Monday, June 30, 2008

I Am Not Quite As Dumb As He Thinks

If you are wondering why it takes me so long to get to serious posts which take time and energy, it is because I am busy listening and shaking my head at comments like this:

Zachary: "Sarah, Mom said no to me, but since you are the only princess here and you have a really good puppy dog face, she will probably say yes to you."

Zachary again: " I can't do that chore Mommy because it takes a long time and my little hands get really, really tired."

No, only princesses and puppy dog faces do not work. Especially not after over-hearing that. And, you better believe he did that chore. Tired hands and all.

What's on YOur Table This Week?

Wouldn't you know that as soon as I say I am going to start posting menus our life gets all crazy and we are never home? Tonight is pork chops, sweet corn on the cob, and lettuce wedges with blue cheese dressing. Tomorrow is my birthday and I was just informed that Bruce and I will be going to my favorite tapas place.On Wednesday we are heading down to VA to be with my dad and help out a little. We will be gone through the weekend. I think we will take advantage of being in Fredericksburg over the 4th and take in some of the historic sights. So, there you have it for this week.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

We Really Are Doing a Good Thing

I believe home-schooling is a calling. I believe every Christian parent is obligated to train their children with a Christian world-view, but I do not think it has to be done at home. There are things we sacrifice to keep the kids at home and their are things we sacrifice when we send them to school. That said, I have been doing a little research for a project and have been pleased with what I am finding. I know home-schooled children are graduating and doing terrific things, but it is always nice to hear others saying it. It makes me feel not quite so out there. So, if you are like me and like to be encouraged about the choice you have made, read these links.

Friday, June 27, 2008

It's a Way of Life #1

I have decided I am not good at post series because I can never get the time to do one a day. Sorry if this goes on for too many days. I'll try to not have so many days in between, but no promises.

I am going to call my home-schooling posts It's a Way of Life. I really believe that is true, because if you try to separate it from every other parts of your life, you are going to fail somewhere. It is just not possible to live two separate lives and be perfect at both. Actually, you are not going to be perfect anyway, and you will fail at times. Maybe I should say I believe it is difficult to function and be productive if you try to separate it. When someone spends time with us they will detect a certain aroma. It may be stinky or lovely. It does not take very long for others to decide what this aroma is. The aroma could be any thing from chaos, to stringency, or productivity to laziness. As believers, first we must produce an aroma which shows that Christ lives within us. This will be very evident to anyone who spends time in your home. Sometimes you can even just step in the door and tell. This aroma really envelopes everything you do as a family. You can not develop this lovely aroma by having family devotions, praying, loving one another, and then being completely lazy about your home-schooling. I am afraid it all comes as a package. Have you ever had this really good smell going in your home and then there is this nasty diaper or something else awful. It does not matter at that point how many candles you have been burning or pies you have been baking all day. It just really stinks now. Now you have to revamp and work a little to get rid of the nasty smell. It is the same thing with your schooling. You cannot fool everyone by having this great aroma of Christ in your home, but completely nasty one in your schooling. The bad smell always wins over the good one. And it takes a little work to change things around. We all have different ways to achieve a wonderful smell in our homes. I love to burn candles and am pretty much a candle Nazi. I have one or two that I love and really do not use any others. There are others that use spray. Others love to just open their windows and air the place out. That does not work here in the midst of all of the farm land. Anyway, there are so many different ways to achieve a good aroma. Over the next few days let's talk about how we each do that in our homes. If you want to be thinking on that, the next post will be about the scheduling and getting it all in.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Building a Home

I think this is a great post over at Girl Talk.

