Thursday, May 15, 2014

For My Girls:

It's easy at the end of the school year to get so caught up in gifts and cards and thank yous and awards and field days and parties and the ever present person who still can't figure out carpool, that we forget something. Actually, someone. Or in my case, 3 someones.

I do not post this to take away from the teachers. This year, we have had super amazing teachers who love what they do, and they do it well. I cannot say enough good things about these amazing women, who teach with excitement, and I feel honestly love my girls.

It is easy, here in May, with 1.5 days of school left, to forget where we started.

Hadley started Kindergarten. She loves to learn, and of all the girls, would probably have been the easiest to continue homeschooling. Other than one year in a MMO program, she had never been in a classroom. I was pretty worried about dropping her in to a full day situation. She started looking forward to school in March, and asked and begged me often to just hurry up and let her go to Kindergarten. But looking forward to something and reality are often drastically different. The first day came, and I thought I would throw up dropping her off.

She loved it. Loved her new friends, her teachers, her lunch time, her book time, her songs, her projects: Everything. She dealt with a bit of home sickness and exhaustion at the beginning, but she overcame that (a big deal when you are just 5) and rocked the rest of her year. She made best friends, memories, and excelled at her learning. It's hard to remember the first of the year when she kept forgetting her 'new best friends' name.

Ava started 2nd grade. She had not been in a classroom since she was 3. Of the girls, I was most worried about her. Would her anxiety come back with a vengance? Would she make friends? Would she be overwellmed? Would she be able to keep up? She adored her teacher, but seemed to take her time making friends. She observed her classmates: always watching. She did finally start to make friends, and not just people watching.

Her teacher said her reading and math needed help, so twice a day she got pulled out and tutored with a few other kids. She was not embarrassed, and actually loved going. She enjoyed her math teacher, especially. She repeated everything positive he said to her, and was sad when she had improved enough to stop going. Her reading came up from below grade level, to 4th grade level. She loves to read now, and reads all the time. Her anxiety never got the best of her, and her confidence soared. It's hard to remember the beginning of the year when she seemed so shy.

Jadyn started 3rd grade. This was her second year in school. Last year, she was terrified and her teacher had to pull her off of me so I could leave. This year, she had friends, knew the routine, and knew her teachers. No tears on the first day; just a calm, confident hug and wave goodbye. She has learned so much this year, and her teacher has been able to get so much out of her. She likes to tell me all the classroom gossip, and ask advice. I love that we have those moments, and I hope she does that into her teen years, too.

It's easy, at the end of the school year, to praise the teachers (and YES, they should be- they do SO much and they ROCK at it).

But I want to brag on my kids, too, because they earned it. We underestimate how much they do all year, or think because it seems fun, that it's not work. My kids are awesome, and I love them, and I want them to know I'm thankful and proud of all they have done.

So, Jadyn, Ava, and Hadley:
Well done. You guys rock. And you make being your mommy fun and I am so glad you're mine.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Because my FB status turned into a rant, and the rant turned into a blog. My thoughts on World Vision's choice.

I was pretty much done with blogging for various reasons. I was just going to post a Facebook status. The status turned into a rant, and the rant got really long. (***see note at bottom) And here we all are. And here I go....

World Vision decided to hire people in a same sex marriage. And now people are dropping their child sponsorships in protest.

Um, what?

World Vision decides to no longer discriminate, much like every other company in North America, and now Christians (or those who oppose gay marriage and/or homosexuals in general) are dropping their child sponsorships to make a point.

So the child that had no say to be born poor and underprivileged, is now the bottom line of a point people are trying to make.

I think this is a horrible injustice. And that's putting it mildly. I am not sure people are thinking this through very well. Or at all.

Let's follow this logic:
A company/mission/non profit etc decided not to discriminate against a group of people. Adult people. And then we, other adults, decide to make a point by dropping a hungry child's sponsorship. Target hires gay people- do you shop there? How about Walmart? Quicktrip? The Longhorns franchise owner, the nail salon, the Super Cuts- do you frequent those places? How about the brands you buy? Do the owners of those companies hire homosexuals? Probably. How about the movie you just watched, or that show you watch weekly on TV. Did the creator/producer hire gay people? Are those gay people married? The post office hires gay people, are you going to stop buying stamps or shipping packages? Do I need to check the sexual preference of every waiter or cashier before I eat or make my purchase?

You can't possibly police everyone, everywhere, every second and only interact with those who you feel stand on Biblical principles (or your interpretation thereof). Gay marriage aside, you'd have to find out if any of them are drunkards, or liars, or gamblers, or have a temper, etc.

