopting all those children?”
What’s your biggest fear in raising a big family? Trust God. He is OVER it all!!!

Please click on the this tshirt photo to order a shirt helping Amber and Joe bring home sweet Teagan!!!

We are really excited about this shirt to help our son come home. He is Chosen and dearly loved just as we are in Christ. We have to have a minimum of 13 shirts ordered but hoping and praying God will bring many. Shirts come in sizes Small, Medium, Large, Xlarge and they are $25.00 with shipping in the PayPal comments leave me your size. For XXL and XXXL shirts are $27.50 with shipping. Please pray about partnering with us to bring our son home. We can be matched at anytime and can’t wait to share his precious face with you. Click THIS Link to order shirts via PayPal. Shirt sale will run the whole month of February and will end on the 28th.


Show Notes:

Francis Chan: You and Me Forever


Please visit us on Itunes at Southern Joy Podcast, and don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review. The reviews are so important they help us get visible so others can find us.

You can also follow us on Southern Joy Podcast Instagram and Southern Joy Podcast Facebook .

We hope you have a Joyful Day.

Chinese New Year Celebration: Episode 14

We thought it would be SO fun to share ideas for celebrating CNY with your family.

It is very important to recognize the largest Chinese holiday celebrated in China and in doing so we build positive attitudes about their Chinese heritage.

This holiday falls on January 28th this year. Year of the Rooster.

So here we go with Lucky Number Eight in Ideas for Chinese New Year.

  1. Pull out all the things you’ve accumulated on travels to China and talk about everything. Display through CNY.
  2. Decorating with paper lanterns, streamers, and Chinese characters. All of these things can be made so simply by your children.
  3. Gather all the books you own with references to China including Life Books from your children and place in a central location for reading leading up to and during CNY.
  4. Chinese food: We have done everything from eating out, eating with big groups with every family bringing potluck, takeout, and making our own
  5. Cleaning the house from top to bottom (well us moms love that), getting everyone a new outfit (or just a shirt) and haircut, giving each child a red envelope with money inside.
  6. Fireworks, Sparklers, Poppers
  7. Dressing up in in traditional silks and take photos
  8. Maybe watch a movie or documentary on China or pull up videos of Chinese New Year Celebrations

Show Notes:

Ping by Marjorie Flack

MoonBeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats

Two of Everything by LilyToy Hong

Tikki Tikki Tembo

D is for Dancing Dragon

Chinese Children’s Favorite Stories

At The Beach by Huy Voun Lee

Daisy Comes Home by Jan Brett

The Greatest Power by Demi

China’s Bravest Girl by Charlie Chin

Look What Came from China by Miles Harvey

The Willow Pattern Story by Allan Drummond

The Emperor and the Kite

Little Pear

Lottie Moon Ywam Book

Gladys Aylward Ywam Book

Hudson Taylor Ywam book

Sharon and Amber Blog About Chinese New Year…..

IF you go to our blogs, you can search Chinese New Year in the search bar at the top.

A Beautiful Symphony: Chinese New Year {How We Celebrate}

Sharon’s Family Blog: Everything Beautiful

Sharon’s School Blog: Growing Whole Hearts

Amber’s Blog: Firetrucks & Fairytales

Taking Care of Ourselves: Episode 13

Welcome to Episode 13: Taking Care of Us.

This is the perfect topic as we begin a new year 2017.

Today we are chatting about a question posed by another listener, Anne. She commented, “I would love to hear how you ladies rest, relax, and have fun for yourselves.”

Basically how we take care of ourselves. We thought this was a really good topic and something we needed to be intentional about especially as we’ve made it through the holidays and the time of year when people are facing new year’s resolutions.

In this world of Selfies and narcissistic culture, we can feel self centered in focusing on taking care of ourselves. We might think we have to fill every moment getting things done, taking care of others, and making every minute count to be successful.

All that is wonderful in moderation but stillness and contentment is edifying even more. We hope to bring the JOY back into your life with a few things we think are important in keeping mama still and content, joyful and healthy. After all, don’t you know the saying, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”?

Let’s talk through 10 Habits we follow to Rest, Relax, and  have Fun.

  1. Quiet Time each day
  2. Keep a Calendar and Bullet Journal
  3. Plan Meals and Keep a Stocked Pantry
  4. Rest Time for Mom and Kids each day
  5. Stay True to Yourself
  6. Be Where You are and Turn In
  7. Enjoy a Hobby: Poldark
  8. Say No
  9. Exercise: Yoga with Adriene
  10. Get Help

How do you Rest, Relax, and Have Fun? Share in a comment here, on FB, or IG.

For More Encouragement find us on Instagram and facebook at Southern Joy podcast.  Please subscribe below to receive our podcasts in your inbox each time we publish!

We hope something we shared today helps you find Joy as you take care of yourself. God Bless and have a Joyful Day.

Inspiring Character: Episode 12

Today we want to share how we intentionally inspire good character and integrity in our children on a daily basis. It is something that happens inside the four walls of our home in the midst of family life. It is not learned at church or school. It is learned through living together for the good of the whole. It is modeled through Jesus and the Bible through us as parents and into our children.


Romans 5:3-5 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character, and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.


We had two followers pose character questions so this episode is dedicated to giving insight into how our family culture.


Question 1: Rebecca asked: Share about building little hearts: teaching faith, generosity, kindness.

Question 2: Regena:  How can we encourage Sibling Relationships even when there is a big age gap?

Show Notes:

Catherine Vos Storybook Bible

Jesus Story Book Bible and DVDs

Music: Steve Green Hide em IN Your Heart

Prayer Praise Journal Graced Laced has some Beautiful Ones

Amber’s Favorite Bible

Sally Clarkson

Anne Voscamp

Lamplighter Books

YWAM Books

Beautiful Feet Books


For More Encouragement find us on Southern Joy Podcast Instagram and SJP Facebook. We hope something we shared today helps you find Joy as you raise these beautiful blessings.

God Bless and have a Joyful Day.

Medical Miracles: Episode 11

Amber and I polled our Facebook page and Instagram followers for questions to answer on the podcast.


We had several people ask questions, and we categorized them for future podcast ideas.


The first we chose to tackle was all questions medical.


  1. Our first question comes from Elise asking us to share our children’s special needs.
  2. Our next question comes from Stephanie: What about the medical side of things? What to tell kiddos, or what not to tell them as you prepare for scans, appointments, and surgeries? Tips for getting through big surgery weeks. How to organize and handle the paperwork, phone calls, appointments?


Please visit No Hand But Ours for a long list of special needs complete with explanation and families with children home with these needs. Excellent resource!


We hope this podcast gives you insight into our daily lives with special needs kids. We would love to answer any questions you might have after you listened so leave a comment.


We would love for you to find us on Instagram at Southern Joy Podcast and on our SJ Facebook page. Also leave a review on iTunes and allow others to find us too.


Have a Joyful Day!!!