Menu For the Week

I did not forget to post a menu. Bruce is out of town, therefore the kids are looking forward to all of the overly processed kid food they can eat. We will do Sonic one night, pizza one night, chicken nuggets another, and then maybe spaghetti. You see, Dad never wants any of these foods. No, I will not be eating this menu. I think I would be sick for weeks if I did. I will have salads and other more healthy things. It is so funny. I put so much thought and time into cooking healthy meals and they love them. But, nothing excites a child like the prospect of a few days of processed food.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Please Pray

I am not usually one to ask for prayer on this blog. There are so many things going through my mind right now it is hard for me to rest and be calm. My son has had a difficult year. I am so proud of the progress he has made, but sometimes his hurt just breaks my heart. Please pray for him. On top of everything here, my dad just had double knee replacement. I am trying to decide when to go home with the kids to help. I am not sure how much help I will be with the children, but I feel like I at least need to try. I am feeling emotionally overwhelmed. I would appreciate your prayers.

Monday, June 23, 2008

High Standards

Before we talk about all of the creative ways to homeschool and keep a high standard, we need to establish why a high standard is important. I think everyone would say they desire their children to have a great education. You start out in kindergarten with all of these great expectations and goals then somewhere along the way you lose steam. It is hard and tiring to keep up. We make (by we I mean me)excuses like there are just too many kids, or the heart is more important, or it is better that they learn through everyday life experience. All of these statements are actually true, but it does not give us reason to throw academics out the window. In the last couple of years I have realized this is my life and if I am not careful my children are going to become lazy and think just enough to get by is good. Yes, there are a lot of children, but they each are going to have to live without me one day and need to be trained to work hard to get what they need. Yes, the heart is more important, but teaching a child to be lazy and make excuses is not good for the heart. Yes, everyday experience is great and I believe it is one reason why the majority of home-schooled children are mature beyond their years, but God does not desire that we just sit back in the lazy-boy waiting for the next opportunity to come knocking. The Bible says we are to do ALL things to the glory of God. I am not sure about you, but when I do something to honor God I do not want it to be done half-way. All things means, all things. Yes, this means ministry and such, but it also means handwriting and math, and whatever else you are doing. Now, do not go and think, "Their poor children." I know there is a different standard for every child. Obviously, each child has different gifts and talents. Over time you will find what they are and adjust things accordingly. My son HATES to write. He is very skilled at writing the least amount of words possible. Sometimes, I will let it slide, but over all he needs to do the assignment and stop being lazy about it. My thing with him is there are some things in life that make no rhyme or reason, but you still have to do them. Let's learn now to work through that and just do it, and do it well. It will be much harder later. I believe we can get it all in for each child, we just have to be creative. We sometimes may need to adjust our goals. Sometimes I feel I am reaching for the impossible, but it is better to be stretched a little than to not reach at all. I could say so much more on this topic, but at least you know where I am coming from. You may disagree, and that is okay. I would still like to hear from you.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Voddie Baucham

Veritas Press is having Voddie Baucham come to speak at Teacher Training in July. He will also be speaking that Monday night and it is open to the public for $5. Check out their website for more details. Mr. Baucham is well known to some, not so much to others. I decided to post a couple of YouTube clips so you can become familiar with him. My husband and I had the privilege of having dinner with him and his son a few months ago. He is a great man and is passionate about what he has to say. Our family is certainly excited to witness the work which God is doing through him. You will find my favorite quote in the first clip. In another clip (that I can not find) he makes the Caesar statement after quoting the statistic that 70 to 80% of evangelical children are falling away from the Christian faith by the end of their freshman year in college. I have heard several men say this recently. At first I thought it could be an exaggeration. I am pretty cynical. But, after doing a little research myself, it seems to be true. Very sad, but true.

Friday, June 20, 2008

How Do You Do It?