And if your reason for targeting World Vision is because they are a Christian organization, I'm honestly not sure where that fits in your equation. The reason you would sponsor a child, is so that they can grow and flourish and not go to bed so hungry they can't sleep. It's so they can go to school, and have a future. It's so they won't die of diseases that your child will never even be exposed to. It's because they are HUMAN BEINGS and they have sisters and brothers and mothers and fathers. They had NO SAY in being born poor and in a 3rd world country, and we have NO RIGHT to make them a political point.


And if you're trying to soothe your conscience with signing up with another agency to sponsor a child, unless you are able to continue to sponsor the same child, the child you dump to make your point will be hungry next month.

If you want to only deal with companies that do not hire homosexuals, that's your call. I don't think you can actually do it, but you could try. That's not really my point today. My point to day is help you think through this a bit and not have a knee jerk reaction. So that children wont suffer just because you have an issue with World Vision hiring same sex couples. Children do not deserve to be hungry just so you can make a point.

I did see a movement on Twitter to call World Vision and ask specifically to pick up a child that has been dropped in this fall out. I think that's excellent. I'm including the link in case you are so inclined. Click HERE

***Note: I do not wish to argue about gay rights, or gay marriage, or any other aspect of homosexuality. That is not the point of this blog post. I will not engage on those topics.
Also? I am very passionate, especially about things related to children. That passion comes often comes off as anger or heat. Please keep that in mind when you read this, and try to hear my heart and not judge this post on semantics.

1 John 3:16-18 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.  If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?  Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.


Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'


1 John 4:8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Random Act of Kindness and our Adoption

There is this young, single mom in my Thursday night discipleship group. She has a (super cute) daughter that just had her first birthday.

Thursday we met and she started telling me about her daughter's birthday, and how she (the mom) has been wanting to be able to give back and bless others. One way she decided to do this? She explained to everyone coming to her daughter's birthday party, that in lieu of gifts to please bring a donation to go to a family that needed some help. (I didn't see the email, so I don't really know what all was said.)

At this point, she brought out an envelope and gave it to me. We were the family she wanted to help. Specifically, to help with K's adoption costs.

The total shock I felt left me just staring at her. I sure hope I seemed as grateful as I was/am because I could not form a thought or a sentence. The complete selflessness of the act blew me completely out of the water. Complete selflessness and sacrifice.

I don't want to give her name. I hope she sees this. (If you do, just 'like' my post on Facebook.) Thank you doesn't cover it. I know you could have used the cash/gifts for yourself or for your daughter. I pray you get blessed in a HUGE way for this. I hope this story inspires others to use this idea and to find their own family to help.

Thank you again, from the bottom of our hearts.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Raw Emotion

Currently, there I am doing something that people do in college or about that stage....No, it's not wild parties or drinking, or studying until 3 in the morning....

It's questioning. Everything. Every belief I have ever had or thought I had is being thoroughly re-examined. 

No, not re examined, because I never really thought for myself,  I just swallowed thoughts and positions on topics because the person standing in front of me said it was so. Then I regurgitated it as needed.  

When kids go to college, or join the work force, they generally meet up with people that have different thoughts. There's discussions, persuasions, arguments. But eventually, you end up either convinced you were right, or you change your stance. Often, this is labeled a 'crisis of faith'. I'm sure sometimes that's what it is, but a lot of times, the now adult child has their own ideas and is swapping out the previous beliefs for another: a belief that THEY OWN. 

I never did that. I took what my parents thought and it meshed with what people at 'college' taught/thought/said and the people I worked with, so I was never challenged to think for myself. 

I thought I thought for myself, but really, I was a ignorant parrot. 

Then I got married. And I adopted some (okay, a lot) of what my husband thought and believed. It wasn't really drastically different, so it was an easy flow. 

Then I got bogged down in babies. And I admired the people around me who had well thought out beliefs and could articulate them. I was tired, battling depression, and could barely form words, forget complete sentences!

Fast forward to my children being older. Now, for the first time, I start the very beginnings of rethinking my beliefs. How do I want to raise my kids? Discipline them? Teach them? And why- why do I come to my conclusions? 

The atomic blast was from my middle child. She hit me over the head with stubbornness, energy, and then as she got older, there was her diagnosis with anxiety, OCD and ADHD. Which, BTW, I never believed existed until she came along. 

There are not words for the wake up call that was, and how much that shook me. Or the judgement from other parents. Or the relief that *I* wasn't a bad parent (once I decided I didn't give a flying fig what others thought) she really needed the diet changes and medication (and probably, one day, therapy). 

