Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Happy New School Year!

Monday, August 1st, 2016

This is always an exciting time of year.  Planning is complete, new books have been purchased, and the new school schedule/routine is in the final tweaking stage.  Ready or not, our first day of school begins in about nine hours!  This year is going to be very different for our family.  Half of our school-age children will be at home and half will be in school.  Our girls have been home now for a year and a half.  They’ve come so incredibly far over the past 18 months.  They’ve learned to speak English, they’ve adjusted to a new culture, food, and family, they’ve made friends, and they completed a year of homeschooling.  But the fact is, they’re now 6, 6, and 8 and they have no prior education and the past year has been very difficult.  Books and methods that have worked with my other children have not been successful with the girls.  None of them are reading yet, despite trying very hard (Mom and children!) and the longer they’re home the more overwhelmed I get while realizing just how much they’ve missed by not being in a family for the last several years of their life.  As a result, we decided to put the girls in school for a year.  At the end of this school year we will re-evaluate.  The ultimate goal is to bring them back home.  We’re a homeschooling family but right now, this year, we’re calling in reinforcements!  We live out in the country.  Our local public elementary school is in the middle of farm land and peach orchards.  There are less than 250 students in the entire school and they have wonderful intervention specialists that can help us identify where the girls need special help and can get them started with the right tools for success. To be quite honest, I also had a bit of a revelation a few months ago when trying to decide what would be best for the girls for the coming school year.  I’ve never been able to just be their mom.

My other five children have been with me since birth.  I was able to nurse them, sing to them, help them crawl, walk, and talk.  We had fun at the park while casually learning to count and sing their ABCs. I rocked them to sleep and watched them blossom from a baby, to a toddler, to a school age child.  When our girls came home last year after a long adoption process and grueling waiting period we went into survival mode.  We went from four children to seven overnight.  Our daughters didn’t speak a word of English and were coming out of some very traumatic life experiences.  Josh and I were playing the roles of teacher, counselor, referee, nurse, chef, chauffeur, disciplinarian, oh, and parents.  Right around the time that the girls became pretty fluent in English we began our new school year.  They loved having Mommy as their teacher and they soaked up everything I was pouring in.  However, there was so much that simply wasn’t clicking.  I was treating them as if they were on a preschool/kindergarten level but the reality was they really weren’t even there yet.  I began to see that they were missing a solid foundation.  My stress level began to rise as I put pressure on myself to start building that foundation from scratch at a much older age than usual.  My relationship with the girls became strained.  You see, I fell in love with my biological children a day at a time from the moment they were born.  It’s pretty easy to love a tiny little newborn that grew in your belly for nine months.  It’s a pretty different story when you bring three little strangers into your home and family.  Three little strangers, whose pictures you’ve clung to for three years, faces you’ve prayed over and imagined what life would be like when they’re finally home.  Well let me tell you what its like when they finally come home.  It’s hard.  Homeschooling is hard.  Parenting is hard.  Homeschooling and parenting three new strangers who are now living in your home, part of your family, and call you Mommy is hard.  I love my daughters more than life itself but love is an action, not a feeling.  The emotional love often doesn’t come until later, sometimes even years later.  I’m just being honest and real.  So when I began to struggle with feeling loving toward my girls I suddenly realized that I have yet to just be their mom.  After lots of prayer and researching our options we decided upon our local elementary school.  For the first time since I met my daughters, I am going to just be their mom.  Their education will be in the hands of three sweet, qualified ladies just down the street Monday through Friday from 8-2.  I look forward to getting to know my girls on a new level without the pressure of also being their teacher.  We will paint fingernails and have makeover slumber parties.  We’ll go shopping for new clothes and watch chick flicks together.  I kind of feel like I’m going to be the mom of four daughters for the very first time.  We’re all pretty excited.

Well this post evolved into something completely different than I originally intended so I’ll have to write about what we’re doing in our homeschool this year in another post.  However, I want to end with this:  I absolutely love having a large family.  I love adoption and I love our unique family.  As crazy as it is sounds, there’s already talk around here about “the next one” and sweet baby Charlie is only six weeks old!  I always said I wanted nine children so maybe there is one more baby or child that’s meant to be in our family.  Only time will tell.