I have been answering the phones at VP for about 10 hours a week the last few weeks. I love talking with other home-schoolers and answering curriculum questions and such. A lot of time the conversation gets around to my having 5 children and I of course, get the question, "How do you do it?" There is really not a good answer. I believe it is a life style, maybe? If you know my husband, then you know his standard for our children's education is high. I am good with that and do not differ in my standard, but it helps that he is there to hold me accountable. With him there are no excuses. We just have to do it. When we first started home-schooling 6 years ago, I had this vision of making it very school like,I would be organized enough and it would all get done. After all, I had done it for a few years in school classrooms, so it would be the same at home. Honestly, it worked fine with the two children I had back then. Then, Bruce became employed at Veritas Academy. We put the older two in and life was grand. However, I very quickly missed my children and realized that for one in particular, it was not working. So, then we went back to home-schooling. Well, this time around, with 5 in tow, it's quite different. We do have an organized time to do school, I believe that is important, but there is not time to get in the extras (art projects, copy work, supplements, extra help in areas when it is just not clicking). There is just not time between diaper changes, feedings, chasing toddlers, breaking up sibling rivalry, laundry for 7, cooking, chores, music lessons, extra curricula activities, etc. Now we have the added extra of trying to stay quiet while daddy teaches. I know I am not saying anything new to anyone. Some of you have more on your plate than I and you are doing a much better job at getting it done than I am. Therefore, I thought it would be fun to start a little series on getting it done and hopefully, you all will chime in and give me some creative ideas at surviving while holding a high standard. We have worked hard to develop a lifestyle which is conducive to getting it all in, as I am sure you have too. I thought it would be fun to share our ideas. I must also confess I am doing a seminar on this in a few weeks and I would like to share several ideas. Everyone does not live in my home, therefore my ideas may not work for some people. I'd like to go with a list of ideas from multiple homes. So, tomorrow I will post my first post. It will be on why I think it is important to keep that standard high. We must first realize why we are doing what we do to be successful at it. Be thinking about it. I am excited to get your feedback.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Menu Ideas

I need menu ideas. I also need to be more diligent at making our weekly menus. The more children we have acquired, I have found it more difficult to get dinner on the table if I did not have a well thought out plan. Too often I am getting to the afternoon with nothing planned, so we call in pizza. My husband told the children recently that he would actually throw up if he had to eat pizza one more time. I think that was the hint for me to get it together. Therefore, I am going to start posting a weekly menu. I know you could probably care less, but it will make me think through things at the beginning of the week. So, I am going to start with this week and we will see how long it lasts.

Monday Spaghetti and Salad
Tuesday Pizza (Oops! I didn't have a plan.)
Wednesday Grilled Pork Chops/Creamed Peas and Potatoes
Thursday Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken/Salad/Asparagus
Friday Date Night!!!
SaturdaySabbath Dinner Smoked Whole Chicken/Crash Hot Potatoes/Grilled Vegetables/Ice Cream with Raspberry Sauce

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Micah's Baptism

I just realized I had not posted about a very special event that took place a few weeks ago. It happened in the midst of all of our chaos. Micah was baptized and to make it even more special his birth mother was able to join us. It was really a great time. I can not wait for the day when we can explain this all to him. I hope he will appreciate the miracle in it all. The baptism was great and we all cried. Afterwards, we had a luau with just a a couple of families and those who came from Hawaii. They were so generous. They flew in the main foods for a traditional luau. Here in the mainland we just can't do the pork justice. It was sooo good. I tried to copy a couple of traditional recipes. I think they were good. I am not sure how traditional they tasted, though. I did make a haupia pie. It turned out well. Anyway, it was a great day. We had a lot of fun.

New Favorite Snack

We have a new favorite snack around here. It is Island Way Sorbet. I bought it a few weeks ago for our luau. I usually do not like sorbet, but tried this one day when I was craving something fruity. It is REALLY good. I get them from Costco.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Belated Birthday, Isaac

Isaac celebrated the big 10 on Wednesday. We were in the midst of a stomach bug, therefore I was short on blogging time. Thankfully, the day before his father took Isaac and a couple of friends to play laser tag to celebrate. We decided to post-pone the traditional dinner until everyone was better. So, tonight we will combine Father's Day and his birthday. We will feast on ribs (they are already in the smoker), cornbread salad, a garden salad (made with fresh lettuce from my very small garden), and killer cookies.