There were some other events that lead to my need to rethink my beliefs. I remember the distinct moment in a Bible study where I was overwhelmed with the knowledge that large portions of my beliefs and opinions where either COMPLETELY FALSE or needed some 'fine tuning'. 

Internally, I freaked out. Internally, I'm still freaking out. It's over whelming. It's exhausting. It's emotional. It's unpleasant. It has cost me sleep, time, energy and friends. And I'm not done. Had I done this when I was in my 20s, it would have been easier. But I had built so much on so many either LIES, or at the least, faulty conclusions. So there's an extra 15 years worth of crap to unload and process. 

So if I offend you while I reprogram myself, I'm sorry. If I alienate you, please have patience with me. If you are reading my blogs and talking with me on Facebook and you cannot figure out what the everlovin' crap is WRONG with me, this post is all I can refer you to. Please bear with me while I have MY 'crisis of faith' (and, no, I'm not ditching God, Jesus, church or the Bible, although that maybe your perception). 

Please stand back while my head implodes and am forced to do things that should have happened years ago. And if you are dealing with the same thing, I'd love to talk to you, because currently I feel pretty lonely. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Bitter- table for one

I have been posting a lot of links and such the last several weeks. They have (mostly) been with regard to the Gosnell trial, sexual abuse awareness and it's mishandling in the "Christian" community, abuse in the name of discipline, and home schooling. I've gotten interesting responses to several of those 'rabbit trails', some good, some bad.

I'm hoping there were eyes opened as a result of the links I shared, but I have no real idea. And that's okay.

The home school stories however, apparently really anger people. Which is not my goal. My goal is to make people aware of what is going on outside our bubble, and make those of us that *do* home school maybe, just maybe, raise our bars and make sure we don't fall in the same holes as those that have gone before us.

I was home schooled 3rd thru 12th grade. Then I taught in Christian schools. Then I home schooled my own three. I sort of felt like someone who has been-there-done-that, therefore was maybe, just maybe, slightly more knowledgeable than the 'average ranter' on any random blog. Instead, I have been labeled as bitter, disillusioned, and accused of slander, generalizations, and throwing the baby out with the bathwater- all on more than one occasion. (Side note about the bathwater, I shouldn't throw homeschooling out with the bathwater, but it's okay if they throw out public schools with the bathwater.) I even was told to stick to being funny.

If you are doing a good job teaching your children, I applaud you. I have lots of friends that home school, and as far as I know and can tell, they do a great job. Nothing I have said about poor home schooling has been specifically aimed at anyone. But I'm not in every house 24/7, and it's not my job to police you. That's YOUR job, as the home schooling parent.

What I saw growing up in the home schooling subculture- if you will- was fear of government, perfect families on parade at conferences, people who twist scripture to control their wives and children, and the occasional mother who burned out and probably should have put their child in school, but didn't. There was, at that time, probably still now to a degree, a lot of pressure not to quit or give up on home schooling. There might still be, but I cannot deal with being in a home school group, so I'm rouge and therefore not subjected to that kind of pressure. (I only went to one meeting and almost couldn't breath the entire time.)

Since there are very few regulations on home schooling, home schooling families generally don't get 'busted' like public school teachers/systems do. Which then makes schools look bad and home schooling look like the safest option. Therefore, us first generation home schoolers grow up, find our voices, and write blogs or 'rant' on Facebook. Like it or not, there IS A REASON there are home school 'survivor' blogs and groups. The reasons are many, but the biggest reason (as I can tell) is that we had no voice as children/teens but we're darn sure going to speak now because NOT everyone who home schools SHOULD home school.

(And then we get labeled and dismissed.)

You can tell yourself what you want. You can block me (as some have). You can ignore what's going on. I'm not bitter- I was raised the best my parents knew how at the time (I say that because I'm sure from convos that we've had they would redo certain parts). I can't undo any portion of how I was brought up, I can only learn from it. I can copy what worked and toss the rest. I can warn of pitfalls and try and make you see from a different perspective. I'm very thankful for various blogs and friends, because I, personally, have learned a lot. Iron sharpening iron, that sort of thing. What works for one, doesn't work for all. It can't! We're too different and we're all constantly changing and growing and (hopefully) maturing.