A Little Update

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Yesterday, I received all of our paperwork from AGCI.  It was very exciting to look through everything and I hope to watch the DVD that came with our packet tonight after church (if I can hold my eyes open long enough!).  I read about how the Ethiopian government has changed their rules in the last year and all adopting families are now required to make not one, but two trips to Ethiopia before taking your child home.  Two trips to Africa within two months of each other.  As I began the paperwork and saw the time frames and dollar signs on paper, I could feel a weight come over me.

There’s no way you can do this.

It’s going to be such a long road.

You won’t raise enough money.

But God spoke to me through someone’s status on Facebook.

Out of the mouth of an eight year old little girl:

God makes things that are impossible, unimpossible.”

So many times I can look back on a situation and think, I guess if that had been easier, then it wouldn’t have been such an amazing God Story. You know what kind of stories I’m talking about.  The stories where nothing is falling into place, everything is falling apart, there’s no hope, there’s no money, there’s no help, whatever the lack may be; and then God steps in, shakes things up, and all of the pieces fall into place in a way that leaves everyone’s jaws on the floor, giving glory to our big, big, God!

In the midst of being overwhelmed, the phone rang.  It was a sweet lady from our church whose husband goes to Tanzania, Africa several times a year to bring tools to the locals and help them build homes and buildings.  She said she’d been reading about our journey for Zoe and wanted to encourage me and let me know how excited she was for us.  She also said that she and her husband will be helping support us financially on our journey.  Instantly, God blew wind back into my puny sails through that sweet lady.  I stood up tall as I hung up the phone and remembered all of the amazing stories I’ve read from other adopting families, knowing that one day we will have a handful of our own.

Of course it doesn’t end there!  I got on the computer and realized I’d received an email from my aunt in Maine.  She was telling me how excited she was that we were adopting.  She went on to say that she would talk to my uncle and see about donating to Zoe’s adoption.  I checked my paypal account a few minutes later and there it was, a large, generous donation from Aunt Kathy and Uncle Terry.  The donation that launched us past the one thousand dollar mark.  Unbelievable.  In that moment it was as if God whispered to me:

one down, twenty-four to go.

God Story #2!

All I need to know for sure is that God has never let me down.  He has never called me to something that He did not equip me to conquer.  Each day I learn something new about trusting the Lord and surrendering everything to him.  Thank you, for those of you who have already begun to pray and encourage us in this journey.  Your words are like water to my soul and the Lord continually brings them to remembrance when I get discouraged.  Will you continue to share our story in hopes that there are many more just like you out there who will allow God to take their $10 to Africa where there will soon be one less orphan?



Just Watch It

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

If you haven’t discovered the blessing of Ann Voskamp, here is a video that gives us a glimpse of her new book, “One Thousand Gifts”.


Fair-Weather Education

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

My boys were quite disappointed to find out that, although their regular school friends got another day off today because of the snow and ice, we’ll be returning to school as usual.

I had to remind them that we took the entire month of December off and will be finished with co-op at the end of March. Or how about last week when we spent the majority of the week in our pajamas and played long games of Qwirkle when we finished school before noon.

Today, we slept in until 9:00am. Of course Joshua woke up much earlier and didn’t feel the need to wake anyone else. When I was making breakfast he came in the kitchen and said,

“When I got up earlier than everyone else, I decided to find Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and the Netherlands on the map in the school room.” (his georgraphy for this week)

That’s what a momma wants to hear!

Right now I’m finishing my cup of coffee and the boys are sitting at the table coloring.

I picked up a Lite-Brite for the boys for Christmas. It was only $10 at Target and it was a huge hit. I only got one, so the boys take turns with it, but Owen seems to like it the most and it’s helping him learn his letters at the same time. He can now fill in all the “O”s, “G”s, “W”s, and “Y”s by himself. We’re working on “R” for red and “V” for violet (purple).

Josh will likely work late tonight and the rest of the week to make up for their snow day yesterday. I have a roast and veggies in the crock pot and I look forward to a quiet, thought-provoking day with the boys.

P.S. I did my second 5k workout last night on the treadmill. It was much easier than the first workout. It’s amazing how quickly your body adjusts. Tonight is my favorite form of inspiration: Biggest Loser!