This actually marks the 8 year anniversary of Isaac coming to live with us. He moved in 2 days before his 2nd b-day. Man, life is different from then.Yikes! That means he has lived with us for the same amount of time we have left with him. I can not believe in 8 short years he will begin his transition into adult life. He still has this great smile and likable personality. He is so helpful with his younger siblings. I do not thank him enough. Happy Birthday!! We love you and are so happy God sent you to us.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Adoption #4

I have posted some pretty dreary realities on adoption. I wanted to end this small series with a positive post. Bruce and I are often asked by people who are thinking of adopting, "Do you love that child just like you do your biological children?" I know it may seem like an ignorant question, but it is not meant to be so negative. People are really afraid of bringing a child into their homes and not loving them right away. And sometimes it does take time to develop a bond. But my answer is always YES. I always thought that maybe it was because Isaac was our first and I had nothing to compare it with. On my first visit with him, he sat in my lap and called me Mommy. He screamed and clung to me when it was time for me to leave. To leave him that day was the most painful thing I had ever had to do. I now know that the fact that he so quickly called me mommy after leaving his mother was a huge red flag for attachment problems, but I just saw it as him wanting to be with me. Even though that flag was there and we have had things to deal with, Isaac has certainly attached and bonded with us. I attribute that to God and the fact that we are very open in our home. He is always allowed to speak his true feelings to us and we work really hard at just listening, affirming his thoughts, and loving him through it. Our only rule is he must tell us in a respectful tone. We were getting no where when we allowed him to yell and scream his disdain at being adopted. We had a revelation one day that we would never allow our biological children to speak to us in a disrespectful way and didn't he want to be treated the same? Holding him responsible in that way, and showing him that we saw him in the same light as his siblings seemed to be somewhat of a turning point. I am digressing, but I thought that may be helpful to someone going through this. Anyway, back to Isaac being my first. I realized that theory was not true the first time I held Micah at the hospital in Hawaii. As soon as I cuddled him in my arms I knew he was mine. I had wondered how awkward it would be. I did not know who would hand him to me and when I realized it would be the birth mother I was so nervous for her. Inside I was a basket case. I think I hid it well. I wanted to be strong for her. Now I realize she is stronger than I will ever be. She was so great and there was no awkwardness. I remember her saying with a huge smile, "Here is your Mommy." I knew he was mine, but I love the fact that I share this bond with her. So, as I write this with tears and am barely able to see the screen, yes, I love my adopted children just like my biological children. We have never regretted the decision we made to adopt. There are unknowns in the adoption we are going through now, but there are two things i try to remember. 1. There are never any guarantees in life. Any of my children could be taken from me at any moment, therefore we need to cherish every second. 2. I believe in a sovereign God. If in the end it does not work out the way we hope, God knew all along. He meant for Micah to be a part of our lives for the time we have him. Just so you know, there is an unknown, but everyone thinks the chances are slim that we would lose him. We just can not completely rest until it is done.

Our experiences have been such great pictures of God's grace and His sovereign control in our lives. You really have no control over what happens. In the end, the good, the bad, the ugly, it is all just beautiful. We are in the palm of God's plan. You see, it is one thing for God to create your child in your womb. Yes, it is miraculous and I am not down playing that. But, when I look at all that is orchestrated in an adoption, it really is just beautiful. To think He has that child picked out for you. Out of all of the children in the world it is that one. And the path that He takes you down is sometimes hard and frightening, but still beautiful. One day I want to tell our stories in more detail and you will know what I mean. Bruce and I have agreed until this is final to not do that, but soon. In the mean time know that I love my children and the path God has taken us down. Isaac's huge smile and the fact that he still loves to cuddle me at 10, still melts my heart. I love, love, love that Micah loves to sleep in my arms. He is so beautiful and already has this really deep, fun belly laugh that makes us all giggle. We are just really thrilled with the family God has given us.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

It is Too Hot!