I'm hopeful this has made some of you see where I am coming from. I'm hoping this has cleared up a few things. I'm hoping that maybe some of you will be less ticked at me. I am NOT against home schooling. Even though I will be putting my three in public school this next school year, we might circle back to home schooling. We see education as a year by year decision. "What do our kids need at this stage?" is what we ask ourselves. I only know a few others who do that, and I know that makes us seem strange. Well, strangER, and that's okay. We don't parent for points or popularity or as a result of peer pressure, we parent for our kids.

Preggo Update: Week 17

I kinda missed the 12 week post and the 16 week post, so pardon me while I catch up on week 17 here.

How many weeks: 17 exactly

Weight gained: 5

Sickness: No. That stopped about week 12 or 13. I am having horrendous heartburn some evenings however. The kind that goes all the way through to your back and between your shoulder blades.

Any cravings: Weird ones. Like Pizza Hut Personal Pan pizzas (specific, I know) and CFA sandwhiches. Still loving the milk, too.

Any purchases: No, but I have my eye on a really cute diaper bag :)

Are you finding out the gender: Yes. I have with all 3. I will be at 20 weeks on Memorial Day weekend, but we are not having the u/s done until mid June. It's only 2 extra weeks, but we are hoping to take Ksenija to that appt.

Can you feel the baby: Yes. Slightly more than flutters, but still not very strong.

Any gender guess: None. I have zero feeling at all as to what this baby will be. I guessed correctly on 2 out of our 3, and I wish I had some inner clue this time. Specifically, I'm pulling for a blond boy, but we'll see. :)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Baby in the Bath Water, Pt 2

This is addressing the blog I keep seeing called "18 Reasons Why Doctors and Lawyers Homeschool Their Children" You can read it for yourself HERE.

The title drives me crazy. It might as well say "18 Reasons why smart and affluent people choose to homeschool". But the author is a doctor (so she says) so I'll leave it alone.

Reason #1  We spend less time homeschooling each day than we used to spend driving.
>>>Oh My. I don't have her actual schedule for dropping off and picking up, but it sounds horrendous. I'm not a huge fan of buses, and it sounds like she might feel the same.

Reason #2 We can’t afford private education.
>>>I talked about that in my last blog. How Christian schools vilify the public school system but then jack their prices up so high, it makes it an elitist club.

Reason #3  Our kids are excelling academically as homeschoolers. Homeschooling allows us to enrich our children’s strengths and supplement their weaknesses. The kids’ education moves as fast or as slow as required for that particular subject area. They are not pigeon-holed and tracked as gifted, average, or special needs.
>>> Maybe they do excel. But maybe, just maybe, they'd excel anyway. And the moving as fast or slow as your child needs? That gets abused greatly. It's an excuse for many not to push their child. I was convinced my child had learning issues when we (finally) placed her in a public school class. Turns out I was her problem. I could not motivate, and she dragged her feet for me. She doesn't do that to her teacher, and her teacher has gotten more from her this last year than I have gotten out of her in 3 years. It's amazing. It was humbling. I could teach (and did for years) classes of children and never had a problem with them doing work or listening or being motivated. They never came to me crying because they didn't want to do their math paper. They save that for MOM. Taking myself out of the equation solved the issue. No more 'learning problems'. And she enjoys doing homework with me because it's our special time.

Oh, and even though you may not want another adult to 'lable' your child, you do it. Yes, you do. It's how you 'meet their individual needs'.

Reason #4 Homeschooling is not hard, and it’s fun!
>>>If that is the case in your home, I am glad. It wasn't the case in our home. It had it's moments, like most things, but it wasn't exactly 'fun'.

Reason #5 Use whatever public school services you like. Need speech therapy, the gifted program, or remedial academics? Homeschooled kids are still eligible for all these services. Some homeschoolers come into public school daily for “specials” like art, music, PE, or the school play. Your kids can even join high school sports teams once they are old enough. Our kids are still in sports and scouts sponsored by their old schools.
>>>I applaud this use of services. There are also homeschooling co-ops available. I'm all in favor of those also. Everyone gets a break. Everyone gets to socialize and get the help (and fun) they need and want.
(Did anyone else notice she just contradicted herself???)

Reason #6 I like parenting more, by far.
>>>If you feel less pressure 'just' homeschooling than what you were doing before, that's fine. That's not how I and some others I have talked to feel, but it's fine if that's you.

Reason #7 Our family spends our best hours of each day together. We were giving away our kids during their best hours, when they were rested and happy, and getting them back when they were tired, grumpy and hungry. I dreaded each evening, when the fighting and screaming never seemed to end, and my job was to push them through homework, extracurriculars, and music practice. Now, our kids have happy time together each day. At recess time, the kids are actually excited about playing with each other!
>>>Again, not my experience, but Okay. Here, the kids are happy to be reunited and often run off and play together right away. They miss each other, and I love seeing them meet back up and run off into the back yard.