On Saturday we started to question if the AC was working or not. By Sunday it clearly was not. On Monday we called and they said they would come sometime between Monday and Thursday. If we miss the call the skip us and put us to the end of the list. Therefore, we have been homebound without AC. You may say, "Well, it is June in PA. How bad can it really be? Besides, the Amish do it." Well, we are in a heatwave. It has been between 95 and 100, with heat indexes higher than that, the last few days. This is unheard of this time of year. We are hot! I feel the worst for Micah. He sweats like crazy anyway. The poor guy is soaking all of the time. Thankfully, the AC guy just called. Hopefully he can fix it without coming back.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Adoption #3

I am going to wrap up my adoption posts with this one and one more. One of the things that has surprised us the most with our adoption is the reaction of other people when the adoptive child is struggling a little. First, Bruce and I are not parents who make excuses for our children. I hope this is as true as we think it is and please feel free to tell me if it isn't. We do not want to do that. We also realize that although there is true grief in our lives, there comes a point when you have to come to terms with the life God has given you, heal in a healthy way, and move on. There is this thought out there which says all the child needs is a loving home and everything will work out. I have to admit as young parents when first going through all of the decisions and such of adopting we held strong to that view. In a sense it is very true. But, sometimes it is very difficult road for these children. We adopted through an agency who only dealt with newborns. It was new to this particular office to have a two year old. We would ask questions and more often than not the answer was, "I do not know." They did the best they could, but they really did not know. Because they were not used to toddlers, there was also no support after the adoption was final. This agency has seen the error in this and have improved greatly in this area. After years of sleepless nights, much anger, and depression we were finally told, "Oh, yes. This can be very normal." Man, would I have liked to have known that from the beginning. I was thinking something was seriously wrong and we were doomed for a life of trouble. When we decided to adopt Micah we had to go through more classes. As much as we complained they came at a great time.This adoption brought back a lot of memories for Isaac.In the end we have made much progress, and it has been good for him, but there were some pretty tearful nights. They talked a lot about the grieving process that happens in adoption. They said it was like dealing with a death. Once the child realizes what it means to be adopted, then they have to grieve what is missing. Just like with a death, you can grieve, lean on God, and move on. The difference is it is a never ending cycle. They know this person is not dead, therefore at ever holiday, special occasion, or life changing event there is the potential to desire to find the birth parents and become depressed or angry because they can not. I say potential because I do not believe this is a given with every adopted child. Yes, we have this with our oldest, but I know a lot of adopted families who do not. I know just as many who do. I do not want to share a lot on this because I want to protect my son's privacy, but it is something I think people should be aware of. I have been told things like, "I can't believe he would still want her. After all he has been with you longer than he was with her." Or, "I do not think you should let him talk about it. That just let's him wallow in it." I just want to say that I hope no one would ever say these things to a child who has lost a parent. I do not believe they would. They are just failing to see that it is the same kind of grief. Again, you may be reading this and think, "I have adopted a child and we have never struggled with this." That may be true. I just want everyone to realize the next time you see a child who seems to be seeking a little attention, remember there may be more to the story. I can only pray that we can successfully walk the thin line of holding our children accountable, while giving grace in the midst of grief.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I Am Still Alive

We are still here. Our big weekend with all of the online students has come and gone. We had around 200 hundred people. We were very busy, but had so much fun. We look forward to this weekend every year. The kids have a great time meeting one another and the parents enjoy the encouragement and support of having time to talk with other classical home-schoolers who are in the same stage as they are. Whoever said home-schoolers do not know how to socialize and that online education is cold and there is no way to build relationships, just needs to come to one of these gatherings.

I just wanted to let you know I am still around. I will finish up my adoption posts in the next day or two. In the mean time my eldest is turning 10 and I have a celebration to plan. It really does seem like it was yesterday that we brought home a 2 year old with this bright and contagious smile.