Reason #8 We yell at our kids less.
>>>Um, okay. If you say so.

Reason #9 Our kids have time for creative play and unique interests.
>>>I hear this a lot. Maybe if you have much older kids that I have right now, this could be true. In general, I see public school or private school kids getting to pursue interests. Archery, volley ball, softball, soccer, dance, gymnastics, etc. Most of my homeschooling friends (on line and in real life, plus myself as a child) do nothing. Or one sport. Because even if your child has all day, most studios and teams are set up with practice and games on the weekend and evenings.

I"m combining #10 and #11 We are able to work on the kids’ behavior and work ethic throughout the day. Get rid of bad habits, fast. Dirty clothes dropped on the floor? They used to stay there all day. Now there is no recess until they are cleaned up. I never really had the time to implement most behavioral techniques when my kids were in school. I knew what I needed to do to get my kindergartner to dress herself, but it was easier to dress her myself then deal with the school complaining that she was improperly dressed or late. Now, if she takes too long to get dressed, she misses out on free play time.
>>>This sounds like more of  parenting issue. If your kid is slow and making you late, get them up earlier, Or heaven forbid, they 'only' dress themselves on weekends or after a bath. When J leaves her pjs on the floor, guess what? She doesn't get to go outside until she picks them up. It's still teaching work before play. Oh, and I bet there are adults who aren't as neat as they badger their children into being. I'm often guilty of this myself. There is also a subtle attempt here to say that kids who go TO school are less disciplined than those who stay IN to school.

Reason #12 Be the master of your own schedule. 
>>>This is about the parent, not the child. It's also code for laziness. (Not all the time, I get it. But you see why this would make me cringe.)

Reason #13 Younger children learn from older siblings. 
>>>I have seen this, and it is cool. However, it's also very distracting for the older ones to have a whiny 4 year old wanting to watch what they are doing when they need to concentrate. So it's a toss up.

Reason #14 Save money.
>>>Less gas, not buying prepackaged lunches, etc. Again, this probably varies per family.

Reason #15 Teach your kids practical life skills
>>>Guess those poor public schoolers are screwed. They never have to manage their time, or budget their allowance. Oh, wait.....

16) Better socialization, less unhealthy peer pressure and bullying.
>>>There is a reason the stereotype of 'awkward homeschooler' exists. But there are also awkward people everywhere, so I won't harp here. And I really do sympathize with anyone trying to deal with bullying. Even with systems and helps in place (in school), there are still kids falling through the cracks. If you were to tell me that you are homeschooilng because of bullying (that happened, not bc it MIGHT), my heart would honestly go out to you and your child.

Reason #17 Sleep!
>>>I hear schedules work great. Oh! A chance to practice time management! Hurray!

Reason #18 Teach kids your own values. According to the national center for education statistics, 36% of homeschooling families were primarily motivated by a desire to provide religious or moral instruction. Our family is not part of this 36%– we never objected to any values taught in either our public or private schools. Nevertheless, we’ve really enjoyed building our own traditions and living out our family values in a way that wasn’t possible before homeschooling.
>>>If the only chance you have to teach your children your values or your traditions is between 8:15 and 3:30, there might be a problem. You have birth to 5 or 6 to tell your kids there is no Santa Claus. They won't revert just because they are in class. This past Easter, our daughter in PS was told to draw an Easter picture on the computer during her free time in computer class. Do you know what she drew? An empty tomb, and angel, and a grassy field with the caption "Jesus rose from Death". And even if she had chosen to draw a field full of rabbits and eggs, she still knows what Easter is about. Not because she was homeschooled, but because we talk to her and her sisters and she has awesome Sunday School teachers. And all that didn't stop merely because she went 'out' to school.

I am NOT anti homeschool. I AM anti pat answers, generalizations and stereotypes. I am saying think for yourself without giving in to the fear machines of HSLDA and Focus on the Family, among others. There is a time and a place to homeschool. There is a time and a place for private/Christian school. And there is a time and a place for public schools.

Like I said in my last post, what works for one might not work for others. Homeschooling was the answer for our family, but now that door is closing. Other doors are opening. There is no one size fits all education. And I'm seeing now how hanging on to that belief is prideful and damaging. And as I let go of a life time of beliefs, I see others holding on, and it makes me want to help. Because I see myself in them.

(((You can Read Part One, HERE)))